Canine containment that can stand the test of time

Sep. 28, 2013 @ 06:09 PM

My Mustang Convertible was built in 1987. My RD 350 motorcycle is a 1974 model. I hunt with a Fox shotgun made in 1912 and it kills birds as well as it did in 1912. I’m not going to say how old my wife is because I suspect I might be in trouble. Today, we live in a disposable world. It seems few products are built to last, and electronic items are often obsolete before we get them home. For an electronic device to last five years and still be as good as anything on the market is remarkable.

I decided on a wireless fence system after losing my Lab, Ernie for a whole day. I am really close to Larry, my current canine companion, but I was even closer to Ernie, and it was one of the toughest days of my life. I spent the whole day driving and hiking all over the area looking for him. Eventually, my neighbor spotted him and gave me a call. I figured out he’d answered the call to romance, and I was so glad to find him, I didn’t mind the grief.
I did learn from the experience, and I haven’t been without a pet containment system for more than a couple of days since. There’s no excuse for not keeping your pet at home. Not only can they be a pest to the neighbors, they can easily be hit by a car or stolen. Even if you live in a rural area with few close neighbors, you still need to keep your pets at home.
My first experiences with electronic dog containment weren’t good ones. I purchased a cheap system available at home improvement stores, and while it worked, it simply didn’t last. The problem was lightning. When we had a thunder storm, my dog fence would quit and I had to get another one. The lightning was frying the internals of the transmitters with almost every thunderstorm. The company kept replacing the transmitters, but I was wearing out my welcome. I suspect I wasn’t the only customer with the problem, but there was no suggested fix.
I tried powering the transmitter with a surge protector but the lightning storm still killed it. The reason was that the electrical spike was coming in through the antenna wire. One particularly close lightning strike fried the transmitter and blew it off the wall. I knew there had to be something better.
When I found the Innotek IUC-5100 UltraSmart Contain ‘N’ Train system, I suspected I’d hit pay dirt, and I had. It’s true this system costs about three times what the home improvement stores sell, but it has a lot of features they don’t have. To begin with, the collar is waterproof, durable, and lighter weight than the cheaper systems. The collar is also rechargeable and comes with a simple charger. You can buy extra chargers and contain more dogs, and there is a training remote with nine levels of stimulation included in the kit. The training remote is tiny enough to wear around  your neck and allows you to train with the same beep that the dog hears when he gets too close to the boundary.
In addition, you can buy Zones from Innotek. A Zone is a small device that works with the containment/training collar system to provide an area the dog can’t access. They have an adjustable range from about one foot to about six feet. In our house, we don’t allow the dogs in the sunroom. We placed a Zone at the door and the dogs quickly learned to avoid the room. Within a few weeks, we removed the Zone and, to this day, the dogs still don’t enter the sun room. They simply learned it’s off limits. The Zone also works well when traveling to keep the dogs in the back seat. Put it in the front of the car and adjust the range, and you’ll never find your canine friend behind the wheel when you come out of a restaurant.
It takes about half a day to install an in-ground system. You can pay to have it done, but it isn’t really hard if you read the instructions and do it right. You don’t have to be an electrician and the unit comes with everything you need except the initiative to do the job. 
Mount the transmitter The transmitter needs to be near an outlet that’s near a place to get the wires through the wall, and in a convenient place to route wires to the antenna loop. Connect the wiring for the antenna and plug in the power supply. Route the wires to be connected to the antenna wire out through the wall and to the connection point. To prevent a barrier where these wires are buried, twist the wires together, this negates the signal. I use a battery drill to twist the wires. You can then bury them to hide them. I use a splitting ax to make a small furrow and push the wire down in it. Use landscaping staples to keep the wire in place, if needed.
Lay out the area Most systems will effectively cover up to 5 acres but you may just want to cover your yard. We decided to just cover the part of the yard we mow since it allows us to look out the window and see the dogs at any time. I ran my wire on top of the ground in the woods behind my house. Just make sure it lays flat on the ground so it won’t trip someone up. In the areas of grass that I’ll be mowing, I bury the wire a couple of inches below ground level. I made an attachment to bury wire behind my 4 wheeler, but, if the ground is damp, you can bury it pretty fast by dragging an axe blade to make a slit and stuffing the wire down into it. I also put a connection about halfway around to make troubleshooting easier in the event of a broken wire. I used a flat rock inlaid into the dirt to mark the spot and cover the connection.
Learn about dog containment and training Once this is done, go into the house and watch the video telling how to train your dog to respect the system. Most dogs learn the system within a week and some will observe the boundaries for the rest of their life, whether the system is turned on or not. Using the training remote will help you train your dog and make life better for both of you.
OK, so you’ve installed a containment system and you wonder how reliable it will be. I installed my system over ten years ago and it still works perfectly. I did finally have to replace my wire this week, but the system still works just fine.
Most of us love our dogs and consider them like part of the family. I know; I have family members who aren’t nearly as endearing as my dogs. Why not spend a little time and gain peace of mind. I know for a fact that that peace of mind can last more than ten years.
Dick Jones is an award winning freelance writer living in High Point. Larry is a five year old Fox Red Labrador retriever. Dick’s a member of the board of directors of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. If you’d like to have him and Larry speak to your group, they can be reached at offtheporch52@yahoo.com