The electric dog fence has always generated a lot of debate. And understandably so.
A collar that shocks or beeps your puppy into staying within the confines of your property really should have you consider its worth. But in certain circumstances, dog owners have very few options.
Especially if you live in communities that don’t allow you to build fences on the land (yes, such laws do exist).
Or that bane of every dog owner’s existence – neighbors who don’t like your puppy, nor you putting up fences that “spoil” their precious “view”.
In such circumstances, what are your options?
Ideally, you should have your puppy trained so well he never sets a paw over the line. And the best electric dog fence can’t beat the safety and security provided by a sturdy, well designed physical fence.
Unfortunately, most dogs could never resist a chance to explore and wander. Especially places they know they’re not free to.
At times you just can’t or are unable to train your puppy not to trespass. An electric dog fence is probably your best bet in that case. But is an electric fence for dogs really safe? The name itself sort of begs the question.
To help you make a choice for your puppy, we’ll go through the pros and cons of electric dog fences. But first, let’s understand how these invisible dog fences really work.
The Electric Dog Fence – How it Works
The electric dog fence – also known as an invisible dog fence, or a wireless electric dog fence – invariably uses an electric collar that your puppy wears.
Unlike the name might suggest, there is no physical fence involved.
Depending on the system, the collar will prevent your puppy from coming too close to or stray beyond an “invisible” fence.
This fence may be represented by an underground wire or cable that marks the outer perimeter of the “safe zone”.
Or in some newer versions, the fence is the outer edge of a specified area monitored by a device. The device will track the location of the collar like a mini-GPS system.
It all sounds good so far, yes?
But the real point of debate is the way the electronic collar will try to stop your puppy from trespassing beyond.
Again depending on the system, the collar can either emit high-pitched beeps or even deliver small electric shocks as a method of negative reinforcement.
Some electric dog fence systems even make the beeps or shocks increase progressively as the dog moves further away.
Now, this may induce nightmarish scenarios of the collar possibly electrocuting the dog or something. But the shocks are quite small in their impact.
More irritating than “shocking”, really.
There are several variations of an invisible dog fence available on the market that you can choose from depending on your puppy’s size, your own preferences, etc.
This Wikipedia page on the electric dog fence – or pet fence – has more about the different variants that are available nowadays.
Electric Fences for Dogs – Pros and Cons
Now to the heart of the matter. Is using an electric dog fence a good idea?
If you’re basically worried about the electrical shocks possibly hurting your puppy, that rarely happens, if ever.
Most such incidents are down to a faulty or damaged product.
More legitimate concerns surround the manner in which the fence is used. For instance, some owners choose to employ too many corrections at a high setting for the shocks.
So let’s look at both the advantages of using an electric dog fence, and the disadvantages and possible harms. Considering both sides will help you make an informed decision for your puppy’s sake.
Pros of Using an Electric Fence for Dogs
- No need spending, building and maintaining an expensive physical fence.
- Is much easier to install and maintain compared to a physical fence – can do it yourself
- Unlike with physical fences, you can shift the boundary quite easily
- Is a reasonably flexible option to keep your dog safe and relatively free
- No need to make expensive changes to the landscape that may have legal or social consequences
- Keeps your dog safely away from other people, animals or vehicles outside the perimeter
- In a lot of cases is considered more dependable than a physical fence which some dogs may just jump over
- Can even help in some basic obedience training exercises
- But like we mentioned earlier, even the best invisible dog fence doesn’t hold a candle to a good physical fence. And, of course, proper training.
To understand this better, let’s look at the “cons” of using an electric dog fence.
Cons of Using an Electric Fence for Dogs
- Cannot be considered foolproof against dogs that are determined or excited enough to ignore the deterring beeps or shocks
- A dog that has managed to exit the fence may not want to re-enter because of the deterrence, and just wander off
- The dog may become used to the deterrence and eventually even choose to ignore it unless it is too strong and harmful
- Provides no protection against outsiders approaching your dog unlike a physical fence
- Unnatural nature of deterrence and negative reinforcement may lead to stress and psychological disturbances that can build up in your dog
- May lead to “displaced aggression” where the dog, unable to identify the source of the distressing beeps or shocks, associates them with whatever is visible instead, leading to aggressive behavior.
So, clearly, even though invisible fences are really convenient to set up, there are other things to consider too.
They work really well and safely with a lot of dogs. But since each dog is different, they do have a negative effect on some.
So do give careful consideration to all aspects of it before deciding to get one for your puppy.
And even though it’s an attractively affordable and simple option, DO NOT NEGLECT TRAINING!!!
Speaking of affordability, how much does an invisible fence cost, really?
For a general idea of our 5 best electric dog fence, check out this electric dog fence review. There you can also look at the features on some very popular if not the best wireless dog fences in the market.
We hope you found this piece on electric dog fences useful if you’ve been considering getting one. And if you have been using one already, do let us know of you and your puppy’s experiences with it!