Training 411

posted March 15th, 2011 by
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Q&A by Mary Green

Q.

My dog Henry is a 35lb fox Hound  mix that can make a running leap  to the top of our 6 ft high privacy fence,  which is made of 3″ cedar boards.  from  the top he jumps to the other side and  roams the neighborhood for about 30  minutes and then jumps back into the  backyard. I am afraid he may get hit by  a car or picked up by animal control on  one of these sojourns. Do you have any  training methods to break this habit? I don’t like the idea of using an electric  fence wire to detour him.

A.

  You’re absolutely right; Henry could  be very much endangered because  of this behavior.  The electric fence (hot wire) is a pretty harsh deterrent, so I am happy to  suggest some less aversive ideas.

It would help to know why Henry is leaving the  yard.  Initially, I would ask you if he is neutered.   If he is intact, he may be leaving the yard to  go looking for love. Next, I would ask if he has  enough to do in the yard. If he is spending a  lot of time outside alone, he may be rather  bored.  Are you doing any sort of enrichment for  him? You can create an interesting backyard  environment by using some of the food delivery toys.  A trip to the pet supply store will give you  some ideas of things such as Buster Cube,  Kibble Nibble, Kong toys, etc. If he can hunt in  his own yard, which provides some nice activity,  he may be less likely to wander. Are you taking  Henry for walks in his neighborhood?  He may  need the exercise and mental stimulation that a  walk can provide.  

There is a product called Coyote Roller, which  is a fence topper that rolls so an animal cannot  get a grip and propel himself over the fence.   Check their website at www.coyoteroller.com.  I  suspect you could fashion a similar design out  of PVC pipe!

There are some  anti-jumping  harnesses on the market.  My experience has been that a pet  owner will put the harness on the dog, and  still leave him unattended in the yard. He then  proceeds to chew the harness up!

How about providing Henry a window to the  neighborhood?  Cut out a small section of your  fence, place screen or other wire in it, and make  a frame around it.  Having a small place to look  through is much more comforting than looking  between the slats of the privacy fence!

Q.

My little dog, Zula has decided  that if she doesn’t want to go  outside she will play hide behind the  couch. She also will not come when called  from outside (unless it’s freezing).  I know  that I have spoiled her and it’s my fault for  always having a cookie when I call her. She will only come if she thinks I have  food now. I was thinking about leaving  the leash on her and giving it a pop if she  doesn’t come. Do you have any ideas?  I’m  afraid to do more harm than good!

A.

You’re right – a pop on the leash does  not generally inspire the dog to come  when you call her. Punishment like that can  make a dog very wary of coming to an angry  owner. Our approach would be to play some  games to get her to come when you call her. At K9 Manners & More, we call this one “Catch & Release”.  Pick a time to practice when Zula  does not need to go out, or come in.  Have some  treats in your pocket, or otherwise hidden from  the dog. Call Zula, and as soon as she looks  toward you – toss her a treat! If she comes all  the way to you, she gets the treat. You praise  her, pet her, and let her go about her business.

When she gets interested in  something else, call her again. If she  doesn’t come all the way to you, toss the treat – gradually getting it close enough for you to  touch her.  Don’t require the dog to sit or do  any other behavior – just a treat for coming. Practice multiple times/day. Catch – release. After about 3 days, do the same thing in the  yard. Periodically go ahead and send Zula  outside when you call her, but only about one  third of the time.  

We also play “Hide and Seek.”  It’s pretty simple – you hide and then call your dog.   She has to  find you to get the treat. If her stay is solid, you  can put her on a stay while you go hide.  If not,  ask a family member to distract or restrain the  dog while you hide. If you can, practice inside  and outside – if you are out of sight, the dog  becomes curious about where you are and will  find you!

Another strategy is to leave the leash on Zula  inside and outside. If she hides, ducks away, or  darts, you can snag her with the leash. If you  have a plain old slip leash from the vet, these  work well. Just loop it through her collar.  You  need to be carefully supervising, though, so  she cannot become snagged on something or  entangled and injured!

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