Every dog parent knows that come rain, sun, hail, or blizzard, their dog needs to go outside. Your beloved pup needs somewhere to pee that’s not your carpet, and he needs to stretch his furry legs to stay healthy and active. Plus, many dogs like to be outside to play fetch, run zoomies, or simply roll in the grass. A yard is an excellent place for a dog to play – theoretically. But maybe there’s a busy street right next to your lawn, a cat next door, and small children across the street. What’s a pet parent to do so their fun-loving dog can play outside safely? That’s where an electric fence comes in.
- 1 What is an electric fence?
- 2 How does an invisible dog fence work?
- 3 What is a wireless dog fence?
- 4 Do wireless dog fences really work?
- 5 How much do invisible fences cost?
- 6 Does an electric fence hurt my dog?
- 7 How far will a wireless dog fence work?
- 8 Training problems with electric dog fence
- 9 How to train a scared dog to a wireless fence
- 10 My dog was traumatized by an electric fence
- 11 My dog is afraid of the yard after an invisible fence
- 12 My dog runs through the invisible fence
- 13 My dog won’t go outside after some invisible fence shocks
- 14 Conclusion
What is an electric fence?
While a conventional fence creates a physical barrier around your yard, an electric fence generates an electrical barrier to enclose your property. Whenever your dog goes outside to play in your yard, she wears a unique collar with a receiver attached to it. The receiver communicates with the fence’s electrical signal to ensure your dog stays safely in your yard while she’s wearing the collar.
How does an invisible dog fence work?
The invisible fence transmits a radio signal to the receiver on your dog’s collar. If she starts exploring close to the edge of your yard, the collar receiver warns her that she is near the fence line. If she decides to try crossing the fence, the collar gives her a shock at a level you choose. This encourages your dog to stay where it’s safe.
What is a wireless dog fence?
There are two types of fences that can correctly be called “invisible fences.” The first type is a wired fence. A wired fence utilizes a physical wire that runs around whatever area you want to enclose. You can choose to bury the wire or string it along an existing fence. This wire communicates with your dog’s collar when he approaches the fence. If he tries to cross the wire, the collar warns and shocks him.
The second type of invisible fence is a wireless fence. A wireless fence is generated by a transmitter, which you adjust to your liking. It creates a circular radio barrier with a diameter the size of your choosing. Simply tell the transmitter how wide you want your fence to be, and you’re done. (Obviously, a wireless fence is the easiest to install.)
Do wireless dog fences really work?
Usually, yes. A lot of a wireless fence’s success (or failure) depends on your dog’s personality and breed. Unlike a traditional fence, your dog can’t dig under or jump over a wireless fence. And many dogs learn how to use a wireless fence quickly and stay happily in their yards. But escape artists or hard-to-train dogs might still have issues.
It’s important to note that, unlike a conventional fence, you have to teach your dog how to use a wireless fence. She needs to understand where the yard ends so she can learn to stay inside it. You might already guess how fence training will go if you’ve ever taught your dog obedience or tricks. Some dogs love to please and enjoy learning new rules to make you happy. Other dogs are slow to learn or strong-willed. Depending on your particular dog, you might have great success with a wireless fence – or you might discover some new frustrations. It’s worth remembering that if your dog doesn’t do well with a wireless fence, you can simply stop using it and try something else. Wireless fences are reasonably affordable, and you’ll probably find it’s worth trying one out for your pup.
How much do invisible fences cost?
Again, the answer varies. It depends on what you need for your yard and your particular pup. The bigger the range on the invisible fence, the more the system costs. If you have a little yard, you might pay less than $100.00. Farmland properties might need more coverage, and thus a more expensive fence system – often several hundred dollars. Shop around to ensure you’re getting the best features for your fur baby at a price you’re willing to pay.
Does an electric fence hurt my dog?
Many people worry that an electric fence is cruel to dogs. It seems harsh to punish your naturally curious dog if he tries to wander out of your yard when he sees a squirrel – and with an electric shock, no less! Isn’t that inhumane?
Don’t worry – an electric fence is perfectly safe for your dog. The shock she feels from the collar is a static electricity shock. You feel static electricity every winter when you shuffle across the carpet and touch your metal door handle. Does static electricity hurt you? Not really. It definitely gets your attention, but it doesn’t damage you. That’s the collar’s job, too: to get your dog’s attention. The system isn’t designed to hurt your dog, but rather to keep her safely inside your yard by reminding her where the fence line is.
Don’t forget that you can adjust the level of shock that your dog receives from his collar. When you’re training your dog to use the fence, it’s recommended that you start at a low level of shock. If your dog seems to be learning well at a lower level, there’s no need to raise the shock higher. Still worried that your dog is in pain? It’s quite safe to test the collar prongs on your own arm to see what your dog is feeling. That way you can rest assured that he’s not being tortured by the collar.
It’s also helpful to remember that your dog knows what the shock means. The collar’s signal shouldn’t surprise her. During training with you, she learns that a shock means she’s disobeying the rules by going outside the fence. Some dogs respect the fence line after being trained and thus never feel the shock again!
However, please note that your wireless fence transmitter shocks your dog every time he crosses the boundary – and that includes coming home if he runs away. The system can’t tell the difference between your dog escaping the yard and your dog returning home after a romp around the neighborhood. Crossing the fence line always results in a zap. If your dog does bolt outside of the fence, just take his collar off and bring him back into your yard. Then do some more positive reinforcement training in your yard to encourage him to stay home.
How far will a wireless dog fence work?
The answer depends on the system you buy. You can set your transmitter to any size within its range. For example, if your system gives you a range of 5 feet to 400 feet, you can enclose up to 11 acres of land or as little as 10 feet in diameter. The size of your yard and the location of your property will determine which wireless fence system you choose for your dog. If you have a considerable yard that runs along a busy street, you might decide to make your dog’s play area smaller, so she’s not playing right not to the road. Check the range of your fence system before you decide to buy it.
Training problems with electric dog fence
For some dogs, an invisible fence is all they need to make them happy and safe in their yard. Other dogs, however, have issues with fences – both conventional and wireless. There’s a severe issue called “barrier aggression” or “fence aggression” that can end in tragedy.
Whether it’s your dog or a neighbor’s dog, you’ve probably seen a pup running the length of his fence, barking. Maybe there’s a dog on the other side of the fence that got him excited, or just pedestrians out for a stroll. Whatever the reason for the barking, some dogs react poorly in this situation. The fence is keeping your dog from getting to that other dog or those people on the sidewalk – whether to sniff them, bark, or roll over for belly rubs. She wants to leave your yard, but she can’t. Sometimes, she grows very frustrated as a result.
Maybe your dog and your neighbor’s dog run the length of the fence every day, growing more frustrated as time passes. Or perhaps your dog becomes more and more stressed by passers-by since he can’t reach them. This can take a tragic turn if your dog ever meets the neighbor dog face-to-face. Since they’ve built up so much frustration at the fence, they often fight each other. Other dogs develop behavioral problems around people. After all, if they want to cross the fence to say hi to a stranger, they get shocked. In some cases, a dog connects the shock to meeting new people and can become aggressive or nervous in the presence of strangers.
Consider your dog’s temperament before making a decision about a fence. If your dog is aggressive or anxious, a fence might exacerbate her issues. But remember that if you do get an invisible fence and notice your dog growing nervous, you can simply stop using it. And a dog who learns quickly and isn’t excitable often adjusts well to a new fence.
How to train a scared dog to a wireless fence
Choosing a fence is only half the battle – it’s just as important to teach your dog how to use the fence. Anyone can train their dog to understand the fence within a few weeks. All it takes is a lot of patience, some dog treats, and 10-15 minutes a day. Most fence systems come with training flags. Set these up around the edge of your fence, so your dog has a visual understanding of where the fence is. (These flags are only for training – you’ll take them down later.)
Keep your pup on her regular collar and leash for most of the training. Take the receiver collar off her when you’re not training with the fence, so she has a chance to get adjusted to the collar gradually. Get your pup’s favorite treats for training sessions. And between sessions, spend some time just playing with your dog in your yard – this helps reinforce the idea that your yard is a safe, fun place where your dog wants to stay (instead of running away).
For the first day of training, set the receiver collar to tone-only. This means your dog won’t feel a shock at all – instead, he’ll hear a noise. Each day, spend some time playing together in the yard before training. Next, lead your pup towards the flags. When the collar receiver sounds its warning beep, lead your dog back into your yard, away from the fence. Now comes the fun part: Praise your dog enthusiastically and give him treats!
Stay at the same spot in the yard, approaching the same flags and then retreating again. Repeat until your dog resists approaching the flags. Good job, Fido! Let him know he’s the best dog in the world. Remember, don’t spend more than 10-15 minutes a day training your dog – this keeps training fun instead of frustrating.
Once your dog understands what the warning buzz means, you’re ready to introduce the static shock. For the next few training sessions, use your transmitter to set the collar to level 2. Watch your dog during training to see if she can feel the collar. She might perk up her ears, look around, or look at the ground in response to sensing the shock. If she doesn’t respond, set the collar to level 3 and try your training session again. Remember, she’s not in pain! The shock is meant to get her attention, not hurt her.
After a little play time, approach the training flags with your pup. Wait until he hears the warning sound and feels the shock, then lead him back into the yard for lavish praise and delicious treats. Watch your fur baby for signs of stress and fear. If your dog acts worried or upset, stop training for some play time. If your dog isn’t having fun, he’s less likely to learn! Then get back to repeating the process: Approach flags, retreat, get lots of treats and praise. Don’t stay at the same training flags every day – approach flags in different sections of your yard, so your dog gets the idea that all the training flags mean the same thing.
If your dog resists approaching flags around your entire yard, you’re ready to up the ante! During training, you’re standing with your dog, and she’s wearing a leash. It’s almost impossible for her to run across the fence – and she’s being rewarded with snacks and scratches when she stays in the yard. But what if you’re not standing right next to her? Or what if there’s something interesting – like another dog – on the other side of your invisible fence?
For this training session, bring one of your dog’s toys with you. Walk up to the fence line with your dog on his leash, as you did during the other sessions. But this time, show your dog the toy and throw it across the flags outside of your yard. Watch your dog’s reaction! If he doesn’t bolt after the toy, give him tons of treats and love. Continue this process around the edge of your property. Try tossing a treat across the fence, too!
If your dog darts across the fence after the toy, that’s ok – he’s still learning! Start off with something a little less tempting than his favorite toy, like a random stick. If he doesn’t run after the stick, reward him. Gradually work in more exciting toys and snacks until your dog won’t even run after his favorite treat. Be patient and consistent with his training. Eventually, your dog will learn!
You’re ready for the next stage of training if your dog is consistently staying inside the fence line, even if you toss treats and toys just out of reach. Now it’s time to practice without a leash! Head outside with your pup wearing her receiver collar, but no leash. Don’t even approach the fence this time – just play together in your yard. Give your dog a lot of attention to reinforce positive associations with your yard.
After a few days, it’s time to check if your dog still respects the invisible fence line. Throw a toy across the flags and watch your dog’s reaction. If he doesn’t chase the toy, he’s doing great! If he bolts over the fence line, that’s ok. Just recover him and bring him back into your yard (take his collar off before you cross the flags again). Repeat some of your earlier training with tempting items at the fence line until your dog no longer runs after everything you throw. Now it’s safe to start removing some of the training flags. Take every other flag out for several days, until all flags are gone.
My dog was traumatized by an electric fence
Some dogs have more issues with an electric fence than others. If you adopted a shelter dog, you don’t know what experiences she might have had in the past. She might be anxious wearing the new collar, or at the sight of the flags around your yard. Other dogs might have had a negative experience with an electric fence in the past.
Help your nervous dog adjust slowly to the presence of the fence by playing with her outside. Don’t start training right away – just have fun together. Stay calm, even if your dog gets nervous. Your attitude will help your dog understand that she’s safe in the yard and that the flags and her new collar are not a threat. Bring lots of treats and keep yard-time short and fun. When your dog is comfortable being in the yard again, you can reintroduce fence training.
My dog is afraid of the yard after an invisible fence
If your dog doesn’t even want to go into the yard, start more slowly. Begin by having your dog’s mealtimes in the yard. Resist the urge to comfort your dog if he acts scared – if you comfort him, you’ll reinforce his fear. Instead, stay calm and patient, and praise him when he enters the yard and eats his food.
When your dog is regularly eating in your yard, slowly reintroduce playtime. Play in your yard with your dog on a leash. Bring all of her favorite toys and treats. Don’t start training again until your dog is happy and self-assured in your yard. And take training slowly! Don’t be afraid to repeat a day of training or go back to an earlier stage of training to help your dog feel more confident.
My dog runs through the invisible fence
If you’re using a standard collar receiver with your fence, it’s possible that the shock level isn’t high enough for your particular dog. Maybe you tested the collar on your own arm and don’t understand how that could be. But as surprising as it seems, some dogs don’t even notice a low-level shock! It could be that your dog only runs through the fence because she can’t feel the collar very well and isn’t getting the message that she’s crossing the fence.
Raise the correction level on your dog’s receiver collar, and see if that helps. If your dog still runs through the fence, you can buy her a “stubborn dog” collar with a broader range of shock levels, capable of getting her attention.
My dog won’t go outside after some invisible fence shocks
Take a break from fence training for a while. In the interim, don’t punish your dog for being afraid or for peeing inside – since he’s worried, he doesn’t want to go outside for anything, even peeing. Don’t worry, this part won’t last forever!
Slowly get your dog used to being outside again. Take him for walks around your neighborhood, away from the fence. Praise him and reward him with treats whenever he’s outside with you. Once he’s comfortable going for walks, you can feed him on your patio or in your yard. Gradually work in some playtime in your yard. Once your dog is happy to go outside again, you can resume training.
A wireless fence can be a wonderful source of freedom for your dog. Yards are meant to be enjoyed, after all! With some patient training and a lot of praise, your dog can understand the new rules and learn to stay in your yard for years of safe, fun playtime.