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In-Ground Fences for your Dog

In-Ground Fences for your Dog - Tractor Supply Co.
It’s all about the dog’s temperament.

By Erin McIntyre

Photo courtesy of PetSafe® brand

Training a dog to stay in your yard without a physical barrier might seem daunting, but it can be done if you follow a process and have a little patience.

Electronic fences are either wired and buried underground or wireless, in which a transmitter creates a circular field. In each case, these systems provide boundaries that will deliver a startling electric pulse to the dog, via a collar, if it crosses the boundary. They’re an option for fence-climbing dogs or dog owners who cannot have a physical fence for some reason.

Mike Shafer, a PetSafe trainer, has three dogs and personal experience as well as professional know-how on the steps to success with an electronic fence.

It starts with making sure the fence is installed in a place conducive to success.

The lay of the land is key to determining where the fence should go, and it’s important to consider the natural places your dog would travel around your yard.

“Where a lot of people make mistakes is they run the fence around areas that creates a bottleneck,” Shafer says.

Therefore, make sure to leave enough room around the side of your house and between the fence and any other physical boundaries, to avoid having your dog get trapped between a correction from the fence and a physical boundary in the yard.

“It’s not fair to the dog if you’re making them terrified in the side yard,” he says.

Locate the fence at least 15 feet away from the side of a house to allow the dog plenty of room to move and understand where the boundary is located, he says.

Once the fence is installed, place flags where the fence is buried, so the dog has a visual cue of the boundary.

Training your dog to understand where the fence is located and what happens if it crosses the line is a process. Shafer recommends walking the dog on its leash within the fence to start. Take treats with you, and reward your dog for not crossing the boundary.

“After you’ve walked them around the boundary a few times, you let them make the decision to go across it,” he says, noting that you don’t want the dog to feel the electric pulse yet. “You have to listen very closely. The collar will give you a warning beep, so then you pull them right back into the boundary so they don’t get that harsh correction.”

The idea is to teach your dog that the beep warns it to run back into the yard.

The next step is to teach the dog what happens when it disregards the beep and crosses the line. Again, walk the dog on a leash around the yard and let the dog cross the line, but don’t pull it back across before the correction is issued by the collar.

Let the dog experience the correction two or three times, but keep it on the leash to prevent the dog from learning that it can lunge through the barrier, he says.

Adjusting the level of the electrical pulse is important.

“You want to have it be harsh enough that they notice it, but not so high that they think it’s the end of the world,” he says.

And don’t assume bigger dogs need more of a jolt because they’re larger.

“Breed has nothing to do with it,” he says. “It’s all about the dog’s temperament.”

Training, with a lot of patience, should be spread out over the course of a week or two, depending on the dog.

Ultimately, the goal is that you can let the dog outside and it won’t cross the boundary, or that it won’t go past the fence if you’re outside.

“Drop the leash so they’re on the inside and you’re on the outside, go across the fence and see if they will follow you out,” he says. “That’s the real test.”