Please help - teaching dog not to jump fences, quite urgent (and long, sorry)

(21 Posts)
MrsZoidberg Tue 01-Jan-13 20:59:29

We have a new rescue (teenage husky boy). They specifically wanted somewhere rural for him, but I fear this isn't going to work. DH has gone into his stubborn mode, and won't even discuss options, but I so want to keep this lovely boy.

We have a paddock and a garden. On one side of the garden is a field that sometimes has horses in, alongside the paddock is a field that frequently has cows in it, but not at the moment. We knew he had an issue with sheep but nothing else. Alongside the garden and paddock is a road.

Yesterday he nearly went to visit the horses shock, very heart stopping moment of getting a 48Kg dog off of the top of a 4 foot wall!

So the only place he could be off lead is in our field - guess what they put in the livestock field today sad Our previously Husky proof fencing does not appear to be Husky proof anymore sad (He was on a lead so no chance of him going over, but sheep are his nemesis so he bloomin tried hard)

So, assuming we cannot raise the height of the fence (DH says too expensive, ground too soft to take higher supports etc) is it possible to train him not to jump the fences no matter what is on the other side?

If not, is there a safe / kind way to convince him not to go near the fence (DH is talking electric livestock fencing hmm )

Varya Tue 01-Jan-13 21:04:31

DH put a run-wire in for our rescue dog. He installed strong cable between strong points (ie posts concreted in) 2 points set apart and then fixed a running device for the wire, chain to hang down to dogs collar height and clip to collar. Dog can run, wee and play but not jump or escape. Worth a try? Not as costly as raising fence. B&Q has all the stuff needed to do this.

Floralnomad Tue 01-Jan-13 22:20:47

TBH if your husband is not on board it sounds like it won't work out and it may be better for the rescue to look elsewhere. Why did they want rural if he's not good with other animals , it sounds like a recipe for disaster. Sorry that's not helpful but I don't think you'll train him not to jump out so bigger fences seem to be the only answer .

Can't imagine any rescue I know being happy with you using either a "run wire" or an electric fence. hmm If you are not willing to provide higher fencing then he goes back to rescue. Sorry, I think it's that simple. I wouldn't ever put a high prey drive grey in the same situation as they would go over the fence - it is possible to train to reduce prey drive but for a husky you will never eliminate it entirely - you are looking at a massively high risk strategy which could end up in a miserable tragedy with dead livestock, a huge bill and your dog shot by a justifiably irate farmer.

And a 4ft wall will not (as you have found out) be anywhere near high enough to safely contain a teenage husky. You need to be looking at a minimum of 6ft.

PartridgeInASpicyPearTree Wed 02-Jan-13 10:12:35

Yes to what scuttle says. I'm a bit shocked that a teenage husky was rehomed to a home surrounded by livestock and only 4 ft fences. I know a very well trained husky locally and once he spots prey (urban area so the odd squirrel only) he is completely mono focal. Owner just has to wait for him to come back when the chase is over. in your case that could be after a bloodbath. There are ways to train boundaries but I think a high prey drive husky would soon ignore them when faced with a field full of livestock.

MrsZoidberg Wed 02-Jan-13 12:53:57

Thanks for all your answers. He is a private rehoming, change of circumstances etc.

We specifically asked about jumping and the owner said that he never had. He was living in a typical estate house, small garden etc. He would sit on top of a wendy house looking over fences but never went over them despite there being the usual temptations so we thought we were safe.

The wall is 4ft but there is fencing above which had moved away from the wall in the winds. He put his head under, paws on the wall and levered himself up. We have 3 other dogs - one's a HuskyX, and they have never attempted this before so our guard was down unfortunately.

The fencing is 5-6 foot high with hedging behind most of it. Our Husky would dig her way through the hedge but not try going over it. We put the fences in to stop this but did not have a height issue.

A run wire and the electric fence were never going to happen! Even if I allowed it I very much doubt it would have worked against a determined dog.

I basically wanted to know if anyone has ever successfully trained this situation out of this type of dog.

MrsZoidberg Wed 02-Jan-13 13:21:48

I have now spoken to our behaviourist and she has basically said the same. Even if we could raise the fences, he would find a way around them if he wanted to enough. He may also bide his time so our guard is down again and then do it - we have seen this behaviour in our Huskyx so I know exactly what she means.

We're all gutted as he is a superb boy, but we cannot take any risks with either him or the livestock. Hopefully between us we can manage him safely until she can find another home for him.

PartridgeInASpicyPearTree Wed 02-Jan-13 14:03:54

Has she tried to find a breed rescue place? Given his age and prey drive they would be best placed to find him a home with both the experience and set up he needs. Otherwise I can see the poor boy being passed around a lot (that's not an attack on you btw - you've clearly done your best with him but don't live in the right pace for him!)

MrsZoidberg Wed 02-Jan-13 15:31:53

I'm going to get a list of breed rescues together to help her.

My behaviourist suggested taking him to Husky type racing events to see if anyone would like him to add to their existing teams as he's the right age to start.

Varya Wed 02-Jan-13 15:56:25

We raised all our fences to 6ft as Dobies can certainly JUMP!

longtrainrunning Wed 02-Jan-13 16:20:16

Hello - I have successfully used invisible electric boundary fences for several years now and they really do work. It's in no way as barbaric as it sounds. The training programme is quite straightforward.

You set the initial boundary to a suitable distance from the fence or whatever; in your husky's case say 3 feet. Once he passes this boundary, a warning buzzer vibrates against his neck and increases as he gets closer; it's only when he reaches the actual boundary does he get a jolt.

Initially you place a row of white training flags before the 'buzzing' area and so he associates the flags with the area which is not safe for him to go beyond. There are variable strengths of the electric charge so can be used from chihuahua size to great dane.

Like you we live in a very rural area surrounded by livestock and I'm ashamed to say that my Aussie feels that the only good sheep is one that is firmly between his teeth!! I resorted to using this after I ran one of my Australian terriers over as he came up the drive to meet me (thankfully not fatal!) and then one escaped and was missing for 3 days. I never wanted to have to deal with such issues again. Aussies are as single minded and as determined as your husky sounds and also as bright.

I would say that each dog has learned incredibly quickly not to cross the boundary and only ever received a shock on perhaps 3 occasions before the penny dropped. They are now completely trustworthy; even if a hare comes through the garden (which is about half an acre) they will screech to a stop before they meet the boundary!

Do give it some thought because you sound as though you will make a lovely job of looking after your husky if you can only overcome this problem.

RedwingWinter Wed 02-Jan-13 16:36:45

Aside from the issue of shocking and vibrating collars not being a good thing, a husky is likely to run straight through if there is something interesting on the other side. They have a very strong prey drive and a short-term buzz won't stop them. On the other hand, having got out, knowing that it is there could stop them from going back home again.

MrsZ, I'm sorry it's not worked out. I agree with the others, it's not likely to train him not to jump and he needs proper containment.

RedwingWinter Wed 02-Jan-13 16:39:43

Incidentally I don't know where Mrsz is, but invisible fences are illegal in Wales.

longtrainrunning Wed 02-Jan-13 16:49:45

Redwing - I can only speak from personal experience (of a lot of different breeds) and I know the husky temperament well. As for these collars not being a "good thing" I am talking of the containment fence not the zappers which, in inexperienced hands are at best ineffective and at worst are cruel. I have seen these fences work on many breeds and properties. Our dogs are trained not to cross the boundary either in or out unless they are on their leads with the collars removed of course.

It's an option that the OP could consider if she wishes to.

longtrainrunning Wed 02-Jan-13 16:50:40

x post!! no it's the zappers that are illegal in Wales, not the fences

MrsZoidberg Wed 02-Jan-13 17:15:18

Thanks for the info LongTrain, I had considered something like this but would not use an electric shock of any kind. But I cannot think of anything else that would work.

The behaviourist stated the same as Redwing, and knowing my existing HuskyX, I can see exactly what she means, nothing will stop her once she has her sights set on something.

He was in our back garden today (most secure area, 2 adults with him and only brief walk across to get to another building). He heard a horse coming along the road (other side of front garden) and he was heading for the gate before we even realised the horse was there. Luckily I had bacon treats in my pocket (evilly unhealthy doggy snack, but Very Very high value for emergencies) and he did come back to me almost instantly (quick glance over gate to see if he could make it before I could). This has just reinforced our issues. We can keep him on a lead, it will annoy him but it can be done - but what if the door doesn't close properly one day and he gets out without his lead?

I've looked at our fencing and I think we could build some sort of barrier but what about the gates (typical farm 5 bar gates approx 4 foot high)? Behaviourist said he will find a way if he wants to, so if I make the fences 8 foot - he'll go under them or climb them! She recommended the same fencing as in the wolf enclosure at Longleat grin I wonder if I can get DH to go for it grin

longtrainrunning Wed 02-Jan-13 17:30:25

I know those fences at Longleat - now that will certainly work! Laughing at the thought of visitors, wondering what the hell you have got on your property!

Good luck with him; hope it works out for you. Yes bacon treats, irresistible and if it works, why not!!

RedwingWinter Wed 02-Jan-13 20:46:16

All electronic collars are banned in Wales. It's illegal for an animal to wear the collar, and illegal to be in possession of an animal wearing an electronic collar.

A wolf-containment system would definitely work smile The neighbours would think you had a zoo ;). But maybe it would be realistic to make a smaller contained area? i.e. not the whole field but something that is affordable and suitable to fence off. Good luck anyway.

toboldlygo Wed 02-Jan-13 22:27:29

"(quick glance over gate to see if he could make it before I could)"

This is sibe through and through, they are not daft, he will spend every waking moment looking for a way out and calculating whether it is in his interest or not to return to you (and where livestock are involved, generally not).

They will run through an electric dog fence - one of mine once went through a mains electric livestock fence, took a hell of a zap but barely paused. Thankfully it was my fence and my livestock! They can scale 6ft with ease and will attempt anything higher, climb chain link/mesh and dig under anything not concreted in. Again, one of mine once went through a standard metal five bar gate - as in squeezed between the lower bars, which is perhaps a 6" gap at best?!

The only time I would ever leave mine loose outside without constant supervision would be in a well made kennel and run, on concrete, with no wooden elements and with a fixed roof. With supervision they are allowed to roam MIL's garden with 6ft wood panel fencing on a concrete base but they have to be constantly supervised - if a cat or squirrel sat on the fence they'd be gone. They have free run of the horse paddock, which has standard wire mesh/hedge fencing, but they wear long lines attached to harnesses so any attempts to go under and I have a 50ft head start on reeling them in.

That said... mine do not react like that with livestock because I have a horse and it's frequently convenient for them to come to the yard with me, and because we live rurally and if we couldn't safely pass by or through fields of sheep/cattle we'd never walk very far. Newest dog was very reactive - I think out of fear rather than prey drive in his case - and the way we got round it was to walk him out with the horse. Horse in right hand, dog in left hand on normal lead and collar, off we went. And we walked, and we walked, and eventually he gave up the shrieking and hysterics and learnt that there was nothing exciting or scary about horses.

Same for sheep, though my approach will probably be frowned on here, but I'd rather be harsh than my dog end up dead for sheep worrying. Any reaction towards the sheep generated a fierce 'LEAVE' and, if necessary, a yank. Paying attention towards me resulted in huge praise, treats, tug games etc. Again, it took time, but now neither dog will look at sheep in passing. They will have a good stare at a running sheep but I can redirect with voice only. I would never, ever trust them off the lead but in the event that they ever get loose I'd like to think that they'd think twice before giving chase and that could be enough time to prevent dead dogs and sheep.

If you are anywhere near me I have a bombproof horse and a very scary 'LEAVE!' that you can borrow. grin

SHWA rehome dogs to working homes, if he turns out to have any ability in harness.

MrsZoidberg Thu 03-Jan-13 11:58:13

We took him out in the field today (on lead) and he just couldn't cope. DH who is quite large, could only just hold him, and then he tried tricking his way out when brute strength failed. We have got an area which could be concreted and fenced higher, but I think it would send him insane being able to see and not get to his nemesis.

Spoken to his owner and he goes back at the weekend. sad

Toboldlygo - will SHWA help with a cross breed or are they strictly pedigree only? He's a HuskyMal. I think she would be happy to keep him until another, more suitable home could be found.

I think he would be good in a harness, he's very powerful, quick and agile. I also think he would be easy to train, for the right motivation grin

His owner is in Wales if that is close to you, if the offer would stand with her too? She is tentatively talking about keeping him, and taking him to a Husky group so might appreciate some help with livestock training him.

toboldlygo Thu 03-Jan-13 13:38:53

No they will only deal with pure sibes, unfortunately, though they need not be KC registered (the breed club welfare will only take KC reg dogs which irks me). I did wonder, at 48kg he's twice the size of my biggest sibe!

I'm in Shropshire so possibly not far off depending where in Wales she is? If you want to PM and put me in touch with her that would be absolutely fine. smile

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