By Lori Verni
Most people who have a dog want to make sure he’s properly trained and well-behaved. Some things that are of top priority include being reliably housebroken (no accidents in the house), and behaving nicely both indoors and out.
One of the simplest things you can do to ensure a well-behaved dog may require some self-discipline on your part, but is sure to work well and can lead to enjoying your pet much more and with far fewer problems, for many years to come. What is it? Not having a fenced yard.
“But I spent thousands of dollars fencing my yard specifically because I have a dog!”, you exclaim. Without question, having a fenced yard can be a huge aspect of enjoying your pet more over the years, as well as your pet enjoying the freedom and exercise a fence can provide. However, during the training process having a fence can be a hindrance instead of a help.
For example, when dogs, especially puppies, spend time outside unsupervised, they tend to do things humans wish they didn’t. These might include digging holes, chewing bushes, eliminating everywhere instead of using a designated area, destroying patio furniture or decking, scratching screens or getting into excessive barking habits. Further, when it comes to house training your pet, sending him out alone leaves you in the dark as to whether or not he “went” while he was out there, and even if he did, you aren’t there to praise him if he’s outside alone.
Now lets think about those problems in the context of having a yard that is not fenced. If you were out there with him and he was on a leash, you’d be there to tell him “no” when he starts digging a hole, chewing a chair or licking the grease from the bottom of the grill. You would also be there to tell him “good boy” when he does his business outside.
By being present whenever your dog does something, whether good or bad, you are able to teach him right from wrong. Then, once he knows the rules of the house and yard, you can both gradually start to enjoy the freedom of just “letting him out,” without the down side of him behaving poorly when he’s outdoors unsupervised.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that your dog must be on a leash every single minute. You can also sometimes let him have free time to exercise and play while you’re out there with him. But by being present, you’ll still be able to teach him right from wrong as described above.
It may be quite a bit of extra work for you now, but if you spend a month or two pretending your yard is not fenced and supervising your pet whenever he’s in your yard, you can dramatically improve the chances of having a problem free pet for many years to come!