Sage Monkey

Sage Monkey

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Benefits and Drawbacks of Electric Dog Fences

Every spring I get quite a few messages and emails inquiring about our experiences with our electric fence so I thought I would do a quick blog post on the subject and explain my thoughts on its advantages and disadvantages.

Cleo rocking her two collars. The normal blaze orange collar (because the world is her hunting ground) and her snazzy blue e- fence collar.

When we purchased our home four years ago the previous owners had an invisible fence installed. However, they had chosen to install the fence only in small portion of the yard. With their setup our dogs were limited to half the backyard and could not walk entirely around our ranch styled house. GSP's are high energy dogs so we felt that it was important that they have full access to the entire yard so the first thing we did was reach out to the manufacturer of the existing fence system (PetStop) and had them come out and rerun the fence around the entire perimeter of our property. Our yard is about an acre and a half. I bring this up as it I felt it was a testament to the product that it could easily be rerouted and although I don't remember what it cost it was relatively inexpensive. At the time we only had one of our GSP's (Ms. Sassy Spots Cleo) and she was just a puppy. So we had them make the changes and then waited until Cleo was old enough to be trained to the system.

Luna doing a little extra curricular mole hunting

One of the biggest concerns I hear from people especially with hunting dogs is will your dogs prey drive eventually take over and lead them to break through the fence?  Our shorthairs have an extraordinarily high prey drive and they will full out run like their life depends upon it in hot pursuit of a rabbit or squirrel and stop dead at the barrier. Rest assure they bark every dog expletive they know at those furry creatures and probably even a few at me but the moral of the story is they don't break through. I have also on more than one occasion seen my Cleo and Luna practically foam at the mouth at the fence line over our neighbors 3 legged cat that sits and taunts them about 4 feet from the barrier. Not sure there could be anything more tempting then that for a fur driven dog.

I actually own this badass mug....and a Siamese cat.

Even when the collar batteries are dead or on the rare occasion they are in the yard without collars on they will still not break through the fence. They have also never become aggressive or fearful from being trained to the electric fence. In fact our girls are rather happy and well adjusted shorthairs. Keep in mind that our girls are exercised everyday. Tired GSP's are happy GSP's and they go looking for a whole lot less trouble when they have been both physically and mentally stimulated. But I would encourage everyone who is in the market to get an electric fence to USE COMMON SENSE. If your dog is predisposed to behavioral issues or anxiety make sure they are a good fit for this style system. Like all things in life what it is good for some people/dogs is not good for all people/dogs. 

Luna modeling her green e-fence collar while playing catch off the back deck. Cleo is ALWAYS outfield.

Please note our neighbors handsome pup Lincoln watching us in the background who also is on an e-fence. (Luna is trying to figure out why she didn't get to dig that hole) 

With that said, in my humble opinion there are quite a few benefits of owning an electric fence. The first being cost. It was exponentially cheaper to run our acre and a half property with an invisible fence as opposed to a traditional above ground fence. Because of the low cost we were also able to enclose more of our property giving them more room to roam. Another added benefit is regardless of your terrain they can pretty much run an e-fence through anything, water included as well as across your driveway. I also like that the fence is hidden. I would absolutely hate to have an above ground fence in my yard and I rather like the idea that my dogs are able to see out into our quiet neighborhood. If we had a traditional above ground fence I could just imagine them barking like hell at whatever they couldn't see but could hear on the other side. I also like that there is basically no maintenance to keep up with. We got it installed four years ago and other than occasionally replacing collar batteries it's a well oiled machine.

Cleo escorting the neighborhood ambassador Natasha to the property line

The biggest downside to consider is that although an invisible fence keeps your dogs IN it does nothing to keep other animals or people OUT of your yard. For instance we have a couple who lives up the road from us who own an older German Shepard and they allow her to freely roam the neighborhood. Natasha ventures down to our property almost daily to visit the pointer sisters. Luckily for us Natasha is very sweet and in the four years we've lived in our home we have never had a problem although we would very much prefer it if she would stay in her own yard or more importantly crap in her own yard....but I digress. Also, if you happen to live in a neighborhood like ours with lots of children the invisible fence does nothing to keep them from cutting through your yard. Be your dogs best advocate and don't leave them in your yard for long periods of unsupervised time. And keep in mind the e-fence is not a baby sitter and you should always keep a watchful eye on your dogs when they are in your yard.

***Public Service Announcement: E-fences are crappy baby sitters. Do not let them babysit your dogs!! The last time our E-fence babysat our girls we came home to the 15 month old drinking Summer Shandy and smoking woodpile stogies.***

So for us the positives have far out weighed the negatives. And we will never not have an invisible e-fence for our dogs. I can't stress it enough that properly training your dog to your e-fence is going to be the secret to your success with it. It is my experience that when the dog is properly trained it will not break through the invisible barrier even in hot pursuit of delicious furry critters.

Luna-tic AKA Hell Puppy got a little rammy and chewed Cleo's e-collar battery right Let's just throw our wallet at the invisible fence.

My final tidbit of advice regarding collars is they can be expensive to replace or purchase (as pictured above). If you have a national brand ask if the company has any used collars for sale or check Ebay and Craigslist to save some cash.

Follow our shenanigans on facebook at Adventures of a German Shorthaired Pointer

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