Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A few weeks ago I bought the Petsafe Wireless Fence system for our house. The system includes a 18 kHz radio transmitter that mounts on the wall in the house and monitors the signal from the dog's reciever collar. When the transmitter loses the signal (when the collar crosses the owner-defined boundary) the reciever "corrects" the dog with an electric pulse. The receiver comes with two different length sets of contact points for short or long-haired dogsI had serious doubts about the effectiveness of the wireless system because my Savage is very sensitive and the corrections might scare him too much. I also know that it has been absolutely impossible to even slow him down when he sees the fox outside the house, and I didn't believe even an electric shock could stop him from chasing it. Installing the system was made difficult by the fact that the full 180 foot diameter of the "safe zone" passes through the thick woods behind our house, as well as around the yard and driveway, so I had to crawl through the brush to mark the boundaries. Also, the boundary flags included with the system were useless on snow-covered ground. Being white, they are almost invisible, and the thin wire just sunk into the snow. I solved that problem by buying an inverted can of orange spray paint and actually marking a continuous line on the snow. After shocking myself to see how strong the corrections were, I adjusted the collar to the #2 level (there are five levels of correction, plus beep-only mode), filled my pockets with treats, and set out to teach Savvy his new boundaries. In the beginning he was frightened, but easily learned that the uncomfortable shock is always preceded by beeping noises, and it took him only a couple hours over two days to fully understand the meaning of the orange line, and the consequences of stepping over it. In the following weeks, he has only attempted to cross the line twice when there are people in the yard beyond the safe zone. Each time he has gotten shocked and quickly turned back. We have had no fox sightings yet, so that may be a different story. For the first few days after he learned the boundaries, he stayed right next to me when we were in the yard, assuming that wherever I walked must be safe. Day by day he increased his roaming area, and now I think he's comfortable knowing where he is and is not allowed to go. His safe zone includes the yard, the porch, our trucks and snowmobiles, the grassy hill he uses as a bathroom, his designated "bone-chewing" area, and the woods behind the house.
So far the system has worked very well, and wasn't too time-consuming to install. Because we live on R.'s mother's property, and will be moving into our new house this summer (hopefully) I can't really put up a physical fence, and would reccommend the Petsafe Wireless Fence to anyone in a similar position. The transmitter is completely portable so I can set it up at the new place when we move. The second level of correction controls my 150 lb dog fine, and I feel comfortable letting him roam outside without watching him constantly, though I would never leave the house with him outside unattended. It gives both Savage and I a little more freedom, without putting him in danger. The entire system cost me about $270.00 and I feel that it's been worth it in only the short time we've been using it.
The only thing that bothers me is that the collar only comes in one color: red. And I was so hoping for purple. LOL.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Sex Education

At 14 months old, my baby dog has finally taken a real interest in the opposite sex, in the form of a friend's unspayed female foster dane. My friends took Savage out to play on the lake while I did some chores at home and after about 10 minutes I got a phone call from Sarah telling me to come back and pick up my dog. She said Savvy was almost uncontrollable as soon as he realized the female was in heat. The girl was very receptive to him and they had to be separated immediately. He has been around a few females in heat before and has never shown much interest so this is a brand new thing.
I have been putting off neutering Savage until I'm confident that he has reached his full height and weight. Since he hadn't had any hint of a sex drive before this incident and because I watch him so closely around other dogs, it has not been a problem at all. Now I'm going to have to be even more careful and may even consider having him fixed sooner. One more thing to worry over. *sigh*

Monday, January 22, 2007

Snowmobile Savvy

I've decided that my puppy is now old enough to run alongside my snowmobile for exercise, and for the last week we've been going out for brief runs on the frozen lake while the weather is favorable. I'm being careful not to push him too hard and we take breaks often to let him calm down. He's discovered a new love of running, and even when I'm idling along slowly he's racing up ahead. After we stop to rest and I start the engine again, he goes nuts barking and whining for the snowmobile to move. I keep the exercise sessions as short as 5-10 minutes, and afterward he doesn't seem the least bit exhausted.
My Savage looks absolutely breath-taking running full speed alongside me, with his long legs and powerful muscles working so efficiently. And I think he really enjoys running. Who would have guessed my lazy pup is such an athlete?
By the way, the backdrop of snow makes it more difficult for me to get really nice outdoor pictures of the dogs so I'm not posting a lot of photos lately. Also, look for an upcoming blog post which will explain more about the wireless fence system and how it's working out for Savage and I.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

This morning it was -15 degrees outside, and windy. Therefore we skipped our morning walk. As usual when he doesn't get exercise early in the day, Savvy busied himself with tearing up cardboard boxes and charging around the house and basically being a pain in the butt. I know he's bored but he doesn't even want to go outside for a few minutes when it's cold, so R.'s son and I tried to entertain him indoors.
Around noon, with temperatures climbing to 20 degrees, I loaded him in my new (to me) truck and drove to my place of work to meet some snowmobile customers, and I left Savage in the truck for about an hour and a half. Usually he's a perfect angel and has never torn the seatcovers, or chewed on the belts or anything. Except for a few pawprints and short grey hairs, the truck was spotless... But not anymore. Now the back seat upholstery is shredded, and torn blobs of foam are scattered all over the cab. And Savvy's daddy and mama are pretty pissed off.
But it's hard to be mad at him when I know that I should have spent some time in the morning doing something, anything with him to alleviate his boredom and exhaust some of his energy. Tomorrow we will take a morning walk (even if it has to be brief) and I will begin to patch up my back seat as much as possible. Ugh.