One very effective way of catching dogs is when they are running along a fence or wall. Sometimes the only way a dog can run past you is if it runs between you and a wall, so it is good to learn this technique. I have learned how to use nets to catch wolves at zoos and other captive wolf programs in the U.S. From my later experience handling street dogs I have modified my technique and softened my behavior to scare the dog less and added a Y pole and a towel to reduce their struggling and stress.
This is Part 2 of a four part series on netting dogs. In this article I will describe:
- How to practice before you begin to catch dogs.
- How to catch a dog running along a wall.
- Ways of Being as well as the ways of doing, because we are asking the dog to run by us. (Good posture. Relax. Invite them to run past you.)
- How to use nets with a line of people to catch a dog in a large open area.
Practicing to Catch a Dog Along A Wall
Before you attempt to catch dogs with a net, be sure to practice with objects like a soccer ball (football). Practicing with a soccer ball will make you more confident with the net and teaches you how to hold it and how to stand with good posture in a way that does not scare the dog. And it’s fun too!
The proper distance away from the wall is the length of your net plus another foot (.3 meter). Measure your distance from the wall by holding your net to the wall and have the far edge of the net just touch it and then move a small half step farther away. You want to stand as far away from the wall as you can to make it feel safe for the dog to run past, but close enough to the wall to catch the dog. When the dog runs past you he will try to run as close to the wall as he can. And by measuring with the length of the net and stepping back ½ step, you should be at just the right distance.
Here is a good example of how to hold the net. Your front hand closest to the hoop is holding the long netting. The net should be able to slide right through your hand, so do not put your fingers through the netting. Stand with good posture and hold the net so that it is hiding behind you. Hold the net parallel to the wall or swing it just a little farther back so your body is hiding the net from the dog. It is important to be relaxed and have good posture. Our habit is to lean forward and crouch to be ready, but this scares the dog. And as we crouch we forget to look where our net is and it is often blocking the way for the dog to pass. Stand tall and hold the net behind you so the dog only sees your body and not the net.
Ask someone to throw the ball so it bounces quickly and catch the ball as it bounces past.
“When netting a dog, truly invite the animal to pass by….then change your mind.”
If you imagine that a dog can read your mind, you will be more right than wrong. Dogs can feel our intentions and read our body language. So if you focus on catching the dog with the net, you will be tense and the dog will know it. Instead, focus on wanting the dog to run by you.
So play a game with yourself and the dog. When you are standing near the wall or fence, do not think about catching the dog. Instead, truly believe that you are inviting the dog to run past you without any harm to the animal. If you do, the dog will read your body language and will be less afraid. Then when the dog chooses to run past you, wait until he is directly in front of you and quickly change your mind and swing the net into the dog’s path.
Make sure the dog is absolutely in front of you before you swing the net. If you swing too early, you will scare the dog and he will turn away. And if you wait too late, he will escape the net.
Adding the Y Pole and Towel
Then twist the netting so it is wrapped tighter and tighter around the ball. This takes a lot of practice to do this quickly. And as soon as you catch the ball, a person with a Y pole, who is standing behind you, should run up and put the Y pole on the twist. Keep twisting and twisting to make the ball really tight in the net. And then twist again! When you are catching dogs on the street the Y pole person should be walking behind you like a shadow staying close enough to use the Y pole as soon as the dog is caught, but far enough to not scare the dog.
It is usually better to put the Y pole on the twist, but at times you can carefully put the Y pole on the dog if it is fighting hard in the net. Do not be forceful when placing the Y pole on the dog. Remember that your goal is to always calm the dog and yourself as you work. So apply the Y pole in a fast but soft way and this is usually over the neck or shoulders of the dog with a kind pressure.
Then once the ball is caught and the net is twisted with the Y pole in place, put a towel over the ball even in practice. When you are catching dogs the towel will help calm the dog, calm the situation, and make it safer for you to pick up the net and the dog. It is more humane with the towel since the dog is less tense and it looks more humane when the public is watching you carry a dog in the net.
Catching a Dog in a Large Enclosed Area
There are many places, especiallly in the cities and villages where there are vacant lots surrounded by wall. Animal handlers can catch dogs in these lots the way we catch captive wolves in pens at the zoo, but it requires many people forming a line so this is most useful when a group of people are
focusing on catching a particular dog. So this approach to catching a dog is not always practical. If the local authorities accept it, bait stations (a location where food is left every day to attract a dog) can be created at the back of the vacant lot.
A group of people form a line to move a dog along the wall. At the end of the line near to the wall is the netting person and next to them is the Y pole person who will shadow them. The goal is to move the dog as calmly as possible. Slower dogs are easier to catch than terrified fast dogs! Learn to walk a few steps as a line then relax and alloww the dog relax (this is observed on my YouTube Channel GWRFeral Dog – Catching a
Wolf). We have even used a long sheet of burlap 1.5 m high and 8-12 m long which the people carry tomake a wall.
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