Dogs are natural wanderers. Many breeds have the hard-wired tendency to explore and go around the neighborhood. However, this can be dangerous for them and the people around. This is why pet owners use the best fence for dogs to keep their pooches within their yard.
However, there’s a question here: is it safe or humane to use invisible fences? Take note that there are many types of dog fences and an invisible fence is just one of it. Most of these “shock collars” use “static” correction which is a safe and harmless charge of electricity. However, this could be more vicious than how it looks.
I know that when it comes to electric fences, pet owners have varying opinions. Here, I’ll discuss the opposing sides with the hope that you can decide what suits your dog.
Types of dog fences
You have many options when it comes to dog fences. At the end of the day, all of these are intended to keep your pooch inside your yard. Basically, there are three major fence types used for dogs: electric fence, shock collar, and barriers.
Electric fences are different from shock collars (which we will discuss later on). This uses physical wires that are connected to an electricity source. This is effective since the dog will receive shocks when they made contact with the wire fence.
Like shock collars, electric fences are more of a psychological barrier. Any dog that has the guts to endure the shock can jump out of it. The worst part is they won’t have the chance to go back.
Electric fences are only intimidating at first, but as dogs get used to it, it may become useless. Take note that such fences can also develop aggression among canines. Still, the invisible fence cost is lower than physical barriers.
Shock collar fence
This type is more violent than the electric fence. I also don’t recommend it to dog owners since it’s unreliable and can hurt the dog.
For this fence, there are little white flags on the ground which acts as markers of the wires underground. These are connected to the signaling system. And if your pooch tries to escape the grounds, the electric fence system will send a signal to the collar which will release a static charge.
Manufacturers claim that such charge is harmless and not painful. Still, it’s enough to stir discomfort on your dog to discourage from bolting away. However, some dogs that have the tenacity to defy the fence can still get past it.
For owners who aren’t apt to punish their doggos with electric shock, physical barriers are the best fence for dogs. This contains your dog within your yard but you’ll have to watch out for the height and durability.
Make sure that the fence is tall enough and that the dog can’t dig under it. This might be a pain to install but it requires little maintenance.
How does an invisible fence work?
For those who are thinking of using invisible fences, their only choice is a shock collar. Like what I said, there are pros and cons with this method. If your dog is trained to stay within your yard, this fence will just be a preventive and additional accessory.
Invisible fences work by detecting a transmission based on the boundary you’ve set. Usually, an invisible fence comes with little metal poles that you can put on the ground as a marker.
If your dog tries to run past the barriers, the transmitter device will send a signal to the receiver which happens to be the dog’s collar. The result? Electric shock.
Your doggo will feel a shock that’s both irritating and painful. How is this possible? Basically, there are buried wires beneath the metal poles you’ve used as a marker. This is the actual fence. As your dog approaches this, the transmitter detects the vibrations.
This invisible fence is intended to deter your dog from running away while preventing electrocution on other people.
Wondering if the invisible fence is for you? Here’s dog trainer Steven Reid with the considerations:
Is the shock harmful?
Well, the shock is painful. And if this happens repeatedly, your dog will perceive it as a punishment. If your pooch doesn’t know what it’s for, aggression might ensue. Although the invisible fence cost is low, it shouldn’t be the sole basis for its usage.
Also, some dogs that get past the buried electrical wire may find it hard to go home. As they try to inch close to their territory, they will feel the same shock. This makes them think that they are being punished for going home.
As much as the shock won’t damage your dog’s body given that he has a clean bill of health, it’s not always an option. Training and barriers are the usual recommendations of those who are against the idea of giving pets shock just to deter them from running away.
Pros and cons of electric fences
For the sake of fairness, I acknowledge that there are benefits to using an invisible fence. However, some dog owners may find this insufficient to use such a device.
But whatever your decision is, the following points might help clear your mind.
It’s an affordable choice. Unlike setting up physical barriers, the invisible fence cost is as low as $200. It’s also easier to put up, especially for busy dog owners.
It gives the dog more room. Physical barriers can be expensive which forces the dog owner to limit the fenced area. But when it comes to invisible fences, the coverage can be as large as 25 acres. It’s the best fence for dogs in terms of coverage.
Invisible fences are flexible choices. The good thing about this fence is it doesn’t ruin the view of the property nor it poses electrocution to the people that will enter the property.
It’s effective to some extent. If your goal is to keep your dog from stepping out of your property, invisible fences are effective. There’s no wall to climb or wire fence to squirm through.
It’s a form of punishment. No matter how hard I try to see the good in it, invisible fences remain to be a form of punishment. There’s also the danger that the dog may associate the shock into something that’s not related to the fence. For example, if he happily approaches a kid on the other side, the sudden shock may cause the dog to develop aggression toward the child.
The shock is painful. There are many ways to keep your dog in the yard without the addition of pain. Manufacturers of this fence try to deceive dog owners by saying that the shock is mere static. However, for the dog to stop on his tracks, the shock should be stronger and painful.
Is it really necessary to use this fence?
In my personal point of view, invisible fences wouldn’t be necessary if your dog can be contained in a physically fenced area. As much as this type is more expensive and a pain to set up, it’s better than punishing your dog for an offense he didn’t do.
But if your situation calls for it, there are some ways to reduce the pain and suffering of your pooch with this fence. Here’s what I recommend:
Reduce the amount of shock
As much the collar shock is responsible for deterring the dog, you can tone this down. Usually, dog owners base the level of shock on how stubborn the dog is. If you have a well-mannered pooch, you can reduce the intensity to avoid developing aggression.
It would also be helpful if you train your dog to respect his boundaries. I know that this is difficult for some breeds, but intensive training can go a long way. There are many positive reinforcement-based training that will keep your dog on your yard.
Opting for a physical fence
Although it will be a hassle, I always encourage dog owners to opt for physical barriers. Aside from keeping your dog from running away, this best fence for dogs reduces the chance of break-ins and burglary. Just make sure that the fence is tall enough so your pooch can’t climb on it.
Lastly, I want to highlight the importance of reinforcing the bottom part of the fence. Dogs are master escapists and they can dig hard to escape your fence.
Remember, even though electric fences and invisible fences discourage your dog from running away, a strong desire to chase after a squirrel or raccoon can take the best of them. And when they are bolting fast, the effects of the shock can easily wear off.
Possibility of aggression
The biggest fear that I and many of my pawrent friends have over invisible fences is the possibility of aggression. If your dog associates the shock into something else, say another dog, your neighbor, or a family member, we’ll never know what can happen next.
Such aggression can stir a dog to bark, bite, and attack someone. This is something that you can prevent if you just take the extra mile of putting up a physical fence.
As much as I advocate the use of physical fences, I understand that there are some downsides to it. But in contrast, invisible fences may have major loopholes that you simply don’t have control over. Here are some of the examples:
If you live in a neighborhood where dogs are freely roaming, the biggest problem is that there’s no way an invisible fence can protect your canine against these stray dogs. With this, the invisible fence cost isn’t enough reason for me to use it.
These doggos can freely step into the protected perimeter since they don’t have a shock collar in them. And when things go ruff, your dog can’t run away since the shock will put him in more pain.
It can be harmful to others
Another concern of mine is it doesn’t stop people from walking close to your dog. Little kids who can’t read signs may playfully approach your pooch which can be troublesome if your pet has a history of aggression.
Also, experiencing the shock for the first time is very traumatic for your dog. It will likely stop them from crossing the limits, but it will also scare them to walk past it once the collar is off. In addition, this can affect their housebreaking skills.
Lastly, the warning beep of an electronic fence is almost similar to what phones, kitchen appliances, and other gadgets produce. If your dog has trauma over it, hearing the sound from a non-fence source may trigger an uncalled behavior.
Before you know it, the shock collar has affected your dog more than it should.
Alternatives to the invisible fence
If you want to skip the dangers of invisible fences, I’ve listed a few alternatives here. However, take note that this doesn’t include leashing your dog all day long. This will cause behavioral issues as well. So to let Fido roaming freely without the fear of electric shock, you can utilize the following:
You can use a polypropylene mesh wire to fence the perimeter of your yard. Take note that this is only viable for non-chewer dogs and those that are trained for basic obedience.
Choose a mesh that’s UV-resistant and can withstand weathering. You can use this while saving up for an actual fence. Also, this mesh fence is economical and you can find it just about every hardware store.
No dig- garden fence
If you have the money, you can invest in a portable no-dig fence. This a lightweight fence panel with poles that you’ll just bury on the soil. No need for digging and complicated installation.
This fence is best for dogs that tend to chew on things. Still, choose the height that your pooch can’t climb or at least find hard to get past it.
For those who want to keep their doggos away from harm, a playpen is ideal. It can be made from thick wire panels that isolate your dog. Worried about the small space? Most playpens nowadays have customizable panels so you can let more area inside.
These are lightweight and portable. And if you’re traveling, you can even carry the playpen with you to secure your dog.
Personally, the best fence for dogs is one that doesn’t hurt or punish Fidos. Although it depends on our preferences, it’s better if we exhaust safer alternatives.
Are you planning to use a chain-link fence? Here’s how you can dog-proof it according to Ryan: