I am a first time pet owner and I am wondering if I should invest in an electronic fence. What is your experience with them? Do they really work? What are the pros and cons?
I know several people who have used them with great results. I'm sure there are plenty of people who think it might be barbaric, but honestly you can put the collar on your own neck and see it isn't as bad as the dog makes it sound... it is more "shocking" than painful... sorry bad pun. lol I talked to a lady who even used it successfully with huskies, which is no small feat to keep those guys in a yard!
Drawbacks: - if done incorrectly or on a very sensitive dog, an Invisible fence can really mess up your dog's temperament. A friend rushed the IF training and now has a dog that flatly refuses to go out to the backyard.. if forced, she will defecate in terror. I've heard of a number of similar stories of dogs afraid of the yard after being shocked.
- they don't stop other animals and people from entering your yard.
- a dog that is highly motivated (ie when its chasing a squirrel) may risk the momentary shock to leave the yard and continue chasing, but when chase is done, won't reenter the yard.
- batteries die, and electric currents can short out.
I'd put my money into getting a physical fence myself.
Like everything else, it has it's pro & cons. My friend has an Alaskan Malamute. The fence works well for her but once, the batteries were dead in the collar & Nasdaq (the dog) escaped.
The only thing I didn't like was other dogs can come in your yard.
I went with a fence.
We have the Invisible Fence. My Piper has never left our property and we live in an area with deer, squirrels, groundhogs, chipmunks, other dogs and frequent people walking past. I've watched her take off at full speed after a deer and intentionally change course well before the boundary. We've had the system for 4+ years and she has probably been corrected by the collar 2-3 times total. She was simply very well and patiently trained (I took twice the time they recommended every step of the way) and never even approaches the actual wire. She's established her own comfort zone well within the boundaries where she knows she doesn't even put herself at risk of correction.
If we had opted for a physical fence she would have been limited to a much smaller area because the cost of that is much higher when you have a large property. We never could have fenced the entire perimiter of our 1 acre property, we would have had to limit her to only a portion of the rear yard.
How much property are we talking about here?
I personally wouldn't use one but I can see they have a purpose for large amounts of land.
I really like the Invisible Fence. We've only got about a quarter acre, but the particular setup, especially with trees at/near the property's boundary makes it impossible to use physical fencing. Plus, the back of the yard slopes at such an incline that the dirt washes out from under the fence, leaving a big gap that Piper could very easily go through. We do have wooden fencing on most of three sides of the yard and the IF wire is run along the bottom of the fence. I've held the transmitter in the palm of my hand and walked through and the shock isn't bad at all. Piper does really well with this system - she does rarely try to test the boundaries, but gives a quick yelp and stays in her safe area. She's reliable enough with it that if we're out playing fetch and I accidently get the ball too close to the boundary she will lay down and stare at the ball whining until I go fetch it for her
I'd say it depends on your property, and of course, your dog!
An old Boss of mine had a border collie, "Daisy", and they had an electric fence. Well, this family rarely paid any attention to Daisy besides to pour food in her bowl, and I remember watching her the one day. She got about 15 feet from where the barrier of the fence was, got a running start and leapt past the barrier to freedom. She later returned (in the same manner) and this was a very frequent occurance.
I have heard many people say that if your dog is running after something at full tilt (squirrel, etc.) then the shock doesn't stop them (they have enough momentum that they can't stop) and they sometimes will not return.
Baloo - 5 year old black lab
Peanut - 7 year old minpin
Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
Like anything else, you need to weigh the pros and cons for your dog and your particular situation. We have had Invisible Fence (IF) for 6 years. Gracie has not once broken through the boundry and the only time she has received a correction is during the training period (and that was only twice). Our neighbor across the street also has IF, however his dogs are forever wandering loose. It does not work for every dog.
If you decide to use an invisible fence system I would suggest going with one that is professionally installed and uses trained professionals to train your dog to the system. Yes, it is easy to install yourself, but I liked the idea that someone else trains the dog to the physical correction zone. This removes the risk of the dog associating the correction to the owner. I believe that most of the problems that arise are from people who don't follow the training instructions properly.
There are just as many drawbacks to a physical fence as the IF....you need to decide what will work best in your situation.