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My sister has a Siberian Husky, and just moved into a rental home. Her previous home had a fenced backyard (6 foot privacy), but this home does not. How can she easily keep her dog in her yard?

They've used an overhead trolley on him before, and he didn't care for it. At the time, they had another dog and they would get tangled together, so that may have been part of the problem.

They're considering installing an invisible fence (the landlord will deduct improvements from the rent) but they aren't sure if it will be effective through his thick fur. What other options are available?

He was on a regular walking schedule for the 6 months they lived in my parents' basement, and once he settles down in the new home he should return to that fairly easily. In their previous home he enjoyed just hanging out outside sometimes, and they'd like to be able to allow him to do that.

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  • Any option that doesn't include a physical restraint will be met with poor success, especially if the dog has a high prey drive. Your best option is to train the dog to stay within the yard when you're outside, and tie the dog up when you're not able to supervise. As mentioned, the invisible fence is problematic if you cant supervise. – Chris Jun 4 '14 at 15:49
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Personally, I'd be wary of leaving a dog outside alone without a physical fenced boundary. Even if the dog knows to stay inside, others (dogs and humans) don't. That said you have several options.

Long Line

You can get what is essentially a 50 ft (around 15 m) leash and he can go where he pleases within the radius. It may be different enough from the trolley system that the dog could learn to like it, although I'm not familiar with overhead systems. Note that this doesn't address incoming undesirables.

Boundary Training

It is possible to train a dog to stay within a boundary, but it's a long process and requires lots of proofing to make sure your dog understands it should never cross the boundary even if a rabbit runs through his yard. You'll want to start with something the dog can see like a yellow line and start with work on leash.

Visible Fence

This is by far the best option, although it's not always available and certainly the most expensive. But you will need minimal training (or just make sure your dog is physically unable to dig under) and let your dog run around happily off leash without others getting in.

E-Collar

Invisible fences are not recommended as they are a form of positive punishment which can increase aggression and e-collars in particular increase stress levels in a dog. Here's some more information: I'd be wary of any e-collar system (such as an e-fence) as they've been shown to increase stress in dogs [ source: companionanimalpsychology.com ] and are generally bad training. E-Collars are even banned in some localities. Like boundary training, you still need to proof your dog, but instead of giving it lots of treats, an e-collar means shocking your dog. This method is not recommended and included only for information and awareness purposes. [ Further reading: dx.doi.org ]

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  • I think part of the problem with e-collars is that the dog can not see where the boundary is. – Ian Ringrose Apr 8 '16 at 9:19
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The one that I'm most aware of the invisible fence concept (there are a few variants, this is just an example). This works basically as a buried cable that triggers an audible tone and small static charge if the dog tries to cross the fence line. Since the active part is in the collar and not the fence itself, it's less impacted by the dog's fur. The collars should also be tailored to the individual pet and so are more effective.

The downside, of course, is that there's no fence... which means that others can get in, including people. Mind you, when we had a Siberian Husky/Alaskan Malmute cross as a kid, people actually crossed the street to avoid him when I walked him because he looked so much like a wolf, so maybe not a big risk. :)

By the way, when you mentioned electric fence, I assumed you meant that the fence had a charge in it as opposed to a buried fence system like this.

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  • Ah, I think she meant a buried fence like this. What do I know about dog stuff?? I'm just looking for options. :-) – Zaralynda May 28 '14 at 14:55
  • @Zaralynda - She might have, but she may also not be aware that the collars are designed to be adjusted according to the animal being trained. – John Cavan May 28 '14 at 14:57
  • Yes, that is new information! – Zaralynda May 28 '14 at 15:00
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    My brother in law had a dog an and one of these invisible fences. Trained the dog really well; collar beeps when you get near 'place', collar zaps when you get to 'place', when collar does not beep near 'place' you don't get zapped, if you lay near 'place' for a while beeping stops. SO dog goes near 'place' waits for battery to die from to much beeping, and than leaves the yard. They are now using an overhead wire run. – James Jenkins May 31 '14 at 9:52
  • @JamesJenkins smart dog! – Zaralynda Jun 2 '14 at 19:22
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The two primary consideration here are the dogs safety and the ease (or budget) of improvement.

There are several options, but the surest and safest are physical restraints either a fence or an overhead cable run. Fences are more expensive require more time and energy to create. Fences are also not an effective restraint for an unsupervised dog. A dog left in a fenced yard will dig under, or chew through the fence after sometime.

The dogs dislike of the overhead cable run will be significantly less than the dogs dislike of the getting hit by a car, if he escapes. There are safety concerns with a cable run that should be fully considered.

There are some solutions where a post is sunk into the ground, and a chain is allowed to circle around it. The screw in the ground type sold at most pet stores are not appropriate for a big dog, as they can pull them out, and are also not appropriate for long term unsupervised stays as they can and do get tangled.

For unsupervised outside stays of an hour or so, a fence will provide reasonable safety. Assuming that it is checked regularly. For unsupervised stays exceeding an hour a cable run can be the safest choice.

For supervised outside visits a post and circling chain can be used. In my childhood we tried the store bought screw in post on a big dog (with mixed results). Later we used a modified version, the rear axle (internal part of a solid rear end) was driven into the ground about 2 feet. The chain was attached so it would spin around the axle.

There is also a temporary heavy duty solution available from feed stores. 16 foot long fence panels that are 4 feet high. They have small openings at the bottom and larger at the top. Different stores have different options, but here is an example link I like the kind with the 2 inch opening at the bottom, and 6 inch at the top. Have used them for everything from dogs, to pigs, to goats and cows. Anchor them with steel posts, or tie them to trees or each other. Very portable and long lived.

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