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. These fences are not meant to discourage or punish your dog, and 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 do electric fences really work? Are the benefits worth the cost? 

Table of Contents

  1. How Do They Work?
  2. Pros
  3. Cons

How do electric fences work? 

Nowadays, as far as dogs go, you’ll 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. Anyways, 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? 

Ellevet dog on rock

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. Whether your dog is accidentally struck by a car, gets sprayed by a skunk, or wanders into a neighbor’s yard who is allergic to dogs. The list goes on, but you get the point. 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. And danger aside, it’s nice to be able to let your dog run around freely 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-$1500 to install. This may seem like a significant number, but as you know, purchasing and installing an actual fence can be much pricier. And it’s not all about affordability. 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 some headaches. Plus, you won’t have to worry about accidentally leaving the gate open, etc. And 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? 

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 itself. Other times it may be your specific situation and dog. 

Some dogs, especially large breed dogs, 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. 

Is it right for me? 

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 that 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
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