jumping the fence and not coming when called

Posted by Lucky7
Aug 31, 2008
hello, i have a 2 year old border collie rescue dog who is wonderful except for 2 problems: she is getting worse, not better at coming when called if she decides she wants to escape, and she jumps the fence, even when i am in the back yard with her. i cannot leave her alone in the back yard and now i cannot even let her be there with me. our yard is small but has lots of plants and trees so it is hard to see her all of the time and she is so fast she is gone in a second. i have had her about 2 months now and she has learned a lot but i do not know what to do. it would be difficult to hotwire the fence becuase of all the plants and trees and to make it higher would be very costly. i was also told that these dogs arent very responsive to underground fences and that they can be destroyed by gophers and moles which we have in abundance...if we did try the hotwire, how do you know where to place it for it to work?
i am thinking of trying a new word for come like "here" and starting all over. she is a dominant dog but obeys most other commands that i have taught her including sit, down, drop, wait, short stays, shake and roll over.
thanks for suggestions,
Posted by Marina
Sep 1, 2008
If you are unable to use an electronic fence how about an ecollar? Obviously it would only work when you are able to be there but she should learn quickly and a only minimal correction should be necessary. If she doesn't associate the shocks with your presence it could work as well as a fence.
Posted by eyeluvdogs
Sep 3, 2008
Hi Lucky7,

Thank you for your post. Escaping behavior is a common problem, but one that is very distressing because of the possible dangers your dog faces such as being hit by a car, or being taken by a passerby.

There are a couple of main reasons that dogs escape:

They are bored or lonely at home. I would assume that loneliness is not the issue here, however, perhaps a more strenuous exercise regime might help. If your dog does not get the right amount of exercise she may become bored and frustrated. Hopefully, if you tire her out with play, she will be less likely to escape. There are many ways you can exercise a dog, such as going for a run or walk, playing a game of fetch, taking her for a swim, or having an obedience lesson.

Also, try to make your backyard a fun and interesting place for her to spend time. Make sure she has plenty of toys to keep her occupied while you are out. Some dog's enjoy the act of escaping, and find it fun, and a challenge. If that is the case here, you will need to be extra vigilant - keep a strict eye on her when she is in the yard.

Another possibility is that dogs escape to seek and join a stronger pack. If a dog does not have a strong leader, and does not regard her owner as the Alpha Dog, then she might feel insecure and therefore feel the need to find a more suitable leader to follow.

To ensure that your dog feels secure, you should read and use the Alpha techniques as set out in the bonus book “Secrets to Becoming the Alpha Dog”.

If your dog does escape, do not chase her, as this will only engage you in a game of 'catch', which your dog will probably find quite fun, but obviously won’t help you catch her. Some people have had success by just turning around and walking away from the dog. The dog realizes that you are not going to chase them, and then come back to you of their own accord.

To improve her responsiveness to your commands while off leash, ensure as a first step that you are using the Alpha techniques to teach her that you are in charge! Next, have daily obedience lessons with her in your yard where there are no distractions. Use praise and rewards to keep her motivated.
There are a number of Come Command Rules that I recommend people use:

1. Never call your dog to you for a reprimand.

2. Always call your dog in a happy voice.

3. Always praise your dog for coming to you, even if they have taken their time.

4. Praise your dog for coming to you without having been called.

5. Never call your dog to you for something you know they don't like e.g. a bath or visits to the vet.

6. Try using a squeaky toy to encourage your dog to come to you.

You will need to make your fence more secure so that your dog does not have the opportunity to escape. I really don't think that an invisible fence is a good idea because it may prevent her from escaping, but it won’t actually fix the reasons she is escaping, and may actually cause more behavioral problems.

Good luck, and please let me know how you progress.
Posted by Lucky7
Sep 3, 2008
thank you for your suggestions. i exercise/play with her 1 1/2 to 2 hours/day. she has toys and places to explore in our yard and she escapes when i am there with her at times, or at least someone is in the yard with her. i have a kennel she is in when i am not home so she will not get out and get hurt. i never chase or scold her when i go to get her out of my neighbors yard. she gets to visit with other dogs on our walks as well as at the dog park so i think it must be she likes to escape and/or i am not a strong enough leader.
we have blocked off the area she escaped with wire fencing and will see if that works or if she finds a new place to jump...she can jump really high! our yard has so many plants, bushes and trees it is impossible for me to always see her unless i am following her around which is not a good solution when i need to be doing things in the yard..i will work on the alpha leader information more, i have been doing most of the suggestions there already but will try to do everything and see how that helps.
should i use a new word for recall like "here" since she now responds to "come" only when she wants to? i need to be more consistent in working on this because i am doing all the other things you suggested...just not daily working on it.
is an e collar an electric collar?
Posted by eyeluvdogs
Sep 3, 2008
Hi again Lucky7,

Yes, an e-collar is an electric collar. I am personally not a big fan of them, though I am sure that there are dog owners out there who have found them helpful.

It sounds as though your dog is well taken care of! Unfortunately she does not seem to recognize you as her Alpha leader, and her not coming to you when called is an example of this. My guess is your dog knows perfectly well what the command "Come" means, but she chooses not to obey you. Perhaps instead of changing the command, you should reinforce the command you already use by having daily obedience lessons, and giving her lots of praise and encouragement when she obeys. The use of the Alpha techniques will also hopefully help her responsiveness to your commands.

Good luck!