Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Halo training with Yuki

 Halo collar

I know it has been a LONG time since I did a blog post.  It has been busy (as always) and then the bird flu came and I thought I would have time to maybe start up again but the motivation just did not come.  Now, I finally feel like I have some thing to share...a more "in-depth" review of the Halo collar and it didn't seem like a simple FB post would suffice.


Yuki actively looks for holes in the fencing to get out.  Spud does not do this.  She seems perfectly happy to stay within the 4 acres that we have fenced around our home.  The problem is that Yuki is very sneaky and we cannot seem to find where he is getting out or we would block the hole!  The neighbor said he has seen him "climb" the gate.  I have also seen him up on the gate as if he were going to climb over.  It is hard to explain but we have added more fencing material to the gates so that he cannot do this BUT he was still getting out.  He was going over to the other neighbors and barking at their dogs and so we needed to figure out another way to keep him home!
Yuki with his Halo collar on...getting pets after a successful training session.

We bought a kennel and had to start putting him in there at night.  Also, we have to put him in there when we leave the farm because, as I mentioned earlier, he is super sneaky and often gets out when we are not around the farm or in the middle of the night.  Even after the kenneling, we got a text saying that he was out at like 2:00 in the morning.  I was like, that is impossible.  I remember putting him in the kennel.  I thought maybe I didn't get the latch completely closed....went out to the kennel to find that he can chewed his way out through the metal wire!  This dog does not like to be contained!
At the bottom, you can see where Yuki pulled away the fencing on the kennel.  Henry put the plywood on after this happened...

I was going to actually start looking for a new placement for him but my heart was just not into it.  Then, I ran into a friend from church at the Co-op and she mentioned that there was something you could put on your house and it made an invisible barrier that would keep the dog contained.  I was not sure if this would work but maybe we could use it at night.  I started googling on the internet and that is when I found the Halo collar.


The Halo collar seemed promising and we ordered it right away.  This system is a collar with GPS sensors on it and then you walk around your property and put in virtual fence posts.  When the dog gets close to the GPS fence, the collar beeps.  If they ignore the beeps and get closer to the GPS fence, the collar vibrates.  If they ignore the vibration and go even closer to the boundary, they get a shock.  We got the collar and I started reading about its use.  It seems I have to train the dog to the collar first.  Ugh!  I should have probably known this.  You can't just get it and put it on him and turn on the "GPS" fencing and walk away.  

To begin, you start with beacon training in the home.  A beacon is a small device that you activate and then leave in an area that you do NOT want the dog to go to.  For example, let's say you want your dog to stay away from your dining table.  You would put the beacon on the table along with a "smelly" treat...something like bacon!  Then, when the dog comes over to investigate, the collar gives a warning beep when they get too close and you pull them away with their leash and praise them.  You do this over and over until the dog recognizes that when they get that beep on their collar, they are to turn away.

Small side note at this point...Pyrenees are not really treat motivated, even to smelly bacon, like most other dogs so this has always been a barrier to training...

The beacon training was also challenging for us because our dogs never come into the house.  So, it was double challenging to try and manipulate the situation to practice this.   I started letting Yuki in the house and he just looked at me like "what am I doing in here".  I noticed that he would go into the storage room and eat the cats food so I decided to put the beacon in there.  We worked on that for several days until he would not go into the storage room.

Next was whistle training.  This you are also supposed to start indoors.  There is a button in the halo app and you push it and the collar makes a whistle sound.  When the dog hears it, he is to come to you.  Again, we practiced this inside but I quickly started to do this around the farm as well.  Also, a little challenging because as soon as I go outside, the dogs just automatically come to be to get pets.  I would have to wait for them to go away while I was working and do the whistle.  He is finally getting very good at the whistle training so next is fence training!  We are just going to start on this now so I will have to report back on that!

Before I end, I just want to mention a couple of other things regarding the Halo collar.  It can only be worn 12 hours a day.  So, this works great if you bring your dog in at night.  However, we want him roaming around at night and barking at coyotes.  The collar takes at least a couple hours to charge up each day.  Since we are still putting him in the kennel at night right now, it is working for us to just put the collar on during the day.  I think we are going to have to get another collar and swap them out each day.  Again, they only recommend that the dog wear the collar 12 hours a day.  Also, the GPS fence has to be at least 15 feet away from your house.  This is fine for us but I just wanted to make a note about this for other people that live in town as this may be more challenging if you fence is close to your house.

One good thing about the collar is that I have identified 2 "holes" where he was getting out!  We have patched them up and this is helping him to stay in!  I just noticed when he was getting close to our physical fence and then snuck outside to see what he was up to and found him standing up on the fence getting ready to go through.  I know this is a little hard to see but here is a pic of what the halo app shows on my phone.  The yellow boundary is where Yuki is supposed to be.  Here he is at the neighbors hunting rabbits.  He did come up to the gate with a rabbit in his mouth!  I found the hole he was getting out of right after this...

Lastly, the Halo collar actually saved Yuki's life a couple of weeks ago.  Most delivery people just leave the packages outside of the gate but one person has the gate code and drives in to our house and puts the packages on the porch.  I guess the dogs, yes, both of them, have figured out how to follow the delivery guy out the gate when he leaves!  I happened to be at home and I was working on separating hoses to try and get the irrigation going for the garden.  I had not seen the dogs for a while so I looked at the halo app.  I could see Yuki's collar WAY out of bounds.  The weirdest thing was that it was not moving.  It was so far away that I got into my truck and tried to drive to get him and Spud.  BUT I came up to the U of I sheep farm and could not drive any further.   I was unfamiliar with that area so I drove back home and decided I needed to walk and get him...it is mostly pasture so there are no roads back there.  

I headed out over hills and fencing.  At about a mile away from the house, I see Spud.  I could see by Yuki's collar that he must just be right over the next hill.  I kept going and found that he had gotten caught in a coyote snare.  I didn't even know what a coyote snare was up until this point.  It is a piece of metal with a loop on the end.  It was attached to a fence and I guess it hangs down and then when the coyote goes under the fence, they put their head through the loop and it cinches up and chokes them to death.  Yuki's head was through the loop but it was stuck around the Halo collar so it could not close all the way but he was still having trouble breathing...it had cinched up pretty tight.  I took off the collar and got him to lay still.  Luckily, Seth (he works with Mark) was at the house and I called him, explained where the wire cutters were and he drove back over to the sheep farm and then walked over to where we were and I was able to cut it off his neck.  Talk about a close call.  If Spud would have been caught, this would be a different story...I am sure of it...but the bulky Halo collar kept the loop from cinching up too tight.
Yuki with the snare around his neck...waiting for wire cutters...

We have been meaning to put up some new fencing on the west side of the farm and this is where one of the holes in the fence was that Yuki kept getting out so Henry started working on this fencing project yesterday.  Let's see him squeeze through these 2x4 inch squares!  There was some barbed wire fencing there before, and, even though we had put a hog panel up against it, he would go over the hog panel and through the barbed wire.
So...that is our Halo journey so far...it is an expensive system but it literally paid for itself already with the fact that it saved Yuki's life.  So happy to start fence training and keep this guy inside the boundaries!

Have an eggcellent day!