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Suggestions for dog training client with unreasonable fence expectations?

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  • Suggestions for dog training client with unreasonable fence expectations?

    She has two new Springer puppies, and an acre of fenced yard; it's 3 board fencing, no chicken-wire reinforcement on the bottom, and the boards are wide enough apart to *easily* enable the pups to wiggle through or dig under the bottom board if so inclined. And you know how dogs are. Obviously, they have not yet learned recall (she got them last week, they are 13 weeks old, a brother and sister), and though we plan to work on this along with everything else, it will be a good while before any kind of solid recall is reliably established--plus this will be more difficult with a "littermate pack" who will influence each other as partners in crime (as in: HEY! Let's go exploring! )

    One of her expectations is that we (the trainers) work with her and the puppies so that they "learn" to stay within the fenceline. She has 4 children under the age of 11 , but she at least DOES have previous dog training experience, runs a tight ship when it comes to dogs *and* children, is committed, and is willing to work.

    That said...

    We suggested that she put chicken wire along the lower boards of the fence (her husband, who is the "softie", seemed to be cautiously in agreement), but the woman is adamant that "yes, they WILL be supervised at all times when they're out there, and they SHOULD learn to stay within the fence boundary". This is one of her "main goals for the training." She is also against getting an invisible fence (but chicken wire would be easier, and still relatively inconspicuous.)

    Supervision is essential and necessary, but she won't be able to stop them if they are at the far end of the property, squeezing out through the boards while ignoring her (especially if she's distracted by one of the kids.)

    Obviously I'm going to work FIRST on getting rock solid attention and watch me, and getting the dogs to key in and tune in to the sound of her voice--and to their names.

    Suggestions from the pool of COTH wisdom??

    "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

    "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

  • #2
    you want to work with somebody like that?

    I'll send you some box wine....

    three board fence is ok for horses, I don't consider it dafe for dogs (I have seen a big dog popping a board off a fence, trying to get to the other side...I was right behind her, not sure if I got over, under or through the fence....I was too busy rescuing the neighbors mutt from our Great Dane....)

    No ideas to get the idea home that this is not a good idea, maybe ever, to not have the fence line tighter though.
    Good Luck.

    (not to mention my Dalmatian....she came running to me in the middle of her zoomies, 3, 4 times...the 5th time she took a detour...came back 45 minutes later....she never did get a reliable recall...not even with treats)


    • #3
      Good luck with this project.
      I think the key is understanding that dogs, even trained dogs, aren't robots and make mistakes. Getting a good recall is a huge challenge, especially when there are distractions. Personally, I would add the chicken wire or do an electric fence because if one of the dogs blows off the command one time, you don't want the dog to get hit by a car or lost or a million other things. If you watch very well trained dogs, you will see them mess up and blow off a recall to go check something else out. It's all well and good in a controlled situation, but gone is gone.


      • #4
        Immediately raise your fees.
        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


        • #5
          I have a 3 board split rail fence with a 4' high wire fence on the backside.... really you can't see it. It's the same 2x4 inch sire fencing that you see for horse farms but a thinner gauge wire... as in not horse proof and cheaper than horse fencing.

          I do not allow dogs in the yard unattended.


          • #6
            The lady sounds nuts. Close supervision of 2 puppies and 4 kids under 11? At some point you gotta look away from somebody to check on someone else.

            I don't know what to do other than wish you luck.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Dr. Doolittle View Post
              Suggestions from the pool of COTH wisdom??

              get your money up front and tell her you won't offer a refund.

              this will go south and it will be your fault.

              Good luck, when the puppies become adolescent dogs and begin to make their own decisions....think about how you can help her place them.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks, all (I think! ), and yeah--this just confirms my opinion of this as an unrealistic expectation on her part...

                Alas, she paid upfront, and there is a "money back guarantee" (from the company) if the customer is dissatisfied. I have yet to have a dissatisfied customer among the many students I've helped, but then again, I had previously been working from a structured curriculum (as a trainer for a corporation, group classes)--which is a different kettle of fish. I have helped every person/dog I have worked with, hundreds over 10 years, but this is different. The client is paying more, and expects, um, satisfaction.

                The "new boss" and I discussed this issue after we left today, and agreed that it would be a problem. We are going to try to work on talking sense to the husband, and see whether I can use my logic and communication skills to convince the wife.

                In addition to commiseration, any suggestions as to how to "sway" her to a reasonable POV about this would be *greatly* appreciated!

                I know what I'm up against, here , but would love to be able to help her, keep the puppies SAFE, and fulfill my obligation.
                "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by Casey09 View Post
                  Good luck with this project.
                  I think the key is understanding that dogs, even trained dogs, aren't robots and make mistakes. Getting a good recall is a huge challenge, especially when there are distractions. Personally, I would add the chicken wire or do an electric fence because if one of the dogs blows off the command one time, you don't want the dog to get hit by a car or lost or a million other things. If you watch very well trained dogs, you will see them mess up and blow off a recall to go check something else out. It's all well and good in a controlled situation, but gone is gone.
                  THIS, and I completely agree! I have two Whippets, so am UBER sensitized to this. One of mine is whistle trained (the other is pretty good with recall, but is afraid of the whistle, so I haven't been able to do this with her), but they are FAST, and are quickly out of earshot; we have only lost them a couple of times, and the whistle training has worked, each time; luckily they were not TOO far away, thank GOD! They are never, ever off the leash unless they are in an enclosed place, the times they got out where when my DD left the front door open accidentally, and once when the back gate in our small yard blew open after dark, and we let them out there unknowingly. (We live in the suburbs, land of heavy traffic, and all dogs who "get out of Dodge" turn their ears off immediately and are in peril.) Scary stuff, and even though this family lives a bit more out in the boonies, as you say--once they are lost, they are lost. No way to get them back unless you are lucky, and the odds are stacked against it. OY!
                  "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                  "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")


                  • #10
                    Put a little crime-scene-taped outline of a puppy on the road outside her house and tell her that's what happens when a puppy starts chasing a bunny or chasing another puppy. Having faith in a great recall is wonderful. Having a backup is priceless.



                    • #11
                      Tell her that if she wont chickenwire the yard, the only possible way to train is to have each pup trail a 30 ft. lead AT ALL TIMES WHEN OUTSIDE. Add some snow, mud, poo and peed-on leads plus 4 kids getting wrapped up in the leads and going down screaming with leashburns on their legs and she may change her mind about the chickenwire

                      See if you can convince her to use the chickenwire "temporarily", until the pups have a solid recall. The stuff is so easy to place and remove, and by having a real barrier in place for boundary training, you/she should be able to teach pups to stay inside the fence the same way you train for the invisible fence. Good luck!
                      Last edited by lovey1121; Feb. 23, 2013, 01:53 AM.


                      • #12
                        Maybe pointing out that if her pups can get out, other animals can get in (the yard ) will make wire on the fence more apealing. Do you have coyotes were you are? They constantly take small dogs and cats here.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Dr. Doolittle View Post

                          Alas, she paid upfront, and there is a "money back guarantee" (from the company) if the customer is dissatisfied.
                          I would refund her money and say "sorry we can't help you"....


                          • #14
                            Tell her this is an unrealistic expectation. I think anything else is doing a potentially lethal disservice to the pups. Agree that mesh wire on an already-existing board fence will be attractive and offer effective containment -- just be sure the wire is either burried a few inches or overlapped on the ground about 4 inches and tacked down, lest they dig under.
                            If thou hast a sorrow, tell it not to the arrow, tell it to thy saddlebow, and ride on, singing. -- King Alfred the Great


                            • Original Poster

                              Agree with all of the above advice (I was thinking about suggesting that they wear long leads when outside, I have already recommended that she put house leashes on them), and yes--making the point to her that other animals will be able to "breach the perimeter"--excellent idea!

                              I have my first session with her on Monday (no husband and the older kids will be in school), I'll go over the basics and talk about dog behavior and psychology, and mention that puppies are natural explorers and "escape artists", possibly also walk the perimeter of the fence with her and show her how easy it would be for them to scootch under (or through), and how quickly they could then get out of earshot.

                              I plan to do my best to convince her (next session with husband involved), and emphasize SAFETY. Since she has young children, she SHOULD be able to understand that "baby carbon-based organisms" are unpredictable and impulsive.
                              "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                              "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")


                              • #16
                                That's ridiculous and unsafe. Are pups from a breeder? Most breeders give info on what is considered acceptable in terms of housing. Regardless, there's they're just going to have to accept they have unrealistic expectations.


                                • #17
                                  Wow. So does she allow her 2 - 6 year olds to wander into the road because they're not safely contained behind a fence? They'll just "learn"?
                                  Puppies will be roadkill before they're three months old.
                                  I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry


                                  • #18
                                    Dang... I had enough trouble teaching recall to ONE Springer puppy. Can't imagine what it would have been like if she'd had a brother or sister to train, too!

                                    However, I'm certainly NOT a pro, and OP, you certainly ARE, so I know you can handle this. Provided the client is persuaded to have more realistic expectations. I do not see why a temporary chicken wire solution is such a big deal, and I wish you much luck in convincing her/them of that. At least the kids are not hooligans but she needs to remember kids and puppies are a LITTLE different, LOL!
                                    "Horses lend us the wings we lack." ~ Pam Brown


                                    • #19
                                      And I am surprised no one has mentioned the problems with getting littermates - once the dogs reach maturity isn't there usually a problem with dog on dog aggression? I have an acquaintance who is currently dealing with this and one of her dogs will have to be re-homed.
                                      What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!


                                      • #20
                                        Chicken wire won't do it. She needs to put up no-climb on the inside, nailed to the fencing and reinforced with zip ties around the posts.

                                        It's invisible, pretty much. At least judging by the reactions of people outside my fence when my pack goes screaming out the front door.

                                        Don't even pretend to the client that her plan will work. It won't. And then you'll feel so horrible when the puppies get mashed in the road or otherwise meet a sad end. Plus she probably will blame you. Suppose you came up with some hare-brained scheme that was dangerous for your horse (not saying you would, of course!) - if your trainer went along with it, and you and/or your horse got hurt, we'd all feel the trainer was partly to blame, wouldn't we?

                                        I've raised littermates to adulthood together. We did have our share of fights. And they'd start with almost no observable provocation. The boys (GSD/wolf hybrids) would be lying around the living room, apparently at peace, and suddenly morph into a big whirling ball of fur and teeth. It was amusing to watch guests vault behind the furniture when it happened, but getting blood out of the carpet later was a drag. A year or so of that was quite enough and we managed to find separate homes for them all.

                                        Oh, just re-read your post. A brother and a sister might not be as difficult as same-sex littermates. But she probably will have her share of dust-ups.
                                        I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show