Backyards are not always the answer for dog problems

Finding strategies to properly exercise dogs is an ongoing challenge. As puppies get older they might slow down a bit, but they still need daily mental and physical stimulation.

I frequently hear the puzzled remarks of people that have a backyard, but their dog still doesn’t behave properly. It is important for you to remember that dogs often do not self-entertain. Dogs find things to do in whatever space they are in, often choosing activities that we deem inappropriate. Backyard examples include digging, barking and chewing on landscaping.

Sometimes people remark that there must be something wrong with their dog because they still need so much time and attention even though they are in the backyard for hours a day.

Dogs need structured play and training no matter how much space they have to roam. The fantastic benefit of a backyard is that it provides easy access for training sessions, games of fetch and play.

The other issue that I see with backyards is that people get into the habit of letting their dogs out, playing in backyard and not going on walks. The biggest issues that can arise for dogs that don’t get a lot of time out of their yards are decreased skills in leash walking as well as dog-to-dog interactions.

If you have a backyard, I urge you to continue leash walking, training, management, dog-to-dog and dog-to-people social skills throughout your dog’s life.

 To make the most out of your backyard, and to avoid problems, I recommend the following tips:

  1. Do not allow your dog to bark at people, dogs or squirrels or barrier frustration can develop
  2. Schedule play sessions with dogs in the neighborhood to allow your dogs to play
  3. Get your dog out in the neighborhood and go on field trips to new neighborhoods and dog-friendly businesses – dogs get bored and need new stimulation
  4. Do structured training sessions in your backyard
  5. Read about ways to find more time for training
  6. Schedule dog training on your calendar
  7. Work on off leash control
  8. Teach your dog to retrieve or play frisbee
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