How to Keep a Dog in a Yard when you Don’t have a Fence

If you own a dog, or want to get a dog, you should have a fenced yard. Without a fence your dog could run away and get hit by a car, could get stolen, or other dogs could enter your yard and cause problems for your dog. In many areas it is illegal to allow your dog to roam, and people whose dogs are loose often face costly fines.  Learn how to keep a dog within its own yard.

A Dog Run

A dog run is a secure enclosure typically made out of chain link fencing.  For some dogs, such as huskies, it may need to be covered at the top to prevent the dog from climbing out.  Dog runs are often small, they allow the dog to be outside but do not allow it much space to run.  Dogs can become bored in their dog run and may resort to digging, often times owners put cement flooring down to prevent this.  Dog runs are an easy solution to keeping a dog in a yard without a fence, but may not be the best solution for large or active dogs.

Keeping the Dog on a Chain

Some dog owners keep their dog on a chain while it is outside.  This works well to prevent it from running away but can create other problems.  Some dogs, kept on chains, have shown signs of increased aggression over time.  As well the dog is at risk for being attacked by other dogs or being stolen.  In some cities it is illegal to keep a dog on a chain in a yard where there is no fence. 

Invisible Fence Systems

There are many electric fence systems on the market today.  Most involve a wire being buried just underground, and a collar on the dog that gives the dog a shock when it gets too close to the wire.  This is often referred to as an invisible fence.  The dog is still vulnerable for attack from other dogs.  Problems have occurred when the dog crosses the barrier and is too afraid to return.

small shep dog

drawing of a dog, by author


Training a dog to stay within your yard is quite tricky and nearly impossible for the dog breeds that love to run.  It requires you go out with the dog and every time it tries to leave the yard, you call it back, and give it a reward.  After a time the dog should stay within the confines of the yard, however, as mentioned, certain breeds, including those with high prey drives, will often run off if they see something worth chasing.  In general this really only works well if you are home a lot and the dog knows its pack is in the house.  Training a dog to stay in its yard is never a “sure thing”.

Why a Fence is Best?

Installing a fence really is the best solution to prevent your dog from running away.  When we look at the other options we see they all have problems.  Without a fence there is no way of stopping other dogs from coming into your yard, attacking your dog, or spreading disease.  The fence also offers some safety against theft of the dog.

You should also be aware that some animal shelters will not adopt out dogs to homes without fenced yards, or a dog run.

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