Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Invisible Fence - Part Trois

Today the leashes came off. Well, Kirby's leash has been off for a week, but Remy's been dragging a fluorescent orange one around...just in case. The Invisible Fence trainer came for our fourth and final session with the dogs and Remy and Kirby were put to the test. Actually, the big tests came BEFORE the trainer got here.  A couple of days ago, our friends brought over their adorable Lagotto, Vito, who does not have a collar for the Invisible Fence. Vito is pretty trustworthy when it comes to sticking around his people, so they let him off leash to play with Remy and Kirby. The dogs stayed inside the flags and played. But at one point, Vito wandered outside the flags. Remy and Kirby ran along with him up to the flags and stopped, letting Vito wander by himself in the orchard.

This was a major deal for our guys. Trust me on this.

Earlier today, before the trainer arrived, my husband was out with the dogs, initially on leash, when a deer went bounding by. Remy caught sight of it and was immediately at attention. In a bold move, Jamie let the leash go and Remy ran straight toward the deer but stopped at the Invisible Fence and just watched as the deer continued bouncing down the field.

YES!  This thing really appears to work.

Test #3 (also before the trainer arrived)... Remy was out in the yard playing with his new ball. Our front yard is on a bit of a slope and at one point Remy dropped the ball and it began to roll downhill toward the flags. In a heated panic, Remy ran for the ball, retrieving it just as it was crossing the line, and quickly pulled it back into the yard. He probably got a little correction out of the deal, but he saved the ball and definitely seems to get the "go back into the yard where it doesn't sting my neck" message.

So the trainer arrived about an hour later. Leash off this time. As if on cue, another deer trotted by, but Remy was so busy wrestling with Kirby we couldn't get him to pay attention to the deer. Priorities, man! The trainer finally managed to call him over, but Remy was so busy waggling at the trainer, he totally missed the deer, which was now bounding off down the field. Kirby, who was shaking the grass off after the aforementioned wrestling match, also missed it entirely.

I had a business call to attend to, so I left my husband and the trainer to do most of today's session with the dogs. They walked all over the property, outside the "fence," up the driveway and all the places Remy and Kirby love to go that are outside the flags. The boyos stayed inside. Whining, but inside.

The computer readout on the collars said they had "tested" the boundaries a couple dozen times each (that includes both the the outside perimeter with the flags and the inside unit, which is about half the correction level of the outside unit and now keeps the dogs away from the cooking area in the kitchen...). This is OK and normal, says the trainer. They must test it to hear the tone and make the associations with what happens if they don't heed the warning.

Frankly, I was a little surprised at how often Kirby tested the system. He appears to stick with us wherever we go and never gets close to the flags outside. But being the little dog vacuum that he is, I'm guessing that when no one is around Kirby's probably scanning for crumbs in the kitchen and setting off his collar when he just can't resist that little bit of something just on the other side of the boundary...

So what's next?  Well, the trainer made the final adjustments to the collar settings, reminded us about how to maintain the system and ensure the batteries are always working. Voila, we're done. The trainer felt confident that Remy and Kirby know the rules and are choosing to obey them.

Will I ever feel 100% confident in a fence I cannot see?  Probably not. But knowing the dogs have faced some of their greatest temptations and still stayed behind the fence helps me get 98% there. Honestly, I can't say I would trust a physical fence 100%. Maybe even less than 98%, knowing that if there's an obstacle, both Remy and Kirby have the brains and ability to figure out how to either get over it or under it.

In any case, they won't be left out there unattended. As it is, I have to say it is wonderful  to see the dogs running around our property. They just look so happy to be out there and to have that freedom to roam in places they've been looking at from the end of a leash for so long.

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