How and Why Dog Fencing Works plus Some Pros and Cons

Most people who have ever owned a dog realize that it can be a bit of a challenge. There are a lot of things we need to take care of in order to know that our dog is going to be safe, but one of the biggest is making sure they know the rules around our house. We teach them not to chew on electrical cords, not to attack other pets and not to go into places that aren't safe. The thing is, if you do not have a fence then how can your dog really be safe? Some people do believe that dogs ought to roam free if you live in the country, but is this really a good idea? We are going to cover what proper dog fencing can do for you and your dog. Knowing your options and understanding how they work is very much crucial to your and your dog's health and happiness so let's get started.


The Standard Set Up of a of a Dog Containment Fencing Solution


While there are wood, metal and other types of physical fences, what we want to discuss today is what are called electronic fences, invisible type fences, radio fences and similar names. These types of systems work in a very simple way with three primary parts you need to know about: the boundary wire, a transmitter box, and the receiver collar. Let's tackle each of these one at a time, starting with the "fence" part of the equation, that buried boundary wire. This is the part of the fence that is buried in the ground and it will go all the way around the area you want your dog to stay within, being buried in the ground. Most of the invisible type fences are going to use a boundary wire because the wireless fencing options are just not very precise which is not a good thing for your dog. Now, the boundary wire will be "charged" by what is called a transmitter box. This is usually placed in the dog owner's garage or home and it sends out a special type of radio signal that will be broadcast through the boundary wire. The signal can be adjusted to be broadcast from the boundary wire out to a certain distance so that when the final piece of this puzzle, the receiver collar, gets close a small electric charge is triggered in the collar. This electric charge can trigger beeping at first, to teach the dog to back away from the boundary wire, but it can also produce a small yet noticeable shock to strengthen the warning to back away. The system really is this simple.


Why Does an Invisible Dog Fencing Solution Work So Well?


The technique for behavior modification being used by this kind of fencing is known as 'operant conditioning' and it is known to psychologists. Since the dog has 'negative', not dangerous or harmful, experiences when he nears the boundary wire due to his collar, he will back away and learn his boundaries. This is the same as if you had gone to a certain store and been treated rudely on several occasions - you would probably stop going to that store. This is the same principle and it is simple so it works well for dogs since they can't exactly read a list of rules the way we can.


It Does Not Take Long to Get Your Dog Used to Electronic Fencing Solutions


Probably the best part about this kind of system is that almost all dogs will learn how it works quickly and end up being fine with it. You simply need to take some time to show your dog how it works and that you like them to remain within the yard. Explore the boundaries together and show them how happy you are when they back away. This will help reinforce the idea that you want them to steer clear of the boundary and remain inside your property. It usually takes a few short sessions to memorize the boundaries and then you are just fine.


Some People Still Feel Electric dog fencing is Not Nice to Dogs, Don't They?


Yes, there are people who believe this is not a nice thing to do to dogs. Most of these people incorrectly assume that the collar being used causes a painful shock to the dog when this is not at all true. If you doubt it, you can try the collar for yourself and see that it is merely a physical reminder, similar to a touch, which correlates with the fact that dogs touch each other when communicating. It is not about pain or fear, it is about keeping your dog safe. Yet, some people simply do not think dogs ought to have to live within fences.


But If My Dog Goes Past the Fence Won't He Figure Out how the Fence Works?


Yes, this can happen if you do not take time to train your dog to do what you would like him or her to do. You should show them how the collar works and praise them when they handle the boundary the right way. If they were to break free, they would then get the beeping when they can back towards the fence from outside of it and this is not a good thing. You want them to never do this. So while it is true that they can figure out the system, they never need to do this if you do your part to train them when you first get it.


So Underground Fencing Will Work for Small Yards But Not Large Acreages?


That's actually not true. There are systems out there which can cover 10 acres or more just fine. This is a brilliant solution for those who have a large country area they want their dog to stay within and it works just as well in a huge property as it does in a tiny yard.


Will My Dog Be Upset Once He is Fenced In and Has Boundaries?


No, veterinarians and dog behavior specialists tell us quite the opposite is the case. Boundaries are a natural part of our world and dogs can use them to feel safer. Many owners report a dramatic and positive change in their dog's behavior once they have quality fencing installed.


Here is a study from the world’s most accredited Veterinarian hospital, this study was commissioned by Invisible Fence® Brand in the early 80s  This study was commissioned by Invisible Fence to study the possible effects of and harm that might come to a dog as the result of using an electric dog fence type system.



                                                                 UNIVERSITY of  PENNSYLVANIA

                                                                        PHILADELPHIA 19104


                The School of Veterinary Medicine

                1800 Spruce Street


Mr. John Marsh

Invisible Fence, Inc.

Phoenixville, Pa. 19460

Dear Mr. Marsh,


Two dogs under light pentobarbital anesthesia were subjected to three hours of intermittent simulation from your Sta-Put stimulator. The duration of the shock was eight seconds administered every two minutes. Two dogs were tested, varying between fifteen and twenty pounds each. The level of anesthesia was such that, upon stimulation, muscle activity was noted along the neck, thee forelegs, and muscles over the thoracic cavity. Following the three hours of stimulation the two contact points were isolated and examined. With the exception of two points of skin indentation there was no gross evidence of burns, discoloration, or any other damage to the area of the contact. The sections were submitted to our pathology, laboratory for histological examination. The histology report is included, and in summary, reveals no abnormalities to the skin and no evidence of burn lesions.


In both anesthetized dogs the electrocardiogram was recorded during a series of stimulations. The electrocardiograms were run before, during and following the stimulatory period. No changes in the electrocardiogram pattern or heart rate were noted. Palpation of the pulse during this period also showed no changes in beat: nor an increase or a decrease in pulse pressure. The only difference noted was a superimposition fo the electrical stimulation emitted from the Sta-Put stimulator on the ECG.


In summary, in the anesthetized dog there is no evidence of any thermal injury to the skin contact points, nor is there any evidence that the electrical output from the stimulator interferes or alters the electrocardiogram.


If I can be of any further assistance please don’t hesitate to call.


Sincerely yours,


Lawrence R. Soma, V.M.D,

Chairman, Department of Clinical Studies



Enclosure: biopsy report