Fences are a handy way to keep your pets safe. But not all homeowners have fencing as an option, whether it's not feasible due to their property setup or their HOA bans them. An invisible fence is designed to keep your dog confined to an area without the need for a physical fence, but there are mixed reviews on whether they work.
How Electric Dog Fences Work
Electric dog fences are, in essence, dog training tools. A wire is buried in your yard, creating a perimeter that ideally your dog won't cross. The dog needs to wear a collar that connects to the underground wiring via a transmitter that's plugged into a power outlet.
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When a dog wearing the collar approaches the boundary line, a beep or vibration is emitted to serve as a warning. If the dog doesn't stop, a light electric shock is administered. The idea is that after a short number of warnings, the dog will no longer attempt to cross the invisible fence and the collar will merely exist as a precaution.
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Installing Invisible Containment Systems
Pet owners can install their own electronic fences, but typically they pay fence companies to tackle the challenge. You will, however, have the first and last say in where the invisible dog fence will be installed. The installer will have suggestions, but you'll obviously need to make sure you stay within the legal property line for your lot.
Once you've outlined the boundary, your installer will begin working. The fence wire for your fence will be installed and linked up to the transmitter. The installer will test your new underground fence by making sure there's an audible signal whenever the collar reaches the wire.
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An invisible fence is designed to keep your dog confined to an area without the need for a physical fence, but there are mixed reviews on whether they work.
Invisible Fences and Cruelty
You'll hear passionate arguments on both sides as to whether an electric fence for dogs is safe. The shock collar is the biggest concern. The shock isn't like being struck by lightning or injected with electricity. It's more of a zap designed to get the dog's attention for training purposes.
Still, PETA sees fence collars as being psychologically and physically taxing on a dog. The organization worries that pets may mistakenly associate the cause of the shock to passing motorists or pedestrians and start to show aggression toward those sources. Invisible fence enthusiasts argue that the fences keep pets from getting out of the yard, where they could be harmed by outside challenges.
Issues With Invisible Fence Systems
There are some issues with invisible fence systems. The biggest is that they aren't a physical barrier, which means if your pet chases something across the buried wire, that dog may be zapped trying to get back into the yard. Perhaps most importantly, though, some dogs don't let the zap stop them, simply continuing on through the invisible fence.
Since it's not a physical fence, an invisible fence won't keep dangers out. Wild animals won't be blocked from getting into the yard. If you have an issue with coyotes, bears or stray dogs in your area, you may want to stick with leash walking.
Invisible Fencing Prohibitions
Before you invest in any type of fence, it's important to check with your homeowners association to make sure it's allowed. This includes invisible fencing. Yes, some HOAs ban both invisible and traditional fences.
Invisible fencing prohibitions also apply when you're in the market for a new dog. Some breeders and rescue shelters will refuse adoption to dog owners with pet containment systems involving dog collars that zap. Boulder, Colorado has toyed with the idea of banning dog shock collars, including those used with invisible fences, so keep an eye on any local laws that could apply.
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An invisible fence works, in some cases, to keep dogs contained to a yard. But they don't keep critters out, and they're prohibited by some HOAs, dog rescue organizations and breeders. Check into your unique circumstances before installing one.