Electric Dog Fence: What’s Myth And What’s Not?

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Is an electric dog fence the equipment of torture that people say it is? Is it really an effective way of keeping my dog inside, where he’s supposed to be? Why do I need an electric dog fence in the first place? These are some of the questions that we will be answering in this article.

We should state here, that if used properly and with appropriate training, an electric dog fence could be a good fencing option for you and your dog. However, we’ll leave the decision up to you. But first…




What is An Electric Dog Fence?


When we talk about an electric dog fence, we refer to a fencing system that allows you keep your dog within a specified boundary without the use of an actual physical fence. The idea is to restrict your dog to certain areas without having to give up the beautiful scenery.




How The Electric Dog Fence Works

So, your dog wears a collar that is connected to the wire and transmitter or a just the transmitter (if the fence is wireless. More on that in subsequent subs). Whenever your dog gets too close to the boundary, the collar releases a kind of sound which should warn your dog and deter him from going further.

If your dog is persistent, however, and tries to breach the boundary, the collar emits a shocking sensation which should do the trick.

With consistent training, your dog should begin to associate the sound to “you’re getting too close” and the shock to “you’re crossing the line”. The electric dog fence has no effect on anybody or animal that is not wearing the collar.




Types Of Electric Dog Fence

Wikipedia gives us a number of variants of the Electric dog fence. Some of them include

Wired Electric Dog Fence

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This is sometimes called the underground dog fence. The reason for this is, it comes in form of a wire which most people decide to bury underground. The collar (which the dog will be wearing) is connected to the wire electrically.

The wire is what marks the boundary. This means that wherever the wire is placed or buried marks off/in a certain portion. If your dog gets too close or tries to cross this boundary, he gets a reaction from the collar.

Setting Up Your Wired Electric Dog Fence

So, there is a wire, a transmitter and a collar. The first thing to note is that the wire must start and stop with the transmitter. Bear this in mind when positioning the transmitter and marking off the boundary. The transmitter must be set in a place where the wire can go round the boundary and still stop with the transmitter.

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However, if the wire that comes with the electric dog fence isn’t enough to run round and end up where the transmitter is, you can just get extra dog fence wire (not just any wire of course).

Next, decide if you want the wire buried or not. Sometimes, the terrain you are working with makes the decision for you.

If your area is rocky or digging is just going to be difficult, you could keep the wire on the ground and clip it on. It still won’t have any effect on anybody or thing that is not wearing the collar.

According to flexpetz here are some merits and demerits of burying and mounting:

  • Burying is better looking since you can’t see wires running around your house.
  • Mounting makes for faster installation.
  • Burying protects the wire from wild animals who are not affected by it because they do not wear the collar.
  • Mounting makes for easier repair.
  • Burying is preferable if the boundary will cut across a lawn or grassy area. The reason is so that you can mow your lawn without having to bother with wires.
  • Mounting is preferable if you live on rocky or hard planes.


Wireless Electric Dog Fence

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This, as the name suggests, does not involve the use of wires. How does it work? This system is basically made up of a transmitter and a collar. Now, you place the transmitter somewhere (probably in your house) and set your determined boundary.

The transmitter is now able to detect, through the connection to the collar, when your dog has crossed the boundary. It then sends the appropriate reaction to the collar depending on what your dog has done (get too close to or try to cross the boundary).


GPS Electric Dog Fence

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This also does not involve the use of wires. It works almost the same way as the wireless electric dog fence. However, there is no transmitter. This collar makes use of the GPS technology, tracking where your dog is at a particular time. How does this work as a fencing system?

There is a provision on the collar to set a defined fence area kinda like a virtual fence. So, whenever the GPS detects that your dog is close to or crossing the fence, it sets off a warning signal or shock depending on the ‘crime’.




The Electric Dog Fence Collar

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The collar is a very important component of the electric dog fence as it is the component that gets to be attached to a part of your dog (neck). It is sure something you want to be careful about.

Most collars allow for variations in the area of the reactions that they give off. This feature is important because all dogs are not the same. Some dogs are more aggressive than others and so might require louder noise or a more intense shock buzz.


Most collars allow you adjust the collar’s reaction, as said before. You could go for just the warning tone if you feel that the tone is enough to keep your dog at bay.

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Another option is going for both the tone and the shock but toning the shock down to the barest minimum. Basically just adjust the shock intensity based on your dog’s aggressiveness, size, strength or what you’re comfortable with.

In using the Electric dog fence collar be sure to do the following:

  • Test the intensity of the shock level you’ve chosen. On what? On yourself of course. No, we are not asking you to wear a dog collar. Just touch the collar to your skin and see what happens. This should enable you decide on the proper shock intensity for your dog, bearing in mind the strength and size of your dog
  • Do not make any adjustments on the collar while your dog is still wearing it. You do not want to cause any accidents. So if in using the collar you feel there is a need to adjust something(s) remove it from around your dog’s neck first. It’s better safe than sorry.
  • Pay attention to your dog. If you notice any form of reaction to the collar or the shocks, discontinue the use of the system. Do not to hand over the welfare of your dog to an electric system no matter how good it is. You could continue after your dog’s neck has healed or just switch to a different fencing system.




The Training

Unlike with other fencing systems, you and your dog need training before ‘officially’ using the electric dog fence. If this system will work for you and your dog then you must take the training very seriously. Most companies that produce and sell the electric dog fences also provide training services. You could opt for that.

However, you could also decide to do the training yourself (on the advice of your veterinarian or a professional training expert).

If you are doing this training yourself, you have to remember that your dog has never worked with something like this. So, much like you trained him to do other things like shake and retrieve, train him to get accustomed to the boundaries.

Whether you decide to hire professional trainers or not, patience is something you will have to stock up on during the training. At some point, it might seem to you that your dog will never learn to respect the boundaries but be sure that he will. Some of these things actually take time and we should all have learnt to be wary of quick fixes anyway.

During the training, flag posts are initially put around the boundaries to help your dog identify them. So, when your dog sees those flag posts he knows that he shouldn’t be around those places. He learns that when he goes towards the flag posts he gets a warning sound.

And when he tries to go beyond them he gets the shocking sensation. Eventually he is able to associate the sounds and shocks to places he shouldn’t be. That’s when it is OK to remove the flag posts.

Now, just before you decide on getting an electric dog fence, you might want to find out the pros and cons of electric dog fences. This should help put things in perspective as you make your decision.

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Advantages Of The Electric Dog Fence

Fence Codes

Some neighborhoods have laws regarding the type and quality of fence to put up. However, because the electric fence is virtual, buried or barely visible, it doesn’t come under the radar of the codes.



Despite the fact that the electric dog fence is the most technologically advanced of all the fence types, it is actually one of the less expensive ones.

This has something to do with the neighborhood fence codes. The laws put a demand on quality and getting quality materials to put up a visible fence is something. With the electric dog fence you can get quality at a good price.


The View

You do not have to compromise your view for the safety of your dog. You can have your cake and eat it.



There are variations among the types of dog fences and methods of installation. However, an electric dog fence is typically easier to install than other fence types. You’re not building anything, so that is time saved.



This is very important. The electric dog fence has a high success rate probably because most dogs won’t want to brave the shock. Once shocked twice shy is probably the mantra the dogs are working with.

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Disadvantages Of The Electric Dog Fence

Barrier Frustration

Because the electric dog fence does not block the view, your dog is able to see all that is going on outside. The problem is he can see but can’t reach. This might prove too much of a temptation for your dog and could make your dog get barrier frustrated. This could show itself in incessant barking and even aggression.


If the motivation is high enough, your dog may decide to run out and damn the consequences. The highest source of motivation in these times is usually fear. Some dogs are really scared of fireworks, lightening, thunder and stuff like that. In some cases, the fear and adrenaline combo is enough to make them run through despite the zaps.

Another downside to this is that they could be locked out of their home. This is because in coming back home, the adrenaline no longer courses through them, it’s just the fear of being zapped that’s left.


Other Animals

This system does not protect your dog from other animals, wild or otherwise. Your compound is open to them and since they are not wearing the collar, the fence has no effect on them.




Factors To Consider in Choosing An Electric Dog Fence

If after going through the advantages and disadvantages of the electric dog fence, you still want to go with it, here are a few things to consider:

  • Collars: If you have more than one dog, you don’t have to buy different systems for each of them. There are some systems that allow for the connection of more than one collar.
  • If you want to go for the wireless or GPS kind you have to be particular about the range it covers.
  • Go for the one that allows you adjust the intensity of the shocks.





Armed with all the information we’ve dispensed here, we are pretty sure that whatever choice you decide to go for will be the right one. Go ahead and do right by your dog!













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