So when we were looking for a vacation rental, we asked lots of questions about fencing. We didn’t want to take any risks of Spencer escaping our attention and trying to chase away some unsuspecting person who wandered by.
Not only did the house we rent have a fence all the way around, the yard was huge (3000 sq. m or 30,000 sq. ft). This meant that we had lots of room to run around off-leash in the yard. We also thought it would give us a comfortable security margin for any passersby. The house is set back in the middle of the lot, and Spencer has never been bothered by strangers at this distance when out walking in the park.
What we didn’t realize was that Spencer apparently understands that the park is a public place. He had very different views about the appropriate distance for people walking by “our” property line. He figured out very quickly that the fence was the edge of our yard. If we were outside with him, he generally remained calm. But he ran to the fence barking and would follow the entire length of the fence until the passersby disappeared if he got out of the starting block before we were able to show him the people ourselves.
He even hurt himself doing this at one point. We think pine branch whipped back across his face, because it was the only thing we found that could have caused the wound near his eye. The injury was fairly superficial, although it did bleed a little bit, but mostly we’re just really sensitive about anything happening to his eyes after all the time and money we spent having them fixed!
He was particularly adamant about chasing a passerby the next day. We don’t know if it was because he associated the injury with passersby or because this particular guy had features that are among Spencer’s list of triggers (walking by every day, wearing a hoodie, shuffling his feet…)
From that point, we kept him inside if we couldn’t be right next to him or we put him on a long lead attached to the picnic table. Here’s a picture that gives you an idea of the kind of momentum he built up before he got to the end of his long lead one time when I had him hooked to the table because I was on the phone. He didn’t get hurt because we never attach his leashes to his collar, only to his harness. (Although I have to admit we hadn’t expected him to exert this kind of force!) This time I had purposely used the hook on his back, figuring that it wouldn’t do any harm to pull there since part of the reason there is a hook on the back is for sports where the dog pulls sledges and things. He didn’t seem hurt or angry by the sudden stop, but he did seem awfully surprised by it.