dog gone

by Andrea Elizabeth

Since our yard is pretty wooded and the south side especially brambly, installing a 2 inch deep invisible fence for our wayward dog is much easier and cheaper than digging post holes and finding straight lines between trees – impossible. But we needed to install a sprinkler system first so as not to cut through the wire. We finally got the sprinkler done shortly after our corgi, Pippin, died, and the week of Thanksgiving we put in the fence wire.

A couple people said the “correction” when the collar crosses over the wire made their dog afraid to go outside or made them mean, but most of the reviews were very positive. Apparently beagles wont stay in however. Would it work for our speedy half corgi, half dachshund, Merry? Since her chasing through the house buddy died, she’s become a lot more sedentary in the house, in her little 50 foot square kennel, or she spastically runs on her long leash till she reaches the end and her back end sling shots around, and she tears off the other way with the same story.

It takes a couple of weeks to train before you let the dog stay out unsupervised. The first week you have to take them out 3 times a day on a leash and show them the flags along the boundary and let them experience first an alarm when they cross over, then the lowest setting correction, while praising them and giving them treats when they return inside. Merry responded just as described during the leash time. The first time she felt the correction, she jumped and ran back in. She did that a couple of times until she caught on. Then she avoided the boundary by about 10 feet.

Yesterday was the first supervised day without a leash. At first she stayed on our porch. Then she got a little more adventurous and moved out about 20 feet, a very small percentage of her available range. Finally she took off through the woods, towards the boundary. And she kept going. We didn’t hear a wimper coming from the thickest woods, but she was gone. George got in his car which is the only thing she’ll come to when she’s loose. But she didn’t come. I thought maybe since the collar “corrects” her for 15 seconds if she stays on the wrong side of the wire, she was probably so scared she would never come back. Then I saw George’s car coming back. But he kept going to scout the next neighborhood. Yep, she’s gone.

Then I saw her. She wouldn’t let me catch her, or come back into the yard, but she stayed in sight. When George came back, I pointed to where she was in a neighbor’s yard. He drove in their driveway and she quickly came to him. George thought maybe she needed to go from the first level of correction to the third. I thought maybe the second, but he thought she wasn’t deterred enough. So we spent a good part of the day clearing brush around the woods side of the yard so we could show her the flags easier and put up more of them to make it more obvious. Then we let her loose again. She was cautious again, and then warmed up, and let us chase her around while she tore around the perimeter of the house, well within the boundary. I thought maybe 15 seconds of correction did her some good. Then we distracted ourselves, as they say to do, and she slowly started going towards the boundary. I called her back, not wanting to see her get electrocuted. She came to me readily. Funny how she’s listening to us now. She understands a lot more words than I thought she did. Like come in, go out, come here, and she looks in the direction of points. George said we should give no verbal warning, and let her feel it next time, though. After a while she inched towards the boundary in the front yard. I just watched, and sure enough she barely crossed, but her jump back in bounds was much quicker. It works!

Today she ran full speed around the yard within 10 feet of the boundary, and even ventured into the allowable part of the woods, sniffing around. She has a different look on her face, older, wiser, and more regal and happy. Almost as happy as when she’s totally free roaming the neighborhood, but much more happy than when she’s skulking inside the house. She did cross once more, though, but for only a split second.