A reader installing a 23 acre dog fence asks some questions about large dog fence installations and training.
I’ve been all through your site and love all the information but as with anything new I have a few different problems and questions that I hope you won’t mind answering.
I have 23 acres and a horse and two full grown Golden retrievers. I live out in the country in southern Mississippi and my dogs are usually indoors with me or out with me and running free. Most of the time they stay within shouting distance but the younger is turning three and gets bored watching me ride my horse or work at some project and will wander off and has upset a neighbor. Neighbors around here shoot first so I want to eliminate the friction and keeping my dog within the confines of my property is ideal.
I think I’d like to get the IUC 4100 and wire the entire perimeter so the dogs can accompany me when riding on the property. I will have to do additional training for them to accompany me when I ride off the property. I considered just putting up an invisible fence around the house rather then encircling the entire place but I have a pond in the back and being Golden’s they like the water so would need to at least encompass the pond which means half the place so I might as well include the rest. The alternative is to prevent them from going to the pond unless I take them down.
So here come the questions in no particular order:
1. Southern Mississippi is not cold and I have 8 foot porches around the house so would like to mount the transmitted on a porch alongside the house probably in a weatherproof container. It does get below freezing 5-6 times a winter but I guess I’m willing to put up with a shorter transmitter life. In some places you say that there really is no freezing problem with the 4100 and others you recommend an indoor instillation. Which is correct?
2. When being completely supervised is it OK to let the dogs stay off leash near the house and yet train them at the boundaries per your schedule? That would be mostly just going to feed the horse or walk from the house to the barn. They don’t usually just bolt off. Your training implies that they are not off leash till the three weeks of training is completed but with 23 acres inside the boundary the safe zone is big. Of course if I were distracted while riding or some other activity I’d keep them in the house throughout the training period so they couldn’t just wander away.
3. If I run the boundary wire through the 12″ culvert across the end of the driveway will it still function providing a barrier or will that crate an opening for them to exit? The mailbox is across the culvert and I do take them with me and we walk down the dirt road after getting the mail. I think I’d prefer that to become a boundary crossing experience eventually and have them stop at the culvert when totally free and on their collars.
4. Is my impression correct that they won’t get any walks across the boundary till boundary training is complete?
5. Are off leash walks outside the boundary possible and should I always cross the boundary on a leash?
6. With a huge boundary do I have to train along all parts of the wire or will the dogs be able to make the connection between flags in one place and flags in another?
7. Will the boundary ever be turned off or will this end up being permanent? I’m just wondering if the dogs will ever simply stay within the confines of the property by themselves. I realize that stray dogs and critters could pull a dog across an off boundary so I suspect it becomes permanent.
8. If I were to start by just setting up an invisible front and back yard how would I go about training a new boundary on the perimeter later? Would I go back to step 2 in the training at the new boundary? It may be too complex to have the dogs learn one set of limits and then move the boundary. Is it better to just wire the perimeter from the start?
9. Am I correct that the dogs should never be allowed to cross the boundary once it is established? To me that means that they can’t be allowed to sneak over the boundary on their own until their training is completed and the are allowed off leash. So a break out or wander away would set the training back significantly.
10. How long can the twisted wire section be? I think I’d need about 200 feet to reach the boundary at the closest point.
To do what I’m thinking (about 3800 foot perimeter) will require the following I think:
IUC 4100 kit w/ transmitter one collar, 500 feet of wire
extra 4100 dog collar
7 boundary wire kits
2 spools of twisted wire – or I could make the twisted wire from an extra spool of wire.
1. Keeping the transmitter in low temperatures is no problem, as long as the transmitter is no subject to moisture (rain, snow, etc). So placing the transmitter in a weatherproof box will do the trick. We previously advised folks to keep the box inside so that it would stay warm, but after consulting the manufacturers we have revised our opinion and now think that is unnecessary.
2. Off leash during the training period is fine as long as they are not going through the boundary. We just want to keep everything consistent for the first few weeks to make the new rules easy for them to learn. If you are confident they won’t go near the boundary – feel free to keep them off leash. With 23 acres that should not be a problem!
3. With a wide boundary setting (with 23 acres you can and should make the boundary at least 10+ feet), the signal should easily pass through the ground and will still be active even if the wire is one foot below ground in the culvert.
4. Correct, you should not walk them across the boundary until training is complete. If you do want to take the dogs across the boundary line – just take the collar off and drive them over, or if they are small carry them over. Again we just want to keep the messaging very consistent during the initial training. After the training period you can teach them to walk through the boundary with permission.
5. Once trained, you can teach the dogs that they can walk through after you give them the command (and remove the collars). We usually get them into a routine, so they always cross in the same place (or same couple of places) each time. I prefer to walk them over on a leash, but if they are well trained – there is no reason you couldn’t have your crossing routine be off leash. Note, that the first few times you probably want them to be on leash, because you will need to pull them through. Follow this link for more on walking a dog with an invisible fence.
6. You don’t have to train them everywhere, but to help them learn to generalize, it is helpful if you train them in lots of different spots. (i.e. avoid just training the dogs in one spot)
7. We prefer if you keep the system and collars on permanently. Most dogs as you say will not cross the boundary even when the system is off out of habit. But, they will eventually unlearn that habit and will start to wander. For some dogs it will take a few weeks, with some dogs it takes years. But, it does eventually happen and then they dogs can be put at risk wandering off your property. If you occasionally forget to put a collar on, or turn off the transmitter it is no big deal. I would avoid making a habit of it.
8. It is much better just to start with the permanent boundary. If you do change the boundary, I would go back to the Dog Fence Training Step 1. I would do a lot of positive training in the new safe area, it will take a lot of time for most dogs to feel comfortable crossing what was the old boundary into the new larger safe area. Making the boundary smaller is in many ways much easier to teach, but making it bigger is tough, because the dogs learned the old boundary and will not want to cross it.
9. Sneaking past the boundary once or twice is not a big deal. It should be avoided, but if it happens, it is not fatal to the training. If it happens more often, or worse becomes a habit it takes longer to do the training.
10. There is no limit to the length of twisted wire. 200 feet is fine.
11. Doing 23 acres, you are running up toward the limits of the Innotek IUC-4100 capacity. With two golden retrievers, consider the higher capacity SportDog SDF-100A. Having that higher capacity system will let you have wider boundaries which makes training a bit easier.