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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Who let the dogs out?

Who let the dogs out?
Which fence do you prefer?

I have had the same picket fence encase my yard for the last 16 years, the pickets are worn and breaking off, the posts seem to be rotting to the core and there are escape holes in various areas. Ugh, the thought of replacing the fence around the yard is mind numbing because of the cost and labor as this would be a do it yourself project and I have an acre of property to enclose. The most recent replacement of a portion of the fence was about three years ago when Steeler was returned to me. Steeler was an unneutered rambunctious dog who was very much used to breaking out of the yard and running the streets. To this day I hear stories from neighbors of Steeler’s former owner just how often he would break loose. It would have been helpful to know this bit of information when he was returned to me as my four foot picket fence with its rotted and broken pickets were certainly no match for him. My other dogs kind of respected the fence for the most part, well except for Crazy Bentley, if he found an easy opening, he too would go out and explore. Bentley absolutely loves his Debbie, our neighbor.

So which fence is the best choice? That can be a hard and expensive lesson to learn. I have gone through pickets, chain link, sonic, and stockade fencing over the years and they all had their loop holes. The picket and stockade fencing were shown to be no match for the dogs as they could climb over, dig under, or just push their heads through knocking out picket after picket until they made a hole big enough to fit through. Because of the criss/ cross pattern of the chain link fence, it actually gave the dogs good footing to just climb it like a step ladder and hop out to the other side, so unless it was ten feet tall with barbed wire at the top it was found to be useless for such giant breeds. Somehow I don’t think the neighbors would like living next to a house with barbed wire, it might look too prison like! The invisible or sonic fencing work for some dogs and not for others, and once the battery runs down in the collar the dog is not getting the warning signal anymore so off they go!

So after purchasing and erecting a four foot stockade in the back part of the north forty as I like to call it ( makes me feel so Dallas like), to keep Steeler from getting out did not work for the reasons I stated above, I went to the $300.00 sonic fencing. Sonic fencing requires no wires, it is a unit that you set up in your home or a shed (with electricity) and this allows the dog a 90 degree radius around the unit. The dog wears a radio collar just as they would with the underground wire system. Steeler respected the sonic collar for a while until the battery ran down which happened way too soon in my opinion, so unless I could remember to keep back up batteries in the home at all times I was back in the same situation in which I started. Also if the electricity went off, the sonic box would not work.

Hmmm, what to do, what to do, what to do? Steeler getting loose was down right dangerous for his health and he was also showing Bentley where the escape holes were! Crazy Bentley is not as street wise as Steeler is, but is always looking for opportunity to go out and romp.

What I finally found success with was the hot wire fencing. This is how my picket fence, being in such deplorable condition, is able to keep my rambunctious dogs in the yard! A hot wire system can be connected to any existing fence you have. I used this fencing years ago when I lived in NY and remember hooking it up here when we first moved in but the original box that I brought to PA with me had since died, or maybe it just needed a fuse but Pete didn’t know so he threw it out! Yes, yes, it is easier just to blame poor Peter who until recently had very little experience with all things mechanical. Heck, I remember when we were without a phone for nearly a week because Peter decided to cut all those pesky wires that were hanging from the basement rafters!

A hot wire is an exposed wire that attaches to existing fencing (or posts) via plastic conductors and is attached to a box which sends electrical current through the wire so when you touch it you get a little shock. The wire and the conductors also act as a visual to the dog, unlike a sonic or buried wire that the dog never sees. When we first hooked it up we all got zapped buy it because while doing lawn work or going to chat with a neighbor over the fence we would get a little too close to the wire that we somehow forgot was there, and ZAP right across the shins! And there were times when I thought it was not working properly because I saw a dog brush up against it and not yelp so I’d ask Peter or the boys to tap it with their fingers and see if it was still working. “Oh SHIT!” I’d hear as they would quickly pull their hand back into the safety of their body and then check to see if their heart was still beating! “Yes, it’s working!” they’d reply and then some expletives would follow that sentence.
What I did not realize at the time was that it was only the dog’s hair that was touching the fence, not an actual body part that would feel a shock! Ooops!

So without hesitation I would recommend a hot wire fence for these simple observations made by myself having tried many different types of fences over the years.

1) When the dog touches the wire once, they never go near it again, (my box has been turned off for months since Steeler touched the wire and he has never attempted to go within two feet of the fencing)
2) There is a visual for the dog to see and remember unlike sonic or underwire fencing and no batteries or radio collar needed.
3) It is easy to install on an already existing fence, the total cost is approximately one hundred and fifty dollars, depending on the size of your yard.
4) You can really screw with the family by having them test the fence for you every now and then! Just kidding, get a fence tester it’s worth the extra ten bucks.

But hey, you know your dog better than anyone so go with what works for you:)

Sonic fence

Hot wire

Fencing~ installing a hot wire

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