My Dog Won't Stay Home
by Christina Murray
(Eckville, AB Canada)
I live on a farm and we got a husky/lab at 6 months old. Our yard is aprox. 1.5 acres with 3 gates going into the horse fields and a driveway so putting a fence around the yard is not an option. She is a wonderful dog, listens very well, but she will not stay home.
We have tried the underground fence but she is also very smart. At first she dug the line up and chewed it in half, we then turned up the frequency of the collar but she would run over the fence fast enough that she only got shocked once, I guess she figures it's worth it. We then got the stubborn dog collar and turned it up but she scratches the collar so it turns on her neck and then it doesn’t work. We tried shaving the fur where the collar sits but she is very persistent and will eventually get the collar turned so she can leave the yard.
We take her into town to the dog park at least once a week and she has lots of things to occupy her time in the yard, hay bales with mice in them, a dirt patch to dig in, nice dog house, blankets, toys, etc. The problem is she knows her boundaries (we took her around a taught her when we first got her) and if you’re around she will not leave but if you go in the house or to work she goes off wandering.
She doesn't chase cattle or get into the neighbors garbage but she chases outside cats (never bothers the 2 cats we have) and digs up people’s gardens. (They are not happy) We have had her for almost a year and have run out of things to try. Right now unless we are outside with her she goes on her chain, but I hate doing that, she is a very high energy dog and by the time I get home from work (Thankfully never more than 6 hours) she is a firecracker. Maybe I shouldn’t feel so bad?
I might be fishing in the dark but do you have any other suggestions that might help? Any insight would be appreciated
There is a combination of factors that are contributing to her desire to wonder beyond your property line.
1. - She is a very young dog with high levels of energy and a mind that craves stimulation.
2. - Her breed mix; Huskies and Labradors are dogs that have a natural need for exploration, long distance traveling and exercise (walking or running).
3. - She needs a lot more training to understand her boundaries.
Once you manage to fulfill those natural needs you will experience a permanent change in her behavior.
Here is what I recommend:
- Daily exercise (1 hour ideally) in the form of walks or runs out of the property, that will fulfill her need for exploration, traveling, mental stimulation and will burn lots of energy as well.
For best results teach her to walk by your side, instead of pulling up front, keeping the leash short but without tension, (if you need more details on how to teach her how to HEEL, please let me know). If it’s safe to take her off leash you can also do that, teaching her to always stay close to you, by practicing the command COME every time she gets too far from you, giving her lots of praise or treats as she comes all the way back to you. Practicing that will teach her that she is not supposed to wonder far from you.
To add intensity to the activity you can teach her to follow you while you jog, bike ride or horseback ride.
I would also recommend you to keep the dog park visits to a minimum, it’s always better to have a few good dog friends and have play dates instead, sometimes the dogs at the dog park can be a bad influence for dogs her age.
- When it comes to teaching her to stay close to home and not wonder far from the house and off the property, I would recommend you to set a boundary closer to the house maybe something like a 100 feet from the house, that way it would be easier for her to see the house as a center of gravity and learn that she is not to wonder far from the house on her own. To teach her to stay close, use the same technique as in the walks, using the command COME every time she gets too far and give her lots of praise or treats when she comes back. Practice this exercise as much as possible, hopefully everyday, it will take lots of repetitions and consistency to break her bad habit, she is still very young and curious, but she will also become better as she matures, if you put in the work.
- In the mean while I would recommend you to put her in a kennel, as big as possible, during the time she can’t be supervised, it’s safer than chaining her and a better alternative until she learns to stay close to home and not wonder away, that will take some time and lots of training.
If she gets her daily exercise, there is no problem with kenneling her for a few hours a day.
- Another important aspect is spaying her, before she turns 8 months old (if she is not spayed already)
If she is not spayed she will never stop running away and you will also have males coming into your property when she is in heat, which can be very dangerous for her specially if she is chained. On the other hand if she is spayed she will not have the urge to run around looking for mates and you won’t have to deal with males coming into your property, looking for love.
If you decide to keep her intact, I strongly recommend kenneling her to keep her safe, especially while she is in heat.
Learn more about this here…
The Behavioral Benefits Of Spaying Or Neutering Your Dog
Thank you for submitting your question and please let me know if you have any more questions or concerns, you can post them as a comment at the bottom of your question or you can also contact me directly at (310) 418 8435.