Christine Hibbard, CTC, CPDT
I’ve been wanting to write an article about “invisible” fences, aka electric fences for some time. I was spurred to action after reading an article by an esteemed colleague, Laurie Luck at Smart Dog University. She got herself and her dogs home safely after one of her neighbor’s dogs broke through the invisible fence but it was a scary experience. I’ve experienced this frightening situation myself with my own dogs and client dogs when out on walks. I wrote an article titled Protecting Your Dog on Walks where I made many suggestions for protecting your dog from people and other dogs that are off leash to help you if you ever find yourself in this situation.
If invisible fences are such a wonderful invention, why are off leash dogs breaking through the border towards those of us walking our dogs on leash? When I ask clients why they’ve installed an invisible fence, the two most popular answers are: the prohibitively high cost of solid fencing and neighborhood covenants that prohibit solid fencing. I thought I’d take this opportunity to go through the justifications I hear from people for using these things and why invisible fences are often not a good idea for dogs or people.
“I know the collar shocks my dog but it doesn’t hurt”.
Since we specialize in animal behavior at Companion Animal Solutions, let’s start with the obvious problem with these fences, they shock dogs. These shocks can range from mild to intense shocks depending on how the collar is set, the quality of the collar and whether the collar malfunctions (you don’t want to hear the stories I’ve collected from clients and other trainers about these collars malfunctioning and shocking the dog continuously until the owner got home or noticed). Now, some dogs seem to be able to “take a licking and keep on ticking”. These dogs handle being shocked with little behavioral fallout (increased anxiety, fear and aggression). Other dogs, not so much. While breed plays a part in determining how well a dog handles aversives or physical punishment, we know from experience that we have to consider the individual dog in front of us, not just the breed. If your dog already tends to be barky and anxious, this is probably not a good tool for you to buy.
“The company sent a trainer to teach my dog where the borders are.”
The question is how quickly and how well your dog learned where the borders are. The quality of “dog training” by these invisible fence companies varies widely. If you decide to buy one of these things, ask the company about the qualifications of the person who will be teaching your dog. At the bare minimum, you want the trainer to be a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. Before you purchase the fence, ask the trainer for references and ask them to explain to you in detail how they’re going to train your dog. If you don’t like the trainer the fence company uses, require them to pay for an outside trainer.
“But my dog has learned where the borders are and doesn’t cross them.”
Some dogs respect the boundary unequivocally while others, not so much. Some may respect the boundary sometimes but eventually something so enticing will come along (a dog in heat, a neighbor cat, a deer) that your dog will be willing to suffer the shock to get to what they want. Once your dog has gotten off your property and caused trouble or has just gotten bored with what they wanted, why would they come back to their own yard? They’ll get shocked again coming home. Yuck. Once a dog knows they can break through the border, they’ll be much more likely to do it again if bored or aroused enough.
“My dog is fine with other dogs, kids, etc. so if they leave the property, I’m not too worried about it.”
An invisible fence may keep your dog on your own property but it doesn’t stop other dogs, kids or people from coming ON to your property. These fences offer your dog less than zero protection. Are you sure neighborhood kids aren’t taunting your dog or worse? We had a rash of dog thefts last year in our area. Seems drug addicts were stealing dogs and then ransoming them back to their owners after they were “found”. We also have coyotes roaming our city neighborhoods (not the suburbs, the city) from which your dogs and cats will not be protected.
If you still feel like you “have to” use this type of fence, you’ve decide to use this type of fence regardless or are still considering whether to purchase one, we recommend the following:
- NEVER leave your dog unattended when outside.
- Always keep the collar on your dog and the batteries in the collar charged. (The dog really does know when they’re wearing the collar and when they’re not. Trainers call it “collar wise”).
- Don’t allow your dog to bark relentlessly at passersby. At best this is annoying and at worst, frightening for people walking by your house. It’s also behaviorally unhealthy for your dog. Ask your dog trainer about barrier frustration (or post a question to this article).
As always, we want to know what our readers think. What are your experiences with these fences?
NOTE: Since writing this article, I found an article by Steve Benjamin detailing a technique for teaching your dog boundary training. I thought our readers might find it useful.
Mary Hunter says
I’ve never used on and never intend to.
“An invisible fence may keep your dog on your own property but it doesn’t stop other dogs, kids or people from coming ON to your property.”
This is my biggest worry about these kinds of fences. What other dogs, people, other animals, etc. will be coming onto your property and interacting with your dog?
Leslie Fisher PMCT CPDT-KA says
Same concerns as Mary Hunter. To dogs that do not acclimate well, learned aggression is a very real concern: been there done that. Also had a collie who became afraid to even move in the yard. Went out, laid down, would not move. This after being “”trained” to fence boundaries. years ago, before I knew better.
I would never use or recommend one. Have seen far too many learned behavioral issues. In response to association of being zapped in presence of stimuli (children/other dogs/traffic)
Christine Hibbard says
@ Leslie, I keep telling my clients, Pavlov died in 1937 but the lessons are just as powerful now if not more so because more is at stake for our dogs. We expect our dogs to comply with a level of behavioral sophistication unheard of even 30 years ago.
I realize that my situation may be different than many of your normal readers… however, after experience a dog hit by a car on a rural road, I hope that all the readers will use your suggestions to find good solutions for themselves as opposed to a blanket rejection that does not take into account the weight of the consequences of not having a way to contain their dogs.
All things have consequences. The dog in a full facing fence may develop barrier frustration. The dog that is staked out can develop a host of behavioral issues from frustration to aggression.
I live in a fairly large rural, flood prone area where most fencing types are not reasonable. But after having to pick up the unconscious body of my pup, i’m willing to do the research to teach them as best i can.
However, as i said… my situation is probably different than most of your readers. Your information and attention to detail is fantastic. Thank you for the post!
Christine Hibbard says
Amy, I am so, so sorry that you had to experience such a painful accident with your dog. I know what a conscientious owner and advocate you are not only for your dogs but all dogs. You make an excellent point that every owner has to make decisions based on their particular situation and dog. Blanket rejections benefit no one, human or dog.
I went to pains in my article to discuss the drawbacks to invisible fences while also including information for using them in the safest possible way should an owner decide to install one. If you have any suggestions for deploying these fences in the safest and most humane way possible, I know our readers would benefit. Thank you for your thoughtful post!
Christine, thank you so much for replying. So often people comment against the norm and are ignored. How refreshing!
I have not deployed the fence yet, but hope to next year. that said, a dear friend and neighbor has had IF for years and has been very successful with it. When i asked (grilled!) her about it, she pointed out that we should only talk to the installer that she used. Apparently IF is a franchise; and with franchises some are awesome and some are… not. LOL She went into great detail about training to the visual flags for weeks if not months, first inside in a place where you can focus more on just training to stay away from the flag first without the collar. I have to go back and talk to her about it again as i feel like i’m smushing ideas together, but I remember at the time thinking ‘ok, so not so much of press the button and bring on the pain.’.
Also, it’s important to note that she and I are both on acreage.
I did a rescue check for a person with IF in a small yard and the warning tone went off as soon as the dog walks out the front door… The problem there was obvious to me, but not immediately to them. I’m not sure if you can adjust the distance for the warning tone, but it was painfully obvious in watching that person’s dog that the installer and owner had done a deep disservice to that dog.
Anyhow, Christine, really a great post. i don’t want you to think i’m pointing meanly. Nuance in all things, right? 🙂
The article really puts the invisible fence in a negative light. A lot of bad things can happen with them – I agree. But if you have responsible owners with good morals, then they are great things. Like testing out the fence on yourself FIRST before putting it on your dog. Checking the batteries and connections on a regular basis to make sure it’s working. Keeping up training on a regular basis with your dog using positive motivation. I don’t have an invisible fence, but I have a remote trainer so my dog can be on my property without a leash. Granted, I am with her the entire time outside, but letting her run free and rewarding her when she comes back is the goal. The remote trainer is there for reinforcement if she veers outside the boundaries. I have it on a low stimulation, and have felt it on myself, which is not painful whatsoever. It all depends on the dogs and the owners. The invisible fence is definitely NOT for a careless owner.
I’ve never used this kind of fence, however they are popular where I live in Wisconsin, NO ONE uses fences here…all dogs are boundary trained OR they have invisible fences. The shock doesn’t bother me…it’s the part where anyone or thing can still enter YOUR yard.
I know of several people that live in subdivisions that do not allow fences, so they negotiated. They installed an invisible fence 4 feet from the edge of their property (all the way around the yard) and then installed a 3 foot tall white picket fence at the property line. This was the best they were allowed to do, it still keeps things out but it also keeps the dogs in!
I highly doubt I will ever use an invisible fence, however if I do…dogs will never be unsupervised outside, and I will try my best to do like my friends did above.
Field fence to the rescue! Many homeowners haven’t figured out what farmers have known for a long time: field fence is a wonderful thing. I’m a fairly small woman, and I’ve fenced 20 acres of field on our farm, plus two more smaller fields on other plots, all by my lonesome or with another woman friend to help out. Any farm store can sell you the materials. You need woven or welded wire fence (the thicker the wire, the easier in the long run), steel t-bar posts, braces for the corners, a post-driver ($20 at a farm store), a come-along and homemade stretching bar, and a few weekends. You’ll save thousands of dollars compared to a wooden fence, and your dogs will be safe. Plus, fencing is actually a lot of fun, and relatively cheap (perhaps $2 to $5 a running foot) if you do it yourself. Hire a couple strong kids to help out if need be.
Christine Hibbard says
@Nancy, thank you SO much for suggesting a field fence solution. I used field fence to block off a dog run area in my back yard (I only want to have to pick up poop over a certain area). Besides, field fence options are so varied that you can actually make the fencing match the style of the house. I think field fence is a very hip design choice. Thanks for taking the time to leave this suggestion!
This article really gives a bad light to invisible fences. If you want to just slap the collar around your dog’s neck and boot her out the door, then obviously this isn’t for you, but the whole point of the fence is to combine the reinforcement with training. You also need to evaluate your dog’s temperment. In my neighborhood, I have several older couples who go for daily walks, and we couldn’t simply let my 80 pound german shepard mix go barking up the driveway. Fences are prohibited and the animal shelter we rescued her from wouldn’t allow her to be left tied up outside, so this seemed to be our best option. We did a lot of research and trained her with positive reinforcement before even turning on the shock. I tried the collar on myself, and it DOES NOT HURT. I’ve already lost one dog to a car, and I’m not about to do it again. Of course no matter what you do there are going to be drawbacks, but that doesn’t make invisible fences cruel or wrong.
Reina, why don’t you just have your dog inside with you? That’s what the rest of us do, because we actually like our dog’s company. No shock collar needed.
Ken McCort says
As a rural farm owner with 10 dogs along with livestock of various types, I believe in fences! Chained link around my house (for my dogs when they go outside) and high tensile around my pastures. The farm had barbed wire when I bought the place but I took it all down. Field fence did a great job keeping my animals in, but neighborhood dogs learned to jump it. After having my 5 llamas killed by these dogs who needed to “have some fun and run loose” according to the owner, I went to a visible electric solution. Well 5K volts on wire up to five feet tall seems to keep everything out. My problem was never keeping my animals in. I have two dogs that show up at our farm on regularly that have IF collars on them. Luckily, they are NOT livestock chasers.
People need to understand IF is NOT a Star Trek force field that cannot be passed through, it is merely an unpleasant stimulus.
I’ve used Invisible Fence on two properties for 3 dogs (Dalmatian, beagle, basset) with 100% success over the past 16+ years. It is important NOT to shortcut the training. Use the flags, and take the time. My Dalmatian used to love to run full speed all along the “fence”, racing herself. She could have easily run through and not even been shocked, since there is a “mosquito” sound warning before the shock occurs. She never did. Both of the hounds, would of course follow scents along the fence line, just keeping back from the “mosquito” sound. Neither of these properties were amenable to conventional fencing, one being very forested, and the other being waterfront.
I would agree, however, that the downside of IF is that it does not keep other dogs from coming onto your property and possibly harming your dogs. You do still need to be present to supervise.
Christine Hibbard says
@Deborah, thank you for leaving a comment about your experience with using invisible fencing. There are just some properties for which physical fencing is next to impossible to install. You used this type of fencing responsibly by paying close attention to the training, keeping batteries in the collars and never leaving your dogs unattended. Thank you for reading Behind the Behavior!
Sanjuana Lipke says
Just found this weblog thru Yahoo, what a nice shock!
Have any if you ever felt the supposed “shock” it’s just a tingle. The “shock” couldn’t hurt even the smallest of dogs. My small children play with the collar and the “shock” if it can’t hurt a small child it’s not hurting your dog. I understand invisible fencing might nit be the best solution for some of you, but for some people it is a great great thing! We live in a rural area and there’s no chance of some stray wandering into our property. We have a very dangerous road we live on and after one dog was hit we were not going time risk it again. Not to mention the shape and texture of our yard make regular fencing almost impossible. I love my invisible fence! I wouldn’t trade it for a traditional fence ever! Your dog any jump over or dig under and invisible fence. I know maybe it’s not the best option for some people but to rule it out entirely because of the tingly feeling it delivers when crossed is insane. Seriously, if you have one of these fences I suggest you go feel this so called “shock” it’s laughable, but to a dog it’s an unpleasurable sensation which causes them not time want to feel it. Invisible fencing has given my dogs new freedom that they never had before and I seriously suggest you don’t puke it out because of someone else opinion. It actually could be a good option for you. But you’d never know that by reading this.
I find that your article casts a decidedly negative light on underground electronic containment, and not only lacks the research necessary to back up the assertions you claim, but leaves out an immense amount of evidence which contradicts your conclusions.
I have owned and operated an underground fence company for over 13 years. In addition to being a certified trainer, I am also an animal psychology behaviorist. With additional effort and research, you would discover that literally tens of thousands of animals lives have been saved by the use of this technology. There are far more animals showing up in shelters and rescue groups due to the failure of conventional containment systems (fences, tie outs, etc) than as a result of the failure of a professionally installed and trained underground fence systems.
As is the case in any profession, there are good examples and bad examples. I know of “certified ” canine trainers that are so inept, their very involvement endangers the dog’s welfare – however I would never consider condemning certified trainers in entirety because of the failure of a few.
The every best of containment companies use positive reinforcement techniques and operant conditioning as the psychological foundation of the systems success. Typically, it is the do-it-yourselfer, who chooses cheap or unreliable components, is inexperienced in regards to proper installation, and skimps on , or eliminates training – that creates the impression that “electronic systems don’t work”. Those of us with a sincere passion for animal safety & welfare, who work diligently to install, train and support our customers professionally, and who use only the most reliable and versatile of components – our success rates FAR exceed conventional fencing.
With a customer base approaching 4000, with the damage caused by Katrina, and the ensuing 6 week power outage – our customers did not lose a single dog. Anyone truly concerned with the welfare of animals should be impressed with , and curious about that.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment
Tahn P says
It is very interesting reading this article and the point Christine is advocating. With actual ‘citations’ provided to evaluate these judgements on invisible fences and I probably would have not commented. I believe “invisible fence” with a fenced area can be an alternative. I must admit I have my little man snoring beside me (Spud) . We saved him from the animal welfare. He is lucky to go to the lake and the beach everyday being in Australia. We have a well maintained fence but we have a house on stilts and he has found every way to get off the varendah on the front gate. The neighbours and the neighbours kids love him so that’s probably our own worst enemy. After 2 hour walk on the beach and we come home, he hides his bone and was straight off to say hello to the kids walking home from school.
Options we tried:
1. Build higher gate. (So he found a side way)
2. Big plants $$$ (lucky I like plants)
3. Lattice work (worked for the varendah but he can now he digs)
4. Invisible fence!!!!
I would like to reiterate we have a well maintained boundary fence and we have used an invisible fence as a safeguard because I would hate it that my little man end up “on the wrong side of tyres” or in the hands of a cruel human being when all he wanted to do was say hello to the children next door. I hope this point of view can be considered with “invisible fences”.
Christine Hibbard says
Thank you for sharing your experiences with your dog Spud. His enthusiastic socializing certainly made him determined to escape and you tried everything I could think of for keeping your dog safely contained. You are obviously a caring and responsible owner and thought through your options carefully before choosing the invisible fence back up option. Whenever thinking through options for clients, we always have to weigh the welfare of the dog (and people). You certainly did that. Thanks for reading Behind the Behavior and leaving a comment!
Christine Hibbard says
Thank you for leaving such a well reasoned and respectful comment. We’ve worked with dogs that have done fine with invisible fences but we’ve also worked with many dogs suffering from behavioral fallout: increased anxiety, fear and reactivity. I agree with you completely that how these fences are deployed and how the dogs are trained have a huge impact on the maximum effectiveness/minimally invasive equation.
Absolutes on most issues are not realistic or helpful. We have to consider each dog and each situation but we stand by the existing research on shock fences. We do not recommend them.
Thank you Christine –
I appreciate your feedback, but with all due respect – the 13 years of experience, knowledge, statistics and track record as a professional and expert in the field of pet containment that I shared with you should be considered and included as “research”. In my opinion, to not do so creates the possibly mistaken impression that you’ve based your opinion on what you’ve already heard, not on what you may have learned.
The bottom line is, that there would be thousands upon thousands of lost, killed or maimed dogs if it were not for the successful application of this technology and training.
As I stated earlier, if I based my opinions of “dog experts”, shelters, rescue groups, etc, solely upon either my own experiences, or the the negative experiences of others – then I could never recommend them. As a professional , I have to open my mind to the idea that I might not know everything I need to know in order to have an INFORMED opinion….and for any pet professional, having an informed opinion is a responsibility – not an option.
Again, I thank you for the opportunity to respectfully challenge your position
I think there are times for invisible fencing…I just installed it within my 6 foot vinyl fence. The reason I have a 4 year old 25 pound lab mix rescue. When we 1st got her – she wouldn’t even walk on a leash. I had to hire a professional to help her. She then begin jumping the fence. She got hit by a car. We fixed her him 6 month later she moved the 54bar used to secure drainage to get out. She dug under the gates…once those areas were done she begin jumping fence again… She stays nearby walks with the girls couts etc but we have a neighbor who calls SPCA when she escapes. So we had to begin tethering her which she hates. I am trying to do right by my dog, and this is the option I am choosing to put inside the fence to protect her. I went through day 1 training and begin working tonight with her on boundries. She had the prongs covered…and she’s not being shocked. I tried and tested it. Instead of everyone I am coiming across criticizing people looking for help with invisble fence.. I could use help.She’s terrified of the beep already.She’s not been shocked, but the training of no and showing herthe flags is upsetting her.
Christine Hibbard says
I’m so sorry that you’re having so much trouble keeping your dog safe when outside. You sound like a wonderful owner who is genuinely trying to do the right thing. Trainers hired by invisible fence companies are like any other professional, some are better than others so if your dog is already afraid of the warning tone, I recommend getting professional help from someone who specializes in dog behavior. We can help you find someone in your area if you email us at info at companionanimalsolutions.com.
It can also be worth considering (although I don’t have enough details on your particular dog and situation) that some dogs just can never be left outside unattended. Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety which will cause them to panic and jump the fence when left alone. Some dogs suffer from fear or noise phobia which will also cause them to panic and dig out or jump over. Just something to consider since your dog seems so determined. Let us know if we can help you find a qualified professional in your area. Good luck!
Invisible fences have always been a pet peeve of mine. My neighbor owns a wolf hybrid dog that is left outdoors 24/7 within the confines of an invisible fence. The dog barks at anyone or anything that passes by…very annoying. The pet owner does nothing to correct this dog. The back of their yard is adjacent to the side of our yard. We do not have a fence as fences are not permitted in our neighborhood. We own two small dogs that are pretty much house dogs. Last summer, something horrific happened. We had a house full of company and we were entertaining them on our patio. My niece and nephew were playing in our backyard. The wolf dog started barking ferociously at my niece and nephew. My smaller dog (11 lbs) barked back at the wolf dog and crossed the boundary line onto their property. The wolf dog immediately charged my dog. Our other dog (23 lbs) stepped in between the two dogs to defend the smaller dog. The wolf dog grabbed my dog by the neck with its teeth and started shaking it back and forth like a rag doll, aiming to kill my dog. When I ran over to the scene, the wolf dog dropped my dog. My dog was bleeding profusely – had a large open gash in his neck and his trachea was punctured. Our dogs did step onto their property and they were not on leashes (lesson learned), but what bothers me is that the homeowner/pet owner of the wolf dog had no clue as to what was going on. Her dog is never monitored and is even left outdoors when they are not at home. The owner was very upset about what happened and didn’t understand what made her dog snap like that. I was hoping that she would learn a lesson from what happened and start to supervise her dog when out in the yard, but no…the dog still harasses anyone who comes close to their yard. I am currently in the process of attempting to get our Property Owners covenants amended in regards to homeowners with invisible fences. If you have them, supervise your dogs and don’t allow them to incessantly bark at people who walk by…very rude and annoying!
nattie fattie says
I need to quickly add my two cents since i am AGONIZING over the decision to use an IF fence. My child left the door open accidentally and my awesome, sweetly tempermented beagle( inside the house personality) bolted and WAS hit by a CAR!!! Thankfully she was uninjured but it took several hours until we found her (all the while thinking I’d be finding my half dead dog…HEART BREAKING! I have had a lifetime guarantee, we can train ANY dog, trainer and yet, outside she is nose to the ground and GONE…I have had both large ocmpanies out this week and am intrigued by the boundary plus option with IF…it allows the dog a free pass to get back in…my one worry was that if she goes out and is corrected, does she get confused and keep going? Like she did when hit – we found her (by the Grace of God) miles away. I am told the ocrrection is adjustable from 10 -30 seconds – what if she can hold out that long??? OMG! I am soooo torn…caannot have regular fence here, on wetland – lots of bunnies, but in suburbia where if she is hit again I fear we wouldntget so lucky! Thank you for your balanced information. i don’t need the fence to let her out in yard – she is walked regularly -just to catch her if she sneaks out…I’m open for suggestions!
Have had an invisible fence for the past 11 years. Never had a problem. Our dog had the run of the entire rear of our property, and was very happy. We are in a rural area, 2 of my neighbors also have invisible fences.Stray dogs coming onto our property have not been an issue. We trained our dog, with no help an no problems, and it didn’t take long.
Mark R says
I see two problems with this “debate”:
1) ‘invisible fences’ are being slammed for not being all things to all people: since when have we EVER had anything that could do everything? OK, so IFs don’t keep things out… is that a good reason to not use them to keep your pets safe at home? No.
2) ALL ‘invisible fence’ type products are being tarred with the same brush: you can buy $50 systems on eBay that I wouldn’t use on my enemy’s dog! Ok, so there are cheap rubbish systems that are prone to malfunction (sometimes in a harmful way), but there are others that cost more and work extremely well – without malfunction due to interference or even full immersion in water. As with everything else in life, do your research and buy a good product: you and your dogs will live long, happy, healthy lives.
I moved to a rural area 2 years ago. Back in the ‘burbs, we’d had 6′ solid steel fences to keep our 3 Huskies in … but they just dug under anyway. Now, with a 1000’ boundary in a rural area, the ONLY solution was an IF. I bought the most expensive system, put it in myself, and my wife and I did the training (in consultation with the experts). Not only have we had complete success — and I really want those who don’t like IFs to pay attention here — we have three happy, healthy Huskies, with NO learned aggression, NO injuries, and NO personality changes … and NO escapes, despite dogs with an IMMENSE prey drive, a farm fence that is easily jumped, and more daily temptation from wildlife and livestock outside the fence than you can poke a stick at.
If you’re using an IF and (a) your dog escapes, (b) your dog gets injured, or (c) your dog’s personality has changed, then YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. If a mechanic uses the wrong tools, or uses the tool incorrectly, and breaks your car, do you blame the tools or the mechanic? Same thing here.
OK, I read thru all of these. I have 4 dogs, quite the mix. Before I had kids I had bichons, they never went any more than 10 ft away and when called came back. Now with 3 boys they each have a dog, one beagle, 2 terrier mixes and I have a fullfy mini mal-shi. I live on 8 acres adjacent to another 20 back in the woods. The last 2 years have been challenging, just got a failure to confine,,,dogs chased the local police out biking last weekend. not good. I let them out in early daylight and nighttime when dark to run, but with summer and a new ballpark, daytime is out they cross the street and go for the food as weel as chase wildlife. My property can in no way have a traditional fence put in, too many issues between flooding and trees continually falling down from high winds. Plus on a hill border by a creek. So now I have to figure out a way to allow my dogs to run, they live inside the rest of the time and secure them. So having said all this..looking at an invisible fence. With 4 doors outside of the house that can be left open I will need to basically do about 2 acre perimeter min, 5 to cover to the creek. As I said, they rarely run off and I am with them, but once the beagle goes with her nose to the ground the rest follow, and she can and does chew through chains. They are friendly dogs and I want to ensure they are safe, I also do not need any criminal charges against me (really?) cannot believe that one, but need a good solution. So how do you untrain the pack, and can this be successful. So is IF a good solution or not. Can you train 4 dogs at the same time , especially when they know the other side of the world already? Help would be appreciated.
I’ve had an invisible fence for 5 years and I’ve only had 2 jailbreaks. Everyone I know with a physical fence has at least two stories of jailbreaks in the last 5 years. Dogs jumping the fence, diggin under the fence, running out the door.
I have a Lab/Mastiff, a Doberman, and had a Foxhound but she’s no longer with us.
My lab/mastiff left the containment area once to go after a neighbor and her dog that were out for a walk. The issue was my lab/mastiff was still a puppy when I had the system installed and a big wimp when it came to pain so they set the collar to medium. I called I/F the day of the incident and they came out within a couple of days to turn the collar all the way up.
Not sure what happend the second jailbreak but someone knocked on my door to tell me the dogs were down the street.
I did have to talk to the neighborhood kids to explain to them that teasing my dogs could get them overly excited in which case they may choose to break containment.
When I moved I layed the new wire, purchased flags, and trained the dogs as to where the new barrier was without a problem and for only about $100.
I know someone that said her dog would just lay in the yard in one spot because it was afraid of being corrected. My dogs did the same thing the first couple of days. You have to work with the dogs so they understand their boundaries. They tell you this during the training sessions.
Also it’s a containment system to keep your dogs in. It’s not designed to keep roaming dogs, coyotees, kids and such out. If you have small dogs and worry about loose dogs attacking them or someone stealing them it’s not for you. I also know it’s not recommended for some breeds but I can’t find the breed list.
Dale South says
I’ve had an invisible fence for seven years and my seven year old has never crossed the barrier. She no longer wears a collar and has not for several years. She uses the entire yard and does not exhibit signs of depression, etc. We have since rescued two there dogs that were easy to train and continue to respect the confines of the fence. They will only leave the yard in a car or on a leash.
We are presently upgrading the system to the new Boundary Plus model. It only sends a correction shock if they leave the yard and will only stop sending the correction once they return to the yard.
Hi! I have been reading about these invisible fences. My husband and i are in the process of installing one. We have 4 dogs. We usually let the three dogs run around our 12 acres area. The one dog is so tiny we just keep him in a large fenced backyard. It has come to our attention however that one of our dogs has been going to our neighbor’s property and has been killing more than 10 of their chickens. All our dogs were pretty good at staying within our property but that same neighbor has a dog and it has been hanging with our dogs a lot lately and they tend to follow him to his house and that is when the killing of the chicken began. I really dont want to keep paying for the chickens and i dont want them to shoot my dog. They do have the right because it is their property that is being killed. Hopefully this invisible fence is going to work.
Lori Bielecki says
Hello I wanted to say that I have used the invisible fence for years.I have Rottie’s and German Shepherd”s. It takes some dedication to training not only the dogs but the human’s responsible for them as well. I love my fence! As far as aggression build up that nonsense! It is not caused from the fence it is caused from not giving your dogs ample play time and keeping the minds and bodies active. That is a responsible owners duties regardless if you have a fence or not. It is not meant to just let them out and roam the yard. I suggest if on a busy road or with lots of biker/walkers to put a sign at the bottom of the driveway saying you have the invisible fence so if the dogs come running they are aware that 1: that you have the fence and 2: that you are out there with the dogs.Also that tells people coming to your home that the dogs do have free reign of their yard and maybe you should call before you come.For me it is a little piece of mind knowing that my dogs are outside w my children where the kids go they go and if some one is in the yard that shouldnt be well maybe they will get barked at and scared away. If they have bad intentions to my children or home or myself well then maybe they will get more than they bargained for. Dogs do their job. They are not only companions and members of my pack but have a purpose, that’s protection. I have many walkers and bikers that come by and wave and say hello Thanks for putting the sign out ect.. I am a walker and I take the dogs w me that way they do see the outside of the yard and keeps the mind healthy. So my advise to anyone thinking about the fence be willing to put your time in, it is not for you to just let them out and forget. People that “bash” the fence saying its in human and what not.. you have no idea.. do some research. It isn’t for everyone but not everything in this world is meant for everyone doesn’t mean its worthless.
I prefer a fence I can see. I have been attacked several times when dogs cross the line. You must know your dog. I gave Invisible Fence some thought before we purchased our chain link but decided my dogs are too reactive and I could not take the chance on losing them or getting hit by a car. I don’t trust something I can not see. Problem is many owners get lazy and don’t bother to put the collar on because they claim the dog is well trained with out the collar on. Another problem is dead batteries, or too deep of snow. i know many people have success, but as an dog walker I cringe every time I walk by a yard with Invisible Fence.
I would never use an invisible fence for my pets. How can we say that our pets are not hurt by those? Do they tell you that?
I believe this is not a good solution.
We also had a good experience with invisible fencing. We lived in a large neighborhood, with large yards, where only wrought iron type fencing was allowed by the HOA. Wooden fencing was not deem attractive AND it blocked your neighbor’s view. All but two families with dogs in the neighborhood used invisible fencing. One of those used iron fencing and one was tied outside. We couldn’t afford iron fencing and our dogs were jumpers/diggers so we decided on IF.
So… we bought the supplies at Lowes, put the line in ourselves, and I trained our dogs as directed by the local IF company. (Australian Cattle Dog with a big burly neck and a German Shepherd. ) We used the customary flags til our dogs seemed to understand their boundaries then I gradually started removing them. All were in place for 2-3 mos and then I gradually removed them over another month. I left the corner flags out permanently so passers-by could see how close our dogs could come to them as they walked by.
The fencing allowed us to let our dogs out any time they desired. Now that I think about it…I think that’s the happiest our dogs ever were. I imagine it came from being outside as they wished. Maybe they also liked an unobstructed view. I don’t know…they couldn’t tell me. We didn’t change anything else in that house. The routines et all were the same as everywhere else we had ever lived.
The ACD ran through the fence twice to chase deer, but came back in. I worked on reinforcing the fence line with her and increased the level on her collar. There was a family with a beagle that got out of their IF a few times as well, but they admitted to not properly training the dog… so I suppose that may be why it left their yard. The only dog I remember ever barking was the one that was tied outside for several hours a day. No one experienced aggression with their dogs or bahavioral issues. Our neighborhood would have get-togethers 2-3 times a year and the wives had monthly get-togethers. Everyone (15ish families with dogs) was pretty pleased with their fencing. All of the families with small dogs brought them in by dusk to avoid coyotes. There were lots of coyotes. No one let their kids play outside without at least one adult supervising so the lack of fencing wasn’t an issue there either. The lack of fencing actually made it easier to keep an unobstructed eye on the kids for several streets over.
I’m not sure I see any inherent flaws in invisible fencing. I think it comes down to responsible pet “parenting”. Know your pet’s needs, temperment and learning style. Know your environment, Supervise, Have reasonable expectations of your dog and the product, and Be proactive. I think that goes for any dog with any fence. I can’t find anything bad to say about IF really…other than the cost and lack of privacy during pool season, but I can’t really fault it for that.
I used one of theses fences for 12 years and had no problems unless the power went out.I had 2 dogs one female 110 lbs and a male 140 lbs.Both dogs have been shocked by it a couple times. The problem is the kit comes with small collars and it’s not one size fits all.You have to trade up the small collars for the stubborn dog collar for large dogs.These collars give a 15 ft warning vibration and let’s the dog know there getting to close to the boundary line.I live on a 4 lane hwy and businesses all around I would do it all again if I had big dogs again.you have to start your dog out very young and have well trained dogs.my dogs never stayed out in the winter it was for summer use only.The snow will cause a signal failure and the collars don’t work .
I just moved to bermuda and these wireless fences are extremely popular here. I walk dogs for a living and I would say 9 out of 10 yards I pass with these fences, the dog is lunging, barking, running the border and frothing at the mouth. Not only is that unhealthy behavior for those dogs, but my perfectly behaved Bernese Mountian dog become agitated and nervous walking by these yards. There is never an owner anywhere in site while their dogs are reacting this way.
If people are going to have these fences then they need to put the time and effort into training their dogs on how to behave while being contained by them. It is not just keeping a dog inside the area, but controlling the behavior while inside.
Just this weekend I heard of a family that had three dog and the hurricane damaged the wireless system. They did not fix it and the three dogs left the property and attacked and killed a small dog and severely injured another. What if that had been a child?! Who can be so irresponsible about their animals and the safety of their neighbors?
I have yet to get one but I would have it not to put up an invisible barrier that other people/kids, animals and such that would not see the barrier. I have Doberman pincher that can jump a 5 foot fence. He has yet to do this to go after something other than to greet me but I am worried that he will when I am not around. He has no aggression issues. I take him to the dog park all the time and go on long runs with him. I was looking at getting an eclectic fence so that when he runs up to the fence it is more of a deterrent for him to not jump it. I have yet to try this and if it doesn’t work then I am unsure of what I will try next. so what would be your opinion on this?
I have used the invisible fence and invisible boundary systems for 15 years on 4 different dogs. 2 of my own, one family dog and my sisters dog. The thing that always gets generalized in these types of articles is how the dog was trained before the invisible fence. I would never put an untrained and unsocailized dog on an invisible fence system. They must already have a good understanding of basic obedience, especially recall before even being trained to an invisible fence. Any dog can become boundary frustrated when improperly obedience trained and under socialized. I have numerous homes around me with severely aggressive dogs growling at me from the other side of a wooden fence because that area is all they know. These owners don’t take the time to bring their dogs out into the world to socialize and don’t work their brains in anyway to give them purpose. My 4 dogs I have on an invisible fence are extremely happy, well adjusted dogs. My 4 year old hound mix is a certified therapy dog and regularly visits autistic children. She is also trick dog certificed. We do a lot of activities together away from home such as obedience classes, agility, dock diving and lots of hiking. Everyone who does come into my yard is greeted with wagging tails and sloppy kisses. my dogs enjoy the freedom of being able to run around freely with the family outside in our yard and love to watch people pass by.
Do not generalize that invisible fences are bad. any containment can be bad if it is used primariy abused by people who just don’t want to put real effort into having a dog. They like the idea of a dog but not the work. If your curious the dogs I trained to the invisible fence have been a bernese mt dog, beagle, harrier/boxer mix, and a doxie.
We have had IF brand fencing for years. Like a poster several posts up we live in a rural area on a small farm. My husband grew up here and had many dogs hit by cars. We had our Chocolate lab in the fence for many years and she was only ever shocked once in the very beginning because she was well trained in it. I would much rather she experience that small shock (which can be adjusted based on the dog and minimizers added for puppies) than the pain caused by being struck by a car or god forbid, the school bus. IF has a battery program where they sent you a battery every 3 months (the expected life time of a battery) so you can ensure a functioning collar. Dog owners can not expect to put the collar on their dog, walk around the boundary a couple times and have their dog trained. It is a much longer process to make sure the dog is very clear where they can go. If I lived in town I’m not sure I would consider IF as a solution as opposed to actual fencing.