I have two dogs. No idea of the breed, they're from a shelter. I live in a house with a relatively large garden, on the slope of a forested hill in the middle of town.

The garden would be ideal because my dogs love to run a lot. Unfortunately as we live on a slope, the ground erodes from under the fence, leaving holes through which the dogs can leave the garden. Building a concrete foundation for the fence would be prohibitively expensive.

The forested hill would be ideal too, our previous dogs loved to take long walks and there was no problem letting them off the leash, they would run around and return when called. These two though, they run off into the forest after 2 minutes and it is impossible to follow them. They do not return when called.

When they've disappeared, they usually return home after up to 8 hours of adventuring - chasing cats, entering and exploring other people's gardens, and eating huge amounts of waste food. The only method to teach them not to do this (that I know of) is violent punishment afterwards but it doesn't seem to work.

How could I teach them to stay in the garden and stay close to me when walking?

  • You mean you can't put your dog on a leash in the garden tied to something like a tree? Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 14:50
  • 9
    Violent punishment (or other punishment) is never good after the fact. The dog will not understand what it's being punished for, and will think you're unhappy with it for no reason.
    – Anoplexian
    Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 15:23
  • @LateralTerminal it would only take minutes before the dog has spun himself around the tree, limiting any running space.
    – Summer
    Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 16:21
  • Have you considered an invisible fence? I don't the pricing on those, but I imagine it's cheaper than a concrete foundation for your fence.
    – David K
    Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 16:26
  • 2
    Those invisible fences really do work well. Anyway, I think your dog can eventually learn to not tie itself around the tree after a while. Even if not, I think it's better than the alternative of your dog eating garbage. Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 16:31

2 Answers 2


Violent punishment is never a solution for dogs that run away. They combine the punishment with coming back and not with running away. (Violent punishment is never a solution at all!)

The only solution is to do basic dog training.

  1. Start with obedience training with leash on. Train to watch you by command and to sit down.
  2. Then lengthen the leash so that they can wander around for some meters. Train that they come to you closely and sit down next to you when you call them.
  3. If they do that perfectly start to let them off leash. Just one dog at once and don't let them run away for a long way. After some meters call them back to you and let them sit down.
  4. Then extend the time where they can walk freely without being called back. When they obey perfectly, you can let them off leash together.
  • 13
    +1, especially for them connecting the punishment to coming back. This shoudl also be kept in mind for all obedience-training: even if you are still annoyed the dog did something wrong before it came to you, the moment it approaches you, all your actions will be connected to "approaching", so you HAVE to reward this, and not punish what ever happened before!
    – Layna
    Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 13:48
  • 2
    It's useful to know the doggy sign language command for this. Put your hands below your knees and wave them. It makes them think you have a treat. Remember that English is a dogs second language. Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 22:25

There used to be - and probably still are - collars which the dogs wear. They are remotely connected to a device which sends signals out when the collar (thus dog) reaches a pre-set limit. This either makes the collar vibrate, sends out sounds, or produces a small electric shock, similar to a cattle fence, unharming. As soon as the dog is back in its selected area, it ceases.

I'm certainly not advocating hurting animals, but can see that this would be an effective way to stop the dogs straying. And, quite possibly, after a time, they would learn where the boundaries were, and not stray past them.

As said earlier, unless the dog gets punishment at the scene of the crime, and immediately, it's ineffective - and probably so anyway. And what punishment, for how long, etc., etc.

  • The issue with such a collar is that the dog will need to know the boundary FIRST. It's all too easy in this case that the dog runs across the set line, triggerign the collar, but just being unable to work out why, and what to do about it. U do not want to imagine the dog trying to get away from that collar, getting further and furtehr away from home, and gettign more and more angry or panicked about the collars effect...
    – Layna
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 0:47

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