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|Keeping Your Dog Home|
Keeping Your Dog Home:
Containment Systems - Pros and Cons
by Leah Spitzer
? Why do dogs jump the fence? To get to the other side! It's not personal. They aren't running away, they are running towards a "fun experience" without thought of consequences (lost or hurt).
There are now several options on the market for making sure your dog has a safe place to exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Of course, chain link or privacy fences are always preferred. But what if your budget, or subdivision covenants, prohibit you from installing a fence? Are there other options?
Yes, but each has it’s own pros and cons.. On the plus side for all is the fact that you can have a somewhat secure place for your dog to run. On the minus side, none of the options other than real chain link or privacy fencing can offer your dog the same level of security. Here are just a few things to think about:
Electronic Pet Containment Systems
This system works with a collar and sensor. Sensors detect when the dog approaches the boundary of the yard. First, it emits a warning beep, then, if the dog continues forward, it shocks them with an electrical pulse.
Some dogs, determined to leave the yard, will bear the shock and leave anyway. The temptation on the outside is simply too great. So, they take the hit and run through. However, returning to the yard is not usually enticing enough to overcome the pain of the shock and they will not reenter the yard. Yes, these collars get them coming and going.
If dogs are left unsupervised in this type of boundary, they are vulnerable to whatever enters the yard. They are easy targets for mean spirited children and stray dogs.
Most importantly, there has been research linking aggression and pet containment systems (Polsky, 2000)
My experience with this type of aggression came when a met a wonderful Labrador Retriever. Let’s call him Cyrus. Cyrus had been a pet therapy dog in hospitals up north before the family moved to Atlanta. One day, while hanging out inside the electronic fence, the neighbor’s children came over. Cyrus loved kids and headed for them at full speed, only to be shocked by his collar. The timing was just right, and Cyrus believed the children caused his pain. In addition, Cyrus’ owner had caught several teenagers entering her yard to taunt and tease the poor Lab. Add it all up and Cyrus’ owner called me because he had bitten a child.
If you must use this type of containment, you can minimize the minuses by always supervising your dog when he's outside and by ALWAYS hiring a trainer that specializes in electronic fence training.
As you may have surmised, I am NOT a fan of electronic fencing. There are just too many things that can go wrong.
Best Friend Fence
One advantage to Best Friend Fence is that, once installed, it is rarely visible past 15 feet. It resembles deer fencing, but is much stronger than the deer fencing I have seen locally. (For more information, please go to www.bestfriendfence.com
While this certainly is an alternative to the use of electronic fencing and is more economical than traditional fencing, the disadvantage of this type of fencing is that it is not chew proof. The company recommends that you do not leave your dogs unsupervised.
Tie Outs are NEVER an option. In some states/counties, they are even illegal! Studies have shown that dogs that are tied out unsupervised may develop aggression problems. (www.dogsdeservebetter.com)
Kennel Runs are better than tie outs for your pup’s mental health and may be purchased pre-made through fence companies or some pet stores. They come in a variety of sizes. While there may not be enough room for a big dog to run off excess energy, a good sized run still can give him time off a leash to enjoy the outdoors safely.
Additional cost saving alternatives:
Fence in part of your yard only or consider closing in an area under your deck. One client of mine had a huge deck in her back yard. She closed in it with fencing and lattice to cover the fence. She then had cement poured for ease of cleaning and to prevent digging. The dog had a wonderful space to enjoy that was nearly invisible to the neighbors.
And what if you do have a fence and the dog is, well, an escape artist?
See the previous article entitled “Keeping Pinky Home”, though often, a slightly less complicated system can suffice. Use old fashioned, galvanized chicken wire (poultry netting) and attach it to the top of your fence. Try to extend it up above the fence line. Most dogs will either avoid putting their feet on the chicken wire, or at the very least, have trouble getting their footing to pull themselves over. This can be done with both Chain link and Privacy fencing.
Electronic containment systems may work here as well, but please use extreme caution. (See section on electronic containment systems above). Make sure you get an expert to help you with the set up and training.
If your fence is simply too low, consider raising it with a Best Friend Fence (see above)
Bury the galvanized chicken wire about 1-2” into the ground along the fence line. Make sure that you bring the chicken wire out from the fence at least 18”. Dogs will not be able to dig through the wire.
And last but not least, do make sure your dog not only has identification on his collar, but also a microchip. Microchips can be easily implanted in your dog by your veterinarian and carry a code number that links your dog back to you. If your dog is ever lost, the chip can be “scanned” and the number is reported to the appropriate pet reporting service (800 number). The Pet Reporting service then shares your contact information so you can be reunited with your pet. There are several good reporting services. Make sure to ask you veterinarian which one he recommends.
May your dog always be safe at home.
copyright 2006 Leah Spitzer