Step Four: Transitioning to Off Leash

Overview

In this final step, we gradually increase the amount of off leash time that the dog is given until they can spend longer periods unsupervised off-leash. We need to keep a closer eye on the dog in these first few days to make sure we are not getting any breakouts. But, you should be able to quickly move to full unsupervised off-leash time.


Training

Start to allow your dog to be in the yard off leash.  Keep the sessions short and supervised at first, but if the dog observes the boundary then extend the sessions, and start to go inside for short periods and leave the dog unsupervised for a few minutes.  Peak through your window and see what happens.

If you get any breakouts, then you will need to do some more training in Step Two. If there is some particular trigger causing the breakouts, add some training using that trigger as described in Step Three.

Once you are getting complete containment, take a bow! Congratulations on a job well done!

After a month off-leash when your dog is confident of the boundaries we can start working on taking walks through the boundary and removing the training flags.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My dog is getting bored outside and digging up shrubs. How do I make him stop?

A: As the amount of unsupervised outside time increases, you are going to want to give your dog something to do to keep them from getting bored.  We have a few ideas in our page on curbing boredom.

Q: After a year of being contained my dog has started to go through he boundary?

A: Observe the dog as they go through the boundary and watch their reaction as they cross.

If the dog has no visible reaction (other than perhaps a mild apprehensive expression), then the dog is no longer getting the correction. This the most common cause of breakouts. Typically, we get lazy about putting the dogs collar on and it is hanging loosely around their neck and the probes are no longer contacting the dog’s skin. Fit the collar correctly and do a bit of remedial Step Two Correction Training. It is also possible that the collar is no longer working, test the collar using the supplied tester or on your hand to make sure it is still correcting when the dog crosses the boundary.

If the dog is reacting, by flinching or yelping as they cross, but is going through nonetheless we want to increase the consequence of crossing and do some remedial training. Increase the correction level, and increase the boundary width so crossing the boundary is more unpleasant and takes longer. Then do a few remedial training session similar to those described in Step Two.

Next: Walking Your Dog Through the Boundary and Removing the Boundary Flags


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

ron February 3, 2013 at 6:45 pm

What hapens if my dog goes through the barrier and keeps going, does the correction still continue or does it shut off?

ADMIN – Hi Ron, the correction zone is just a radius around the wire. So, if it is set to 5 feet, the signal will transmit 5 feet on either side of the wire. This means that if you dog walks all the way across through the total 10 foot signal, the collar will stop correcting. And it will correct him when he tries to re-enter. The issue is not the boundary zone distance, but with training. A properly trained dog will not run through the barrier.

David October 15, 2012 at 11:11 am

Ok, i have a question. I’m installing your petsafe system on an existing three foot high fence, which is usually effective in keeping my beagles in. I’m installing the petsafe in hopes that the dogs will not go near the fence in winter, when there can be three feet of snow on the ground. My question is this. How is training moderated by the presence of a physical fence?

ADMIN – Hi David, the training is much more brief. Go ahead and set flags up at the edge of the signal and go through step 1 several times. With the physical fence, your dog will only be able to turn around any so the goal here is to simply introduce the new boundary to your dog to avoid confusion.

Lynn August 13, 2012 at 8:11 am

Is there a chance the day will come that the dog is trained and doesn’t need to wear the collar anymore?

ADMIN – Hi Lynn, most likely not. Dogs are very smart and most make the association that wearing the collar equals containment and not wearing the collar equals freedom!

Lisa July 27, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Just started traing our boxed this Monday with a petsafe fence.
She got zapped once (On Monday )and is terrifed to go near the fence. She doesn’t even want to walk on her leash near the fence. She drags me back intothe house. I have no idea how to train her due to her fear of the flags.

Admin- Hi Lisa,

Dogs overreacting and avoiding going anywhere near the beep and flags is a perfectly normal reaction. You will see over the next couple of weeks that your dog will begin exploring more. They will start roaming further and further away from your house and closer and closer to the flags. However, you do not want to force the dog to go near the boundaries. This could make them associate more negativity with the flags. To help your dog, you will want to play with them in the safe areas. This will help them to associate the safe area with fun. By adding positive reinforcement and giving the dog a bit of time, they will become braver over time.

Jack July 8, 2011 at 2:16 pm

My dog is fully trained with our electric fence and sits obediently regardless of the distractions that occur outside the boundary; kids, squirrels, other dogs. The problem is a neighbor’s dog came over to play one day and the two dogs romped around having fun. My dog got distracted and went too close to the boundary and received a correction. Now, when the other dog comes over to play, my dog retreats and cowers, making the connection that he will get zapped if he plays with this dog. How do I break the connection my dog has with his friend?

ADMIN – Hi Jack,

When the dog makes a false association (what is sometimes called superstitious behavior), the best way to break the association is providing more positive exposure. It is best to go in gradual steps.

Start with having another neighbor’s dog play with your dog in the yard. Once your dog is used to that, have the dog with the negative association come play with your dog outside the yard (perhaps in a park). Then, once that is no problem, have the negative association dog play with your dog in the yard.

It helps if you are very confident when you do this. If you see your dog getting fearful, try and redirect their attention. A tap on the shoulder, or leading their head in another direction.

melissa February 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Hi there, we are in training and our dog doesn’t seem to hear the beeps at all. Do we pull him back when we hear them even if he doesn’t know what we’re responding to?

Admin – Hi Melissa

Yes, respond to the warning and train your dog to respond. If you hear the beeps, then surely he hears them. Depending on the system you have, there may be a vibration as well as the beep that the dog should respond to. Keep working at it, training is the key.
I hope this helps you.

jane schnetlage November 9, 2010 at 3:03 am

Help! This website is greatly helpful but I still have a few questions. We have had Pet Safe fence for three years or a little longer. It took me a month to train the dogs to the fence but they eventually got it and we were fine for better than 2 years. I have a Sheltie (25 lbs)and a golden retriever/beagle mix (a little over 30 pounds). The Sheltie is hardnosed and loves to run. We started having problems a year ago- he would run through fence- we tried changing batteries, trimming hair on his neck near the collar, even replaced the box. The other dog NEVER went outside boundaries and when I tried collars they both shocked me. I went to a stubborn dog collar for the sheltie and that was okay for a while but he is ignoring that lately. He wants to chase the mail truck. He know where the line is. I watch him and he thinks about it and hen finally busts through – I can hear him yelp- and then just keeps running. He a little 25 lb dog, he’s 12 years old and I’ve got it turned up max and it does not stop him anymore. I also expanded the boundary to about 3/4 for the possible limit- if it gets wider than that I’ve got a problem with him in the house. Do I need another system? Or is he just one of those few dogs that it won’t work for? Or do I maybe do multiple loops across the front yard several feet apart? Lately the other dog has started following him across the loop ad yes h yelps too. I ‘ve got about 40 feet from house to road and I originally ran one wire in the center about 20 ft from house and 20 ft from road as part of my whole yard loop. I could close him out of the whole front yard if need be. But I’ve got to find some way to keep him in the yard. I’m frustrated because I got two near perfect years with him on the fence. I keep thinking there has to be a way to get it back to how it was. He is smart and like a typical sheltie he can work latches and gates many times. I think he just figured out where the boundary is and one short burst of correction is not worth stopping for. Any ideas? Would a different systems work better?

ADMIN – Hi Jane,

Once a dog gets used to going through, retraining them takes time.

The most common cause of a trained dog going through is that owners start to put the collars on too loose and the dogs stop getting the correction. But since you are hearing the dog yelp, they are likely getting the correction.

You want to make the boundaries as unpleasant to cross as possible. You can do this by making them as possible and increase the correction. Sometimes we would use two collars (but using two Stubborn collars on a Shelter would be too much). You can widen the boundaries either by dialing up the boundary width, or if that isn’t possible, by snaking more boundary wire out in front of the existing boundary.

Finally, you need to go back to the second and third step of the training. You can’t leave the dog off leash in the yard any more until the retraining is complete, because we don’t want to reinforce the bad habits. If you know there are particular triggers like other dogs, or the postman – then try and incorporate them into your training.

Michael thomas December 19, 2009 at 12:21 am

I have a walker hound. I am looking at the sd2100. Hounds are gentle
but stubborn. Is this a good choice or should I go with the stubborn
dog system?

ADMIN – Hi Michael,

It is not so much a matter of stubbornness as pain tolerance. Some dogs like pit bulls and german shepherd have been bred to not feel pain as intensely. Most dogs have not. So you can have dogs that owners think of as very stubborn, who will become very compliant with even a very mild correction (e.g. Alaskan Malamutes). And you can get dogs that are very obedient but will not pay any attention to the collar because they just don’t feel anything on the low settings (e.g. some German Shepherds)

I am not too familiar with the walker hound, but from experience with other hounds, I would guess that you would not need to go with something as strong as the stubborn dog. Start with something else like the SD-2100 and if it does become necessary to go to something stronger we can swap it out for you. Alternatively, get the stubborn dog and stick to the low and medium-low settings unless the dog proves unresponsive.

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