Dog by a Fence

Are Invisible Fences Safe For Dogs?

Since many owners are worried about pet safety, fences are usually the first thing that comes to mind when formulating a security plan for your pet. But, if you are in the market for a fence, what kind of fence is best for your furry friend? And what about invisible fences? 

After much controversy and deliberation, we highlight why you may or may not consider an invisible fence for your pal. 

What is an “Invisible Fence?”

An “Invisible Fence,” more correctly known as an underground containment system, uses a short electric stimulus to convince a dog to stop proceeding with an action. When the dog crosses the threshold of a containment system, the system will administer a shock. Depending on the dog’s size, the shock may need to be adjusted to receive a correct response from the pet. 

While extensive studies have not been completed specifically on pet underground containment systems, studies have been completed on e-collars, which are similar to the collars used in electric fences. 

Since bad behavior from a pet is rewarded with negative reinforcement, it is usually enough to stop the actions of a stubborn pet. 

However, the controversy comes from whether this is the best way to allow a pet to listen to you.

The Science Behind E-Collars and Electric Fences

In a study conducted first on 9 dogs and later on 63 pet dogs that were categorized into three study groups consisting of dogs trained with e-collars, dogs trained without e-collars, and dogs trained by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, researchers discovered that dogs being trained with e-collars by professional trainers showed elevated signs of distress like yelping and panting.

The study concluded that since reward-based training and e-collar training had the same rate of effectiveness, it does not make sense to use this kind of system when training a pet.

A puppy sitting in a garden

Why Do People like Electric Fences?

Despite this, underground containment systems are popular because of various factors. Some people may find electric fences effective because of: 

  • A lack of space for a physical fence
  • Unusual landscaping that makes it difficult to install a physical fence 
  • Regulations in your city that prohibit you from having a fence 

We are not asking you to use or not use an electric fence, but it is good to understand all the information behind your decision, so you are well informed. Here, we’ll highlight how to use an electric fence in the best way if you plan on using one: 

Train Your Dog to React to the Collar

If you need to use an electric fence, first train your dog to react to stay in your yard. To do this, place flags around the perimeter of the electric fence. Allow your dog to walk around inside the containment area with a leash and collar that is not made of metal. 

To start off, the pet’s collar attached to the containment system should be set to the lowest setting. 

  • First, allow the dog to leave the containment area to react to the stimulus. 
  • Second, encourage your dog to come back to you.
  • Third, offer a treat to your pet.

Try to practice for a few minutes each day so your dog can learn where it is accessible to cross. These steps are important so your dog understands the reason for the stimulus they experience from a collar.

If a dog is not trained in some manner, it can cause anxiety in the pet from not understanding why they are being punished. 

On most occasions, the company or place where you purchased an electric fence should supply flags and instructions on how to train your pet to react to the stimulus. 

So, if you do plan on using an electric fence, use it in the correct manner and don’t skip on the training required. 

Slowly as your pet becomes accustomed to the containment system, you can practice seeing if they leave the area if a neighbor or family member walks near the containment area. 

What to Do if You Don’t Want to Use an Electric Fence

If you are against the idea of using an electric fence, there are many options to consider. 

Some of these options include: 

  • A Physical fence
  • A Tie-out for your Pet
  • A Large Outdoor Playpen 

Even if these options are all great, it still does not mean you are allowed to leave your dog outside alone for several hours. A study conducted on dogs left alone concluded that pets became more excited to see their owner the longer they were left alone. Increased social contact has been shown to offer positive effects on dogs in shelters and laboratories, so it means dogs need some kind of interaction in their daily lives. 

Therefore, leaving your dog for a few minutes outside to go to the bathroom or run around is a great option, but it does not mean you are allowed to leave your pet alone for a long duration of time. Dogs are social animals and require interaction with other dogs and people. 

Keep Your Pet Safe

So, whether you agree with the use of an electric fence or not, it is important to consider how you can keep your pet safe inside your yard. We advocate for extra training so your dog can learn a better “recall” command. 

However, we still urge you to buy a microchip and membership for your pet if they do escape their containment system. It’s better to continue to follow all safety precautions so you and your pet can continue to live your best lives!