The Goods and the Bads of the Invisible Fence

We all know that dogs should be contained in one way or another. No matter how obedient one might consider their dog, there is always the risk that a stray cat, foraging squirrel or even the runner who lives next door might catch Rover’s attention and send him off without a care in the world. The best way to contain a dog is, of course, with some kind of fencing.

But not everyone wants to invest in a privacy, chain link, or wrought iron fence. Some start looking for less expensive options or options that use materials that won’t change the look of the property. The invisible fence is often a very common remedy.

Invisible fencing is available through a variety of manufacturers and brand names. They are all very similar but do have some small differences. There are two main types of invisible fencing that we will discuss here, although there are others out there.

The first type consists of a wire that is buried beneath the ground and plugged in to a transmitter. The dog wears a collar that emits a warning beep when he gets close to his boundaries.

The second type of invisible fencing is a radio fence. These often consist of a transmitter that is plugged into an outlet inside of the home and sets off a frequency at a particular distance. When wearing the collar, the dog will hear, again, a warning sound as he gets close to the edge of this radius.

There are many varying ideas about these types of systems so we’ll address the most common ones here. We’ll focus on the good things, in general, first.


1. Containment. These systems are made with the idea in mind that your dog will stay put in his yard when trained correctly.

2. Cost. Both systems can be relatively inexpensive. There are some companies that have staff that will come out to your property, install the system and teach you how to train you dog effectively. However, they can also be purchased as kits from various retail stores and pet stores for a smaller price. One can expect to spend around $100 to $200 for these kits.

3. Ease of installation. If you choose to install the kits yourself, you’ll quickly notice how easy it is compared to a conventional fence. The system that utilizes the buried wire does take a bit more time and effort but is still relatively easy with the right tools.

Now let’s look at some of the bad things that can be associated with this type of fencing.


1. Other animals. You might have the world’s most well behaved dog; one who never leaves his boundaries, one that listens for his warning beep from his collar and never crosses the property line regardless of what is tempting him. But other animals aren’t trained so well and aren’t wearing these special collars. Stray dogs and cats, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, deer, and whatever other types of wild animals may be encountered in your area can still get into your yard just as easily as if there were no fence at all. The problem is that diseases can be spread to your dog this way, fights resulting in injury and unplanned breeding can all occur.

2. Reliability. Many of the systems are guaranteed to work as long as the pet has been trained correctly and the system was installed according to manufacturer instructions. But, there is always the chance that the dog will go through its barriers. With a conventional fence, it’s more difficult for a dog to escape. With this type of fencing, many dogs figure out quickly that if they simply buck up and endure a quick shot of pain, they will soon be free to run as they please. Many times, once is one time too many before a dog gets hit by a car, into a fight with another dog, or gets into trouble some other way.

3. The shock. The companies all boast that the correction given is a slight shock similar to that of static electricity. First of all, all dogs have varying tolerances to pain. Some dogs may find this so inoffensive that the entire system is not effective. Others may be so terrified of enduring the pain that they do not want to go outside or will be too afraid of their surroundings. Varying sizes of collars and probes are available with most brands, but either way you look at it, the dog is getting shocked.

Many people have great success with the invisible fence. Many don’t. Personally, I used it for a short time before giving up and installing a more conventional fence. I’ve found that with the chain link and privacy fence that we installed, I’m much more comfortable leaving the dog outside to play than I was with the invisible fencing. There was always that fear in the back of my mind that she’d escape as soon as I wasn’t looking.

Even with proper training, my own dog escaped from the invisible fence several times. Luckily I was always there to retrieve her. It all comes down to what the owner is looking for in a fence and the individual dog. Strong willed and bull headed dogs are probably more likely to bolt through the boundaries regardless of the correction. While timid, shy dogs are probably going to be more offended and terrified.

My main issue with the invisible fence was the security and reliability. But above that was the fact that the correction is a shock to my dog. Regardless of how minor it is said to be, it is still an uncomfortable shock. I sure wouldn’t like it and neither does my dog.

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