Please weigh in on our fencing situation ... - Havanese Forum : Havanese Forums
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-15-2013, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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Please weigh in on our fencing situation ...

So Maestro is now 4 months old. A total love muffin, if I do say so myself. My carpool companion, soccer sideline buddy, and faithful companion!

So our neighborhood does not allow physical fences of any sort (except for the 4-foot iron type around pools, as required by low - we do not have a pool). So a physical fence is out of the question. In addition, we live at the edge of a greenbelt/common area that also has a stream - and because our yard and our neighbor's yard join with no barrier, we frequently see deer (usually 3-7 at a time, but one time up to 27!!) and occasionally a coyote (maybe 6 times in 3 years?), a fox (only twice), wild turkeys, and some other misc. wildlife.

Because of our wildlife situation, our family agreed that any and all trips outside had to be supervised. For now, either my husband or I go out because our girls (ages 6 and 9) are still too young to handle any situation that could arise -- though eventually they will be taking him outside as well. My point being: outside time is supervised. ALWAYS.

One other factor to consider is Maestro's personality. Thus far, he is a "velcro/bungee" dog. When I walk outside in the yard with him, it is rare that I'm able to get more than 20-30 feet away without him running to catch up with me. He will walk around a bit if I'm standing on our porch, but again, never farther than a let's say 30-foot radius around me -- and never (not once!) into our neighbor's yard on the left, the neighbor's yard on our right, or up the hill in the back of our yard.

Finally, on the few occasions when Maestro is outside and cannot be watched constantly (husband gardening in the front yard when I'm not home, me washing cars in the backyard during the day), he responds fairly well to being on a tie-out attached to his harness. So we always have that as an option, though obviously far from ideal.

So we are trying to decide whether an invisible fence is warranted. I did a search and read all the negative thoughts people have about them -- all of which is valid and helpful feedback. My husband thinks we need one so he has the free run of the yard. (We have roughly half an acre in the back so we are undecided as to whether we'd fence the front yard.) My viewpoint is that a.) we have to supervise him outside because of our wildlife, and since he doesn't show any inclination to run, what's the point? and b.) he won't even go out a door without an expressed written invitation now [seriously, I have to carry him outside - probably because he hasn't learned to go down steps yet], so I can't see bolting out a door being a problem either.

I guess my main question is this: was your dog's personality at 4 months pretty indicative of who s/he was as a grown dog? If he's a "homebody" now without an penchant for wandering or running off or barking, can I reasonably expect that to remain the same for year to come (even after being neutered)? I guess I can't see any reason FOR an invisible fence, especially knowing we can add it at any time. Maybe someone else has a different or helpful perspective?

Thanks in advance if you made it this far!
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-15-2013, 03:32 PM
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My only comment is on the invisible fence debate you are having with yourself. You mentioned that there is a lot of wildlife in the area. That, to me, would not be a good scenario for an invisible fence, as it would make Maestro a sitting duck, so to speak, with the wildlife being able to get into the yard and him being the bait. God forbid you end up with a tragedy on your hands. I think that invisible fences could also be very traumatic for little dogs, especially if they are sensitive ones. I would never use one, but that's my opinion on the subject. Good luck with your dilemma.

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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-15-2013, 03:52 PM
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I would just keep doing what you're doing. It sounds much safer than an invisible fence, especially because of the wildlife issue. Lots of Havanese don't have yards at all and do fine so it's not like he needs more freedom or romping time to be healthy and happy.

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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-15-2013, 03:52 PM
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I second Mary's thoughts on the invisible fence. Additionally, it is too easy to rely on an invisible fence to step inside for just a minute giving wildlife or other dogs the opportunity to get to Maestro. Also at 4 months Maestro has not yet entered his adolescent period during which he isn't likely to stay as close to you all the time or to listen to you or a family member call him when he sees something else interesting. If he is outdoors with you he should be on a leash or long line and you should work to perfect your recall with him. A solid recall will take a long time to reach a point where most of the time Maestro will come to you even if something more interesting catches his attention. When you live where a real physical fence isn't an option you just have to be extra mindful about Maestro leaving your property or something else taking him off your property (human or beast). Would hate to see anything bad happen to the little fellow!

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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-15-2013, 03:55 PM
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I think there are better uses for your money than investing it in an invisible fence. You could use the money to go on a family vacation with the dog for example!

I just think that for a small dog, as Sandy Paws outlines there are some risks. He's going to want to be with you anyway, and if you're concerned about being able to play fetch outside etc, maybe you can find an enclosed schoolyard or other fenced-in area. Or get a really long line. My dog gets a ton of outdoor exercise in the form of walking and but we play fetch indoors as I have a pool in my backyard and not a lot of space anyway.
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-15-2013, 03:56 PM
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Oh, and to reply to your question, dogs can change a lot after 4 months. Maybe not the personality, but the behaviors will go through phases. Zelda NEVER barked at that age. Now she's a loud teenager and driving us crazy... But she's basically done teething. Things are regularly changing.

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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-15-2013, 06:55 PM
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Coyotes are fast. If you've seen 6 in three years, you've probably just not seen the many more that are around. The only safe situation would be you holding him on a fairly short leash. Do you have a patio and, if so, are you allowed to fence or otherwise secure it? That might be your best choice.
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-16-2013, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by RoutineAvocado View Post
Oh, and to reply to your question, dogs can change a lot after 4 months. Maybe not the personality, but the behaviors will go through phases. Zelda NEVER barked at that age. Now she's a loud teenager and driving us crazy... But she's basically done teething. Things are regularly changing.

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I agree. Ludo used to follow me everywhere I went outside. Until one day he didn't. And now he's what we lovingly call "a runner" when he gets the chance.

If you didn't have all the wildlife despite everyone's feelings about the electric fence and in favor of people doing what works for their family, I would say you could try an electric fence. BUT it won't keep wildlife out as you know.

Could you ask your homeowner's if you can fence a small area off of your back porch? Is there an area that wouldn't be visible from the street? (And may I just say here that no fences is silly!) Or could you do the 4 ft iron one in a small area just off of the back?

Traci & Ludo


The dog becomes your dream come true, the very thing you wanted.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-16-2013, 09:12 AM
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I did end up getting a physical fence because Tim would end up wandering and I was fearful of my neighbor's dog. I will say however that I bought two indoor/outdoor expens that I use as my side fences, they are portable and have worked out great. Maybe you could do a temporary set up outside for Maestro to hang out in if you can't avidly watch him. I would be concerned with wildlife and I will attest that just because he doesn't leave your side now doesn't mean he won't later and it only takes one time to cause a problem trust me! Invisible fencing was not an option for me since I wanted to use it to keep things out plus I'm not sure Tim would react well to it since he's quite a sensitive guy.

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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-16-2013, 11:20 AM
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You asked for feedback, so here's mine. I had an electric fence before we installed a wooden one. Not for my Havanese mind you, but for an Airedale we had years ago. My best friend has one for her German Shepherd. My sister-in-law had one for her Schnauzer. So my opinion is based on these close examples. None of these situations really worked well for one reason or another. Electric fences are a pain in the butt to keep up. All of us have had to replace wire underground multiple times. All of our dogs have broken through the fence rendering it useless. And all of our dogs developed some serious neurosis due to fear of fence.

With that said, an electric fence leaves the collared dog inside very vulnerable to outside things coming in. So they are completely unprotected in that respect. A Havanese is a sensitive, small companion dog that really doesn't require lengthy periods of time outdoors unsupervised away from his people. I just don't see that it makes sense from a practical, humane or protective standpoint. I think you will find like most people that have tried them, they are a waste of time and money.

I'd spend the money on obedience classes to train my pooch to stay close by and obey recall. Plus you too will benefit from taking him outside on a leash routinely for fresh air and exercise.

Also, the xpen idea for portable fencing is great!

Karen Collins ~ Heartsong Havanese

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