Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Dogs Won the Battles, but We Won the War

Ever since we've moved up here, we've had dog issues.

Where we lived in Scottsdale we had a 6 ft wood fence around the entire yard. The dogs would occasionally push past us going through the front door, or even jump out a window, but mostly they respected the fence.

That changed when we arrived in Idaho. Here we have a 4 ft chain link fence, and acres and acres of wonderful sounds and smells around us.

Zoe (our coonhound/Rottweiler mix) and Wash (our Doberman/Rott/Pit/Shepherd mix) became little escape artists. Zoe escaped for the thrill, but would come right back. Wash escaped to go explore, and go visiting.

They found tons of holes under the (poorly done) fence to get out through. For weeks we had a routine: let the dogs out, watch the dogs escape, plug the holes.

That got old.

Then we decided to chicken wire the holes. We made it through a few, until I did some more advanced brush clearing and discovered 300 ft of possible hole spots. Pretty much half of our fence was so poorly done that the 5 inches of clearance needed for Zoe to get the idea to dig existed through half the fence.

We decided to install an electrified fence.

Not one of the "buried wire" invisible dog fences with collars. Those are unreliable, and our dogs are large and pain tolerant.

We picked up an electric livestock fence kit.

We now have two lines of visible wire surrounding the yard, 4-6 inches inside the chain link fence and 6 and 14 inches above the ground.

When we initially hooked it up the controller to test it, and the charge was weak and barely noticeable to me and Chris. Yesterday I spend most of the day finishing running the fence and clearing any brush that was interfering with the fence.

The felt charge tripled, though I didn't think it felt like much.

I am not a 45 lb coonhound mix, though, so we turned the dogs out yesterday afternoon.

Jayne (our 110 lb Rott/Pit mix) was the first to discover the fence. The fence doesn't shock until it has a second or so of contact, so he nudged it a few times to make sure it was there without any effect.

Then he touched his nose to it for long enough.

He yelped and ran 3 of his own lengths away.

Zoe did essentially the same thing a few minutes later, with the same effect.

Wash took longer. He nudged more than a few times, very tentatively, testing the new object. For a bit I thought he may be tougher that Jayne.

Then he tried to go through the fence.

He yelped and ran back to the house and up the stairs, yelping the entire way.


Later yesterday Jayne decided to test the fence again, just to make sure.

The shock still worked. He yelped and ran again.

I think we may finally have a solution.


  1. We've used an electric wire for years for just this reason. When we lived in New Hampshire, our back yard fence was just three electric wires (we had three different heights of dog at the time). Like yours, the dogs would test the fence once and after that would stay away. Even after we got enough brush grown up around the fence that the charge grounded out, the dogs wouldn't test the fence for months.

  2. Bought a US made unit - had similar problems to those you describe. Then bought one made in NZ - Gallagher - rated for 30 miles of fencing.

    Now the pigs stay in, the goats stay put and sundry outside beasts have decided that our stock are not worth the pain. The Border collie however, just jumps over.

    Ah well.