I was up in Jupiter last week providing a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® system quote for a prospect with a two year old Jack Russell named Oscar. It was a corner lot with no perimeter fence with relatively busy streets on two sides. Phil understood how invisible dog fences physically operate and liked my presentation and price. The one area of concern he had was if Oscar could properly respond to the fence, come back to him when he got too close to the edge of the property, and stay out of the street. As he was airing his concern, I noticed that he had a dog extension leash sitting on the table by the front door. I asked him how he walked his Jack Russell and he said he walked Oscar with the extension leash. He said that Oscar loved it because he could walk wherever he wanted. That made the walk really easy.
No matter what we are trying to accomplish, the one thing that we must offer our dogs is a consistent, clear, and repetitive environment. These are the building blocks necessary to gain their focus and teach them what we want them to perceive as right and wrong.
Phil was worried if his Jack Russell would successfully accept the new rule of remaining within the perimeter we would set with the underground dog fence. The immediate problem he was facing was that he had already defined a situation where Oscar could be out and about, have free reign of where he decided he wanted to go, and not focus or respond to Phil. With this situation firmly established, teaching Oscar to respond to the perimeter fence could confuse and possibly frighten him. Since Oscar was assuming everything was consistent; allowing him to walk the neighborhood with relative freedom but confining him to an invisible perimeter through a physical correction would be confusing. This could easily shut down his learning process and our successful ability to teach.
So, what do we do?
The first thing that must be done is to redefine the rules regarding focus and freedom when walking on the leash. Phil must throw away the extension leash and get a regular, six foot leash. Phil must practice walking Oscar on the short leash and have Oscar walk right by his side. As they walk through the neighborhood, Phil must take direct actions that show he is the one directing the walking activity. These actions could include such things as:
- As they are walking, stop and have Oscar sit.
- Turn around for no reason and start walking in the opposite direction for several seconds. Turn around again and continue walking forward.
- As Phil is walking, he can suddenly stop. If Oscar continues to walk, Phil will wait until Oscar gets to the end of the leash and then give a slight tug and call him back.
- When other dogs or people approach, walk off to the side of the road and have Oscar sit. Make sure Oscar keeps his eyes on Phil.
- Always correct Oscar with a slight tug on the leash whenever he starts to give too much focus on things other than Phil (ducks, cars, other people, the mail man, etc.).
These are simple actions that I discussed with Phil to assure that Oscar would completely understand that he is not in the driver’s seat. For the walk to properly take place, Oscar must continually give passive focus and attention to Phil. This focus will allow Phil to successfully guide Oscar to the proper action.
I told Phil that once he and Oscar had accomplished this new set of “walking rules”, the scene would be set to successfully introduce the underground dog perimeter fence to Oscar. This is because the invisible perimeter dog fence training is based on a set of bipolar conditions of positive and negative consequences. We introduce a negative condition in the form of a physical stimulus and need to immediately offer a positive condition in which Oscar would rather engage. With Phil now being Oscar’s teacher and focus of attention, his direction away from the perimeter will be simple for Oscar to understand.
When all is said and done, it is all about focus. The better we can control our dog’s focus or to quickly reengage his attention, the better we can have a well behaved and respectful (and fun) dog. Robin and I are here to help you in achieving this goal. Contact us by clicking on Dog Fence Training Help. Besides this dog training article, we have more dog training and safety information at Best Out of Sight Fence Trainers Jupiter South Florida. Don’t forget that we are professional dog trainers. You can find out more at Home Dog Training South Florida.