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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sled Dog Play Area Complete!

Sinking our recycled posts

Nylon fencing strung and logs placed at bottom to detour diggers

Fencing attached to wood posts

Final adjustments to the entry gate for both yards

The first dogs are out!

The dogs love it and we do too. Neil and Nick, our friend from the UK, did an awesome job!

The play area is finally complete! We anticipated a week for completion but really underestimated the magnitude of the project. It took three weeks.

The area had to be cleared of trees. The trees then needed to be cut and stacked in various piles. We decided to recycle those trees that were cut and sink them in the ground as fence posts. A chipper was rented for a few days to remove the majority of the brush. It took only a few hours to string the nylon fencing and attach it to the posts.  The fence is 8' high and there is 2' on the ground to act as dig-out material. We placed logs around the perimeter and on the fence to secure it to the ground and to detour potential escapees.

Once complete, we introduced the dogs to the area, one group at a time. Because the fence is nearly invisible, we needed to make certain the dogs were aware of the perimeter. I had thoughts of walking each around the perimeter but then decided that would be too time consuming and came up with a more creative plan. It would be a test of their knowledge of a certain dog mushing command that they have all heard many times before.  "Whoa!"

Klaus, Sweet Pea and Tuloon were first to "christen" the area. As they darted around the area, I watched as each came closer and closer to the fence. When they were within a few feet I shouted "Whoa!". All three obeyed and each avoided hitting the fence but did take note of its location as they then ran along the entire perimeter. Most dogs reacted the same way. There were a few, more head- strong dogs, on the other hand, that received a nice, painless, self-inflicted correction when I shouted "Whoa!" and they did not obey. Zodiak, bounced off the fence, looked perplexed, noted the fence and didn't do it again. Let's see how he reacts to the "Whoa!" command in harness this winter. I have an idea he will remember this time.

After having been out in the area several times in the past few days completely supervised, they're ready to be out in regular play groups throughout the day semi-supervised. This means I can actually get some work done while they play. Because it is nylon fence, they can not be completely trusted and I must visit each group several times during their play time, with treats. They're used to this and come right away when called. There have been a handful of times when dogs have gotten out of a fenced area or off of their camping chains in the winter. They either have come immediately when called or just go directly to the front door and wait to be let in.

It will be so nice to get them back out in an area where they can really stretch their legs every day. We've been relying on a much smaller play area since our arrival and although it did get us through, I could tell that the dogs really wanted more activity. I was worried that anything we were able to create here at our new place wouldn't be nearly as diverse in topography and interest points as the play area at our Watertown location.  Watching them run, sniff, socialize and play in this area that is even bigger than they have had previously, I can say that I really think it will keep their interest for years to come and that makes me very happy.

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