As I wrote about previously in Chloe’s Invisible Kingdom, training on the invisible fence was moving slower than we originally anticipated. We’ve been trying to get outside with Chloe as much as possible and get her used to using more of the yard that the 6 foot radius her old tie-out stake reached.
She has been timid and uncertain and we have only been able to coax her out either on a leash to walk the perimeter or by playing chase around the yard. Although she seems to love the chase game she says well within the boundaries and refuses to go towards the edge. Which is good, but also worrisome since we were uncertain if tempted she would show the same restraint.
Then something wonderful happened, the perfect test to see how she dealt with temptation… there was a cat in our yard. Without thinking it through fully I put on her collar and let her outside – she took off like a bat out of hell (so did the cat). At that point we both realized we didn’t have a contingency plan for if she did go through the fence. Luckily she got to the flags at the edge of the yard and stopped dead, the cat made it safely to the trees at the edge of the neighbors yard.
Chloe wandered back to deck and waited. Sure enough the cat came streaking from the trees across the lawn and Chloe was off again, going so fast I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to stop even if she wanted to. As soon as she got to the back corner of the lot she pulled a u-turn back towards the center. SUCCESS!!! If a cat can’t tempt her past the boundary I feel much more confident that she is getting used to the invisible fence and will soon start to enjoy being out there.
Having raised my doggy child in apartments and a condo for most of her life, one of the big perks of this house for both her and us was the half acre of flat land it sits on. We would talk about how Chloe was going to love running around outside without a leash. More specifically what we really meant was “I can’t wait to not have to take her out in the rain or cold” (I know, I know we’re terrible doggy parents but I swear the colder it is the longer it takes her to do her business).
The first day we moved in we tied and outdoor lead to the deck so that she could go out on her own on the deck and for about 20 feet out into the yard. Then Ken installed the fence with the help of a power edger and a day off of work we got this:
the fence is in!
We naively thought that because over the past few years we had trained Chloe to an obedience collar that this fence was going to be a piece of cake. I mean after all, that was one of the main reasons for getting the collar so that if in the future we were to get an invisible fence she would already be trained to the warning beep and the zap if the warning was ignored.
WRONG! What we didn’t anticipate was that we had used the collar to teach her to heel, teach her to come and over all behave and never leave our side whether on a leash or not. That’s all well and good until you walk to the other side of the fence – Chloe tries to follow – gets beeped and her response is to continue running toward you (since we were the idiots that trained her to come with a beep). Not good. Especially if you don’t wan’t her to make the connection between getting shocked then getting on the other side of the fence where the shock stops. After all, if you know that the shock may be worth it to gain freedom.
Chloe is also no spring chicken anymore, she’ll be turning 7 next month and she isn’t as fearless as she used to be. Our few attempts at taking the leash off and calling into the center of the yard – far far away from the border mind you – have her running back to the safety of the deck once she realizes how far out she is. Needless to say there is work to be done. We’re seeing progress though, she doesn’t seem to want to be anywhere near the border and 9 times out of 10 if she gets beeped she beelines towards the deck without sticking around to find out what will happen. That’s great as long as no one is the yard next door, walking by, walking a dog, kids playing outside etc.
Hopefully soon we will be comfortable leaving her out there without watching like a hawk, and she will actually enjoy it. Fingers crossed.