Dog Fences... A Simple Training Guide

Author: Neil Smith   Date Posted:7 August 2012 

Dog Fences are a fantastic product to stop your dog escaping. However they are only as good as the commitment of the dog's owner

Electric Dog Fences - A Simple Training Guide

I cannot reiterate to customers who purchase electric dog fences, the importance of training. Some people may get success by simply putting the collar on and throwing the dog out into the backyard to work it out for themselves.  However you will more than likely end up with a very nervous dog that is completely unsure of where he can and cannot go. The idea of any dog containment system is to teach the dog its new boundaries and limitations through proper training and reinforcement.

No matter what brand of electric dog fence you are thinking of buying, the training requirements remain the same. After installing your dog containment fence, these are the brief steps of training required:

  1. Allow the dog to become familiar with wearing the collar at random times throughout the day.  This helps to deter collar awareness i.e. your dog works out the collar delivers the correction and misbehaves when it is taken off.
  2. Teach your dog to respond to the warning tone and the visual presence of the flags by turning away from the fence and back to the centre of the yard.
  3. Activate the correction component of the collar to its lowest level (if the option is available) and again reinforce the need to come back from the fence, not continue through, even if corrected.
  4. Add distractions to proof the dog. You can reinforce your own peace of mind by providing extra incentives for the dog to enter the correction zone. Hopefully he/she does not!

So how long does all this take? Most dog fences will have instructions or a DVD. The common timeframe suggested by most containment fence manufacturers is 2 weeks. Far be it from me to question that, although many have done it successfully in as little as a weekend. I must stress that successfully doing each of the four stages above is the key.  A few points on each step:

Tips for step 1.

For a few days before commencing the official part of your training, maybe while you are installing your dog containment fence, get the dog used to the collar going on several times a day randomly.  Make sure the system and collar are off, the longer you have the better.


Tips for step 2.

This stage is done on a long lead or old rope even, not your walking lead though.  Have the collar turned on in the training (tone) mode if you have it.  If not, you may have plastic covers to go over the probes or you can cover them with tape.  We want the warning tone to activate at the flags with no correction.  Walk to various points around your property and whenever your dog gets the warning tone, tug your dog back towards the centre of the yard.  Give lots of praise or even a treat if you like.  Do short sharp sessions of 2-5min to keep your dog interested, when your dog starts turning automatically at the beep, move to the next stage.



Tips for step 3.

Still on lead we do pretty much the same as the last stage.  However now you have turned on the collar to give the correction.  This is a critical stage where we are teaching the dog that nothing changes if you get the correction; we still turn and move to the centre of the yard or the ‘safe zone’.  By being on lead we prevent the dog from running through the correction and going further into the correction field.  Your dog will then also learn the correction only comes when approaching the fence from the safe zone.  When you cannot get the dog to move to the fence in various locations of your property, you can move to the final stage of the dog containment system process!

Tips for step 4.

Time to remove the lead, your dog can now walk freely around the inside of your yard. Without calling your dog into the correction area of the dog fence system, give him incentives to enter the zone like running through it yourself or roll a ball into the zone etc.  If they do get a correction you may need to back up a step and increase your correction level if you have the option.   Once your dog hits these milestones you are ready to let the hidden dog fence do the work for you!  I do suggest keeping an eye on your dog for the next few days to ensure he does not decide to take it on at any stage.

If you have what I call run through zones (no physical fences) I suggest doing plenty of stage 2 and 3 to really hammer home the need to turn around and not run through.  Your dog containment system is now hopefully synched to your dog’s brain and he/she has a healthy respect for it!  No more escaping dog! Just remember do not shortcut your training. 

Electric Dog Fences cannot be responsible for keeping your dog safe and well without some help from you.