At a minimum, it’s safe to say the flags should be up for two months. Should your dog require additional time for training, the flags should instead remain standing for up to three months. Even if your dog is a star in following all your instructions, you wouldn’t want to rush the training.
Table of Contents
What Boundary Do the Flags Represent, Anyhow?
The invisible fence flags (usually white square-shaped flags) represent the boundary where you tested the extent of your dog’s play area before it receives any warning of any kind.
Earlier, you had determined this boundary by going outside on your lawn using a test device that came with the kit. When the test device started to beep, you planted a flag on the lawn.
You did that repeatedly at different points until you planted enough flags to give a good visual representation of the warning boundary. The flags should be spaced five to ten feet apart.
The Initial Training Period—5 to 7 Days
Ideally, you’ve already started training your dog to comply with the flag boundary. It’s recommended you train your dog to stay clear of the flags, three times a day for fifteen minutes each.
You would have a leash on your dog (use a second, ordinary collar—the receiver collar has well-rounded tips on two prongs, but best not to pull at that collar). When the dog approaches the boundary and its receiver collar starts to beep, tug back on your leash and say in a firm but gentle voice, “no no no.”
When your dog retreats back into its play area, reward it. Speak in a friendly voice, pet it the way it loves, and maybe give it some edible treats.
This initial 5 to 7 days would start the clock ticking as to how many days you would wait before removing the flags. If your dog still rushes up to the boundary after the initial 5 to 7 days, do not extend this step of the training, but move on to the static correction training phase.
The Static Correction Phase—7 Days
This time, you’d do the same as above, but have the static correction charge enabled on the collar, thus delivering a gentle jolt to your pet if it crosses too far past the flag boundary. Let your dog go by itself; do not attempt to tug it back on the leash.
Similarly, wait a second or two after you hear the warning beep, since there might be a short delay when the receiver collar delivers the static charge to your dog.
You can tell if the dog is experiencing a static charge; it will flinch slightly, or scratch at its neck. Then tug back the leash affixed to another collar, a regular one, on your dog’s neck and give it the positive feedback as outlined above.
If the dog isn’t responding to the static correction training well—either charging the boundary or refusing to go outside—offset the static charge settings accordingly and extend this training by another 3 to 7 days.
At this point, the flags would still have remained standing for a minimum of 12 days. It could be a maximum of 21 days, if training is more difficult than anticipated.
The Distraction Training Phase—7 Days
If your dog has cleared the two previous training phases with flying colors, then you’re ready to begin the last phase of training—distractions. This still requires a leash attached to a second, regular collar.
By distractions, we mean spectacles that excite your dog outside the boundary, such as a passing squirrel, or a ball rolling down the lawn to its end (or onto the neighbor’s lawn, if there is no physical fence).
You would do the same reinforcement techniques as in the static correction phase, but add on your own distractions or wait for hard-to-duplicate distractions (such as passing chipmunks) to happen. For example, you could throw a ball a few feet beyond the boundary line, past the flags.
There is no hard and fast rule for ending the distraction training phase. You could continue this phase for another two weeks, if necessary. Again, if your dog stops short of the flags despite the distraction, you would praise it and perhaps feed it with treats.
At this point, a minimum of 19 days, or a maximum of 28 days would have passed with the flags still standing on your lawn.
The Off-Leash Training Phase—3 Days
During this phase, you no longer affix your leash to your dog. Supervise it closely and watch it as it plays. Don’t set up any distractions for your dog intentionally.
If three days pass by and your dog is still keeping within the flag boundary, it’s doing a great job. If your dog has breached the boundary, you will have to walk up to your dog, order it to re-enter its play zone, and e-start the applicable training.
For example, if your dog wasn’t distracted but still left the play zone, re-start the static correction training phase and double-check that the static charge is working properly and at the right levels.
However, if your dog only left the play zone because it was distracted by something external (i.e. chipmunk or passing car) re-start the distraction training phase instead.
At this point, the minimum period would be 22 days.
Gradual Removal of Invisible Fence Flags
If the off-leash training goes well, you can start removing the flags, but not all at once. First, wait four weeks since the day you note “mission accomplished.”
After the four-week waiting period, remove every second flag so there is still some visualization of the boundary. Wait another five days.
After those five days, remove every second flag from the flags still remaining. Then wait another five days.
After the final waiting period of five days, you may remove all the flags.
Therefore the best-case scenario is 60 days, or about two months.