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There are many considerations that pet-owners have when it comes to containing their pets. This is especially true when it comes to invisible dog fences, also called electronic fences. The considerations range from the affordable (invisible dog fences are much less pricey than privacy fences) to the moral (some consider static correction an inhumane form of pet containment).
However, there are and will be moments when pet-owners will seriously consider invisible dog fences. There are a number of reasons for this. Some of the more unavoidable ones include moving to a community that does not allow visible yard fencing, and owning persistent diggers and jumpers even with an existing privacy fence. In these cases, pet-owners need to know how to choose the invisible dog fence that is right for their pet and lifestyle.
How Invisible Dog Fences Work
The main part of the invisible dog fence unit is the receiver collar. It is a battery-run collar designed with rounded probes on the inside of the collar, meant to touch the dog’s skin. When the dog is a certain distance from the boundary, a warning beep tells him not to go any further. If the dog continues across the boundary, static correction will tell him to return to his yard.
The other part of the unit is the transmitter, for wireless fences, and the transmitter and wire, for in-ground fences. It is the transmitters that dictate the ranges and distances which trigger the receiver collar. When the dog goes too near to or crosses the boundary, the transmitter alerts the receiver collar to send the warning beep or static correction.
Kinds of Invisible Dog Fences: Wireless and In-ground
There are two kinds of invisible dog fences: wireless and in-ground. While there are debates as to which kind works better or is more beneficial, it depends on the need.
The Wireless Dog Fence
For the wireless dog fence, the transmitter emits radio or wifi signals to a specific radial, or circular, range. The area is measured by diameter and radii. Its most beneficial feature is its portability; its most negative feature, boundary fluctuation.
The wireless dog fence was designed with two clear benefits in mind: speed of set-up, and portability. First, the transmitter only needs to be plugged into a power outlet to begin working. After the receiver collar is tested against the boundary (usually with the aid of an accompanying tester light), the boundary flags can be set up. Training of the dog can begin instantly after that. At the most, depending on how wide the play area is, it should be set up in 2 hours.
Second, the wireless dog fence was designed to be portable. Because it can be so quickly set up, pet owners can bring along the transmitter and collar in their cars. If they are staying on the first-floor room of a hotel opening into a yard, they can actually just plug in the transmitter, adjust the boundary range, and let their dog play. It is also extremely helpful for pet-owners who take long vacations to their family homes.
However, there are two negative aspects of wireless dog fences: signal interruption and boundary fluctuation. First, because the wireless fences depend on signal from the transmitter reaching the receiver collar, there are some problems if the signal is interrupted. For most models, trees, metal buildings, and even overly bumpy ground may interrupt the signal, and cause accidental static correction, or simply a loss of connection with the receiver collar.
Wireless dog fences also have the unfortunate tendency to have fluctuating boundaries. Because of the signal transmission, depending on the placement of the transmitter, the model, and numerous other factors, the boundary will shift constantly. The best range is 1.5 feet; the worst, 20. This is one of the main reasons that the wireless is objected to.
The In-Ground Dog Fence
Because of the in-ground wire, the fence shape is perfectly customizable to wherever you need it to go, including around flower beds and the swimming pool. Its advantage over the wireless is its stable boundary; its disadvantage, lack of portability.
The two main benefits of the in-ground dog fence are its customizable shape and stable boundary. Depending on the length of the wire and the area enclosed, the wire can be buried under ground in lines corresponding perfectly to the property boundaries. The main issue with that, however, is making sure of where all the water pipes are, and any other underground utilities that might lead to the house. No pet owner wants to set up a dog fence but smash a pipe in the process.
Because of the single placement of the underground wire, boundary fluctuation for the fence is practically non-existent. It is rare that the fluctuation, when there is any, goes beyond 0.5 feet. In any case, the timing of the warning beep is as stable as that of the boundary. A well-trained dog will find it easy to avoid hitting the need for correction.
The two negative aspects of the in-ground dog fence, however, are its time to set up, and lack of portability. An in-ground fence needs at least a day to complete by oneself, a whole weekend if the area is particularly wide. The wire placement needs to be mapped out, underground utilities located, and then the actual digging and wiring can take place.
The in-ground fence is also decidedly unportable. This is not a problem for pet-owners who neither travel regularly nor stay away for long periods of time. However, during the times that they do travel, they should be aware that a dog cannot be left in an invisible fence the way it could be in a privacy fence. Dogs should not wear the collars for more than 12 hours at a time, and it is not wise to leave it on them overnight.
Choosing An Electronic Fence: The Need Dictates the Model
Simply put, if the pet-owner travels often with his dog, expects to move around quite a bit, or takes long vacations, the wireless dog fence is ideal. On the other hand, if the pet-owner does not expect to move around too often and prefers the boundary stability, the in-ground dog fence provides what is needed.