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Electric Fence for Dogs

Question

We want to fence in our yard for our dog, but we can't afford regular fencing. I recently saw an affordable electric fence system at one of the pet stores. Is an electric fence a viable alternative?

-Ann, Salem

Response

That depends. Weighing the pros and cons of using an electric fence may help you to decide if this is the right choice for you and your pet.

Advantages:

  • The electric fence is usually less expensive and easier to install than regular fencing. You can cut costs by installing it yourself.
  • If your dog is properly trained to the fence, it can be both effective and humane
  • Your dog can stay in the yard without your being outside
  • Your dog can be limited to a particular part or all of your yard or land as you desire
  • Your dog will more than likely refrain from chasing people, cars, bicycles, and other animals outside of the fence boundary.

Disadvantages:

  • During the initial training, if your pet is shocked too often or inappropriately, he may end up sitting fearfully on the porch or just outside the door instead of venturing out into the yard.
  • If improperly trained to the fence, your dog may take the shock and leave the property. Or your dog may get so stimulated by seeing another dog or some other stimulus that he decides to "take the hit" and leave the fenced area. In either case, if you are not at home monitoring him, an additional problem may ensue: your poor pooch may decide not to take the shock to reenter the yard and thus be left to wander until you return.
  • Other dogs, animals, children or adults can enter your dog's space. If your dog nips or bites, that is still a problem.
  • An unlikely but possible scenario is that your dog receives a shock while a child, another dog, or some other stimulus is in the vicinity and incorrectly concludes that this stimulus is "responsible." This could lead to or exacerbate aggression.

An effective fence system allows for adjustment of the audible signal, of the degree of severity of the electric shock, and of the size of the fenced area/field. Of course, proper training is also key to success. And, finally, I would recommend never allowing your dog out into the fenced area when no one is at home to monitor.