Many rural developments are springing up, developments, which are governed by “home owners’ associations”. Sometimes these groups insist on a ban of regular fencing because it will mar the beauty of their development. In such cases, some dog owners consider the installation of an invisible fence. Invisible fences consist of underground wires, which will carry a current when a dog wears a collar. The collar will buzz the animal when it gets too close to the fence. The theory is that this will stop the dog and deter him from going further. Sometimes this is effective and sometimes not.
There are certain details, which a property owner should consider before installation of an invisible fence. For one thing, dogs who are long coated may need to have the coat around the neck area shaved so that the electric current can make enough contact with the skin for the dog to feel it. Also, dogs whose bodies are so constructed that they have loose folds of skin (called dewlap) beneath the chin may also have fewer nerve cells in that region and may be less affected by the electrical current. For another thing, there are dogs who are completely unaffected, in other words, they could care less. They may get the shock but it does not matter to them because whatever it is that they want on the other side of the fence motivates them more than the shock deters them. Unless such a dog is trained to respect the boundaries through some other manner, the invisible fence will not matter.
The age at which the dog is introduced to the fence is important. Animal behaviorists recognize that puppies have definite “fear stages” which will occur during certain periods. Usually for most puppies, this is around the eighth week and again around the eighth month of their lives. This theory has been well researched and documented. When a puppy is introduced to the electric or invisible fence, the owner needs to be aware of the puppy’s fear stages and whether or not the dog is psychologically ready to accept such a shock. If the puppy is in a fear stage and the breed of the dog is also a breed, which can be quite timid the invisible fence can do more damage than good, traumatizing the puppy so much that he doesn’t even want to be outdoors at all. Also, puppies who are naturally quite timid and submissive in their behavior, regardless of their breed, can react in much the same way. When the electric collar is on the puppy, owners must be aware that they should be present to watch for such adverse reactions and step in with positive reinforcement when the dog is stopping before it approaches the “zapping zone” of the electrical current.
There is another side of the picture to consider also. Invisible fences only work for the animal who is wearing the collar. Property owners with such fences often overlook the fact that their yards have no protection against possible predators or such dangers as packs of wild dogs, who have no barrier to cross to enter their property. Small dogs have been known to be attacked by predators who would not have been able to enter the premises if there had been a normal fence preventing their entrance.
In any case, people who are using invisible fences for the containment of their dog need to realize that using such a fence requires some vigilance and some training of the dog or it may not serve its purpose.