How to Train Your Dog to Use an Invisible Fence

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

A rural pet owner with a large unfenced yard has two beautiful, large farm dogs.  The dogs' job is to guard the property, protecting the chickens and goats from predators, and the home from intruders. The quiet gravel road that goes by the property is rarely traveled except by locals, and the dogs are good about staying home with their family. But one day a rabbit in the field across the road catches the eye of the younger dog, who bolts across the road after the rabbit, heedless of the property line, or the road. Unfortunately, a guest looking for a local farm, and unfamiliar with the area is traveling down the road at precisely that time, and strikes the family farm dog with her car, killing him instantly. The driver is distraught, the farm family is devastated, and sadly, a dog is tragically lost due to a preventable accident. An invisible fence that would have given the farm dog a defined barrier and prevented him from bolting out onto the road might have prevented this sad outcome.

Defining Tasks

Some pet owners are unable to have a fenced-in area for their dogs, either due to cost or geographical constraint. This is especially common in rural areas, where large yard sites are often the norm, and there is a requirement for dogs to defend livestock and property. 

An invisible fence can be installed underground, or a transmitter set to allow a certain radius from a central point. The invisible fence can be set at the border of your property or yard site, or wherever you want your dog contained. The dog wears a radio collar that receives transmissions from a radio transmitter that is signaled by the invisible fence. The collar first produces an audible signal to the dog as he approaches the boundary of the invisible fence ,to let the dog know he is at approaching the boundary. If the dog proceeds to the boundary of the invisible fence he will receive a signal stimulus correction as he crosses the invisible fence line. The stimulus correction is usually similar to a static shock, and serves to deter the dog from crossing the invisible fence line, thus giving the dog a boundary and keeping the dog safely in a contained area. 

However, simply turning your dog out to learn how the invisible fence works by trial and error will result in many incidences of negative reinforcement, which can be frightening and confusing to your dog, and may take several unnecessary incidents in order for your dog to learn the boundaries of their invisible fence and stay contained within it. Responsible use of an invisible fence includes teaching your dog what the boundaries of the invisible fence are, and how to understand radio signals warning of impending corrective stimulus so they can react appropriately to avoid triggering the fence.

Getting Started

You should always choose an invisible fence system that has a  signal prior to the corrective stimulus, so your dog can learn to avoid being corrected. Most invisible fencing systems come with flags that can be used to mark the boundaries of the invisible fence to assist training by visually marking the boundary of the fence, allowing your dog to see and define the area he is to stay within. Use of a long leash to help your dog explore his yard, but allow controlled recall and guidance as your dog approaches boundaries, may be employed. You will also need a second non-metallic collar to use with the leash, as using the transmitter collar for leading is not appropriate and metal collars can interfere with radio signal transmission. 

Have lots of treats and toys to reward and reinforce appropriate containment behaviors.  Do not leave your dog unattended in an invisible fence during training, so as not to result in unnecessary negative stimuli corrections that can confuse your dog or allow successful attempts at evading the invisible fence.

The Response to Signal Method

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0 Votes
Step
1
Set to signal only
Set your invisible fence radio collar to signal only, so that only a signal is provided to the dog when they approach the invisible fence line and no corrective stimulus.
Step
2
Approach fenceline
Take your dog on a walk with a leash and a separate non-metal collar, within but near the perimeter of the invisible fence line.
Step
3
Move away when signalled
When the collar signals your dog with an audio signal that he is too close to the boundary, correct your dog by moving him away from the invisible fence line. Provide treats as a reward for moving away from the fence line when signaled.
Step
4
Turn on correction
Once your dog is familiar with the signal and has learned to move away from the invisible fence line, turn on the lowest level of static correction.
Step
5
Practice responding to signal
Continue to walk around the perimeter of the fence line. If your dog ignores the audio signal and goes past the boundary, he will receive a mild corrective stimulus.
Step
6
Create distractions
Provide distractions, such as another dog or something your dog will be motivated to gravitate towards, on the other side of the fence.
Step
7
Allow corrective stimulus
If your dog moves across the invisible fence line he will receive a corrective stimulus. If he ignores the correction, you may need to turn up the volume of the corrective stimulus as necessary, until you dog responds by staying within the boundary in spite of distractions. Reward your dog for retreating when signaled.
Step
8
Practice off-leash
Move to off leash training. Continue supervision. When your dog retreats from the fence in response to the audible signal, give him a treat. When he approaches the fence line too closely he will receive corrective stimulation. Make adjustments to stimulation as necessary.
Recommend training method?

The Recall and Flags Method

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Step
1
Teach recall
Teach your dog to come when called using a long leash.
Step
2
Set up flags
Install the invisible fence and set up flags at the invisible fence line.
Step
3
Approach perimeter
Take your dog on a walk with a long leash and a separate non metal collar, within but near the perimeter of the invisible fence line. Walk a good distance away from your dog inside the fence line.
Step
4
Recall when signal alerts
When the collar signals your dog with an audio signal that he is close to the boundary, call your dog. Reward him for coming to you and leaving the perimeter of the fence line.
Step
5
Provide distractions
Once your dog is familiar with the signal and has learned to move away from the invisible fence line, provide distractions, such as another dog, on the other side of the fence.
Step
6
Allow corrections
When your dog goes to move across the invisible fence line and receives the signal, call him. If he ignores you and proceeds across the fence line he will receive a corrective stimulus. If he ignores the correction you may need to turn up the strength of the corrective stimulus as necessary, until you dog responds by staying within the boundary in spite of distractions.
Step
7
Remove leash
Allow your dog off leash. Continue supervision. When your dog retreats from the fence in response to the audible signal, give him a treat. When he approaches the fence line too closely he will receive correction. Make adjustments to stimulation as necessary.
Step
8
Remove flags
Once your dog has a good idea of where the fence line is and responds to approaching it by retreating once he hears the audible signal, you can remove the flags from the perimeter. Continue to monitor until you are confident your dog knows where the perimeter is and responds appropriately to the signal to retreat back within the perimeter.
Recommend training method?

The Positive Reinforcement Method

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0 Votes
Step
1
Mark fence line
Install an invisible fence and set up flags at the invisible fence line.
Step
2
Initiate play
Take your dog out in the yard with his favorite toy. Play within the yard with your dog and the toy.
Step
3
Direct away from signal
If your dog ventures to where the collar signals your dog with an audio cue that he is too close to the boundary, call your dog and reward him for coming to you with play.
Step
4
Allow correction
If your dog ignores you and proceeds across the fence line, he will receive a corrective stimulus. If he ignores the correction you may need to turn up the level of the corrective stimulus as necessary.
Step
5
Allow distractions
Continue to play with your dog as he stays within the yard. Allow distractions on the other side of the fence. Call your dog and encourage him to come play. When he hears the signal warning him he is approaching the fence line, allow him to be corrected if he transgresses the fence.
Step
6
Practice, play, remove flags
Once your dog has a good idea of where the fence line is and responds to approaching it by retreating once he hears the audible signal, you can remove the flags from the perimeter. Continue to monitor until you are confident your dog knows where the perimeter is and responds appropriately to the signal to retreat back within the perimeter.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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