Avi Richards

Dog Fence Breakouts

Whenever your dog crosses the boundary line and gets out of the containment area, it is known as a breakout. After the dog has been trained properly on the dog fence system, a dog fence breakout rarely happens. There are two types of breakouts: passive and active.

How to Diagnose a Breakout

If the system should happen to fail, a passive breakout may occur. Dogs are perceptive and intelligent. The same instinct that helps them understand cause and effect lets them discover when the fence is not working. Should you forget to charge or replace the collar batteries, have a wire break or forget to turn the collar on, it won’t take your dog long to figure out that the tone is not heard when the line is approached. Next, the dog will realize that the dog isn’t going to receive a correction either. 

Ultimately, the dog will decide to test its hunch and move over the boundary line without being corrected. A passive breakout can even occur with dogs that have effectively been using the system for quite some time. It just happens because the dog does not hear the tone or receive the correction when approaching the boundary. 

An active breakout happens when the dog has already received the correction and decides to cross the boundary line anyway. Having a breakout such as this is most likely to happen during or shortly after the training period has been completed. Your dog may still break out despite the correction if he didn’t completely understand the training or because the correction level was set too low.

It only takes one time for your dog to break out for him to get lost or hurt. This is why if he leaves the containment area the first thing you need to do is find out why. 

Collar Fit and Function

An Improper-Fitting Collar 

Most of the time that there is a dog fence breakout, it is because the collar fits poorly. In order for your dog to receive the correction, the contact points need to be making contact with your dog’s skin. You need to check the fit of the collar every week or so. The collar could stretch a little bit or his fur may have grown in and it is time to trim it again to make sure the collar fits properly. 

Should you find that the collar doesn’t fit correctly, do what you need to do to make sure the collar fits correctly. Next, go back to step 2 correction and perform the training that is indicated for your dog. Anytime there is a breakout, you need to go back to step 2 and retrain them. The more time your dog breaks out, the more difficult it becomes to retrain them. This is why it is so important to take care of this problem right away.

An Improperly-Functioning Collar

Once you are satisfied with the way that the collar fits, make sure that the collar’s batteries are charged. You can test it yourself by walking it towards the boundary and listening for the warning tone and watching for the indicator light to show a correction. You can use the test light tool that may be included in your kit to test the static correction on the collar.

Should you find that the collar is not functioning as it should, diagnose and solve the problem using the troubleshooting guide in the owner’s manual. Then revisit step 2 of the training guide and finish steps 2 to 4 to make sure your dog is trained properly on the electric dog fence. 

Correction Level & Boundary Width

Should you find that the collar fits and is functioning properly, you will need to do a bit more work to figure out what the cause of the breakout is and handle it. Lead your dog into the containment area with his collar on and working, watching him carefully. Show particular attention to how he behaves when he crosses the boundary line. Does he stroll casually or run quickly across it? Does he vocalize or show any other signal of receiving a correction? Does he go back to the containment area without any problem or does he appear to receive a correction again when he comes back into the yard, if he does it on his own?

Your Dog Doesn’t Feel the Correction

If your dog strolls over the boundary line, pausing for a bit and then continuing away out of your yard, there may be an issue with the correction level setting being set improperly. As long as the collar is functioning correctly, the correction level may be too low to get your dog’s attention. If this is the case, you will need to step up the collar a level and return to step 2. Some breeds are known to have a high pain tolerance, such as Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Pit Bulls. For dogs such as these, it may be a good idea to get a stronger collar such as the PetSafe® Stubborn Dog collar. 

Your Dog Ignores the Correction

Should your dog show any signs of feeling the correction when he crosses the boundary but crosses anyway, he sees the benefit of getting out is larger than the discomfort of crossing the boundary. In this case, there are 3 different things you will need to do to solve the problem.

First, you should ramp up the correction level setting by 1 level at a time. The second thing you should do is make the width of the correction zone larger. Doing this will mean that your dog will have will have to spend more time in the correction zone in order to get to the other side. Along with the increased correction, this should be enough to discourage your dog from breaking out. Thirdly, it is important that you go back to step 2 of the training guide and repeat the steps to make sure the dog comprehends the rules and boundaries. 

Re-entering the Containment Area

Don’t forget that the boundary wire emits a signal in a radius around the wire. This means that it doesn’t matter which way the dog is approaching the wire (whether it be inside or out) his collar will be activated when he approaches the wire. Should your dog escape the electric dog fence, you will need to remove his collar before you lead him back into the containment area. This will make sure that he doesn’t receive a correction for coming back home.

When the dog breaks out, there is a growing negative effect on the dog. This means that the more time your dog breaks out, the harder it will be to retrain him on the fence. Should he break out and then get corrected for coming back inside, he is certain to be even more puzzled.

Photo by Avi Richards on Unsplash