I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this thread considering it's not really a training issue.
Last fall our beloved lab, Harry, escaped our metal fenced in back yard by digging a hole and was immediately killed in in the street. We are still completely devastated and it was such a freakish thing to happen because Harry spent most of his time inside. Harry was the sweetest dog.
We got a lab puppy that is now 7 months old named Duncan. My husband installed a "fenceless" fence around the perimeter of our metal fence in hopes that it would discourage escapes. The dogs wear a collar that gives them a shock if they get too close to the perimeter. So far our puppy (Duncan is not so small - he's weighing about 60 pounds) has slipped through the brick wall and a gate pole and made his way into the front yard. This happened at least once and he was wearing his collar. Fortunately I found him immediately.
After that, I watch them (we have an older dog) whenever they're in the back yard. This morning I had another scare because I thought he had escaped while I was watching them through the kitchen window. He was just behind a tree, but my reaction was pretty intense. I'm wondering if there's anything else I can do to keep my lab contained. Part of this is my own extreme paranoia, but since Duncan has already escaped, I feel that he's going to get run over as well. I would like to be able to let them outside in our fenced in area without constantly watching them, but if that's the only solution, then that's how it's going to have to be. I thought about using a GPS locator, but there is a lag time from when they get out of an approved area until when I'm notified through a text or email. Or at least that is what I understand from the reviews I read.
Another piece of information is that we're renting our house. So, any kind of major renovation is out of the question, although I would love to build a brick wall with constantan wire on top and a guard tower with a full time guard. That's probably unrealistic, though. Like I said, I know I'm being beyond paranoid, but if there's something I can do to secure the backyard further than it already is, then I would appreciate ideas.
Thanks for reading.
First, try to fill in any holes the dog can slip through (you mention Duncan slipping through a brick wall?) Walk around the fence and look for any area that can fit a dog through it, and add reinforcement.
Second - SUPERVISE! any dog left outside unattended for any period of time will eventually start to dig and/or look for ways to escape. If you aren't out there with the dogs, have the dogs inside with you. If you aren't home, crate the dogs inside.
Also, how much exercise is Duncan getting? Young labs need a lot of off-leash exercise, and being alone in the backyard doesn't count. You should be taking him somewhere safe for daily off-leash running (fetch, chasing you around, etc.)
If the dog is tired enough from getting enough exercise, well-trained in recall (if you see him escape you can call him back), and well-supervised, there should be NO reason to worry about escape.
Thank you for your advice. I meant to say he went through a hole between the outside brick wall of our house and the gate pole. Using the right preposition is sometimes not my strong suit. Your absolutely right that I've lulled myself into some sort of false send of security that if I just had the right combination of barriers that I could keep my dogs safe. I think I just needed to hear the truth. I also need to enlist my family members to watch the dogs as well. The problem is that I've trained Duncan to ring the bell when he wants to use the bathroom outside. He's now taken to ringing the bell all the time, and now I'm the one who's trained. Sometimes it's very disruptive, but I still take him outside. If other people help out, I'll be able to finish a chore that I've started.
As far as exercise, I take him for about a 30 to 45 minute walk daily with my other dog. I also play fetch with him several times a day because he loves to retrieve (shocking, I know!). When I'm gone for any length of time, I send him to doggie day care where he plays like crazy with a Rottweiler and another lab. I would just like to - at some point during the day- put the dogs outside and not be paranoid that they will run off while I cook dinner or something. However, as you said, that is probably not wise. We live quite a ways off the road, but the road is a highway where cars go around 75 mph.
agree with always supervising. if he's rained you on the bell you need to put a stop to that. If he's house trained and you know he's peed recently just don't let him out. Bell training is great for house training but once a dog gets it you are just as well to put it away - at least in my mind.
I don't let my dogs outside unsupervised. I just don't. If I do I worry and it's for a very short time. And neither is a runner. I don't see it as a big deal, their exercise always involves me anyway. Even if I don't go out with them on a potty break I stand at the door to supervise.
If there is a hole between the post and the house then you need to fix it. You can use various tools, and probably doesn't have to be expensive at all. If a dog is digging under the fence then you can put rocks (dig under the fence, put a rock, then put the dirt back). Or chicken wire (same concept).
First, I would like to say that I'm sorry to hear about your dog.
Second, you may not want to hear this, but as a dog owner, it is our responsibility to provide a safe home for our pets. The best thing that you can do is to not leave your dog unsupervised for extended periods of time. In our home, the dog is allowed to go out to go to the bathroom, or go out with us...this is not where we leave him to be alone and unsupervised. The yard is not where he goes for exercise, he gets enough exercise during the day by us running him, and TONS of exercise during his practices which are 4 times per week. Going for a walk everyday is most likely not enough. Labs need to run, not walk.
The only reason your dog would be digging or escaping is because they are bored, and under exercised, or feel separated from the family pack.
If you want to continue leaving your dog outside, I suggest digging a trench around the perimeter of your fence line, deeper than your dog will dig. Run Chicken Wire down the trench and secure it to the fence, and then bury the rest. This is more effective than using a shock collar on your dog.
1. Our dogs are primarily inside dogs and only go outside to use the restroom or to play fetch. They spend all their time with us and sleep in our room at night. This is true of all our dogs going back to when I was a kid.
3. At our old house we had a dog door with a fenced in yard (like now) and they came and went as they pleased during the day.
4. I work weird hours but am never gone for more than a few hours. During that time, my dogs are inside. If I'm gone longer than usual, they go to doggie daycare.
5. My dogs are not bored. I'm an avid dog walker and always have been. I also play fetch several times a day with my lab.
6. What happened was a freak accident and not because Harry was neglected. He was walked every day and spent all his time shadowing me inside and outside the house. You're right, I did not like hearing what you had to say about that topic.
7. I did take the previous poster's advice and now do not let them outside without watching them. I had assumed - and this has always been true in my experience - that I could let them outside to poop for a few minutes without one of my dogs getting killed.
Let me give you another suggestion. you can try training your dog with whistle re-call. It's so easy and gives us piece of mind with our dog! Our head trainer taught us this method and it works 100% of the time!!! We practice it in a park with him, we put him in a sit/stay in a corner somewhere and we go out of view. Blow the whistle 2 quick blasts and call his name, two quick blasts and call his name, keep doing it until you can reach his leash, pull him in and reward him with food for every time he comes to you. You can keep a whistle by the door, so if you don't see him you can blow two quick blasts and call his name continually until you can grab his collar and reward with food. Every time you blow the whistle you MUST reward the dog for coming to you with food. This works so well because LABS LOVE FOOD!!!! and if they know they are going to get food out of it they will come 100% of the time.
First buy a whistle that doesn't have a pea or ball inside of it. A fox40 whistle is what I recommend. Also, whoever is going to use the whistle to call him needs to practice with the whistle and the dog. The whistle sounds different to the dog depending on who blows it(even if it sounds the same to us). The dog may not respond to someone else's whistle at a distance. Get him used to the sound of a whistle first blow it repeatedly in the room with him while someone praises him like crazy - this way he will begin to associate the whistle as good, not bad.
Have someone hold him or put him in a sit/stay and walk 20 feet away from him. Two quick blasts call his name, two quick blasts and call his name, don't stop until you can reach his collar with your left hand and provide food to him with your right. Do this a few times. Then move further away, and further away, and eventually out of view. He should get this within an hour. Before you know it, he will find you with his ears and nose. Its a good mental work out for them too! We do it still for fun. If we find a good location like a school yard full of portable buildings or an industrial park, we still practice it with him.
The method behind this is the "whistle" is your cry to other animals in your pack to come find you, you've made the kill, and food is waiting for them. When we trained this to our dog for the first time we were with a group of people in the country. We were blowing the whistle and out in the distance, coyotes were calling back, we could hear them howling way off in the distance. The head trainer told us a story about a dog that was lost, was spotted a few miles away from home, the owner went to the area and started blowing the whistle and the dog came running.
It just gives you piece of mind that you have a guaranteed way to get your boy back if he gets out.
Excellent post! I learned from the advice of your post and I can use this to my dog training. I will share the knowledge I learned from your post to others.
I'm going to try this! It sounds like a great idea!