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Boundary Training

by Anne-Marie Mayes

While I was at camp I was watching my dog Maui as he moved around on his long line attached to the deck. We have a fenced in yard at home or Maui is off leash supervised in the yard. Maui heard something at the top of the hill and set off running, until he hit the end of the long line with a little jolt. I realized that I should teach him where the end of the long line is.

When we are walking I teach him what the end of the six foot leash is; if he pulls reaching the end of the leash I stop until he steps back a bit. This got me thinking that teaching a dog how far their leash is whether 6 foot or 10 feet it can all be called boundary training.

To offer a definition “boundary” is something that indicates a limit or a bounding line, training is teaching the dog where that boundary is. Unlike walking on a leash, the tie out or boundary training represents a set location or distance. So how do we train it? I find it helpful to have a visual barrier or something physical that the dog recognizes, such as long grass around the edge of the property, a pylon or a hydro pole.

Start off by practising u turns on a standard 6 ft leash, towards the line that you have chosen to have your dog to not cross. Walk forward and when you reach the line, turn and reward for your dog moving away from the line, never crossing it. Start this training with no distractions and slowly work up to a person and then dog walking by as they move away from the boundary line.

The next step is to then train your dog moving away from the line while on a 10 foot line. To reiterate we start with them on a 6 foot leash and then a 10 foot, so we are teaching them not to cross the line no matter our distance from them. If the dog goes close to the line then recall them and reward. When you add more distance then start with less distraction and slowly increase.

Once they are ready for the 20 foot leash, remind them that the best things happen in the area away from the line. Then drop the long line but leave it attached to the dog, in case you need to quickly catch them. Repeat, and make sure that you are not increasing distance or distraction too quickly – the best way to train is to set up the situation with friends, family or neighbours to be the distractions before you start with a stranger.

Since we are only at camp 10 days out of the year I started the training and Maui is able to be off leash when I am paying attention to him and recall is going well. When I am preoccupied he is dragging the long line as this is still a newer environment to him.

If I do need to cross the line and walk further down the driveway to the road I do it while the dogs are on leash, so they learn they only cross the line when they are with me.

Anne-Marie and B are practising boundary training on the driveway using a long line

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