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The Truth About Invisible Fencing for Dogs

Updated on February 20, 2009

Invisible fencing has kept our two dogs, George, a rescued Beagle and Gracie a Lab/Great Dane mix, safe an on our property for more than five years. I highly recommend it, but I know many dog owners worry that it is cruel. This is a myth.

We purchased a brand that comes with lessons for us and our dogs. This makes all the difference. You will have difficulties if you simply buy the fencing at a discount store and expect your dogs to ‘get it' without proper training. Please never do this!

Here's how it works:

Jim, the man who owns our local franchise, came out and measured the property. He then installed the signal wire a few inches under the ground completely around our property. Next, he installed the signal device in our garage and ran a line to the box. He checked that the wiring and the alarm box worked properly.

Next he placed small white flags (like those marking gas lines, etc.) around the entire fenced area. These are a visual clue to you and your dog that you are nearing the warning zone. He then worked with us so that we knew how to warn our dogs about the fencing, before the collars were placed on them. It's a process that will make you feel pretty silly, but it works. You will need two people for this training, and you'll be surprised at how fast it works. One person holds the dog on a leash inside the fenced area and the other stands on the other, near the flags. You wave your hands and tell the dogs in a low, firm voice, "bad flags" or "bad flaggies" which Jim preferred. After doing this several times a day, for only a few minutes, the dogs will start to recognize the flags. When they back away, give them a treat or praise them.

Next, the collar is placed on your dog. The ‘correction level' (or to be honest the shock level) is set very low.

Several sound levels of warning signals increase as your dog (on a leash for training) nears the fence. Again, with one person inside and another outside, you verbally warn your pet when they near the fencing. Eventually, they learn to avoid the ‘fence' .

I can't promise that your dog won't get zapped a few times, but if the level of ‘correction' is set properly, it is a mild experience compared to being lost, frightened and starving or being hit by a car. It's more of a slap on the wrist and most dogs won't test the fence more than a couple of times.

Our vet said that any fence that can keep a Beagle in a yard when he sees a rabbit on the outside has to be good!

Our property is surrounded by state hunting and wildlife land, so deer, rabbits and eve wild turkeys frequent our area. However, our dogs alert us to anything that nears our yard and we can let them out to chase any critter or hunter away without leaving our property. The joggers and cyclists in our area have learned that George and Gracie will race to the ‘fence' line, but will not cross it.

You should know that the fencing will not work during a power failure, but there is a warning sound and light (battery operated) on the unit to alert you to this or a break in the line. I neglected to tell our neighbor about the wire on the property line and he accidentally dug it up while weeding. We called Jim and he came out and repaired the line the next morning. It did cost us about fifty-dollars, but it was worth the cost and my fault for not alerting our neighbor, who is very happy that our dogs stay in our yard. He never has to worry about cleaning up our pet's poo or having them damage his garden.

Also, the fencing will keep your dogs in, but will not keep other dogs out. This hasn't been a problem for us since George is very vocal about inviting them to leave.

The cost was about a thousand dollars when we had ours installed and our son and daughter-in-law just had it installed in their yard for about the same cost. They live in the suburbs but still have deer in the area and love the fencing too.

It's easy to forget and throw a ball or Frisbee outside the fencing. Try to remember this, as the guilt factor will haunt you if you forget.

Other reasons we love the fencing is that it is indeed invisible and allows us to enjoy our view of the woods.

It was less expensive than cedar fencing, which we would have used. Our son loves it because they have three dogs and their subdivision does not allow fencing.

The only drawback of invisible fencing is that our dogs will not leave the yard, with or without the collars on, so we have to put them in our van, remove the collars and back them to the lower part of the driveway if we want to take them for a walk. We don't do this often as George and Gracie have their own ‘track' worn in the back yard that surrounds our flower beds and they run laps every day.


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    • maria53273 profile image

      maria53273 7 years ago

      Guess what I found? A Radial-Shaped Wireless Dog Fence from Havahart that only takes 45 minutes to set up and install! No trenches to dig! I just turned it on, paired the collar, set radius distance, walked out to the boundary, made sure it went off in 90 ft, adjusted the correction level, then put in the flags. 45 minutes and it was completely set up and ready to use. It works great for our two dogs.

      Here's the wireless fence I'm talking about:

    • glenn zeman profile image

      glenn zeman 7 years ago from Norwich, NY

      We have used invisible fence at 2 of our homes, and we think it is awesome.

      With the walking off the property situation. We have taught our dog that "Collar On" means she can't cross the fence (we say this each and every time we put the collar on her). "Collar Off" means she can cross the line (We say this each time we take a collar off and put a leash on). Make sure you put a leash on when the collar comes off so they don't run.

    • Pat Merewether profile image

      Pat Merewether 8 years ago from Michigan

      This is true, but I don't worry about doggy friends dropping by - no biggie - I just don't want ours roaming lose near the highway or on the state land. It's especially great in really nasty weather when I can just let them go out to go potty and not worry about walking them.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      I don't think it's cruel, but it doesn't keep anything out like a real fense does.

    • Pat Merewether profile image

      Pat Merewether 8 years ago from Michigan

      It would be nice if they could devise some sort of 'safe' sound - good idea!

      Thaks for reading my article!

    • profile image

      Liz 8 years ago

      My co-worker does has an underground fence for her heavily wooded property. She also has to take her dogs in her car to the end of the driveway to take them for walks outside of the property. She lives very near a nice walking path and wanted to use it instead of driving to distant parks. Since her older dog has hip problems she has to get out a heavy ramp each time to get the dog in and out of her SUV.

      Perhaps the Underground Fence people ought to devise a different kind of sign that the owners could place on the driveway temporarily when there was no pain for going past it?

      Does anyone think that would work?

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 9 years ago from America

      We also love invisible fencing. The only problem I can't get my dog to go for a walk in the meadow even though I take off his collar. He still thinks he can't go past the fence range.

      We now use the wireless fencing. It's even better.

      We had two dogs that didn't care about the fencing and would run right through it. After they took a long run they would come back home but wouldn't come back across the fence.