March 12, 2015
Pet Containment and Training for Cats, Pigs, Goats and Horses, too!
A Seattle pig named Amy made headlines recently after becoming the star pupil of a dog obedience class, perfecting her “sit” and “heel” commands alongside a Poodle, a Chihuahua, a Corgi and the rest of her canine classmates. According to her owner Lori Stock, the six month-old miniature pig “only has to be instructed a couple of times before learning something new…There’s nothing I can’t teach her.”
While our name may be “DogWatch,” our products – like Amy’s obedience class – are not just for dogs. Some of you may know that DogWatch Hidden Fences and Indoor Boundary Systems also work for cats, but did you know that our products can also help keep pigs, goats, sheep and even horses safe, healthy and happy? Dog Tails reached out to our many dealers across the country and internationally to learn about their experiences training other animals to use DogWatch Hidden Fences and Training Products. Move over, Amy – you’ve got some new competition!
Cats are the second most common pet that dealers train to use DogWatch Hidden Fences and Indoor Hidden Pet Boundaries. DogWatch’s smaller R7mini receivers are small enough and light enough for all breeds of cats. DogFence, our dealer in the United Kingdom, trains many cats to use the fence so that they can stay protected while still enjoying the freedom of the outdoors. Outdoor cats are common in the UK, and cat owners are faced with the challenge of keeping their cats contained so they stay away from roads and other hazards, and also so that their prey drive does not harm local wildlife populations.
DogWatch dealers adapt their training techniques to meet the specific needs of cats, most of whom do not use leashes and do not accept verbal training in the same way as dogs. Unlike dog hidden fence training, cat training begins indoors. The outside system is not activated for about 2-5 days while the cat adjusts to and learns the system on the indoor unit. Meanwhile, the system is installed in the designated outdoor area with careful consideration of the cat’s abilities to escape (for example, tree branches that they may climb). Visual landmarks such as flags, which are used in the early training stages for dogs and removed once the dog is accustomed to the boundary, remain permanent for cats using the fence, providing the cat with a easy way to identify the boundary at all times.
DogFence reports that cats trained in this manner can be fully competent with the system within 2 weeks, and that “learning in small bite size chunks is the best way forward for the cat.” Once trained, cats can roam freely in the yard and explore like they love to do, and their humans can rest easier.
Several DogWatch dealers have also installed hidden fences to contain pet pigs. Kirk Nielsen of DogWatch of Santa Barbara recently worked with a family who needed help keeping their hungry pet pig Snooki-Doodle away from certain areas of their property, including a koi pond, vegetable garden and a tree truck littered with acorns. Kirk says that training pigs is not as challenging as it might seem, as pigs are “extremely intelligent” and fast-learning animals. Kirk writes that Snooki-Doodle now “trots around her property with her four-legged friends – two Great Danes, one Chihuahua, and one Labrador Retriever, who are also trained on the hidden fence. How cool is that?!”
Bob Leed of DogWatch of Susquehanna Valley in Pennsylvania also recently installed a DogWatch Hidden Fence at the home of David & Denise Kreitzer to keep the family’s two pot-bellied pigs, Veruca and Pistachio, on their property. The family’s Border Collie used the fence, so they were familiar with the system. When their two pet pigs started wandering into a neighbor’s yard and digging up their grass, Bob was called in to help. Luckily for him, Veruca and Pistachio had already been trained to walk on a leash, which made training easier. To train the pigs, Bob used DogWatch’s extra large collars to fit their wide necks, and used double the amount of flags to create a heavy visual border. He began work with the pigs using sound alerts only, then after two days transitioned to the correction. Like Kirk, Bob reports that pigs took to the fence quickly. The wandering and digging behavior has stopped, and Veruca and Pistachio are happy and safe in their yard.
Percy the Pig with Sue Meech, Founder and Director of Percy the Pig with Sue Meech, Founder and Director of Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre and another Centre animal. Check out his DogWatch Hidden Fence collar!
Veruca and Pistachio are tiny, however, compared to Percy. Percy is a 500-plus pound, three year-old pig that uses a DogWatch Hidden Fence to safely roam around Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee, Ontario, Canada. Percy came to the Centre as a piglet, and has been using the DogWatch Hidden Fence for two years. Centre Founder and Director Sue Meech said she needed only about five minutes of training with Percy for him to learn the boundaries. She “put food in a bucket and shook it,” and he caught on right away! Due to his ample size, Percy wears a special collar that is actually two large collars connected together with one receiver. Keith Bailey of DogWatch of Southeastern Ontario recently re-installed the fence – used by Percy and four rescue dogs that also live on the property – after some construction required it to be relocated. While there, he snapped this great photo of Sue, Percy and another Centre resident. Enjoy your freedom, Percy, and best wishes to the staff, volunteers, and all of the animals at Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre!
Other Farm Animals
Pigs aren’t the only farm animals that can use DogWatch Hidden Fences. Jan Van de Camp of Dogtra Holland, DogWatch’s dealer in the Netherlands, Belgium and Northern Germany, has trained goats, sheep and even deer to use DogWatch products. Jan reports that goats and sheep are actually easier to train on the fence than dogs, as they are slower and have little hunting drive. He does not use leashes to train these animals, rather he stays near them as they learn the boundary. Jan says one or two corrections is often enough for them to learn to stay within the hidden fence boundary. He also fits sheep’s collars with the longer contact posts – which are designed for thick-coated dogs like Newfoundlands and Huskies – as they work better with the sheep’s heavier wool coat.
Lawrence Sowers of DogWatch of the Piedmont in Virginia also recently worked with goats – 16 of them in fact! His client wanted a portable unit that she could set up in select areas of her property, to contain the goats so that they would clear those areas of brush and other undesirable plant species. Once the area is cleared, she wanted to move the wire around the next area. Lawrence set up a portable, solar-powered unit (see image at left) that can travel around the client’s many acres without needing to be plugged into a power outlet. The client is currently training the goats inside their fenced-in pen, and will soon transition out into the rest of the property. Like Jan, Lawrence reports that goats are easy to train on the fence, so these goats should be out clearing brush in no time!
Would you believe that DogWatch can help chickens, too? Ernie Roy of DogWatch of New Hampshire adapted one of DogWatch’s Indoor Boundary Systems to help protect a family’s chickens from the family’s dog. Ernie placed the indoor receiver into a small “backpack” that the owner had made, and placed the backpack on the rooster. Since the hens followed the rooster, this meant that all of the chickens would stay in the same area as the signal. The dog was fitted with a collar, and whenever he approached the rooster or any trailing hens, he would get a correction. Quickly, the dog learned to stop chasing the chickens, and the family breathed a sigh of relief.
Believe it or not, some horses can also be trained to use DogWatch Hidden Fences. The team at DFW DogWatch (serving the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas) recently worked with a pair of horses and says, “if used in the correct circumstances, [DogWatch Hidden Fences] can be a very effective way to keep even larger animals from tearing up valuable parts of your property.” On his recent install, the owner already had an existing wood fence, but needed additional fencing to keep the horses away from the house and out of the flowerbeds, while still allowing the horses access to the front and back pastures. DFW DogWatch installed the Hidden Fence system, and trained the horses (as well as the family’s dogs). Our Dealers say that the horses responded well to light corrections, and that, because they are lead-trained, the horses were actually easier to train than some dogs they have worked with! A month later, DFW DogWatch received a follow-up text from the horses’ owner, who told them that the she is “extremely happy” and that the system is working well for both horses and dogs.
In addition to working with pigs, Kirk Nielsen of DogWatch Santa Barbara has worked with horses, too. In 2012, Kirk was contacted by a customer who needed help to stop her horse Charlie from cribbing. Cribbing is an obsessive behavior whereby a horse grabs a solid object such as the stall door or fence rail with its teeth and pulls against the object, sucking in air. Studies have suggested a number of different explanation to explain why horses crib, including to neutralize stomach conditions, to relieve boredom or to generate a feeling a pleasure by releasing endorphins in the horse’s brain. Cribbing can lead to stomach ulcers and colic, and can wear down a horse’s teeth, so it is important to correct the behavior before the horse does permanent damage to his health.
Charlie’s caretaker struggled to curb his cribbing. Kirk had previously trained her cat on a DogWatch Hidden Fence, so she was familiar with DogWatch products. After years of many failed methods and contraptions to stop Charlie from cribbing, she asked Kirk for help. He suggested trying DogWatch’s Big Leash Remote Trainer. Kirk placed the collar around the horse’s neck so that it was comfortable but still touching, and when the horse approached the pole to crib, he pressed the remote to give the horse the correction. The horse stayed still for three to five minutes looking at the pole and then moved away. After several training sessions, Charlie stopped cribbing. DogWatch is happy we could help Charlie stay healthy!
If your are dealing with a problem behavior like cribbing, we encourage you to contact your veterinarian to discuss any health concerns they may have. And if you have questions about how DogWatch Hidden Fences or the BigLeash Remote Trainer can help your other pets, please contact your local DogWatch dealer. DogWatch loves helping pets of all shapes and sizes stay happy and healthy while enjoying the freedom of the outdoors!
First cat photo: DogFence
Second cat photo, Second horse photo: DogWatch Hidden Fences of Santa Barbara via Facebook
First pig photo: DogWatch of Susquehanna Valley via Facebook
Second pig photo: DogWatch of Southeastern Ontario via Facebook
First goat photo: Jan Van de Camp of Dogtra Holland
Second goats photo: Lawrence Sowers of DogWatch of the Piedmont
Chicken photo: “Rooster in the Henhouse” by Barbara Müller-Walter is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
First horse photo: DFW DogWatch Hidden Fence via Facebook