Dogs that are allowed to roam the street are at danger – danger to themselves and to the public. In fact dogs which are allowed to roam the streets usually have a short lifespan because they are often seriously maimed or killed by cars, are frequently baited because of the nuisance they cause to neighbours and they often roam so far that they become lost or stolen and are never seen again.
There are a number of ways to prevent your dog from roaming the streets. The easiest and most obvious solution is to construct a fence that is secure enough to keep your dog on your own property and out of your neighbour’s. In fact a simple rule of dog ownership is that if you have a dog you must have a fence.
The style of fence is very important and it must be designed safetly so that the dog cannot become trapped by the fence. Many dogs are excellent jumpers and climbers and even a three metre high fence can be ineffective to contain them.
In such cases, the cheapest and most effective means of preventing escape is to construct a ‘lean-to’ section, inclined inwards, on top of the fence in a similar fashion to the security fences that surround factories. The lean-to prevents dogs from climbing over the fence and also presents a visual barrier to dogs that can jump over high fences. This is far easier and cheaper to construct than placing another vertical section on top of the existing fence – which is still likely to be scaled by some dogs.
For dogs which dig, a narrow concrete seam under the fence in combination with a tension wire an inch or two about the ground is very effective. Concrete is cheap, and a bag of cement costing a few dollars will fix a lot of fencing.
Be especially careful if you have a picket fence around your property. Such fences have caused horrendous wounds to the legs of dogs that have attempted to jump over them and have caught their legs between the pickets. A solid wooden fence is much safer.
People in rented accommodation have an added problem. Understandably, they are reluctant to pay to construct a fence on a property they do not own. However they do have a responsibility to prevent their dog being injured on the street, or becoming a nuisance to neighbours.
Fortunately there are two easy and inexpensive solutions. The first is to construct a small pen or run for the dog out of chain wire so the dog is confined safely. The run should include shelter from the sun and rain and, of course, watering and feeding facilities.
The second, though not ideal method, is to construct a running lead. This is a strong wire secured a metre or two above the ground between two strong posts. The dog’s lead is attached to this in such a fashion that it can easily slip back and forth along the wire. It is necessary to have some form of limiting device at either end of the wire so that the dog cannot move around the securing posts and become entangled. An even better version is to have the lead attached not to two posts but to two pegs driven into the ground either end of the wire so that the dog cannot get the lead tangled.
It is very poor practice to secure a dog to a chain attached to a single post. The dog’s freedom of movement is severely restricted and the dog is very likely to tie itself in knots. Almost invariably, dogs confined in such fashion turn into problem barkers because of the stress involved with the constant restriction.
You can train a dog not to jump fences but this takes time. If you are present when your dog jumps the fence then simple discipline is often effective. Regretfully, most dog owners think that discipline means belting the dog with a rolled newspaper. This is totally inappropriate for a fence jumper, unless you just happen to be standing beside the dog with the rolled newspaper at the very moment the dog is attempting to jump the fence.
Once Rover has jumped over the fence and is running free, it is a ridiculous practice to call him to you and then thrash him with a newspaper or bare hand. The dog associates the discipline it receives with the last thing it did – which in this case was to come to you in response to your command.
Do not be surprised when Rover jumps the fence again, as he certainly will, and then refuses to come when you call him.
The “Bad Dog-Good Dog” Technique
Discipline needs to come before the dog has vaulted the fence. Keep a wary eye on him from a window and use voice discipline when he approaches the fence with intent to jump. Bellow “No” out of the window like a bull with a bellyache.
Then call the dog to you in a firm but pleasant voice and, when the dog obeys this command, praise it enthusiastically. This positive response makes the message clearer to the dog than a chastisement alone. Done often enough, it is possible to condition a dog to come to you for a pat instead of jumping a fence.
Another interesting technique that works in some circumstances is to get the fence to discipline the dog. For this you need a garden hose.
Attach the hose to the fence where the dog is most likely to jump. Observe the dog closely and, when it approaches the fence, turn on the hose. The dog will associate the discipline with the fence and not with you. Follow this by calling the dog to you for a pat, as with the previous technique.
It is often very useful to have a problem dog desexed if it is regularly roaming the suburbs. Male dogs will roam looking for sexually active females, especially if the dog can detect the scent of a female in the neighbourhood. Castration is quite effective in preventing roaming if this is the reason for the dog’s wanderlust.
For further information on preventing roaming, please contact the Animal Control Officer on (07) 4783 9800 or your local vet.