Step One: Introduce the Dog Fence Boundary
In the first step of training, we introduce the dog to the boundary and teach them to “turn and retreat” whenever they hear the warning tone. We will use primarily positive reinforcement to teach the dog to turn and retreat. There is no correction in Step One.
This first week lays the foundation for adding the correction in Step Two. Teaching the dog what is expected from them first, makes the addition of the correction a less stressful, since the dog knows that all they need to do is turn and retreat to turn it off.
Disabling the Correction
Turn off correction on the dog fence collar so that collar beeps when near the boundary, but does not correct the dog. For some systems you do this by adjusting the correction settings on the collar, in others you will cover the collar probes with small rubber insulating caps. You can also wrap the collar probes in masking tape or electrical tape to stop them correcting the dog.
Playtime Before & After Training
To start each training session, begin with a few minutes of play with the dog. This is a good habit to get into before all dog training. A little bit of play before and after each training session keeps dogs eager to take part in training.
Train One Dogs at a Time
If you have two or more dogs, it is best to train them one-at-a-time. Keep all dogs except the dog being trained out of sight. This avoids the dogs being distracted by each other, and focuses their full attention on you and the training.
Place the dog on a long leash and let the dog lead you around. If the dog does not head toward the boundary, slowly walk toward the boundary, stopping about one yard before you reach the boundary flags. Let the dog wander toward and past flags and until their collar starts beeping.
When the collar starts beeping, pull on the leash and quickly pull the dog back into it’s safe area and say forcefully “no, no, no.”
You must be animated and have a sense of urgency. If you are like most people, you probably say “no” to your dog about ten times a day, this time they need to know that it is important. You need to make this time more memorable. You want them to learn to retreat FAST, so do it FAST but confidently.
If you have a partner to help you, have them wave the flag and also say “no, no, no” when the dog gets too close. Once the dog is back into the safe area reward the dog with some praise or with a treat.
Repeat this process, using different sections of the fence each time for ten minutes. Do this three times a day for a week. You will notice as the week goes on that your dog may start to automatically turn away from the flags. This is what you want to happen. Some dogs may not demonstrate much progress, but nonetheless they are still internalizing the boundary rules as you will soon see.
After you have spent a week at Step One, time to introduce the correction in Step Two.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I cannot hear the collar beeping, how do I know when to start pulling back the dog?
A: On most systems the warning tone is high pitched and soft, making it hard for many adults to hear. You can often cheat by looking at the dog’s ears, and watching to see when they prick up.
You can also put the dog’s collar on upside down so that the receiver is on top of the dog’s neck instead of on the underside. This way you can see the collar indicator light flash and use that instead of relying on hearing the beep.
Q: My dog is deaf and cannot hear the beep. How do I train them?
A: Use a dog fence system that has a vibrating collar. These collars shake, much like a cellphone in vibra-alert mode. That way your dog can feel the collar vibrate, even if they cannot hear the collar vibrate. Collars that vibrate include the SportDog SDF-100A, PetSafe Stubborn Dog Fence, and the Dogtra EF-3000.
Q: After the first day, my dog is not crossing the boundary. Should I lead him past?
A: You never want to lead the dog past the flags or encourage the dog to cross the flags. Every time the dog crosses it should be something of it’s own choosing. It should be clear to the dog that you do not want it crossing the boundary. Many more compliant dogs will find your verbal reprimand enough deterrent to avoid crossing in this phase of training.
Q: If I need to take the dog for a walk during the training, what should I do?
A: You want to keep things consistent during the training period, so we avoid walking the dog across the boundary. Instead, to take the dog over the boundary line, pick the dog up and carry them. If the dog is too big to carry, you can put them in the car and drive them over the boundary.
The dog’s collar correction collar should always be removed before taking the dog over the boundary. Not only could the collar get activated when crossing the boundary, but it coudl also be accidentally activated when walking past a neighbors house.
After the dog understands the dog fence boundary and has had a few weeks to become comfortable with the system, we will teach him how to walk across when we give him permission. But for now, keep things simple and consistent, and only drive or carry the dog over the boundary.
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