Training Your Dog is not a Race, it is a Process
I was in Davie last Monday finishing up a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® installation for a new client and her beautiful Catahoula (Louisiana Leapord Dog) named Piper. The property was about one and a half acres in size and was bordered on two sides by a canal and small lake. Because of the water banks and overgrowth around three sides of the property, the installation was rather challenging. The good news is that everything went quite well and Piper learned about the perimeter boundary very quickly. After one slight stimulus, he understood that the flags that I used to mark the edge of his “go zone” meant that he should stay on the house side of the flags. Two days later, I received a call from my client saying that Piper had gotten through the fence and ran after a neighborhood dog (his arch nemesis). I went over the next day to investigate the situation.
Whenever I hear that a client’s dog has escaped from their perimeter dog fence system, I assume that a technical problem arose. When I got to my client’s house, I immediately checked the boundary to make sure that the collar continued to give off the appropriate sound and stimulation as the dog would approach. Everything was working exactly as it should around my client’s perimeter. I then checked the positioning and snugness of the collar to assure that it was fitting properly for Piper to hear the warning sound and to receive the retreat sensation. Again, everything was working perfectly. Now, it was time to check on the “human factor”. I asked my client to explain exactly what happened.
It appeared that her husband and their kids were in the front yard with Piper. Piper had his leash on, as I instructed during our initial training. Piper was doing great, would wander around the yard, and stop short of the perimeter (marked by the perimeter flags) on multiple occasions. Her husband and kids were amazed at how fast Piper “had learned the boundary”. They then let their guard down and dropped the leash. They were no longer able to assist Piper back in the event he slipped up and got too close to the perimeter.
Just then, their neighbor appeared from around the corner walking Rocko, a very large American Bulldog and Piper’s “arch nemesis”. Piper’s adrenalin spiked and he ran right through the boundary. My client was watching from the front window and didn’t couldn’t tell her husband or kids to keep hold of the leash and could only watch the events unfold. She said that it appeared Piper didn’t even pay attention to the flags that were such a perfect deterrent to his leaving the property several minutes earlier and for the last two days. After hearing this, it became obvious what had happened.
I explained to my client that Piper’s task of learning not to leave the property is not a singular event or even a short time event. Like any learned behavior, it takes time, consistency, and repetition. For the first two days, my client and her family had Piper on a leash so that they could easily direct his actions if he got too close to the perimeter, heard a correction beep, and received a retreat sensation. In the same way our teachers could correct us and teach us the right answer, they could direct and teach Piper. They could also perform this activity where they could easily keep Piper’s focus.
This was not the case when Rocko appeared from around the corner. Piper instantly “locked focus” on Rocko, his adrenaline spiked, and he acted by running full speed towards Rocko. As he crossed the perimeter, he was not paying attention to the flags and went through so quickly that he hardly received any warning stimuli to reverse course.
The problem that took place was that “the humans” acted too quickly in disengaging their perimeter training with Rocko. Most dogs (and humans) need two to three weeks of engaging in a consistent and repetitive task in order to make it second nature. Although Piper was beginning to understand his need to stay back from the perimeter, the redirected focus, esteem adrenaline caused by Rocko, and inability to provide correction; caused the lesson to fail. The humans simply placed Piper in a situation where he was not prepared to succeed.
I told my client that the family needs to continue to have Piper on the leash and to hold onto the leash. They need to direct Piper away from the perimeter every time he starts to approach and doesn’t show signs of turning back. This will create a repetitive and consistent lesson of not approaching the perimeter of the property. Over time (a few weeks), this lesson will become so ingrained in Piper’s behavior, the inappropriate external distractions such as Rocko will have no impact on Piper’s movements.
Remember that it isn’t how fast Piper learns something, it is how well he learns it. Robin and I ask that you get in touch with us if you have any questions about dog training or underground dog fence training. You can go to Dog Fence Training Help Davie South Florida or call (954) 472-4724. There is more dog training and out of sight dog fence tips at Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Davie South Florida. Robin and I have trained over 3,500 dogs and families in Davie and South Florida. If you don’t have an escaping dog problem, but an obedient dog problem, we are also your dog trainers. Find out about our Obedience and Behavior Dog Training Programs by clicking Home Dog Training Davie South Florida.