Are Electronic Fences Right for Your Dog?

In the past few years electronic fences have come under debate over whether they are an effective, humane way to keep a dog within the yard. Proponents say that these fences, which emit a mild shock through a collar, teach dogs to stay within the yard. Opponents say the method is inhumane and simply does not work.

With most electronic fences, a wire is buried several inches deep in the perimeter of the yard set aside for your dog. Most perimeters run about 500 feet, which is the smallest package many electronic fence companies offer. Some offer packages with a minimum of 1,000 feet. Perimeters can be set up around other areas where you don't want your dog to go, like your garden for example.

Prices vary depending on the company and the package, but they can range from $500 to $1300. In the first few weeks of installing the system, stakes or flags mark the boundary. A transmitter in the garage or basement sends out a signal to a receiver-collar that is around your dog's neck. The collar beeps a warning as your dog approaches the boundary.

If he gets too close, a mild shock is delivered that causes some pain, although no physical harm is done. The owner says "No!" as the dog gets closer to the boundary to reinforce that your dog should stay within the perimeter. Dogs should be between 4 and 6 months of age and able to obey simple commands such as "sit" and "come." He should also be trained on the leash.

Are electronic fences right for your dog? Here are the pros and cons.

The Argument for Electronic Fences

The pain inflicted by the collar is mild and causes no injury. It can be set to different, yet safe, levels depending on the dog. A larger or more headstrong dog, for instance, may need a higher setting to keep him in the yard.

The Arguments Against Electronic Fences

Many people and some humane societies feel that attaching a pain-inducing collar is simply inhumane, even if the pain is mild, doesn't cause injury and is meant for a good purpose. However, on a practical level many feel electronic collars don't work.