Once the dogs get the hang of the electric fence it’s a beautiful thing. We have an acre fenced in where they can roam – part lawn, part woods, part overgrown brush. I suppose you could call it tick territory, actually.
So, Koda knows the fence. She’s very smart. The only challenge here is being too smart. You almost need a dog that’s just the right amount of smart for this to go smoothly. But, for the few challenges we had with Koda busting through the fence, bringing her back and holding her in the field where the shock occurs for a few torturous seconds cures her for a good long while. Good thing, too, because one time she busted through and decided to help us pull our car out of the side road onto the main road by jumping in front of a truck to get it to stop. I’m so thankful for careful drivers that pay attention to foolish dogs.
When we first tried Blackie on the fence (he was an older dog, not a puppy) it scared him so badly he barely wanted to go onto the lawn to poop, never mind the woods where we had taught him to go and reminded him about with the words “in the woods, Blackie, in the woods” whenever it looked like he was going to stop short. But that reminder wasn’t cutting it with him, now. The woods were scary and painful. We took the collar off him. He wasn’t known to roam, anyhow. He was a scaredy dog. And later in life, when he was starting to roam and getting into the neighbor’s compost, we tried him again on the collar and he acclimated to it well.
Tracey’s dog Stella learned very quickly. She’s the right amount of smart.
And then there is Columbus. I held off training him too young. I bought all the white flags again that help him learn the perimeter of his free space and walked around that acre’s circumference, finding and fixing old flags to stand up straight as if to say “STOP” and adding new, even brighter ones that should scream “STOP.” Then we started trying to teach him. And it seemed like he was getting it. Until he bolted through it to the neighbor’s yard and killed a chicken. More training. More not getting it. More escapes and chicken attacks. I think he was really trying to visit the fun family he watched from behind his fenced-in area and the chickens were just unfortunately in his path. He’s a people dog more than anything.
The bottom line is I couldn’t let him run free in his own yard. What the heck? This is why we paid gobs of money for fence and collars and still do for lost or broken collars and batteries. I wound up finding places to take him where he could run outside of our yard. Where he couldn’t get into danger. Until he was quilled. So much for that false sense of danger-free security. The fence people were actually supposed to come that day of the porcupine and evaluate him. I had to cancel.
This past Friday we finally got the fence people here. They increased the field of the shock area. They evaluated him. They turned up the collar and got rid of the warning beeps – no warning for him to decide to ignore. They re-evaluated him. They turned up the collar again. Next step is a stronger collar that sucks the juice out of the batteries faster. The training lady sort-of shook her head at him. He’s feeling it, alright. His eye twitches. But he wasn’t getting the step-away-from-the-fence part. The trainer said she thought he’d get it eventually. I asked if she saw dogs like him. Oh, he’s not an enigma she said. Keep training him. Maybe he needs time to think about it, she said. Some dogs do. She gave me a long, 15-foot lead to try.
So, we are training. And tonight I took him out on the long lead and he didn’t go anywhere near the fence edges. So I got up some courage to let him go and he romped with Stella and Koda for at least 10 minutes. And wore himself out silly. And when I brought him in the house he flopped down on the floor huffing and puffing and wasn’t trying to grab everything in sight. I kept looking at him and smiling. Columbus, head splatted to the floor, jowls making little puffing motions against the surface.
It’s gonna be so nice once he’s fully trained to this fence. Meanwhile, 10-15 minutes of standing out with him ready to grab his leash while he romps is a small price to pay for an evening of peace.