Pit Falls of Electric Dog Fences

Something for pet owners to keep in mind when considering the options for containment for dogs are the pit falls of electric fencing. These pit falls should be carefully considered and weighed against the pros and cons of other containment options, which include (either alone or used in combination, especially for escape prone dogs):

  • Positive reinforcement boundary training, which I highly recommend. Contact me for a consult if interested in training this. (Supervised use only, please.)
  • Tie out lines (I recommend that these are attached to a back attach harness to prevent any potential neck trauma). Also a good idea to use only when supervised.
  • Real fences (green chain link virtually disappears against the green background of your lawn).
  • Runs or exercise pens.
  • Keeping your dog leashed for outside access (hey, it’s what people who live in big cities do so it IS possible).

Dogs get out quite frequently from their electric fences, animal control picks up dogs still wearing their collars all the time. They can develop a punishment callous (the dog gets used to the current degree of punitive stimuli, the electric shock, and requires increasing strengths of the stimuli to maintain motivation for the behavior) to the shock and choose to go through the line at any time, for any reason. Or without punishment callous, they can just all of a sudden decide that what’s on the other side is more rewarding this time than the shock is punishing. Often times, they then won’t go back because of the shock awaiting them for crossing back over. Then obviously, there are the perils awaiting them off their property, cars, rat poison, wildlife, etc.

Even if the dog stays on their property and respects the line, it doesn’t protect them from outsiders coming into their yard.
Dogs are associative learners and can frequently develop dog or child or stranger aggression when they associate the shock from the fence with whatever they’re near or even just looking at. Dogs aren’t human and lack our human logic and reasoning skills.
Receiving electric shocks, even if just once, can create generalized anxiety in some dogs, or anxiety just when the dog is put outdoors and this can lead to nuisance barking or house soiling if they no longer feel safe relieving themselves outside. Many dogs feel vulnerable going to the bathroom.Sometimes, depending on the company hired or even how the dog’s owner does it, training can be traumatic, consisting of dragging the dog over the line repeatedly to shock them in order to teach them not to cross it.

After considering all the pit falls involved, you may just find that electric fencing isn’t such a worthwhile option after all.

I highly recommend that you read http://www.squidoo.com/invisible-fencing and also
Leah Robert’s compilation entitled Shock Collars/Invisible Fences, and just about anything else on her page in general. 


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