Sunday, March 21, 2010
By Ruthie Bently
Many communities these days do not allow fencing, as they feel it ruins the aesthetics of the view from one’s front yard and can affect property values. One alternative many pet owners are trying is “invisible fencing.” The premise is that invisible fencing allows containment of the family pet without putting up a wooden or chain link fence, while presenting an unobstructed view of the neighborhood. There are pros and cons to invisible fencing, however, that you may not be aware of. While I have no personal experience with these systems, I have plenty of anecdotal evidence from clients who have used them.
It is suggested that if you install invisible fencing, you should spend several weeks training your dog. I always recommended that my clients mark the edges of the entire containment area with flags to give the dog a visual perception of their new boundaries. Your dog needs to be conditioned so they do not have the urge to approach the fence. Only in this way will you be successful containing your dog with invisible fencing. Some of these systems also let you set a height to the fence boundary in case you have a jumper. This is important if you have a dog that can jump vertically, as they can leap over the invisible barrier without fear of getting an electrical reprimand.
The biggest plus according to manufacturers of these systems is that they are buried underground and you don’t have an unsightly fence line. After your dog is trained, another plus (in theory) is that you can allow your dog access to the yard without the fear of them running off and you don’t have to constantly monitor where they are. You can have the system installed by a company for you, or install it yourself if you are handy. After installation you put a collar on your dog which will first give them an auditory warning that they are too close to the fence line. If they attempt to leave the yard they will get a mild shock.
While the idea of containing a dog without a physical fence may sound wonderful, it will not prevent neighborhood dogs from entering your yard on their own. It won’t prevent wildlife from entering your yard either. While you may not be worried about a deer, if you are in an area that is populated by foxes, wolves, coyotes, raccoons or skunks it may give you pause. Your dog will not be protected behind a vertical barrier from any of these creatures. It should also be noted that dog theft is up during these economically challenging times, and invisible fencing will not present much of a barrier to someone determined to steal your dog.
Last but not least, there are some dogs that will not be contained by an invisible fence. I had one client whose dog was aggressive, and if they saw a dog walking on what they considered their turf (now that there was no physical barrier to break their line of sight), they would charge out of the containment area and the owner would have to go and retrieve their dog. Because the dog knew it would get a shock coming back into the yard, it would not venture back across the border without having the electric fence turned off first. You do not want them charging out into the street where they might be injured by a vehicle, or onto the sidewalk where they can accost the mailman or passers-by.
If you are considering purchasing invisible fencing, see if the company has a system set up that you might be able to use to evaluate your dog. Or check with friends or family members to see if they know someone who might have one that you could use for your evaluation. It is a good idea to keep an eye on your dog, whether you have a classically fenced yard or an invisible fence. Only in this way can you be sure that they will be truly safe.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently