Skip to Content

10 bad sides to electric fences

I recommend electronic dog fences and will have one for my dog as soon as I have my own yard. However, electric fences are not for everyone, so I want to point out a few things to keep in mind before installing one. Based on comments from yesterday’s post, I know some people don’t like them. Here are some reasons why:

1. Electronic fences for dogs allow a dog too much freedom.
If you are going to have an electric fence, your dog will have a lot of freedom to run around her yard. However, this means it’s harder for you to control her. It will annoy the neighbors (and you) if she is constantly outside barking. Behavior issues will start to come up if you do not enforce rules with your dog.

2. You have to enforce the recall when you use an invisible dog fence.
An electric fence is no fun if your dog doesn’t come when called. Make sure your dog responds well when you call her before you give her the opportunity to run around the yard.

3. Electric fences for dogs don’t keep other animals out.
Your dog will not leave her yard, but that doesn’t mean the neighbor dogs won’t come over. Plus, stray dogs, kids, other animals, etc., can still get into your yard.

4. Electronic fences for dogs bring out the territorial instincts in a dog.
Any barrier will make a dog more likely to bark or act aggressive. Dogs that are normally just fine around other dogs will go nuts when there’s a fence involved. My mutt uses my parents’ electric fence, and he becomes a barker whenever another dog approaches. He will need a lot of training to overcome this.

5. A dog with a fenced yard still needs a walk.
I never let my dog run around the yard and count that as exercise. He needs a walk on top of that.

6. An invisible fence system will need maintenance.
Like any electrical system, things will go wrong at some point with an electric fence. The underground wire can break due to rodents, weather or other factors. The e-collar batteries will need to be replaced every year or so. The whole system could go out and need to be restarted unexpectedly. Your dog will be confused and run right through the boundaries if she doesn’t hear the usual warning beep.

7. You have to be OK with your dog getting a few vibrations while learning the electric fence’s boundaries.
When my mutt got a vibration, he froze for a few seconds with his tail between his legs. But he got over it after a few seconds. Some dogs will let out a small yelp. My grandparents’ dog ran in the house after a vibration and didn’t want to go outside for the rest of the day. But she got over it too, and now she gets to enjoy her big backyard. The point is, you have to be OK with your dog getting a small shock. I think of it as a kid learning to ride a bike and falling once or twice.

8. You need to take the time to train the dog with the electric fence.
It will take a week or two to train your dog to use the electric fence. It just depends on the dog, but it will take a lot of patience and consistency.

9. You won’t have a physical fence for privacy when you have an invisible dog fence.
It depends on how you look at it. If you like privacy, you might want to have an electric fence and a physical fence so your neighbors can’t see you naked in the backyard.

10. Your dog can still get loose if he runs through the invisible fence boundaries.
No electric fence will guarantee that a dog will stay in her yard. There’s a chance that any dog will cross the boundaries, especially when she’s learning. A stranger or another dog is not likely to make an average dog run through the boundaries, but it can happen. Once your dog has crossed the boundary, she might be afraid to cross it to get back into her yard.

What do you think about electric fences for dogs?


Saturday 3rd of May 2008

I like all the positives you point out. My own reason for not wanting one for Jenny is that she's an energetic dog and like most labs, she has a high pain tolerance. She never yelps, she's taken her shots at the vet like a champ, and when I've stepped on her paws on accident now and then, she just wriggles free without a fuss. I sometimes wonder if she feels ANY pain. Anyway...knowing all I know about Jenny, if there was a dog/person on the other side of the barrier that she wanted to get closer to, the zap from the fence would be a fair trade off, and she's be on the other side in a heartbeat.

My_Dog_Is_Better's last blog post..Already revamping the new blog


Wednesday 30th of April 2008

I'm glad you wrote about the negative sides of electric fences too. :) My dog is definitely one who would not care a wit about getting a little shock. If he'd even feel it through all his thick fur. :)

castocreations's last blog post..Wordless Wednesday - One Happy Boy

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 29th of April 2008

Yeah, you can change the settings to determine how strong the vibration is. Actually, sometimes smaller dogs need a higher vibration. It's more about the dog's personality/toughness. A lot of big dogs are big babies.

Apryl DeLancey

Tuesday 29th of April 2008

Yeah - I wondered about the vibration/shock part of it - is it adjustable so that you can put it to be the right amount for the size of the dog? This might be a silly question. Surely a larger dog can handle a certain vibration that a smaller one would be more uncomfortable with.

Apryl DeLancey's last blog post..Things That Make Me Laugh (Or Smile Enthusiastically)


Tuesday 29th of April 2008

Glad to see the pros and cons in your posts... great follow up article. After reading your post I started stewing about my neighbors lack of supervision and their electric fence.. of course today we went out walking and were accosted by a little ankle biter. I have the courtesy to leash my dogs when out and clean up their poop. The neighborhood dogs bark all day, poop in my yard and everywhere else for that matter.. who do you think will get blamed? The crazy lady with the 6 giant dogs that's who. I posted my own little ditty on the invisible fences.