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Do your research before purchasing an underground electric dog fence

By John Oberlin
Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - I've had a couple of underground electric dog fences for our dogs at different houses. They do work and can at times work very well. However, it is just as true that sometimes they don't work well. Your type of dog(s), their size, the fence wire, the location of the wire, the type of terrain, the dog collar, and how you train your dogs are all part of "the system." It's not just putting a wire in the ground and a shock collar on your dog. Allow me to share a few ideas below.

To make the whole thing work you need to take the time to actually teach the dog(s) where the fence (boundary) of their yard is. They need visual clues and as many as possible. Most people who install these fences will provide little flags they plant along the path of the wire so the dog(s) can see them. Putting the wire along already existing boundaries (an old wall, a row of bushes, a hedge, or where the ground turns sharply up or down) can help a lot. Don't let them skimp on the flags, they are an important part of the training and dog learning. I also think a good installer should be able to give you some good first hand advice on how to train the dogs. You don't just put the wire in the ground and throw the dogs out and hope they just learn the hard way on their own.

You will need to do some research on the internet about these type of fences and collars work (they don't all work or act the same way), what type work best for your type of dogs, and how best to train the dog(s). You need to know about these things in advance so you can make sure the whole "system" works well for your situation and dog(s).

For example, we had one house in Chapel Hill that we installed an underground dog fence. By the way, you don't really need to bury the wire, in natural spaces you just lay the wire on the ground and let leaves and stuff cover it naturally. If you want it to go all the way around the house then how you get the wire across the driveway will be the major part of the job. We designed ours to go around the house except the driveway. We had a collar for our large lab that was the right size and power level. I think the power level was adjustable but I don't remember for sure. The particular collar we had was designed to beep when the dog started getting close to the wire, it was a warning beep or beeping. The idea was that the dog would be able to just wonder around the yard and then get a warning to stop before it actually got a serious jolt of electricity. It worked great for a few months. Our dog definitely learned to stop when she heard the beep.

Unfortunately, after a while she started just sitting there, or lying there, in the beep only (no shock) zone. In the process, the dog would drain the batteries in the collar from the continuous beeping and once the beeping stopped, she would just wonder over the line without a problem. With the batteries dead there was no shock. It took us longer to figure out what was going on than it did for our dog to figure it out in the first place.

Another issue you need to consider is the possibility of the dog going past the boundary regardless of the shock. This could be as simple as chasing a squirrel and forgetting about the fence and flying through the boundary and getting shocked. The real problem with that is that once the dog is out she will not want to come back into the yard because she knows that she will get shocked a second time. This whole long story is just an example to say that you need to underground electric dog fences on the internet so that you can make the right decisions about the whole system and what will work best for your dogs and your yard.

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