From time to time I am asked by clients about my opinion on using a wireless dog fence (sometimes called "invisible" or electronic fences) for dogs. And yes, I have thoughts on the issue! Also.....I have a contest! But I'll get to that at the end.
The short version is that I do think that an electronic dog fence is a very viable option for many people. I know from personal experience that having a physical fence is expensive and can be difficult to install if you try to do it yourself. My own yard doesn't have a fence and we've been considering having one put in for a long time. Last year we finally decide to do so and got a few quotes. The cheapest one was around $2600, and they went up from there. That cost wasn't really in our budget and as a second choice I looked into invisible fencing.
An invisible fence was a much more reasonable option. I looked at a few companies who did the full installation as well as a DIY electric fence. I finally decided on the latter because for less than $300 I could get a full kit plus an extra collar. I will admit that it was a bit of work putting it in, as I had to measure and arrange the wire, set up the transmitter, dig small trenches in which to bury the wire, and make sure the whole thing worked. It took several hours last Summer, and while not back-breaking it was a bit tedious. In the end I got it installed and within a couple of weeks had my dogs trained.
The fence has worked great for a year and is still going strong. My dogs have learned the boundaries and don't approach them. They are used to the collars and don't mind them. In fact it has worked so well that we aren't planning on putting up a physical fence any time in the near future.
It's obvious that I'm biased in favor of these fences, but I'm still realistic about the occasional challenges. Here are a few key points.
- The collars provide a small static charge, not a full blast of electricity. Yes, it's uncomfortable, but the collars make a tone as the dog approaches the wire, warning them in plenty of time. My dogs learned very quickly where that line was, and don't go too close. If fitted and used properly it doesn't cause any physical damage and the dogs learn when to stop so they don't actually receive the shock. I can't remember the last time my dogs have actually received any kind of "punishment" from the collars.
- This is a much cheaper alternative to a physical fence, which makes it a great option for people on a budget. That was one of the main reasons I decided to use one.
- If the electricity for your house goes out for some reason (storm, blown fuse, etc.) your fence is effectively down. So don't let your dogs outside unsupervised if this is the case or they will not hear the tone of the collar and may go beyond the boundary.
- If the battery in the collar dies you lose the benefit of the fence. The collar won't give a tone or a shock if the dog approaches the boundary wire. However, many dogs are so well trained by that point that they will stop at that border anyway. And at least the brand I use will give a warning flash as the battery is losing power.
- Thought it would happen rarely, there is a risk of a big, strong dog getting excited and taking a running start at the boundary line, breaking through it in about a second. I've heard of this happening, and once the dog is through the other side the collar stops giving any signal since it relates to the proximity of the transmission wire. This has never been an issue with my dogs and they both weigh around 60 pounds. Be aware of your dog's personality and tendencies.
Wireless dog fences aren't for every dog, but they are definitely a good option for many. Certainly look at it as an option if you don't need a physical fence for any reason other than to contain your dogs. There are many types of invisible fence out there, so look around. Here is one site for invisible fence reviews.
Okay, now the contest! I want to see how many people are aware of this blog and willing to share it! In order to "enter", you must either comment on this post or share it on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.). Once you have done so send me an email at DrChrisBern@gmail.com with either the link to where you shared it or your name/alias in the comments. Doing both (commenting and sharing) will get you two entries! I will need a valid email address in order to send the prize. I will draw a person from random from those emails and that person will win a $25 Amazon.com electronic gift card! Entries will be taken through Midnight (12:00am) EDT on Tuesday, July 14th, 2015.