Electric Invisible Fences For Dogs: Pros And Cons

Hunting dog in the ripening grain. Hot summer day. Hungarian Pointer Viszla hunting. Electric dog collar.

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Invisible fences for dogs are cheap, adaptable, electric barriers that keep dogs from crossing property lines by delivering an electric shock via a battery-powered collar. If you’ve recently moved to a home without a fenced-in yard or you’ve decided to adopt a dog when your home doesn’t already have a barrier to keep a dog on the property, you may be considering options that will prevent your dog from straying and getting hurt, including electric dog fences. Keeping your dog on your property is an important thing, as many communities have laws against allowing dogs to roam unrestrained, and you wouldn’t want your dog to get lost or injured. The problem is that conventional fences are often costly, regulated by local laws, eyesores, and not very effective for dogs that can dig under or jump over them. That’s why you might be thinking of getting an invisible fence. Here are some of the facts about invisible dog fences so you can decide whether you should get one to keep your dog on your property.

What Are Invisible Fences For Dogs?

A pretty black labrador retriever mixed breed dog holds her favorite wooden stick in her front paws while her attention is focused elsewhere. She is wearing two pet collars - one carries her license and tags including the Dog Parks permit - and the other holds a battery for the invisible fence security barrier correction device.

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Invisible fences for dogs usually consist of a wire that needs to be buried around the property, a transmitter, and a receiver collar. The transmitter needs to be powered by a wall outlet, and the collar is battery powered. When the collar approaches the wire of the invisible fence, it usually emits a warning noise followed by an electric shock as punishment for getting too close. This, in theory, trains the dog to understand the property lines and stay in bounds.

The electric fence rarely works alone. You’re supposed to combine it with behavioral training to teach your dog to stay in the yard. In fact, the best products, including the popular Invisible Fence, include training as part of the price.

While an electric fence makes some sense if you don’t want to tie them up or build a fence, it’s not a perfect solution.

Pros Of Invisible Fences For Dogs

white chihuahua and shock collar in front of white background

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

There are several reasons one might consider getting an invisible fence instead of more traditional barriers for dogs. Here are some of the benefits of choosing an invisible dog fence.

  • They aren’t as expensive as a traditional fence.
  • They aren’t likely to be regulated by restrictive laws about installation and don’t require a building permit.
  • They don’t obstruct the view.
  • They can be moved and adjusted more easily than a traditional fence.
  • They allow dogs to roam the whole property.
  • They can easily surround a large property, and some can be extended, if necessary.
  • Dogs won’t escape when someone leaves a gate open.
  • Dogs can’t escape by digging under or jumping over them.
  • They are generally effective at keeping dogs on the property.

Cons Of Invisible Fences For Dogs

Dog Lying On Bed

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

There are major drawbacks to invisible fences for dogs, and many find that the cons outweigh the pros. Here are some reasons you might want to consider an option other than an electric invisible dog fence.

  • They require additional behavioral training so that dogs know where property lines are. This reduces the risk of them getting zapped.
  • The shock is painful. There’s no getting around that. If the shock isn’t strong enough, it won’t deter a dog from leaving the property. This is a form of punishment.
  • Invisible fences don’t stop other animals from entering your property. Other dogs, coyotes, and disease-carrying critters are all free to enter your yard, and your dog would have few ways to escape.
  • Electrical outages can cause the fence to stop working, and batteries in the collar can run out. If that happens, your dog may stay on the property due to conditioning, or they may wander off when there’s no consequence for doing so.
  • Invisible fences sometimes break, especially if they aren’t buried very deep in the ground. Fixing them can be a pain, and you may have to dig up large sections of the fence for repairs if you can’t find the location of the breakage.
  • Invisible fences are not physical barriers, and if a dog is determined enough, they may walk through the pain and escape, especially if there is something on the other side of the fence that they can’t resist.
  • If your dog has a medical condition or is too young, an invisible fence can cause serious injury or health consequences.
  • Unintentional conditioning may be the biggest drawback of invisible fences. One form of this is called “barrier frustration,” and this happens when dogs try to approach strangers or dogs on the other side of an invisible fence only to be shocked. This can end up conditioning them to be anxious, fearful, and maybe even aggressive around other people and animals in any situation, such as on walks or at social gatherings. The warning noise that accompanies the shock can also condition dogs to fear any similar noise, such as a beeping microwave, a dying phone or smoke alarm battery, or a timer countdown on television. Generally, invisible fences come with flags so that your dog has a visual representation of where the barrier is to get used to it, but your dog may end up fearing flags or anything that moves in a similar way. Neurotic, anxious behavior can last a lifetime, even if the fence is removed.

Would you consider an electric invisible fence for keeping your dog on your property? What other options would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below!