Any dog owner knows that keeping your dog safe outside is a primary concern. Especially when you cannot be outside to monitor them the entire time. I often get asked by people if an invisible dog fence (the ones with buried lines and transceivers on the dog’s collar) are better and safer than installing a wrought iron or aluminum fence. While the invisible dog fences have come a long way since they were first introduced, there are still many inherent flaws or variables that can affect the effectiveness of the invisible fence. Being a wrought iron and aluminum fence guy, I have a bit of bias on the subject. However, there are many more cons than pros when it comes to using an electric fence over a wrought iron or aluminum fence:
PROS OF AN INVISIBLE DOG FENCE OVER A TRADITIONAL IRON OR ALUMINUM FENCE
- The cost is typically less than an iron or aluminum fence
- Some systems are portable and can be taken when traveling or moving
- Given proper training, reinforcement and upkeep with batteries, invisible fences can be very effective
CONS OF AN INVISIBLE DOG FENCE OVER A TRADITIONAL IRON OR ALUMINUM FENCE
- Effectiveness of the fence is only as good as your dog’s training. Lax training or a stubborn dog can result in escapes.
- Dog’s with strong pain aversion or panicked dogs can escape the fence. They are then sometimes reluctant to return and get zapped again.
- It doesn’t keep other animals out. A stray dog that enters your yard to fight or predators like coyotes can freely walk in and confront your dog.
- Smart dogs will ‘test’ a fence for weakness and escape. This especially becomes an issue as the collar batteries begin to wear out. You may not realize the shock is lessening or the batteries are dead until your dog escapes.
- There is more maintenance with having to test collar strengths, keep on top of collar battery life and worry about any splits in the line.
- It is easy to split a line when digging or landscaping. A standard garden shovel will easily split the light gauge wire that the fence uses.
- If your invisible fence is powered from your home’s electrical system and does not have a battery backup, any power outage you have will mean no fence. Some owners do not realize this until they let their dog out during a power outage and it walks right off the property when it gets no warning zap.
- It is tough to gauge how much pain or ‘zap’ your pet is getting. Some small breeds may experience more of a ‘hit’ than a larger breed even with different power levels on collars. Even so, there are some tough Pomeranians and big baby Mastiffs out there that may have a tough time dealing with the shock.
I had two incidents personally this year that reinforced my views on a traditional iron or aluminum fence being better than the invisible fences:
The first was with one of our friends Siberian Husky named Misty this past summer. They live out in the country and off of a 55mph country road with lots of truck traffic. They had an invisible fence for 2 years that Misty had been trained to use and never escaped. When they went on vacation, a friend came over to watch Misty and let her out rather than putting her in the kennel. One night, the friend let Misty out and went back inside figuring Misty would run the perimeter of the yard and do her business coming back to the door when she was done. After about 30 minutes, the friend thought it odd Misty wasn’t pawing at the door to come in yet. When he went outside to see where she was, he found her in the ditch at the front of the yard dead. Somehow, after 2 years, she had gone through the fence and been hit by a car immediately. They don’t know if the batteries were too weak in the collar, the collar got flipped or if she just decided to give it a try without her owner’s around. Regardless, it was not a great news for our friends to get while on vacation.
The second situation was a couple weeks before Christmas with our neighbor’s black lab named Dusty. Dusty is only about a year old and very protective and excitable. Basically, Dusty comes out barking a growling when anything larger than a leaf hits the yard or goes by its perimeter. Our neighbors installed an invisible fence for their older dog Shady and had trained Dusty on it too. I looked out my window on a Saturday and saw my neighbor talking to the police and a couple at the end of his driveway. After they left, I asked him the next day what it was all about. He said the couple had called the police to lodge a complaint about Dusty lunging at them and menacing them as they walked by. The fence had done its job, but without any seen barrier, the couple walking by thought that the dog could get through and harm them. Without a sign out front, they didn’t realize that there was an invisible fence and thought Dusty was going to get to them. With a traditional fence, there would have been no concern and no police called.
So, there are some concrete facts and a few personal experiences that in my opinion, make a traditional fence a much better option for keeping your pooch safe. Got some questions or concerns on using a wrought iron or aluminum fence for your dog? Give us a call and we would be happy to discuss. We’ve had customers with dogs that range from little yippers to the kind you can almost put a saddle on!