Farm life is a joy for a dog. Lots of room to run and explore, things to chase and dig for, and plenty of freedom. I love to see my dogs’ happiness, which is why I have been so conflicted by the latest development.
Fionn is sometimes sneaky and when we aren’t keeping an eye on him he will slip out of our property to the farm two doors down and play with the neighbor dog or wander down to the creek to get coated in black sticky muck. We call and call, getting more worried all the time that he might have for the first time wandered out to the highway and be lying there injured or picked up by a stranger. Our imaginations run wild and we are furious and frantic by the time he shows up on the doorstep pleased with himself and oblivious of our mood.
The last time this happened, I said, “Enough is enough!” and I ordered a wireless fence. This comes with two radio collars and a transmitter that allowed me to set up a circle with a 160 foot radius around the house. When the dogs approach the perimeter, their collars begin beeping and when they cross they get an electric snap.
The training process was slow and methodical. I set up white flags all around the perimeter, testing with a collar and marking the edge every six feet. That was a lot of flags! Then I walked each dog around the circle and each time their beeper went off I’d pull them back and shake the closest flag, saying, “Bad flag!” They were supposed to get the impression that the flag was what was the trouble, not themselves.
After a few days of this, Beezee wanted nothing to do with leaving the porch. Fionn was somewhat oblivious. I had to put Beezee’s collar on the lowest correction setting and Fionn’s on the highest. After a few weeks, we can finally relax and let both dogs come and go as they please. Fionn spends all day wandering in the fields, looking for rodents. Beezee is comfortable out doing her business and then coming back to the house, without acting afraid.
I feel conflicted when I see them sadly watching us go out to the barn knowing they can’t come along anymore. The wireless system does not work on metal buildings, so I couldn’t include the barn in the circle. Their restricted freedom is sad, but my peace of mind knowing we won’t lose either of them is worth it.