Keeping Farm Dogs Contained – 10 Things Farmers & Ranchers Are Doing Wrong
Whether you are a seasoned rancher or a total newbie you are likely to rely on dogs for shepherding and livestock guarding duties. Keeping a dog contained or within a fence on large properties while still allowing freedom of movement to facilitate their work is probably a primary concern.
Aside from the value of purchasing a dog and providing proper training jeopardizing the security of your LGD or farm dog can affect many aspects of your farming operation inclusive of yields and profits related to livestock and crops. Coyotes, bobcats and other predators have their eye on your chickens, goats and sheep. Bunnies can’t wait to eat your greens and other veggies and rats are looking for every opportunity to damage the wiring in your tractor or eat the feed for your animals.
As someone who has owned medium to large size farming and ranching operations with working dogs here are the most common mistakes I have observed as it relates to keeping the dog within set boundaries.
Lack of Clear Boundaries
Dogs are guided by visual queues and are territorial by nature. It is essential that we mark and teach them to recognize their topographic or physical boundaries from a very early age. This can be done through assisted or leashed perimeter walks. Failure to teach territoriality can significantly affect the behavior of the dog.
Low or Improperly Maintained Wood, Horse or Chainlink Fences
Puppies will be puppies. During the juvenile stage you will have escape artists. If your goal is to contain your dog make sure the fence is tall, strong and secure. Once they have discovered a vulnerability they will naturally look for more
Access to Visual Triggers
If your neighbor has lots of activity that might be attractive to your dog consider a hedge or a solid fence to minimize visual access to triggers such as other dogs and children
Human-Guided Hotwire Training
If you plan on using hotwire or cattle wire let the dog discover feedback on their own. If you happen to be present and they become tangled with the fence they will forever associate you with pain and will fail to develop a relationship of trust. Make sure your hotwire has a number of security switches should emergencies happen.
Using a Cheap Electric Dog Fence
There are many electric dog fences and invisible fences in the market. If you purchased a very economical product you will quickly learn that you get what you pay for. Your electric dog fence and collar is likely to fail frequently and provide correction at the wrong time and place. Given that electric dog fences are a training tool the last thing you want is an unclear perimeter or negative feedback when uncalled for.
Leaving Electric Collars on Dogs 24/7
This is a no-no. Not only does the skin need to rest to avoid sores, you also need to ensure that units that require charging are placed in the charger when appropriate. Removing the collar with regularity allows you to check the integrity of your equipment, the health of your dog’s skin and coat and it ensures the battery is always fully charged and ready to receive radio signals when needed.
Assuming An Invisible Electric Dog Fence is Enough
When you farm you have a dual responsibility. Not only do you need to keep your dog contained, you also need to keep predators out. In the majority of circumstances you will need to have a real fence to protect your animals from potential predators.
Failing To Introduce The Dog to Electric Dog Fences Using Positive or Reward-Based Training for Backing up
This is essential. The correction might deter a dog but knowing that there is praise and potentially a treat for backing up will consolidate their willingness to obey their perimeter.
Not Using Flags For Training
Sometimes circumstances change and dogs or people have to move or relocate. Using flag-based training will facilitate secondary training should your dog need to move from pasture to pasture or even relocate to another home.
Placing Your Transmitter in a Room That Drops Below Freezing
Your transmitter operates at its best when housed in a room with controlled temperature. Placing a transmitter in areas where the temps may drop below zero can result in temporary failure of your electric dog fence thus giving your hounds the opportunity to escape.
Our favorite and most recommended dog fence for farming and ranching operations is the SportsDog. You can find it in our store where you can read expert reviews that will help you determine if this is the right containment solution for your dogs.