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Houdini Dogs - The Great Dog-E- Escape!

Houdini Dogs - The Great Dog-E- Escape!

The sad facts speak for themselves. Some dogs manage to escape only once. These are the ones that don't make it home becoming either a road statistic or a pound inmate, where - if not identified - they're euthanased. A tiny percentage of these strays get 'lucky' and are re-sold to a new owner.

Statistics show that a dog will manage to escape his or her 'escape proof' yard 2-3 times on average, during its life.

That's too much like playing Russian Roulette for our liking - so here are some common reasons dogs escape and some solutions courtesy of 


The Romantic Houdini
Not just another call to de-sex as many dogs as possible (although that's a good start!) but a bitch on heat is an attractant so powerful even de-sexed males find it hard to resist! No bitch should ever be walked in eostrus (when on heat). Her scent will waft through the neighbourhood and cause all kinds of problems not only for her but for you. Keep a bitch well contained (remember the 'bitch box' on farms?)Basically if you sense your dog is starting to go a little 'stir crazy' and you can't figure out why, keep a very good eye on him and where possible contain in a fully enclosed pen while the 'trouble' exists.

The Opportunistic Houdini
All gates to external borders should be capable of being locked. Whether by chain or padlock or even just some rope or wire. DON'T rely on a bolt arrangement. Ideally you should fit a spring 'self closing' mechanism to any external gate.

A sign should be placed on both sides - PLEASE SHUT THE GATE PROPERLY. Better still, lock the gate when you are out or at night. We use a combination-style padlock. Find out when the meter reader is coming (at least the expected week) and only leave unlocked during that time. Ask neighbours to keep an eye on your gate if you are not there. Small dogs can actually climb up the back of a standard gate and climb out through the hole where you put your hand to open the latch. (One of our chihuahua Boomerang-ID members demonstrated this technique!)

Ensure there is not a hole big enough for even the tiniest dog.

The Athletic Houdini
A fence should be at least 3-4times the height of your dog when standing up on his two back legs. In other words, at full stretch, the dog should only come about halfway up the fence. Dogs are great jumpers and climbers. Remove any piles of bricks, wood, pipes, old junk etc near any perimeter fence. Same goes for chairs, toys, cubby houses etc. Cut back trees and shrubs close to fences as we know of many tree climbing dogs! Gates - and some fences - have a cross brace which makes it a handy 'foothold' for dogs. Likewise any fancy lattice whether it be metal or wood. Cover this with marine ply or better still, clear perspex to keep the aesthetics intact.

If a dog persists in jumping a fence, you can fix two lengths of wire along the top of the fence held out by a 20cm rod on each fence post.

The Gardening Houdini
Dogs love digging holes for all sorts of reasons. To bury or find a check out a great smell.... to have a cool spot to lie on a hot day...and because they are bored or simply to have fun. But the ones that dig under a fence know exactly why they are digging...they want out!

The best fence is a Colorbond fence on cement footings at least 15-20 cm deep. Next best thing to do for any fence is to dig a 'slot' along the entire length of the fence and insert galvanised iron and bury it for a similar depth as cement. Don't forget to bend the top in some way so it won't cut unsuspecting diggers later on! A quick and easy way to stop fence diggers in their tracks is to use close weave chicken fence wire. Lay a 30cm strip along the length of the fence and peg it down with some camping stakes. If you do this correctly you'll still be able to mow over it...but bevery careful!

The 'See Ya Later' Houdini
If your dog bolts from the front door or out of the car, chances are(a) they don't like you (b) they don't get to go walkies much! (c) all of the above. Training - especially the recall command - is your best defence. That, plus teaching your dog that the sound of crinkling paper means a treat is likely…and they'd better forget that irresistable odour, passing child, need to mark territory and get home pronto…for the treat! If you still can't get your dog to come on command, get expert help from a dog trainer, there are lots in the yellow pages, or try your local Dog Obedience club, again, listed in the yellow pages.

(Dogs are VERY inventive...if your dog is a bit of a Houdini, try spying on him/her to see first-hand how they may be quite surprised!)

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