Monday, May 4, 2009

Zap-A-Dog

Over the past year, our dog Sadie has grown from a timid puppy, afraid to leave our sight, into a large dog more than eager to flee the confines of our yard and dash about the countryside chasing all manner of creatures--usually her arch-enemies the local deer. It's not such a bad thing, as our neighborhood is kind of out in the woods without a lot of heavy traffic. However, her escapes do cause us some concern that she might do things to annoy the neighbors, chiefly going to the house of the attorney next door and chasing his dogs up and down their fence line with all three barking furiously (though still playfully). We've really wanted some manner in which we could keep her in our yard, beyond our usual tactic of tying her to her pull line or keeping her on a leash.

Fencing would work, but we don't really want a fence, nor do we want to do the work to put one in. We also looked at invisible fencing, which many of our other neighbors have, but that too requires a good deal of work, not to mention expense. We knew that the previous owners of the house had something like that at one time, because we found their little marker flags all over the yard when we moved in, but we've never found any sign of the wire that usually accompanies them. Then there was the matter of whether or not an invisible fence would even work on Sadie. The wife has had some experience with invisible fence systems and St. Bernards in the past. She once wired up the entire back pasture of her grandmother's house in order to let her former St. Bernard, Honeybee, run free. Once the system was hooked up and the collar placed on the dog's neck, Honeybee stepped across the wire line, twitched at the shock, looked annoyed and then bounded away. It never worked. We would hate to burn money and calories on setting up such a fence only to have it fail to work on our St. Bernard mix.

Then, on one of our near daily visits to Lowes, I saw a product that I hadn't before known to exist: a wireless invisible fence. This product purported to be a radio transmitter that would establish a half an acre area in which a dog could run free, but which if the dog attempted to leave would cause the accompanying collar to give off a warning beep and then a shock. The kit cost three times as much as a wire-based fencing system, but the more we thought about it the more we were of the opinion that it would be worth paying that much more if we didn't have to hassle with burying damned wires. Furthermore, the system was portable, which would make keeping Sadie in line at the in-laws house a much easier prospect.

During our last visit to my in-laws house, we took nigh on the entire animal population of our house, with Sadie and Avie sharing space in the car. My sister-in-law and her family also visited that same weekend and brought their two dogs and cat. This, too, was great, as Sadie doesn't get to play with other dogs much and she loves it, so we were prepped for a dog party. What complicated matters, however, is that it poured rain almost the entire weekend and my in-laws were in the very earliest stages of resodding their yard. In other words, Dog Fest `09 became Mud-Dog Fest `09. My sister-in-law's two dogs are very well-behaved creatures and stuck around the house. Sadie, however, likes to roam and frequently ventured out into the neighborhood and toward the nearby highway, whenever she was set free to run with her cousins (or whenever one of the wife's cousins dropped by and thoughtfully let her out of the house). By the end of the weekend my white dog was red with mud and no amount of bathing seemed to help. And, a mere two hours before we were scheduled to hit the road back to WV, Sadie found something dead and spent a good ten minutes rolling in it. This made our drive back a miserable affair.

So you can see that the thought of a wireless fence system that could help prevent some of the above was an attractive one. But, again, would it work?

While we stood there considering the purchase, a guy who was standing nearby piped up, saying, "Hey, if you're thinking about buying one of those, I just wanted to let you know something," he began. We over and noticed that the man happened to be our trusted and much-liked veterinarian. He went on to tell us that the wireless fence was a very good product, but if we lived in an area prone to power outages we should be cautious because if the power went out it would shock the dog. He said his parents used the same system, but had also purchased battery backups so their dogs would not be harmed. We thanked him for his advice and bought the wireless fence immediately.

The instructions for the system suggested that it would take a good two weeks of thrice-daily training sessions in order to make an average dog understand where it could and couldn't go in the yard. I'm proud to say that ours had it down within a period of 12 hours and 2.5 training sessions. She's a very smart cookie, but part of it might stem from a poorly planned .5 of a training session I started with.

(TO BE CONTINUED...)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An Invisible Fence is a good idea if you want to keep your dog safe.
I love my wireless dog fence because I never have to worry about fixing broken wires. A Wireless Pet Fence is a good option for pet containment.