Electrical dog fences (sometimes referred to as underground fences) are becoming more and more popular. They are often much less expensive than traditional fences (wrought iron especially) and preferred by homeowners in subdivisions that do not allow visible fences. They offer an illusion of freedom for the homeowner who thinks that the family pet shouldn’t be fenced in or that the views of their property should not be obstructed.
The electrical dog fence was invented by Richard Peck in the mid-1970s and marketed exclusively as Invisible Fence until the patent ran out in 1991. Today, many companies manufacture the hidden barriers. Some of the more innovative fences come with state-of-the-art equipment and services, including programmable collars, battery replacement programs, and assistance for the life of the system.
Contrary to popular belief, an electrical dog fence is not a buried hot wire that zaps a dog simply for getting close to the boundary. It is a radio antenna that sends out a signal that activates a battery in the dog’s collar. The battery causes a shock similar to that of static electricity, thereby causing the dog to back off. The field of radio waves can be adjusted so that the dog does not get too close to the edge of the property before hearing the warning tone.
An electrical dog fence system consists of boundary wire, a transmitter, a receiver, a test light, training flags, and a sign. The receiver is attached to the dog’s collar; the correcting shock reaches the dog through prongs that touch the skin on his or her neck. Once the wire is installed around your property, the flags are placed along the fence line. For the first week after installation, it is recommended that the dog be kept on a long leash with the receiver collar on. For the first few days, one prong on the collar is taped so that the dog can hear the warning tone without experiencing the correction. Each time the dog nears the fence and hears the signal, the leash is jerked to bring him or her back into the safe area and he or she is praised.
After a few days of conditioning the dog to run back into the safe area of the yard when the tone is heard, the tape is removed from the prong and the dog is allowed to experience a correction. Then it’s back into the safe area for play and praise. When you feel the dog has the idea that the boundary causes the correction, outside distractions can be added. Each time the dog ignores the distraction outside the fence, praise and play are in order. This initial phase of the training takes approximately one week to complete (do not worry if it takes a little longer for your dog to get the hang of it).
The second phase of training involves supervised off-leash training so the dog learns that the correction comes from the boundary, not from the leash. After two weeks or so, every other flag can be removed each day until the flags are gone, leaving you with a completely hidden fence and unobstructed view of your property.
The overall success of your electrical dog fence system depends on maintenance by the homeowner. You will need to ensure that batteries are replaced whenever necessary, collars are fitted correctly, and contact between the prongs and the skin are maintained (if your dog has a particularly thick or heavy coat, you may need to shave his or her neck for contact to occur). If you are in the market for an electrical fence, give Northeastern Fences a call. We will allow you to give your dog the gift of freedom paired with safety. It is a win-win proposition for everyone involved.