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Uncle Matty Q+A
Question:
I think my dog once lived on Alcatraz. He keeps trying to escape from my backyard, whether by tunneling, jumping over the fence or waiting until someone opens the gate and then pushes his way past. Of course, I recognize that having my dog run around outside alone is a bad idea. But whatever I try to do to make him understand that everything beyond our property is off-limits never seems to work. How can I get the message through his thick canine skull?

I've heard that I can buy an ultrasonic barrier that can train him to stick to our yard, but I'm unsure of its effectiveness. I really don't want to have to build a bigger fence that he can't jump over or tunnel under. How can I make him understand the rules?


Answer:
Gee, if you want your dog to know the rules, you might try posting them on a board outside your house. That way, if your dog ever forgets one, he can go look it up.

What? Your dog can't read? Then you may have to accept the fact that you simply aren't going to be able to train your dog to stay on your property when you're not around to keep an eye on him. If we could do that then why have a fence at all? Your dog could just lounge around the yard never daring to set foot on the sidewalk or the street beyond.

The fact of the matter is that dogs will be dogs and, given the opportunity, your pet is going to make a break for the great outdoors if given a chance. Proper training can make him more manageable when he's in your presence, which should help to control him when he attempts to knock past you through the gate. But, unless you're willing to hang around your yard all day yelling "come" whenever your dog tries to jump over or tunnel under a fence, training is not going to help

So you're faced with several options. It sounds like you keep your dog outside most, if not all, of the time. If you put him in the house while you're away, it would make escape much more difficult. Unless your dog has thumbs, he's not going to be able to turn doorknobs.

Another option, despite your reluctance to face it, is to build a better, bigger fence that your dog can't circumvent. Even though it may not be aesthetically pleasing, it could save your dog's life!

Lastly, you could consider building a run in your backyard. This would be an enclosed area with a high fence where you can keep your dog safe. You can get him a dog house, and he'd probably be perfectly happy. This has the benefit of keeping your dog outdoors while allowing you to keep a smaller fence around the rest of your property.

Finally, a few short words about ultrasonic collars and other devices designed to train dogs: they don't work! And if they do have some effect on your dog's behavior, it's probably because it's hurting the animal. I'd stay away from these devices at all cost.

But whatever you do, don't let your dog keep roaming the streets. His life is too precious to be put at such risk.

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