Monday, February 27, 2023

The Invisible Fence Is In


My son spent 6 hours with me yesterday putting in the remainder of the 1,200 feet of invisible fence wire running through our rocky forest floor

Thrilled to have it in!

I used electronic collar fencing on my three working terriers for 35 years and have had less problems with this kind off fencing than the "hard" fencing I have used in the past.

A dog cannot dig under or climb over an electronic fence, there are no gates that can be left open, and there are no boards that can spring loose or fence wire that can be ripped!

How does an e-collar dog containment system work?

Basically it's a small radio transmitter that sends a very weak signal though an underground antenna wire. The dog wears a collar fitted with a small battery and a capacitor. Once the collar gets within 15 feet or so of the wire, the collar is triggered, and a shock is delivered to the dog.

How powerful is the shock? It is no small zap -- it's a lot of volts, but almost no amps. 

Because the amps are so low, there is no danger to the dog, but because the volts are so high, the shock is more than enough for the dog to realize it does not want to do get that close to the fence line again!

Is an Invisible Fence "cruel"? 

No. In fact, after the first week, most dogs know enough to never get zapped again, and even if they are not wearing a collar they will toe the line.

Invisible Fence and other e-collar dog containment systems are endorsed by both veterinarians and humane societies because, unlike regular fencing, they rarely fail due to an open gate, a dig out, or a jump over.

Most e-collar systems can be adjusted so that the shock can be dialed up or down, and the reception field can be made wider or tighter.

Do electronic collar pet fencing systems work?

Very well, thank you.

It's worth remembering that 4,000-pound farm bulls are routinely kept behind electric fences without a problem. 

If a bull can be kept out of the milk cows one field over, your dog can probably be kept back from the neighbor's cat -- provided you follow directions.

This last part is key -- following directions.

From what I can tell most of the people who say Invisible Fencing did not work on their dogs did not read the directions that came with their product. As a consequence, the collar was put on too loose, or they did not train their dog sufficiently prior to turning it outside with an e-collar on.

Here's a hint: an Invisible Fence collar has to be on pretty tight, and the contact prongs have to be the right length for the dog's coat. A dog with a lot of fur needs a collar with longer contact prongs.

If you can easily slip three fingers under the dog's collar, it is too loose. The proper degree of tightness on an e-collar is about the same as for a man's shirt collar when his tie on. If it's fine for a man all day at the office, it's fine for a dog all day in the yard!

Here's another hint: There is a TRAINING period with an Invisible Fence collar.

That means you need to flag the perimeter and walk it with the dog, pulling the dog back HARD with a choke collar when the beeper on the collar goes off.

An Invisible Fence collar is simple operant conditioning, but the first part of that conditioning is getting the dog to understand that when the beep-tone goes off, it means "Go Back NOW!"

Most dogs whose owners claim their dogs are so tough they "bull through" the shock collar are simply mistaken. More likely, the collar was put on too loose and no contact was made with the skin, or else the dog was not trained and ran forward in fright from the shock because the owner did not bother to train the dog on how to respond to the tone and the shock.

Is an e-fence dog containment system right for you? 

That depends on where you live. If you are in the countryside and have small dogs that may get predated on by coyotes or attacked by feral farm dogs, an electronic fence will not keep out these animals. Of course, neither will a regular fence most of the time. Your best advice is to keep an eye on your dogs and make sure they have a "defensible space" (such as inside a dog house with a small door) for those times they are outside on their own.

Another issue is that a tight collar can wear on the fur line of a show dog. Though this wear mark will be nearly imperceptible to the average pet owner, if your passion is showing "Lassie" collies, an e-collar dog containment system is probably not right for you.

Finally, if you have a very aggressive dog, an e-collar pet containment system will not prevent dogs and children from coming into your yard, and so it is the wrong system for you. Instead, you probably need both a hard wood fence and an electronic collar system to serve as a "belt and suspenders" precaution against a predictable problem.

Along with excellent containment reliability, one advantage of an e-fence dog containment system is that is generally cheaper and easier to install than hard-scape fencing.

Putting wooden fencing around even a small yard can easily cost well over $7,000, while an e-collar pet containment system will cost around $700 and can easily contain a dog in a space of 25 acres or more.

Though the Invisible Fence company invented and patented the first e-collar fencing system in 1969, the Invisible Fence patent ran out in 1991, and other comparable products are now on the market for a fraction of the cost.  Invisible Fence is now owned by Radio Systems Corporation, which also owns Innotek, PetSafe, and SportDOG.

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