DIY fencing is fine, but again, if you want it done right, just call Ed at Top Dog Fence. I called Ed first about four years ago after finding the break in the wire and trying to repair it. It was JUST TOOOOOO MUCH to contemplate. Top Dog came out, and in just a few hours, they installed the wire around the entire property, including under the black top at the head of the driveway and back across the driveway to the control panel. They installed it in cleared grassy places and in deep woods. They marked it with orange and white flags, and then they trained the two big dogs to it. It was easy. And they have never crossed the barrier or gone into the street since it was installed!
I was reminded of the need for fencing when I found Chestnut, one of our youngest RedTeddies, out of the puppy play yard once again. I was certain I had put her in, and all the gates were closed, yet there she was, at the front door, or playing with Sara and Sparky in the big yard…
Chestnut is a Moyen, or small Standard Poodle. But we are not a Standard Poodle breeder. We are a Miniature and Toy Poodle breeder. Have you ever had a breeder tell you, “I just cannot believe how small this little puppy is,” when they are talking about a Poodle whose ancestry is no doubt part dinosaur? And you believe them? If you ever hear this, or anything like it, just remember that all size is relative, and a small Standard Poodle is still likely going to be able to jump over a four-foot fence. Without a problem. Not like Leo, the Miniature exceptional climbing monkey Poodle. A Standard can do this just by reaching up, elegantly, and suddenly without any effort, finding herself on the outside of the fence. Now what do I do?
Chestnut is a gorgeous and HUGE (and still growing) red AKC Poodle for whom we almost but not quite re-mortgaged the house. But she can easily defeat the fence! Just two choices, maybe more but we could only think of two choices: increase the height of all our fences, or call back Ed at Top Dog Fence. So that’s what we did: we used the phone because it was much easier than engineering acres of taller fencing.
Ed was brilliant. He signaled the presence of the fence with orange flags all along the perimeter, and then trained both Chestnut, and the RedTeddy staff, how to stay safely inside our invisible property boundary. Ed has a patient and caring way with dogs. He talks to them like equals, simply reminding them that there is something to avoid on the fence line. He starts with a tone, not a shock, and traipses all over, back and forth, reinforcing the boundary for Chestnut by having her approach the edge and turn back on her own. She knows there is a barrier because she sees the orange flags; this allows her to make her own decision to back away. Ed did not force her to cross the boundary or get too close and get a shock; he gently allowed her to get the idea, before she got any correction at all! Ed even used Sparky and Sara to help train Chestnut. Afterwards, we worked with her every day for a week. Then, Ed came back and reinforced the training for both humans and Chestnut: PROBLEM SOLVED!
We are still working with Chestnut, slowly expanding the areas that are free to her, and Ed will come back anytime we need him. Top Dog Fence also sells high quality collars and batteries. The original collars for Sara and Sparky are still going strong after over ten years!
Our Poodles are home bodies for the most part. They love hanging out with their people. If they are outside without a person, they really do not tend to wander off. (But we have fenced the acreage regardless.) So, the Poodles cannot meander into unsafe places or get near the road because of the fences. Still, bigger dogs, like Labs and big Doodles, do like to wander, and they have superior jumping powers. While a four-foot fence can stop a 20-pound Poodle (even Leo and little Bandito, who can jump over the puppy play area fence), it will not stop Sara or Sparky from getting down into our parking area. This can be a good thing because it prevents people we do not know from visiting unannounced. (It even stops some invited visitors!) But how do we keep Sparky and Sara from being hit by a car in the street?
We want the least restrictive environment for all our dogs: the bigger the dog, the larger the area needs to be. It would not be fair to force Sparky and Sara to stay in the puppy play yard all day. They need a much larger area to run and explore, to keep them intellectually-stimulated and healthy. Putting an eight-foot deer fence around the entire property would be a great idea–- but it was very expensive (and we still weren't sure it would keep them out of the road). Some kind of perimeter boundary was essential. Enter, or re-enter, as it were, the underground fence--with a twist. The twelve year old had since gone off to college (and no, playing FIFA was no longer the vocation of the eighteen year old... he has since denied saying that it was, ever. But he did, really. Honestly.) Let’s move on. Please. I needed professional help.
Time passes and now, RedTeddy is mostly Poodles, but not all Poodles! Somewhere along the line, we saw a Fox Red Labrador retriever, and well, we could not resist, because we are RED Teddy, and at the time, maybe a little foolish because, really, honestly, there is very little similarities between a real life Lab and a Poodle, other than they are both dogs. One is a big curious goof ball who pretends to listen but doesn’t, a stubborn counter-surfing, high-jumping, 60-pound muffin who wants to be but cannot be (due to size) a lap dog, and the other is a Poodle. But we did not know that then. We also did not realize that a Golden Doodle would most likely grow to be at least fifty pounds, no matter what the breeder tells you, even and maybe especially, if the breeder swears to you that this puppy only looks big but will never grow to be over fifteen pounds, twenty at the most. You can count on it.
Our Fox Red Labrador Retriever, Sara (Saratoga Red), and her best friend, Sparky, the Golden Doodle, actually have an important role here introducing the baby puppies to big dogs, and generally leading the pack in all kinds of fun games such as "Chase," "Catch me if you can!" and "Who's got the biggest bone?" The baby puppies play, "Lets chew on the big dogs' tails and see what happens" (nothing if it is Sara’s; a wookey howl if it is Sparky’s). Sara and Sparky keep our property relatively safe from strangers, both the human and animal kind!
Because the larger dogs can go into the big woods behind the house, Sara and Sparky have nearly eliminated the deer who used to eat our plants and bushes. The little dogs may not appreciate it, but RedTeddy humans like that there is less deer poop around for the Poodles to, um, eat. There have also been fewer skunks, raccoons, possums, and even fewer squirrels, in our big yard...but not because the big dogs don’t want them around; they love to play with fast moving critters, and it is the varmints themselves that seem less inclined to make nests where two 50-60 pound dogs and a crew of Miniature and Toy Poodles are chasing them. Apparently, that's not an appealing place to forage and raise their young!
If you are interested in underground fences, there are many different kinds to choose from. Some companies will come out and install wiring for underground fences. Others will provide a radio signal that detects a circular perimeter of a distance you can pre-select, and which is connected to a dog's collar. There are also DIY options which help you to run wire yourself and connect them to a transmitter and dog collars that you can purchase separately. These options all have pros and cons. For example, the DIY alternative might seem right for you, or not…
A long long time ago, when RedTeddy was in its infancy, before the deer fence and before the big dogs (more on them later), we were highly budget-conscious, and we thought, what’s a couple acres of wire? What's a couple acres of digging a trench? Anyone can do that! Right? What are twelve year old boys good for if not for digging acres of six inch wide trenches to bury miniscule 20 gauge wire in, right? There was some conversation at that time about child labor and whether or not it's legal nowadays.. but we did point out how one person, who does not need to be named, pays for electricity and therefore can choose not to pay for said electricity to power certain devices that exist solely to entertain certain twelve year olds who like to play FIFA 2012 (even if this twelve year old insists it is not "playing" when it is a “vocation").
The DIY version of underground fencing was just great, until it wasn’t... until I, personally, had to go out in the rain with a very long wire and cut and splice it into the buried line in segmented regions to try to figure out where the break in the tiny miniscule 20 gauge very breakable wire was... Oh, and did I mention that this was in the rain? Or maybe it was snow. Yes, snow, too.. definitely. So DIY is great for underground wire fencing unless you want it done right the first time. And unless you want help training your dogs to use it correctly, which we never really needed back then, because our dog was a Poodle and super smart, and she basically trained herself. Because we did not know how, so she had to. It worked great.
Fencing is so important, especially if, like at RedTeddy, your property is adjacent to a major road where the speed limit is 35 mph but cars and trucks fly down the hill doing closer to 50!
For the safety of our dogs, we have several layers of protection. These include an eight foot wire fence around most of the property. It's supposed to be a deer fence, but the deer didn’t get the memo!--until we got the big dogs (more on them later). The puppy play yard, with doggie doors into the kitchen, has a white picket fence around it that is reinforced with chicken wire to prevent nosy little dogs from squeezing out! One, who shall remain nameless (but whose name begins with "Band," as in Band-Aid, but without the Aid, and ends with "it," and who has a mask on like a bandit, and who is a tiny little Parti Poodle), has found other ways to defeat the fence.. He is right now being watched very very very carefully and soon will give away his secret exit--again!
OK, the puppy play yard with its nice picket fence, really does a great job of giving baby puppies a big area to play in and explore. Some of the older dogs think it is just interesting enough, too, and they have yet to dig their way out. Mostly that's because they are digging their holes several feet from the fence, apparently trying to dig first under the tomato garden bed before tunneling under the picket fence, perhaps to prevent the humans from figuring out their intent… if they are engineering a tunnel, good for them… always wanted an underground bunker…
Moving right along, safety is paramount, and our fences allow RedTeddy to keep dogs safe yet give them space to run and play. In addition to the deer fencing, we chose to line most of our property with an underground fence as an added layer that gives our larger dogs more of the freedom they need.
So, three fences and three different fenced-in areas: How do you keep your dogs safe? Leave a comment and see the next blog from RedTeddy!