Questions and Answers About Boundary & Perimeter Training for Dogs

Cheryl writes:

“Hi Adam,

I have watched 3 of your videos (Boundary, Perimeter & Property Training, How To Teach Any Dog To Walk On A Loose Leash & How To Teach Your Dog To Come On Command!) and I have a few questions.

1) With the perimeter training. I am using the front door. Will I also be able to use the front yard as another area and the gate into our front yard (from the back) as another?

[ADAM REPLIES:] Definitely. From the dog’s point of view, each perimeter is like an invisible fence. Once he comes up every new boundary he will wait for your release command to let him know that it’s okay to pass through. For example, if he’s standing inside your front door and you tell him, “Take a break,” he will then run out the front door but stop when he comes to the edge of the yard and again wait for you to issue the “Take a break,” command.

2) When I am trying to proof him with the perimeter training, I would assume that it would not be good to try to coax him using “Come, Louie,” correct?

[ADAM REPLIES:] You are correct. It is fair to tempt him to come into the street with anything you can think of EXCEPT any formal commands. If you did this, you would be confusing your dog and not being fair. I.E., you’ve issued a command and then corrected him for obeying you. This is not right.

So, in sum, you can say, “Do you want to go in the street?” and still correct the dog if he walks in the street because THE ONLY time he should walk in the street is if you say, “Take a break,” or “Louie, Come!” In addition, you do not want to mistakenly say, “LOUIE Do you want to go in the street?” because the dog’s name is basically an informal come command and we don’t ever want to associate the dog’s name with something negative.

3) Do I need to use the same release command for everything? I am using “take a break” with the perimeter, but what about when I want him to get up from a down/stay? I had been using “up”. Will that be confusing?

[ADAM REPLIES:] Yes. It is easiest for the dog to understand. Think of the phrase, “Take a break” as being analogous with telling your dog, “Exercise finished.” So, regardless of what exercise the dog may be doing, you always release him with the same phrase.

4) With the come command: When he has the long lead on… what if he plain takes off and runs away? Suppose I’m out in a big grassy area near our little lake… Don’t they ever just wait for this opportunity?

[ADAM REPLIES:] I hope they do. Because that’s how they learn. If the dog can still out-run you when he’s wearing a 30 foot line, then go buy yourself a 50 foot line. Or, get creative by changing it up. For instance, tie the 30 foot line to a tree, put the dog 25 feet on one side and then walk 25 feet to the other side of the tree. If he runs the opposite way, you’ll yell, “Come,” right before he hits the last 5 feet of line. Then he’ll get the correction. The point is: Don’t make him leash smart by always calling him from the same distance. Remember the bottom line/point of the long line: To teach the dog that no matter where or how far he is, you will be in a position to make him come.

In general, if you do it correctly, I’ve found that if you can get the dog to reliably return to you around a variety of settings from 30 feet away, then it won’t matter how far away the dog is.

5) I have been keeping the one foot leash on him in the house whenever we’re not doing anything…. Is this ok?

[ADAM REPLIES:] Yes, you need to. How else will you correct him if he decides to do something wrong?

6) With a problem runner/ignorer like Louie, would you really advise the remote collar?

[ADAM REPLIES:] Again, the point of EITHER the long line or the remote collar is to make it easier to teach the dog that you can MAKE HIM COME regardless of where he is… until he gets conditioned to respond. If you can just run fast, then you don’t need ANY type of long line or e-collar. The equipment you choose to use just makes it easier for YOU and the environment you’re training. For example, if I’m teaching the dog to retrieve birds and he needs to run into heavy brush, then obviously a remote e-collar will work best for my needs. But if I’m training in a regular grassy park without a lot of obstacles, then a lone line will work best. If it’s just in my back yard, I know that I can go to the dog and make him come… without ANY equipment on… and he’ll learn the same lesson, because he cannot get away from me.

7) Louie (3.5 yrs.) is still scared of my 14mth old baby. He gets up and moves whenever the baby gets near him. If I’ve put him in a “Down” should I have him stay there while the baby crawls towards him or all over him or would it be better for the dog to move away? I don’t want to risk any snapping or biting.”

[ADAM REPLIES:] Boy… must be an ugly kid!!! (Just kidding.)

DO NOT make the dog stay next to the child. This would be courting disaster. You can not MAKE the dog feel comfortable with your child. Perhaps he will, when the child gets older

In the meantime, keep a very close eye on the dog when you’re with him and the child. Never leave them together unsupervised.