Sage Monkey

Sage Monkey

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Benefits and Drawbacks of Electric Dog Fences

Every spring I get quite a few messages and emails inquiring about our experiences with our electric fence so I thought I would do a quick blog post on the subject and explain my thoughts on its advantages and disadvantages.

Cleo rocking her two collars. The normal blaze orange collar (because the world is her hunting ground) and her snazzy blue e- fence collar.

When we purchased our home four years ago the previous owners had an invisible fence installed. However, they had chosen to install the fence only in small portion of the yard. With their setup our dogs were limited to half the backyard and could not walk entirely around our ranch styled house. GSP's are high energy dogs so we felt that it was important that they have full access to the entire yard so the first thing we did was reach out to the manufacturer of the existing fence system (PetStop) and had them come out and rerun the fence around the entire perimeter of our property. Our yard is about an acre and a half. I bring this up as it I felt it was a testament to the product that it could easily be rerouted and although I don't remember what it cost it was relatively inexpensive. At the time we only had one of our GSP's (Ms. Sassy Spots Cleo) and she was just a puppy. So we had them make the changes and then waited until Cleo was old enough to be trained to the system.

Luna doing a little extra curricular mole hunting

One of the biggest concerns I hear from people especially with hunting dogs is will your dogs prey drive eventually take over and lead them to break through the fence?  Our shorthairs have an extraordinarily high prey drive and they will full out run like their life depends upon it in hot pursuit of a rabbit or squirrel and stop dead at the barrier. Rest assure they bark every dog expletive they know at those furry creatures and probably even a few at me but the moral of the story is they don't break through. I have also on more than one occasion seen my Cleo and Luna practically foam at the mouth at the fence line over our neighbors 3 legged cat that sits and taunts them about 4 feet from the barrier. Not sure there could be anything more tempting then that for a fur driven dog.

I actually own this badass mug....and a Siamese cat.

Even when the collar batteries are dead or on the rare occasion they are in the yard without collars on they will still not break through the fence. They have also never become aggressive or fearful from being trained to the electric fence. In fact our girls are rather happy and well adjusted shorthairs. Keep in mind that our girls are exercised everyday. Tired GSP's are happy GSP's and they go looking for a whole lot less trouble when they have been both physically and mentally stimulated. But I would encourage everyone who is in the market to get an electric fence to USE COMMON SENSE. If your dog is predisposed to behavioral issues or anxiety make sure they are a good fit for this style system. Like all things in life what it is good for some people/dogs is not good for all people/dogs. 

Luna modeling her green e-fence collar while playing catch off the back deck. Cleo is ALWAYS outfield.

Please note our neighbors handsome pup Lincoln watching us in the background who also is on an e-fence. (Luna is trying to figure out why she didn't get to dig that hole) 

With that said, in my humble opinion there are quite a few benefits of owning an electric fence. The first being cost. It was exponentially cheaper to run our acre and a half property with an invisible fence as opposed to a traditional above ground fence. Because of the low cost we were also able to enclose more of our property giving them more room to roam. Another added benefit is regardless of your terrain they can pretty much run an e-fence through anything, water included as well as across your driveway. I also like that the fence is hidden. I would absolutely hate to have an above ground fence in my yard and I rather like the idea that my dogs are able to see out into our quiet neighborhood. If we had a traditional above ground fence I could just imagine them barking like hell at whatever they couldn't see but could hear on the other side. I also like that there is basically no maintenance to keep up with. We got it installed four years ago and other than occasionally replacing collar batteries it's a well oiled machine.

Cleo escorting the neighborhood ambassador Natasha to the property line

The biggest downside to consider is that although an invisible fence keeps your dogs IN it does nothing to keep other animals or people OUT of your yard. For instance we have a couple who lives up the road from us who own an older German Shepard and they allow her to freely roam the neighborhood. Natasha ventures down to our property almost daily to visit the pointer sisters. Luckily for us Natasha is very sweet and in the four years we've lived in our home we have never had a problem although we would very much prefer it if she would stay in her own yard or more importantly crap in her own yard....but I digress. Also, if you happen to live in a neighborhood like ours with lots of children the invisible fence does nothing to keep them from cutting through your yard. Be your dogs best advocate and don't leave them in your yard for long periods of unsupervised time. And keep in mind the e-fence is not a baby sitter and you should always keep a watchful eye on your dogs when they are in your yard.

***Public Service Announcement: E-fences are crappy baby sitters. Do not let them babysit your dogs!! The last time our E-fence babysat our girls we came home to the 15 month old drinking Summer Shandy and smoking woodpile stogies.***

So for us the positives have far out weighed the negatives. And we will never not have an invisible e-fence for our dogs. I can't stress it enough that properly training your dog to your e-fence is going to be the secret to your success with it. It is my experience that when the dog is properly trained it will not break through the invisible barrier even in hot pursuit of delicious furry critters.

Luna-tic AKA Hell Puppy got a little rammy and chewed Cleo's e-collar battery right Let's just throw our wallet at the invisible fence.

My final tidbit of advice regarding collars is they can be expensive to replace or purchase (as pictured above). If you have a national brand ask if the company has any used collars for sale or check Ebay and Craigslist to save some cash.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Back in the Saddle: Preparing for the NAVHDA UT Test

Cleo at Steady by the Blind

This posts title is a bit misleading because we never really leave the "saddle". Were always busy with the girls working towards some type of goal. It's good for our sanity and theirs as well. Well directed GSP energy creates happy GSP's. Happy GSP's eat less of my stuff like expensive flip flops keeping me happy which in return makes Jim happy and then were all happy. I love it when were all happy.

The title is more accurate in a sense that I've been a legit crappy blogger as of late. I've been training for some Muay Thai competitions and the thing that has suffered the most has been this blog. Which sucks BUT after this July I'll be way more dedicated to keeping this blog up to date. This is when I put down my bourbon and lemonade slushy and cover my tye dye t-shirt wearing heart and raise the other hand and pledge to do a less crappy job for all of you help me god.

Master Hunter Bling and a happy Jimbo

Now that we have that out of the way a quick spring recap and then onto the UT update. We ran the girls in some AKC Hunt Test braces this spring. Luna was our little super star bypassing Juniors and Seniors and jumping right into the Masters division and passing her first brace at the age of 13 months. By 15 months of age she completed 5 of the required 6 braces. We will finish off her title this coming fall as soon as the seasonal tests become available again. Cleo also did a pretty darn good job in Masters and only has 2 more braces to earn her respective title.

Luna also had her first heat cycle followed by a crazy growth spurt. She is close to an inch taller than Cleo now and maybe four inches longer. Her chest is dropping and we feel she is going to fill out a bit more. She's turned into quite a hellacious tank. My little pupper is all grown up. ***This is when the sad trombone music plays***

Luna returning from her Duck Drag

Cleo being sent on a duck drag. Jim telling her to Track Track Track Track....

Cleo bringing back the bounty

This time last year Luna was a 16 week old puppy and therefore missed out on a good portion of the UT work we put in with Cleo last year. We introduced her to ducks at 18 weeks of age and tried to lay a good foundation for her with mini searches and tracks but we knew the real work would start this spring. This past Friday and then again on Sunday we began formally introducing her to the sequences of the Utility Test. Both Luna and Cleo are scheduled to test in the UT this coming September at the Delval Chapter.

Cleo being sent during the steady by the blind sequence

Luna staying steady during her turn

We kicked training off for the dogs with some duck drags. Cleo has historically done a fantastic job with drags and did so again this weekend. We set a small drag up for Luna on Friday and after a successful first time out he increased the distance on Sunday. She had no issues with the track and we quickly moved onto the Steady by the Blind sequence. The steady by the blind sequence is where the wheels came off the cart for Cleo last year when she tested in UT. Up until that point she had knocked her field work and duck search out of the park with 4's. Needless to say we will be spending more time in this area of the test for her this time around. She did a pretty nice job during training this weekend so we feel were off to a good start. Luna did an exceptional job considering she had never been exposed to this segment of the test before. She heeled wonderfully, sat quietly and retrieved her bumper delivering it to hand.

Luna's duck search

Luna getting to carry her duck back to the truck

Is that Cleo or the Swamp Thing??

After some mud puddle four wheeling we made our way over to the duck search pond. Our friend wanted to see if we could get Luna to go out without a visual. He kayaked out the receiver off of one of his Dogtra remote release traps and hid it on an island across from the area we would send Luna from. The receiver can either quack or beep to be located. If needed we could use the quacking to coax Luna out farther into the pond. Jim brought Luna up to the shoreline for her first real duck search and sent her out. She swam out a ways and then returned not entirely sure what was expected of her. Jim called her over, set her back up and resent her and then our friend hit the receiver with the quacking. It was like fireworks went off in her head and she moved right out into the water, past the island and across the pond to the other side. After about 15 minutes she started making her way back with a duck. Success! It was a great first time out for her.

Water Serpent....Jim's favorite

Kerry Lucas receiving a duck from her girl Indy after a very nice duck search

Occupying my time while waiting for the dogs to return.

Cleo also had a successful duck search. She milled around for a minute or two after being sent but then took off across the pond. It took about 10 minutes before she appeared with her mouth stuffed full of duck. It was a positive and progressive day of training. We'll stay focused on water work for the next couple of weeks and hopefully be a well oiled machine by test time. Below are some additional pics of our and our friends dogs during training.

Cleo and Luna's older sister Grace owned by Keith and Kerry Lucas. I'd LOVE to know what was going through her head.

Indy also owned by Keith and Kerry Lucas jumping a tree on a duck drag

Luna's duck drag hand off

Bonnie's crazed duck game face! Bonnie is owned by Bob G

This is Cleo with the hammer down barreling towards the water. 

Cleo and Luna's father Maximus owned by Bob G

I do love me some dragonfly pics

Miss Grace AKA The Duck Stalker

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Homemade Gourmet Frosty Paws

Things are about to get real people......real flippin good.

You might be asking yourself why bother to make frosty paws gourmet? Why go through the trouble to kick them up a notch? Well because after a few bourbon and lemonade slushies you can totally enjoy one with your dogs. That's why....because they are amazing.

Couple things to keep in mind when you are making these for your dogs:

1. Only use dog approved food so that means no chocolate, no raisins, no grapes, no macadamia nuts, no salt and no dairy based ice cream. If your unsure whether or not your dog can have something check a toxic dog food list before preparing them treats. Your dog WILL think your a total jerk if you make them sick. Just saying.

2. When buying the frozen yogurt try to get plain, low fat yogurt and go organic if you can. Often fruit flavored yogurts contain additional sugars and if your hunting dog is anything like my gals the last thing they need is any amount of assistance in being spastic. Today I used fat free vanilla bean frozen yogurt because its what I happened to have my in freezer and its delicious.

3. I like to use 9 oz. coated paper cups as opposed to the 5 oz cups. I find the 5 oz cups to be to small in diameter and it makes it more difficult to stuff the awesomeness of this recipe in there. In addition I like to leave some space at the top of the 9 oz cups so I have plenty of room for peeling the paper off later.

4. There really isn't a number four. I just like it when things are even. Five bucks says most of you do too so don't judge me people.

This is a Cleo and Luna approved recipe

Homemade Gourmet Frosty Paws

What you need:
~Large container of Low fat or Fat Free Plain Organic Frozen Yogurt (48 Fl. Oz)
~Your favorite creamy peanut butter (Clearly I'm a Skippy kind of gal)
~Salt Free peanuts (coarsely chopped)
~9 oz. Coated paper cups

1. Set all your cups out in a row (I usually construct 6 to 8 cups at a time). Then fill the bottom of each cup with a layer of frozen yogurt. Use the spoon to push it down so it's compacted. My base layer is usually about an inch or so deep.

***Note: You want the yogurt to be on the soft side but not melting. If it gets to soft it makes sticking to the peanut butter a challenge. So if this occurs throw the cups and the large yogurt container back into the freezer to stiffen them up again.***

2. Spoon a dollop of the peanut butter on top of the yogurt and use the spoon to push it firmly down. You don't want to push the peanut butter into the yogurt but you want to eliminate any air gaps.

3. Sprinkle in your salt free chopped peanuts. Use your fingers to gently push them down onto the peanut butter.

4. Put your final layer of frozen yogurt on top and do your best to push it down so its set in there nice and tight. You should have about an inch and a half of empty cup remaining at the top. Take the full cups and leave them in your freezer until they are fully frozen. It shouldn't take longer than a couple of hours. Once frozen use a scissors to cut a line into the top inch of the cup and then peel the paper cup off of the frosty paw. Serve in an area you don't mind a mess.

Peeled but with the bottoms and backing still on. I didn't want a mess on my counter. 

Luna chasing a rogue peanut

There are plenty of variations to this recipe so if you decide you want to switch it up here are some suggestions:

Omit the salt free peanuts and instead use thinly sliced ripe bananas. If you want both then simply switch your creamy peanut butter to chunky.

Or omit the peanut butter and use canned pumpkin. Be sure not to buy canned pumpkin pie. Then sprinkle the pumpkin with chopped salt free peanuts.

Or add a layer of broken up dog biscuits. I'd suggest using homemade dog biscuits for that. If your not sure how to make them check out one of my recipes for that here.

AND if you decide you want to make these for yourself and you have no plans on sharing yours with the dogs throw in a layer of Carmel or fudge. Or go a healthier route and use granola and fresh fruit like strawberries, blueberries or bananas. And be sure to stick a Popsicle stick in the cup when finished so you don't have to lick them off the floor like the dogs although after enough bourbon and lemonade slushies you may have too.

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