Electric Fences for Dogs: Costs, How They Work & More

Two dogs playing in a field

An electric fence may be a great option if you have an adventurous dog who loves to run around freely. However, a pet fence is not meant to discourage or punish your dog; it’s meant to keep them safe from getting a little too adventurous.

Keeping your dog safe in your yard without having to watch over them constantly sounds excellent in theory, but does a dog fence system really work? Are the benefits worth the cost? 

This guide will answer your questions about a pet fence and whether electric fence wire is safe for your furry friend.

How Do Electric Fences Work? 

Nowadays, you mainly see wireless electric fences. Having a wired fence just isn’t practical for the average dog owner. 

When you buy a wireless electric fence, you dig and install transmitters around the perimeter of your yard or wherever you’d like to install it. These transmitters are linked and are meant to form an invisible barrier around the area. 

Electric fences will come with a collar-looking device that will go around your dog’s neck comfortably. Some of them strike a resemblance to an electric garage door opener. When your dog crosses or is about to cross the invisible barrier, the device around their collar will audibly “beep,” letting them know that they are in a restricted area. 

If your dog ignores the beep, a small electric impulse, almost a light vibration, will occur in the collar. This will most likely confuse your dog at first, but it is not powerful enough to hurt or “shock” them, even though some still refer to these devices as “shock collars.” 

Once you walk your dog around the yard, he/she will learn the boundaries and understand what the warning beep signifies. This, in theory, will teach your dog to stay within limits and “respect the warning beep” if they wander too far. 

What Are the Pros of Having an Electric Fence? 

If you have a dog who tends to wander, having the security of an electric fence can put your mind at ease. Not only is the fence comforting to you, but it is also keeping your dog safe from being accidentally struck by a car, sprayed by a skunk, or wandering into a neighbor’s yard who is allergic to dogs

We are trying to protect our dogs when they can’t protect themselves. The electric fence eliminates or limits most situations where your dog may be in danger and not realize it. Danger aside, it’s nice to be able to let your dog run around freely and get plenty of exercise without having to use a leash or a runner. 

Another advantage of electric fences is cost and convenience. Comparatively speaking, electric fences are far less costly and time-consuming than, say, a traditional wooden fence around your property. 

The average electric fence will cost anywhere from $200 to $1500 to install. This may seem like a significant number, but as you know, purchasing and installing an actual fence can be much pricier. 

Additionally, some yards or areas just aren’t practical for a physical fence, whether it be slanted land, not enough room, or conflicting property lines. With an electric fence, you can save yourself from having to figure out how to install a wooden fence. 

Plus, you won’t have to worry about accidentally leaving the gate open, etc. For those dogs who love to jump and dig, you won’t have to worry about them making the crafty escapes they might be able to with traditional fences. 

What Are the Cons of Having an Electric Fence? 

Some electric fences just don’t work, or they work for a few days and then stop working. If you ever find yourself looking at “electric fence reviews” from dog owners, you’ll find quite a few people who would agree with those statements. Sometimes, it is a problem with the fence or your specific situation and dog. 

Some dogs, especially large breed dogs such as German Shepherds and Hungarian vizslas, will have no problem running right through that electric “barrier.” They’ll ignore the vibration, and it just won’t register with them. 

Whether chasing a squirrel or wanting to say hi to their furry friend walking by, the electric fence will be rendered useless. For this reason, if the fence you’re thinking of buying has a warranty option, we would suggest looking into that, just in case. 

Although the electric fence can be effective, some pet owners can’t help but feel guilty confining their dogs and “shocking” them. As was mentioned before, the electric collars and fences are not actually shocking or hurting your dog. 

However, it doesn’t mean they like it either. This moral battle is a con in its own way for some. If this sounds like you, you may change your mind about the fence or decide against purchasing one altogether. 

How Can You Train Dogs To Respect an Electronic Fence?

Introducing a dog to an electronic fence system requires consistent training and adaptation. The invisible dog fence serves as a pet containment system, using a receiver collar that alerts with a beep, followed by static correction if the dog approaches the boundary wire. 

Training can start with flags or markers to visually delineate where the invisible fence is located. Dog owners can then guide their pets along the perimeter, teaching them to associate the beep from the collar with the set boundary. 

For stubborn dogs, the training period may take longer, and pet owners should remain patient and consistent. The collar’s static correction is adjustable to ensure it is appropriate for small dogs or large dogs alike. 

During training, positive reinforcement and dog beds placed well within the safe zone can encourage the dog to remain in the designated area, offering peace of mind to the owner that their dogs are safe within the property’s bounds.

What Are GPS Wireless and Rechargeable Dog Fences?

The GPS wireless dog fence is a cutting-edge alternative to the traditional in-ground dog fence. Unlike the classic wired system that requires underground wire installation, the GPS system relies on satellite technology to set boundaries, which is particularly advantageous in open or uneven terrains. 

These fences often come with a rechargeable dog collar, which is cost-effective and eco-friendly due to its long battery life. This technology provides a reliable containment system without the need for physical fence installation. 

Waterproof collar designs ensure functionality in all weather conditions, and these systems can typically handle multiple dogs as long as each has its own receiver collar. Pet owners benefit from a high level of accuracy and the ability to easily set up the system.

How Do Wireless and Wired Electric Fences Differ?

When deciding between a wireless dog fence and an in-ground fence, there are several factors for pet owners to consider. Wireless systems are valued for their ease of installation and flexibility; they create an adjustable circular boundary around a central point. 

However, they may not suit complex yard shapes. In contrast, an in-ground fence involves burying a boundary wire, allowing for a customizable shape that fits the exact contours of the property. Both systems utilize a fence collar that emits a beep followed by a static correction to keep dogs safe. 

The collar battery is a critical component, with some collars being rechargeable, contributing to the system’s overall convenience. Wired systems are typically considered more stable and less prone to interference than wireless options, providing a more consistent means of pet containment.

For electronic fences, the key to success lies in selecting the right system for one’s specific yard and pet needs, ensuring that the fence works effectively to keep the pet within safe boundaries.

Should I Get An Electric Fence?

This is a question only you can answer. Think about your dog’s personality and your current living situation. 

If you think you both may benefit from an electric fence, try it out! If you have a friend who already has an electric fence, ask them about their experience. If you are interested in purchasing an electric fence for your dog, we suggest doing your research to ensure you pick one that works for your pet family! 


The ElleVet Team
844-673-7287
[email protected]

Sources:

Retrospective evaluation of 140 dogs involved in road traffic accidents | NIH

Dog and Cat Allergies: Current State of Diagnostic Approaches and Challenges | NIH

Working Dog Training for the Twenty-First Century | Frontiers

Improving dog training methods: Efficacy and efficiency of reward and mixed training methods | NIH

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