escaping dog

newhomeseekerDecember 8, 2009

About a month ago my parents adopted two puppies from a shelter. They are part blue heeler. They currently have another part blue heeler that is 1 year old and had a 12 year part blue heeler that passed away earlier this year. So they are used to the characteristics that come with that breed. The one puppy is fine. The other is more of a handful. THey are both neutered if that makes a difference. Supposedly they are brothers (but don't look anything alike). Anyway, my parents live on a farm (horses) and have almost two acres of land that connects to their house and barn fenced in for their dogs. It is a wire fence like people put around gardens to keep rabbits out.

Over the years every once in awhile one of their dogs would find a way out and sneak through the fence. This always set them into a panic but the dogs never wandered off and were usually waiting at a gate to get back in. They live very close to the road so that is one reason they panic when a dog gets out. Before they let the new puppies out in the yard they checked the fence very carefully. However about two weeks after they brought them home one of the puppies figured out how to get out of the fenced yard. Since then he has tried or managed to get out every single day. They are alone in the house for maybe 4 hours a day (while my parents are at work as they work opposite shifts.)

In the past my parents would let their dogs outside whenever they wanted and leave them out for hours at a time (if the dogs chose not to want back inside) and they would glance out and check on them every once in awhile. Over the weekend my dad put even more posts along the fence (to make it harder to pull the wire down, and they went around everywhere to ensure there were no holes or spaces for the dogs to get out (the puppies weigh at least 20 lbs so they are not tiny) The one puppy could care less about wandering or getting out. But the 2nd is the problem dog. After they fixed the fence they found the puppy with his head stuck under the wire trying to crawl out. he was stuck and couldn't get out.

so my parents have been staying outside with him and then bringing him back into the house. The thing is- he doesn't try to get out when they are outside. But if they go inside and watch him often they see him making an escape attempt. They say he seems to love his new home and I agree- he is a very happy puppy and cuddles with everyone who sits on the couch. He has a lot of engery but has three other young dogs (including his brother) to play with and that are outside with him. He is well fed (so he's not searching for food) and he doesn't appear to be afraid of anything. He has even tried to climb the fence and go over the top (like a cat) My parents are at their wits end trying to come up with solutions. They can't tie him out and they are afraid if they used some type of underground electric fence (with a collar) that if he got through the fence and he got shocked he'd run into the road that is very close to their house. My parents both work so they don't have a lot of time to stand outside and watch the dogs constantly (and especially in the winter). They do take him for walks on a leash but it seems unfair to let the other 3 dogs outside whenever they want and keep this puppy inside because they arent able to watch him constantly. My mom says he just seems to have an urge to explore and won't stay in the fence. The other puppy could care less about trying to escape (and he is part lab they believe) Any ideas that I can share with them?

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They may want to explore a shock collar. If they catch him in the process of trying to escape a time or two and he gets a mild 'correction' he may associate escaping with unpleasant feelings.

I wouldn't normally suggest something this extreme. But, it won't injure the dog, and may save his life.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 7:39PM
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I have an underground invisible fence. The dogs must be trained to the barrier and trained what to do before you allow the dog to be shocked. You can't just install the fence, put on the collar, and expect the dog to know what to do. Barrier training of some kind is necessary. If that means using a long leash and following the dog and correcting him with the leash themselves or using a remote shock collar or using an invisible fence, so be it. The dog doesn't understand the barrier and needs to be trained. I can say from experience that installing an invisible fence on a property that large would be very expensive. A remote collar with sound and incremental shock correction is probably going to be easier. But you still have to train the dog what you want it to do- avoid the fence and come inside the yard. Having a treat handy when the dog comes back in the yard will provide positive reinforcement.

Once trained, most dogs rarely, if ever, get shocked with the invisible fence. My rottie and lab have each gotten shocked once- the 2 huskies have never gotten shocked. The only reason the other 2 got shocked is that they were following me, so I was able to take off their collars and bring them back inside the fence line without them getting shocked on the way in. The shock is not that bad- I did it to myself to be sure. It's like a heckuva static shock, but it sure does remind them what to do. During the training period, there is a tone that sounds when they get too close to the fence, and you train them that when they hear the tone, they come into the yard. Once they reliably come into the yard every time the tone sounds, you remove the barrier that covers the shock prongs. My dogs only needed to be shocked 1-2 times each once during that final phase of training. I leave them out for hours at a time and there are lots of critters that they could chase out of my yard. It has only a split-rail fence and nothing across the driveway. Did I mention 2 of the dogs are huskies?

But no matter what, they are going to have to be outside with the problem child and train him to whatever method they choose.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 8:32PM
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The easiest solution, if they don't have the time to train all the dogs to an invisible fence, is to hot the fence itself.
We helped install braid fencing for DS's horses and 2 low wires near the ground keep the dogs out of the pasture.

Check out the link below for some ideas. Adding some 'guard strands' may be all your dad needs to add to the fence.
We found the site to have the best prices.

Here is a link that might be useful: fencing

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 11:04PM
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I think invisible fencing is the best thing ever invented. Yes it is expensive if you have a large area but sure gives you peace of mind. Mine were trained inside with a small area flgged and the control inside of that area. Then the yard was flagged. After one shock in the house they never even attempted to leave the yard even tho one thought the world was hers to discover. Now I just use the inside training set up to keep them away from the Xmas tree or anywhere else you want to keep them away from. They respect those flags .After training the flags outside get taken up slowly and they have never crossed the wire even with the flags gone. Proper training is the key to make it work.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 8:41AM
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A citronella collar is a more humane way to train than is a shock collar.

See the 1st post in the thread at

Here is a link that might be useful: another thread w/info re a citronella collar

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 11:32AM
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The citronella collar is used to prevent a dog from barking.
The OP is having problems with the dog escaping thru a fence.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 11:45AM
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A collar for invisible fencing is not a SHOCK collar. Yes it does feel uncomfortable but usually once does it. I have tried it on my hand and it really wasn't a big deal And of course it sure beats getting hit on the road. Now That would not be pleasant should the dog survive.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 1:20PM
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I'm another believer in invisible fencing. We have three acres with invisible fence around it and it works wonderfully. And quite honestly, although I don't remember the price, I did not consider it exorbitantly expensive. Certainly less expensive than a "real" fence (which we looked into).

I seem to have one of the exceptions to the "one shock does it". One of ours systematically tested the entire fence line. She would go close, wait, step forward, wait, step forward, until she received the shock. Then she'd back up and go another place to test it. She mapped the entire yard. As a result, she actually knows exactly where the fence is better than the other dogs.

The bottom line is your parents will have to either train the dogs or contain the dogs. No other options.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 2:45PM
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The biggest objection I have to invisible fences, aside from the cost and installation issues, is that if a dog gets so excited he broaches it, and gets zapped, he'll be caught outside the fence with a fear of broaching it again to get back in. You have essentially locked the dog out without a key. Shock collars can be adjusted to the correction level, btw. They don't need to be cruel.

If a fence is already in, like it is, then a correction collar in addition to training should be sufficient. I had a 'runner dog'. He was a wonderful dog but that. We put in tall chain link fencing for another dog, and he didn't even have to crouch to clear it. There went a few thou down the drain. LOL. Some dogs are just born to be 'wild' and training, patience and control may are needed, and it may be a life-long issue to some degree.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 3:09PM
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I have said this in multiple threads about invisible fences. You can arrange the fence in such a way that an escaped dog has a "safe" area. For example, our dogs could return to our front porch WITHOUT getting a shock - and we have trained them to know that. You just have to give some thought into the placement of the cable.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 4:03PM
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I'm sorry, I don't stop in this forum often so I haven't seen those multiple threads. I guess it just bears repeating then. That's a good idea and since I don't use them, would have never thought of it. But, the OP has a dog who runs. If he won't be trained to respect the conventional fence boundary, what would his incentive be to go to their front porch instead of just heading for the hills?

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 6:09PM
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I'm sorry, calliope, I didn't mean to snap at you. I just get frustrated with people who rant and rave about the negatives of invisible fencing but have never used it or know the pros and cons. You did not speak *against* invisible fencing so I should not have reacted so strongly. Again, my apologies.

To answer your question, If he won't be trained to respect the conventional fence boundary, what would his incentive be to go to their front porch instead of just heading for the hills?

No incentive, you're right. The issue is to find a way to keep the dog from escaping so we don't have to worry about whether he wants to be on the front porch or heading for the hills. The crux of the whole problem, whether OP chooses invisible fence or shock collars, is the dog has to be trained so he won't test the system. My preference for the invisible fence is that you don't have to have the eye-hand coordination and complete attention to administer the shock at the appropriate time - the fence does it for you. In essence they are the same, one is administered by the human, the other by the fence.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 8:45PM
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I did have issues with Rusty trying to climb our chain link when we first got him. Malinois have notoriously tough feet, which is what makes them so perfect for search and rescue work. However, he can climb chain link like a monkey - paw over paw. We wound up replacing our chain link with privacy fencing. However, that is an expensive undertaking just for a dog.

Yes, containing your dog is the owner's responsibility. I just could not have my own dog being brought into animal control to ME where I worked at the shelter. So I bit the bullet and did it.

I don't like invisible fencing for one reason ONLY - it doesn't keep other predators OUT of your yard. It won't keep a wolf from carrying off your little shitzu (that happened to a radio personality here, and I can't beleive he still does advertisements for them since that happened).

However, your parents already have a fence from what I read. I would indeed add invisible fencing to it and that should solve the problem I would think.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 1:00AM
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I have had Aussies in the past and one thing you mentioned is that the brothers look nothing alike, I can testify to the fact that even their coats can look different - my friends gave me an Aussie years ago and they kept one of the dogs, my dog and their dog looked nothing like each other and their tempraments were completely different as well.
Escaping could be due to a couple of things, one the dog is bored. So trying more basic training, sit stay, down, heel, leave it should start right away. Next do the dogs get walked? Ranch dogs are often left to their own devises for hours at a time and can become bored. Try long walks with a pack on the dogs back. I realize right now with the weather being so harsh, taking a dog for a long walk can be ext to impossible, which is why training can work better right now. Also, it sounds like the dog has not bonded well yet. You might want to have your parents try a technique I have used to help dogs bond. Do you think the dog is bonded to your parents? Many times puppies who get adopted with littermates have a harder time bonding with humans and prefer to stay bonded with the other pup. Next I suggest you find a flyball or agility competition place where your parents can take the offending pup to get some of that extra energy out.
Aussie are descendant of a Dalmation, and were bred specifically for working and herding, you might want to find a local place to help teach the dog to work a herd. There are a couple of ideas - I dont think you need to go with an invisible fence just yet. Training should be the first step. Good luck, please let me knkow how it goes and if things are working to help or not, I have other suggestions.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 6:34AM
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Thanks for the ideas I will mention the shock collar and the invisible fence (in addition to the barrier fence they already have). As far as walking the dogs every day- no they don't get walked every day. My parents are in their sixties and especially in the winter they don't take them out much. That is why they fenced in such a large area- so the dogs have room to run. As far as the escape artist puppy being bonded to my parents- I would say he is from what I've seen. he is the most affectionate puppy of the two and he is also laying on their lap or wanting attention. When he does escape and they see him and go outside and call for him he will come right up to them so its not as if he is trying to get away from them. And so far (cross my fingers) he hasn't run off when he gets out. He just wanders around the part of the yard that isn't fenced. But because the road is so close they don't want him EVER getting out.

He doesn't seem to have a lot of excess energy. Once he plays outside (roughly with his litermate and other dogs) for about a half hour he comes in and sleeps.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 7:18AM
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Aussies are bred to think on their feet and to work for 8 to 12 hours a day herding so a half an hour play time is not enough time and not the correct type of exercise for the pups to help wear them out for more than a half an hour. Im glad to hear the pup is bonded - that is great. I bet you if your parents started teaching the dogs basic training (use Natural Balance meat sticks - dice up the meat and refrigerate until you start training) that wily pup will stop jumping the fence. You might even suggest that your parents get a couple of toys which require the dogs to work at them to get the treats out - especially when they leave the pup outside to figure things out on its own. Seriously - sit, stay, down, heel, leave it, come - these are all basic commands that are going to help start the pup on the right road. Continuing on to teach the pups stupid dog tricks will help because it will keep them from getting too bored. Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 7:25PM
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