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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

My 18 month pit mix is determined to leave my yard. I have a 6 foot fence (was 4, but she can jump 4 so I added 2 more feet) around my 1.5 acre property. She continued to leave by digging under, so I got deer stakes and staked the fence down. For awhile, she was leaving daily between 4-7pm. We called it the witching hour. After I secured the bottom, she'd leave less frequently. She'd find a weak spot under the fence and dig it out and go galivanting in the state park behind my house. I try to keep an eye on her during that time, but invariably, one of my kids lets her out of the door when I'm making dinner, or we'll be outside and I start working on something and it slips my mind (yes, human error) and before I know it, we have no idea where she is.

I run this dog between 3-7 miles a day, sometimes on foot at around a 6 mph pace, and sometimes by bike at a 10 mph pace. She has no problem keeping up on a 7 mile bike ride. I leash her for most of the runs, and let her run off-leash with the bike, stopping and leashing her if we see another person. She sticks with me like glue 95% of the time while exercising, just running ahead now and then to chase a rabbit on the trail. I say this because I think her wandering is because she thinks the park is just an extension of our yard. But I just can't see a way I could exercise her as much as she needs, timewise, without those crazy fast bike rides off leash.

10 times out of 10, she goes into the park behind the house. However, now that I've secured most of the boundary, she can't seem to squeeze back in the way she came. Last night, while I was at a meeting, my daughter and husband were home and let her out. They lost track of her and a bit later she showed up on the front porch. We live on a busy road and I know it's a matter of time before she sees a deer in the fields across the street and gets hit by a car.

She has a pretty high prey drive compared to my other dogs, but not insane - we have cats and chickens on the property and she hangs out with them without issue (she can jump into the chicken coop from a sit and sometimes goes in to hang out with them and eat compost).

I toy with the idea of an electric fence, but to be honest, this dog has so much determination that I don't think the shock would do anything but make her fearful and aggressive. Maybe I'm naïve. Our property is really not designed well for laying a fence either, because there would be a break and we'd have to go through forested land. Frankly, I don't want to go through the effort of laying the fence just to find out that it's ineffective.

I've never done boundary training, thinking (again based on my past dogs) that a freaking 6 foot fence would do the job of keeping her put. And really, I don't know how training would keep her in if a fence doesn't... I don't think she cares whether she's being a "good dog" or not... I have found that she is easily trainable in the sense of learning new skills and tricks, but she does them on her own time when she feels like it.

Ugh... this dog is making homelife pretty stressful. I honestly have more and more moments where I want to just give her back to the shelter. But the kids love her, and I've never surrendered an animal before. She's so amazing in so many ways, but she's such a burden in so many other ways...
 

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If she's new to your family, HOPEFULLY she learns that what is your yard and what isn't, but there are some things you can do in the meantime.

If she is still jumping the 6ft fence, consider placing coyote rollers around the top. Most dogs have to grip the top of the fence with their paws to climb out (unless she's part rabbit, lol), and the coyote rollers make that impossible...by rolling the dog off. They can't get a secure grip. So jumping the fence is no longer an option. Just make sure there is nothing close to the fence she can climb on to give her a boost to just hop right over.

For the digging, staple chicken wire to the bottom of the fence, then bury it in the ground about three feet out from the fence. Digging out is no longer an option, because she'll just run into chicken wire, and because its 3 feet out its highly unlikely she's going be able to dig around it.

For MOST dogs I feel like that will work. If not and she's still finding ways to escape, you may have to consider a tie-out situation so she can't reach the fence in the first place.

You might also consider a tracking device. It's a little device you clip to their collar, and it has a GPS in it that can track your dog's location. Some models will even send you an alert via text message when a dog leaves the radius that you have set, so you will know at once if she has left, or you can even set it for a smaller radius within your fence so it reminds you to check on the dog if she's patrolling the fence line or something. There are tons of different options, so check it out if you think that might help. I mean, it won't keep your dog in the fence, but it may help you remember to keep an eye on her, because life is just busy and its so easy to get distracted!

It sounds like the dog is getting plenty of physical exercise, but what about mental? Consider spending 10-15 minutes working on a new trick with her, teaching her a new game, or just working on basic obedience. Like a long day at work, sometimes mental stimulation can be really tiring for a dog, and that may make it less likely that she wants to escape.

Good luck!
 

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Once a dog has learned to "run" it is very very hard to fix the issue. I would not use an underground electric fence.

I would pour a 6'X11' concrete pad and put a 5'X10' kennel WITH a Kennel panel top on the concrete pad. THINK when you pour the pad of what you will need to anchor the 5'X10' kennel to that pad so she cannot push the kennel off the pad and still get out. That is what she has to be in if she is outside off leash. Or you have to use a chain and a stake and probably a dual collar system.

You might try putting a regular electric fence around the yard too.. three strands... 4 inches about the ground for the lowest one and 8 inches apart. I would get a low impedance charger that is used to keep cattle in. After doing all the work of putting this in it still might not work.

Honestly? A dog that is this determined to run is a dog I would not have. I had ONE like this (a rescue about 40 years ago) and I had to hook her to a chain and double collar her to put her out off leash. Never again. A dog that is determined to run is a deal breaker. No fun to have at all and so that dog would be sent to a shelter with a clear explanation of the behavior (or euthanized).
 

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I went through the same thing with a Bluetick/Walker Hound I had. I eventually gave up and found a hunter that used hounds for hunting and gave her to him. He had nice big kennel runs for the hounds when they were not hunting and she was quite happy to live with the other hounds and go hunting with them.

It was the same thing, every time I fixed where she could get out, she found another spot and it was only a matter of time before she got hit on the road. She always came home on her own but I had to worry that one day she would not return.
 

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Lilith had some great suggestions.

And really, I don't know how training would keep her in if a fence doesn't... I don't think she cares whether she's being a "good dog" or not... I have found that she is easily trainable in the sense of learning new skills and tricks, but she does them on her own time when she feels like it.
I believe she can be trained not to leave the yard, but it will take time/effort on your part. You'd probably have to keep her on leash until then. You could start by walking her around the property on leash and when she gets close to the fence or looks like she wants to go over there, say "uh-uh". When she looks at you, give her a treat (and click if you use a clicker - which is a good idea). It would be a start anyway.

Neither of my 85lb dogx will not push through a dog gate that we have. It is not mounted to anything - it's a free-standing 4-panel gate that they could easily push aside, but they don't. They just sit behind it and wait to be let out. Even if we're not there, they don't push through. Otoh when I take Kane to work I use the same kind of gate there and my co-worker's 12lb dog just ignores the gate completely and pushes through all the time. He's never been trained to respect the boundary.

What kind of fence do you currently have? You say you "staked the fence down". Is it just some kind of snow fence/mesh fence?
 

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Might help if you fill the old holes under with concrete.
Fill them till there is about 2 or 3 inches to top the top it with dirt once it has dried.

Friends pit would do the same till I filled some of the holes with concrete, let dry the covered last few inches with dirt.

Did this to about 7 holes till the dog learned. Would dig a hole and if you filed it would go right back next day and dig out the loose dirt.
Once it found the concrete would dig another, and go back to it next day and start to dig till it found the concrete and dig another. after about 7 holes and a a couple weeks the dog stopped.

Read before filling the hole with the dogs poop just under surface work to after a few different holes the dog quit.

(Poop cheaper than concrete, but it was a while before he needed to trim the dogs nails after the project.)
 

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Filling the holes with Poop stopped my dogs from trying to dig out. They quit trying to dig around the fences, just dug holes everywhere else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I can deal with holes all over my yard as long as the dog is in the yard. She is the most fastidious dog I've ever had - likes to groom herself as soon as she wakes up and after getting even the tiniest bit wet. If she dug through her own poop to get out of the yard, it would be proof that she's a bigger jerk than I already think she is.

Thank you ALL for the responses. I expected to come back to things like "you don't deserve this dog!" and instead, got some great tips as well as some real hard to take honesty. I was surprised that several of you said that it might just not be a fit. You can't imagine the relief I feel with that, because I feel like I'm working my butt off for this dog and while, yes, I could do more - it's a dog. It's a dog I rescued at 4 months who had been sitting in a crappy shelter for 3 of those months. It's a dog who I gave an awesome home to - property, companionship with other animals and children, opportunities for hunting small game in the yard, daily exercise in a beautiful park. And then... she runs away. I want to say to her "isn't this great enough??"

But anyway, I thank the person who said some mental stimulus would be a help. I know that, but I just don't make time in my day to do it. She's a fast learner and loves the attention. She needs constant attention, in fact. I also think I will look into the GPS thing, and set up alerts when she's starting to wander close to the boundary of our property.

And finally - thank you to the person who reiterated boundary training. Before we had our first child, we had no physical fence around our property. We had a german shepherd mix who, even at a young age, just hung out in the yard. NEVER would she cross the boundary into the park - even when people and dogs walked on the trail behind. NEVER would she go in the front yard near the road. She just understood boundaries - even though it wasn't even the first house we had her in. Our golden sheltie didn't start out that way, but she's the same now - wouldn't walk through an open door to leave the property without us. Anyway, like you said, there is daily work to be done in boundary training right away, and I'll get started with a pocketful of treats and your ideas.
 

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Oh, and the fence is wood post with galvanized welded wire. We added metal stakes between the wood posts to shore it up, and then I put another 2 feet of wire fencing on the top of the 4 feet, tying it together with metal wire. The fence has been in for 9 years, and so much of it is so overgrown with dense grass that she doesn't bother, but she digs on the two sides that are in the treeline because (a) it's hard to see her there, and (b) there are roots and soft dirt in the trees. So in some of the tougher spots to cover, we've put extra fencing curved on the ground and held down with logs, rocks or cinder blocks, in other spots I've hammered in the deer stakes. But over time, she finds the weakest point. I can always tell how good of a job I've done because it takes her awhile to escape. At one point, I had her in for 3 weeks and thought it was solved, but no... and now her exits are so few that she gets out and I think it's too hard to get back in because she bends the fence out.
 

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Welcome to owning a determined dog. I would never leave a Pit to their own devices in the yard. Good chain set up or a proper kennel to contain the dog.
 

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I would not trust an electric fence on it's own but think it would work well in combination with a solid fence. I have had to raise my fence to over six feet to keep my one dog from jumping it. Luckily it is only a fence between my two yards so she is still confined. She does not climb, just leaps up and puts her feet on the top of the fence and springs over. I had thought about a coyote roller but was afraid it would cause her to flip backwards and hurt herself. The kennel run I leave my three dogs in is 8 feet so she should not be able to jump that but if she did I would use an electric fence in conjunction with it.
 

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My fence climber (could clear my 6' chain link easily) never went out alone. Either myself or my husband went out with her. After dark, when the opossums were active, she went out on a leash. I also took her out on a leash if the neighborhood kids were out, since she hated them.
 

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Honestly? A dog that is this determined to run is a dog I would not have. I had ONE like this (a rescue about 40 years ago) and I had to hook her to a chain and double collar her to put her out off leash. Never again. A dog that is determined to run is a deal breaker. No fun to have at all and so that dog would be sent to a shelter with a clear explanation of the behavior (or euthanized).
You would seriously euth a dog just for being an escape artist? Really?
 

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You would seriously euth a dog just for being an escape artist? Really?
I would euthanize the dog if it was not a good fit for anyone or if I could not find a home that could handle the dog. Euthanizing is better than being hit by a car or spending years and years in a shelter (dog is a Pit Mix and in some areas not very likely to get a home). Why would I want any dog go be in THAT situation???

This dog might be a GREAT fit for someone who always must walk a dog on leash due to their living circumstances. A dog that is a deal breaker for me is not necessarily a deal breaker for someone else.
 

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I would euthanize the dog if it was not a good fit for anyone or if I could not find a home that could handle the dog. Euthanizing is better than being hit by a car or spending years and years in a shelter (dog is a Pit Mix and in some areas not very likely to get a home). Why would I want any dog go be in THAT situation???

This dog might be a GREAT fit for someone who always must walk a dog on leash due to their living circumstances. A dog that is a deal breaker for me is not necessarily a deal breaker for someone else.
That's not what you said, you literally said you would dump it at the shelter or euth it.

Honestly? A dog that is this determined to run is a dog I would not have. I had ONE like this (a rescue about 40 years ago) and I had to hook her to a chain and double collar her to put her out off leash. Never again. A dog that is determined to run is a deal breaker. No fun to have at all and so that dog would be sent to a shelter with a clear explanation of the behavior (or euthanized).
 
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