Robin and I were talking with a prospective Out Of Sight Fence client from Davie the other day. We were discussing the products that we used versus the products of other Dog Containment companies and the client asked us “What really makes you different than the other Dog Fence Companies?” Without hesitation, we stated that our training after the installation is based on canine behavior, socialization, focus, and operant conditioning. We didn’t want to place any disparity on the other companies, but made it a point to state that we have been successfully applying these methods with over 3,000 dogs over the last nine years.
“So, what’s the big deal with that? Why can’t I just go out and buy an underground fence at the local dog store, put it in, turn it on, and be done with it?” We responded with the very first training methodology we employ with our clients after the fence is operational. It is based on operant conditioning, consistency, and focus. We would like to share that with you.
We need to understand that all dogs learn through repetitive, consistent actions. Those actions need to be directed by a strong leader who can maintain the dog’s focus and win their respect. If we just let our dog out in the back yard with their training collar, we will have no way to maintain their focus and direct them to a consistent action. Our dog will be walking around the back yard and suddenly walk up to the invisible, underground fence. They would have heard a beep from the collar but would have had no idea what that meant. They then would receive a static shock from the collar and would still have no idea what was going on.
This would normally scare our dog. Without any indication of what was causing it, the natural “fight response” in our dog (and all animals, including us) could not engage. He would then take to the “flight response”. Without clear indication of where to go, he might stay in the “shock zone” and continue to feel that scary discomfort. Our dog would quickly “shut down” and never want to go outside again. In his mind, there is something very bad out there and he had no idea where it was, why it was doing what it was doing, and how he could get it to stop.
The more we try and coax him out, the more he doesn’t want to go. We become agitated and force him outside and all he wants to do is to run back to the safety of his crate or bed. All we wanted to do was to make sure he was safe while he played outside and not to run away. We have now done the exact opposite.
Why did this occur? It is simple. We introduced a new rule that was “don’t run past the edge of the yard” and did not thoroughly explain it to him or teach him what to do when he inadvertently breaks the rule. Think if someone keeps asking you a question and you don’t know the answer. Every time you try and provide an answer, it is wrong. He then yells at you and hits you with a baseball bat. Pretty quickly, you will just want to get away and never have anything to do with that again. This is what we have done. Luckily, there is a very simple solution.
Put a leash on your dog and then take him outside with his training collar. Walk with him around the yard and even give him little treats to make it a great experience. Now, slowly move towards the flags (put out by all out of sight fence companies). As you get close (but without hearing the beep or feeling the static shock), give him a tug on the leash and direct him away from the flags. Praise him for doing this. Walk around the yard again. Slowly approach the flags again and direct him away as you get close. Continue to repeat this process for about fifteen minutes. It is very important that you are with him and he is on the leash while you are performing this lesson.
We have used the leash to stay in control and to start to teach where the good parts and the bad parts of the yard are located. We can be consistent because we are in complete control with the leash. We have not introduced the beep or static shock because we are first working on the visual stimulus (the flags). (See earlier article on hierarchy of canine learning.)
In no means have we completed the learning process to stay in the yard. What we have done is to successfully complete the first lesson. We have started to build a repetitive notion of where our dog wants to stay and will expand that as we take advantage of our dog’s learning process.
If you have any questions regarding out of sight dog fence training or any other dog training question, please contact us at The Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers in Davie and South Florida.