I was in Naples yesterday reviewing the system layout with a new Dog Guard Out of Sight Dog Fence client. I reviewed the location of the perimeter explaining the need to have a clear sight or point of direction from the perimeter back to their safe zone and the house. My client also wanted the perimeter to go around the front of the house as close to the sidewalk and street as possible. He said he wanted to give his German Shepherd, Emma, the most room to roam and hang out as possible. The Naples public schools were just getting ready to start up after summer vacation and there would be kids going up and down the sidewalk in the morning and afternoon. There would also be a lot more traffic due to “school activities” and the simple fact that the neighborhood is now back from vacation. I had some thoughts regarding the front yard placement for my client.
One of the most important facts that we explain and teach our Dog Guard clients is that the success of the system is not in the hardware, but in the lesson taught. Dogs have an excellent ability to learn in a binomial process. Whatever we wish to teach, there must be a single correct answer with everything else incorrect. This is the same method that we learned our times tables and math problems. “One plus one always equals two”; no room for debate or argument.
The perimeter that we established with the underground fence provides a stimulus that we use to teach the dog to turn away and go back. Whatever they are doing, if they feel that stimulus, turn away; no questions asked. Emma will quickly equate the location of the stimulus as the “turn away point” and the physical sensation will no longer be needed.
The amount of teaching required is based on the level of distraction that Emma is experiencing as she approaches the perimeter. This determines the focus that Emma must provide to successfully understand that the perimeter is a stop point. Let’s say that the neighborhood is quiet and that there is not a person, car, or animal in sight. It takes very little to keep Emma away from the perimeter because the only thing she is processing as she approaches the perimeter is the proximity stimulus. Our immediate redirection back to the house is the only direction she receives.
Now, let’s imagine that there are kids walking to school on the sidewalk, kids on bikes, and a street filled with cars. These are all new distractions that weren’t there before. Their visual and audible distractions will pull Emma’s focus onto the sidewalk and all over the neighborhood. Emma now has multiple stimuli and options to choose from as she stands in the front yard. Being able to focus on the correct one and making the correct decision becomes far more difficult.
So, what do we do about the location of the perimeter boundary in the front of the house?
First, we place the boundary back from the sidewalk so that Emma can’t get as close to the distractions before receiving a physical stimulus. This distance will naturally decrease the intensity of the external distractions, allowing her to better focus on the perimeter and our direction.
Second, we must understand that teaching is a progressive process that is successful when goals are broken down in smaller benchmarks of appropriate behavior. In order to accomplish this, we must:
- Not allow Emma into the front area for the first few days of school. Let her hear all the commotion from inside the house or from the back yard. This will help her acclimate to the new sounds.
- Start taking Emma out on a leash when there is “average activity” in front of the house. Allow her to walk around as you follow with the leash loosely tethered. Guide her back as she approaches the perimeter. Let her walk into the correction zone once or twice to remind her of the perimeter lesson. Continue this until she will stop short of the perimeter on her own and just observe the activity in the neighborhood.
- Repeat the above process when it is “school time” in the morning. My observation is that the kids are less adrenalized at this time because they “have to go to school now”.
- When Emma is OK with the kids going to school, bring her out on a leash in the afternoon when the kids are coming home. This is when all the kids are going nuts because “they are free”.
Although the lesson that Emma now knows (don’t cross the perimeter) is quite simple, the process involves more complicated logic and decision points. We created the rule by installing the Dog Guard Out of Sight Dog Fence system. We taught Emma the rule by providing her with a very simple “good/bad” scenario of approaching the perimeter. We strengthened the rule by requiring more focus in the form of distraction.
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. We are committed to help you in attaining this goal. Call or email us by going to Dog Fence Training Help. We have a lot more dog training, dog safety, and dog fence information at Best Out of Sight Fence Trainers Naples South Florida. Did you know that we are professional dog trainers? Learn more about that by visiting Home Dog Training South Florida.