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I have an outdoor dog with a big backyard fenced off with a gate and it tends to run off if we don't tie it to a leash before we go out. Although it is not a big problem (the dog will only be tied for few hours without anyone at home sometimes, don't worry it has food and water nearby), it would be easier if the dog was released when we leave the house without it trying to escape. We do not wish to use an electric fence or other electronic/shock devices on the dog, just wondering if there is something like a leash/chain with a timer lock that will automatically release the dog after a preset time. Any other "less-physical" suggestions for preventing a dog from escaping would greatly help. Thanks.
 

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Build him a kennel. :)

Not really sure whatr you mean when you say the backyard is fenced off -- is the whole backyard fenced? Is he jumping the fence, crawling under it? Is it only partially fenced?

Building him a kennel, maybe 20'x20', perhaps with dig guards and a roof, is sure to keep him from escaping.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
yes it is completely fenced but he cannot jump over them he is a big dog, but not sturdy ones, they are mostly wired fences and he has escaped many times by leaning against the wires and bending the entire section to free himself and other times it digs under the fence but our backyard is fairly large and rebuilding a more sturdy fence or putting up dig guards for the entire area would be troublesome. A kennel would work if it allows a large area but still it would be easier if we could remotely or indirectly release him when we are not there because he only tries to escape when everyone leaves the house at the same time probably because it feels lonely even though we have another dog that does not act this way. And putting him in the house would create chaos which would be worse.
 

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I'd do a kennel run. They're cheap and often free on Craigslist if you takedown and haul away.
 

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Crate the dog in the house. Build a better fence. Build a kennel with a concrete floor so the dog cannot dig out.

Leaving a dog outside, even in a securely fenced yard, can be problematic. Dogs get stolen and a recent post here told of a dog that was poisoned so that thieves could break into a shed and steal a generator. The dog died in that case.

If no one is home for only a few hours, a crate in the house will work. It is what I do.

Of course, it means you will have to do things with your dog when you do get home.. like walk him etc. but that is why we have dogs.
 

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Easier isn't always effective. If you want your dog to be able to stay outside unattended, you must proof your yard in certain ways. Whether that means cinder blocks around the perimeter to discourage digging, dig guards themselves, modified fencing to prevent climbing, or a full-out enclosed kennel run, it is YOUR responsibility to do whatever it takes to keep your dog safe and physically/mentally occupied.
 
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