Escape artist

For those that have been following along, the obvious question after last week’s post about Baxter’s baking attempt is why was the dog in the house instead of the dog run? Wasn’t your plan to let him stay outside when you’re not home?

Well, that was the plan, but you may have heard the saying about the best laid plans…

The dog run was not a hit.

We started slowly in the summer, trying to have Baxter spend just a few minutes in the run.

Baxter in the dog run

The first time he didn’t even make it a minute. It turned out the gap between the gate and the fence was big enough, and our dog is strong enough that he could push his way out.

Gap between fence and a gate

I adjusted the hinge, tightened up the screws and closed the gap.

Gap between a gate and a fence

It didn’t work. Bax braced his shoulders and still pushed his way out.

Plan B was a second latch at the bottom of the gate. The result of that was a tunnel.

Hole dug under the fence

Look at the happy dog, free at last.

Escape artist dog after tunnelling out of a dog run

Plan C was a mesh base that Matt and his Dad wired to the fencing along the perimeter of the run.

Mesh fencing laid flat on the ground

I buried the mesh in dirt and then covered it all with a layer of wood chips. The result of that was more excavation and another demonstration of Baxter’s strength–this time in his teeth. Look at how he tore the mesh.

Plastic mesh torn by our dog's teeth

Moving on now to plan D. I added patio slabs over the mesh in front of the gate where Baxter most liked to dig.

Stop a dog digging with patio slabs

This worked for a little while and we managed to make it up to about 3 hours in the run at a time.

Dog in a pen

But as we headed into the fall, neither of Matt nor I was really comfortable leaving Baxter alone in the run all day when we weren’t there. He loves being outside, sniffing all of the smells and watching all of the birds and animals, but he hated the run. We weren’t confident that he’d still be in there when we came home at the end of the day, and, most importantly, we didn’t want to stress him out all day.

We tried leaving him alone in the house, and he seemed to do okay, so we decided to go with that plan.

We did revisit the run on the Day of the Skunk. I’d given him a bath and kept him on his long leash outside all morning, but I had to come up with a better solution when I couldn’t put off going in to work any longer. I chose the run. I took the long leash and snapped it onto the fence just in case, gave him his kong full of kibble and a big dish of water, latched the gate and drove away.

I came home to definitive evidence that the run was a big fat #fail. The mesh was completely torn, the fencing was bent, the rocks that I’d used to fill previous holes were exposed and a new tunnel was dug.

Dog digging under a fence

Because of the long leash, the dog was still in the run, but we decided it was for the last time.

Now, Baxter is completely an indoor dog. He spends most of his time snuggled in his bed.

Baxter sleeping in his bed

Although he does occasionally take advantage of being home alone to bend the rules.

Dog on an armchair

What do you mean dogs aren’t allowed on the furniture? Matt gets the couch. You have your chair. This one’s mine.

We haven’t tried a crate, and our fingers are crossed that Baxter continues to do okay on his own in the house. If his baking urges return, we do have a separate mudroom where he could spend the day.

Does anyone else have an escape artist dog?

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9 thoughts on “Escape artist

  1. Ohh my goodness. He looks SO upset when he’s in the run. Uhg. I have to say, our two dogs stay home when we’re working and unless I leave the recycling where they can get it, they do pretty good. It took time to reach the point, but for years now they’ve had free reign of the house. With the new addition they are shut out of the upstairs bedrooms, but beyond that, it’s theirs for the roaming. Only once in a while do we come home to torn up recycling or a bag of eaten potatoes – but that’s either our cue to exercise them a little more on some long runs, or to you know – remember to put the potatoes higher. 🙂

    • We’ve had a few more garbage incidents recently. We’re way off our usual routine because I’m taking some time off work, so he’s super confused and gets a bit anxious when I go out at odd times. I’m hoping he’ll settle down once I go back to work next week. We’ve had some long chats about how he has to be happy in the house because he’s obviously not happy in the run. I’d rather not go the crate route, but we do have the mudroom that is a smaller separate area.

      You said it took time to reach the point you’re at now with free rein. Did you start with a limited area first or do anything in particular?

  2. Omg, he is such a cute dog. I love his white paws!
    Cooper, our last dog, was a total escape artist. He was also hyper, high-strung, crazy and yet the most joyous animal I’ve ever known. Being his “owner” was totally draining! When we got Bear, we said it didn’t matter how big he was (and he is huge) as long as he was MELLOW. Which he is, unless he scents a wild animal. Then all bets are off!
    Hopefully Baxter will get accustomed to the schedule again once you’re settled into your new job.

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