I was at a Home Show in Palm Beach Gardens last week talking to people about Dog Guard Out of Sight Dog Fences and the appropriate ways of keeping homeowners’ dogs and family safe and happy. A homeowner approached me and said that he already had an underground fence installed, but was having trouble with his dog, Duke, escaping when the Ice Cream Truck pulls up in front of his house and all the neighborhood kids come running and screaming out for frozen treats. He said that Duke was great except for that. He tried to call him back, but they didn’t listen. He said he had tried to increase the correction on the fence system, but Duke wouldn’t even leave the house when he did that.
This is a great question and is something that we really need to “get right”. From our conversation, he had already told me that the underground dog fence was doing its job and keeping his dog on his lawn and listening to him for 99% of the time. He also told me that simply turning up the intensity of the system was keeping Duke inside and not allowing him to enjoy the outside. It is obvious that his first attempt at a solution isn’t working and he needed to stop that immediately.
In order to have our dog obey us and to understand what is right and wrong, we need to gain his focus when the inappropriate behavior is taking place. The underground dog fence of the homeowner in Palm Beach Gardens was accomplishing that most of the time. In technical terms, we can say “so far, so good”. What we need to focus on is the 1% of the time where our tools are not gaining the needed focus. This, according to the homeowner, is when the Ice Cream Man pulls up in his truck and the neighborhood kids descend on him. This is a point of loud noises, fast motion, and “over the top” excitement. This is where we need to focus.
I told the homeowner that he needed to work with Duke during these times in a way that he can consistently get his focus. Since the correction of the fence is not working at this rare, but constant adrenalized state, we suggest using a redirection technique. Here is what I suggested:
- Have a long leash (20-30 feet) on his dog when he is in the front yard.
- Every time he lets his dog in the front, have the dog sit at the front door, open the door, and he steps out first. His dog must stay seated and in the house until he is outside. At that point, invite him out and have him sit again. (Start this process when it is quiet and calm in the front.)
- If Duke bolts or does not obey at any time, go back inside and repeat until he calmly exits the house at the homeowner’s direction.
- Now, walk Duke with a short leash around the perimeter of the front yard. Slowly give him more and more leash until he has extended the leash to its full length.
- Move back towards the front door while Duke is still walking in the middle of the yard.
- Go down low and call Duke to come towards him with the “Come” command. If the dog doesn’t respond immediately, give the leash a slight tug until he does.
- Repeat this several times daily. Start out when everything is calm and quiet in the front. After a few days, go out when there are more distractions. (When the mail comes, when people are leaving or coming home from work, when the school bus drives by…)
- Once Duke continually responds for him in these situations, go out when the Ice Cream Truck arrives. Correct as needed.
- As Duke responds to him, let him and let the leash fall to the ground. Call Duke back without picking up the leash. If he doesn’t respond, pick up the leash and give a slight tug to reinforce the action.
What we have done here is to build up Duke’s reliance and focus on the homeowner. He will still see and respond to everything going on around the neighborhood, but his adrenaline level will be at a point where the correction measures of the underground fence will easily halt his progress (inappropriate action). This creates the “teaching moment” that is tantamount to the homeowner’s success and his family’s safety.
If you have a dog like Duke who sometimes doesn’t pay attention and you have more training questions; or you have questions about the Dog Guard underground pet containment system, please contact The Best Out of Sight Fence Trainers in Palm Beach Gardens and South Florida. Also, please check out our South Florida Dog Training Blog on our Home Dog Training of South Florida Web Location.