As a Pet Parent, you’re committed to keeping your dog safe. Dog adoption organizations and shelters ask if you have a fenced yard for very good reasons…they keep pets in the yard and off the road. The best of fences however can’t protect your dog from the human factor. Pets are stolen from fenced yards every day and yards with invisible fences make it even easier for someone to purloin your pooch. Leaving your dog alone in the yard for long periods of time or when you aren’t home is a dangerous practice, but if you’re counting on an invisible fence to protect her, consider these potential dangers and disadvantages of electronic fencing.
An electric fence is an invisible barrier that attempts to keep your dog in the yard by shocking her. It’s a mild taser of sorts that hurts the dog enough to send them back from the barrier. In theory, the shock doesn’t cause pain and will teach the dog not to go near the perimeter of the yard. The facts are that it does hurt and that shock does more harm than good. Say your dog wants to greet a friendly neighbor and is shocked. To your dog, this is punishment and over time it will instill a negative reaction in them to approaching people. Negative enforcement training is never recommended for dogs by ethical and competent trainers…never. Dogs need to be socialized with other people and dogs to become an integral part of your life. The socialization period must begin in puppyhood and usually is accomplished within 14 weeks. A fence that causes intimidation is not conducive for socialization and instead instills fear and distrust. This fear and distrust is transferred to any item or person in the dogs’ sight when they’re shocked. Instilling and maintaining your dog’s social skills can prevent dog bites in the future.
Many dog owners defend the use of such fences because they’re gone for long periods of time and believe their dog is getting proper exercise with the freedom of being left outside. These people are just wrong. Dogs left alone are lonely. Dogs are pack animals and if you as their pack leader are absent, they will naturally seek other pack members. They don’t run and exercise on their own. They may cease the negative behavior of leaving the yard, but other normal behaviors often cease as well. These dog owners don’t seem to think about the mental health of their dog which suffers when they are left to fend for themselves the majority of the time.
An invisible fence doesn’t prevent people or predators (or people who are predators) from coming in the yard, but may prevent your dog from escaping harm because they are afraid to run away. Since pets are considered property, it’s hard to get accurate figures as to how many dogs are stolen each year. An organization in Los Angeles, Last Chance for Animals, estimate that two million pets are stolen each year, many of them from their own yards. A barrier fence with a locked gate makes it more difficult to steal a dog than an open yard with an invisible fence. Dogs get out of the yard in either situation, but more so where there is no physical barrier. The collar often comes off or the batteries go dead and the dog takes off. If your dog does escape the yard and is lucky enough to survive, fear of a painful shock prevents them from re-entering the yard.
Installing a physical fence is safer and more effective for your dog. Check the wording in your local ordinances regarding fencing and what’s necessary to protect others from your dog. An invisible fence may not meet the criteria and you could be liable for harm to anyone entering your property. Physical fences don’t create aggression issues in dogs, pose no physical harm to the dog, and prevent unwanted and dangerous wildlife, other dogs or trespassers from easily entering your property. Training dogs with love and positive reinforcement is the better choice; after all, they are your best friend. And the best training you can give them is with you own company…learn…live…love you dog.