Barrier vs. Invisible Outdoor Dog Fences

A critic of the invisible outdoor dog fence

Generally speaking, with regard to outdoor dog fences, barrier fences are reliable. Either they work to begin with or can be modified to ensure they do. In contrast, the invisible dog fences, also known as “electric” or “shock collar” dog fences commonly sold in pet stores, despite their high-tech allure, produce spotty results. Some dogs dislike the shock so much they simply stay inside. Others, once trained, will go outside and stay within the flagged boundary until they see another dog, or some animal like a cat or squirrel, and then they’re gone. To put it another way, people considering invisible dog fences need to realize that at heart this class of fence is a psychological barrier. If the psychology is wrong it won’t work, and that’s what often happens.

Besides being prone to fail, these “invisible” outdoor dog fences have other problems. The ones with wires are vulnerable to anything that may break the wire. If the wire breaks they stop working. And diverse things (spades, rototillers, etc.) can break the wire. They’re also dicey to install if the homeowner does it; and they’re expensive to install if professional installers do it.

So one might think that the “wireless” invisible dog fence that uses a transmitter without any underground wire would be a godsend. Typically, however, the circular boundary of the enclosure generated by the wireless outside dog fence transmitter is inconvenient and does not conform to the boundary of any desired outdoor fence.

And for those humanely inclined toward their pets, there is another problem. Anytime a power failure occurs the radio transmitter stops sending out its signal, and that means the pet will get a temporary but prolonged shock from its collar — just as if it had gone beyond the outer limit of the fence. If you are considering such a fence, reflect on how you would like wearing a spontaneously shocking collar of this sort.

A good low-visibility fence
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An end is a place where the fence butts up against a building, wall, or another fence.