Has an electric fence worked for you? Training advice?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Barked: Mon Apr 29, '13 11:41am PST 
I'm curious about your experiences with electric fences? We have quite a few people in our neighborhood who have them, and they seem to work very well. Have they worked for you? Any training advice that was especially helpful in getting the dog to stay in the yard?

We have 3/4 acre yard, and a small area is fenced in for our dog. Well just this weekend, the neighbor dog wandered in our yard, and our dog Peppers easily cleared our 3 foot fence to go romp around with her! The problem is, we live in a city where you can only have a fence that is 3 feet high, unless it's a chain link, which tends to not look as nice. So now we have purchased an electric fence to use as a back up to our 3 foot fence, and we do not let her outside unless we are out there with her, which is a shame, because she LOVES sitting outside in the nice weather. We are going to begin training her with it this week, so I'm curious about other people's training techniques, and whether the electric fence has been successful. We do play with her on a long lead out in the grass, and she stays in our yard and knows to stop when we tell her for the most part. I'm super paranoid that the fence won't work, or that it might terrify her - so I'm hoping to get advice on how to prevent that. There is a vase in our house that she bumped as a puppy, and a year later now she doesn't go by it...so we were thinking if she did get buzzed/zapped by the fence, she would easily learn not to go in that area again. I'll probably just be accompanying her outdoors forever since I'm an overprotection mommy! Any thoughts/advice you guys have would be appreciated!
Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
Barked: Mon Apr 29, '13 1:39pm PST 
First, we do not have an e-fence. Second, we have several neighbors who do. Closest neighbor has a pair of boxers; next set has older lab; furthest neighbors have younger mini poodle. All dogs are superb. We walk daily along their lines... Charks gets to learn how to stay on her side of the invisible divides too.

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Mon Apr 29, '13 6:04pm PST 
I've posted before on the subject-the two biggest reasons electric fences are a very bad idea...
With certain dogs they will run through the fence line shock or no shock
Predators and other dogs can come in, trapping your dog
Chain link fences might not be incredibly attractive but they will keep your dog safe and secure...you want to weigh the possibility of the above with your landscaping sensibilities...jus' sayin

Kali earned- her wings- 10/21/14

She's game for- anything that's- fun.
Barked: Mon Apr 29, '13 6:25pm PST 
My neighbors have one and their dogs are always running through them and won't go back. I would not use one. That's just me.

Woo-woo- whineybutt
Barked: Mon Apr 29, '13 8:15pm PST 
Depending where you live, they can be a nightmare. Here in WA we have lots of trees, wind, and rain. Everyone's fences get a lil kink or knocked in a place (even underground somehow..) and you have to dig it up and repair it.

All the dogs we know with it are collar smart too.. Know that the collar = shock.

More Bored- Collies
Barked: Tue Apr 30, '13 5:00am PST 
When I lived with my parents, they used one for 1/2 of the property - the other half was properly fenced.

In that home lived (at one point or another)

2 Border Collies
1 Golden Retriever
1 Labrador Retriever
3 Beagles
1 Bullmastiff/Boxer mix
1 Kelpie mix

Not one of them had any issues with respecting the boundary lines of the fencing. However, not all dogs will obviously and you need to take that into consideration. You might end up dropping a bunch of cash and effort on a system that wont work for your dog.

While yes, other potentially dangerous animals can enter the property, taking a little extra initiative and monitoring your yard whilst the dog is outside typically mitigates that issue to an extent.

Occasionally we'd end up with the odd Lab from up the road in the yard.

What irks me most about these fences is those who put the boundary right by the road or their driveways. Sure YOU may know your dog is contained, but the average pedestrian/driver do not, and that can be stressful.

Barked: Tue Apr 30, '13 5:35am PST 
My mom has one at her house for my stepdad's dog but it doesn't keep her in the yard. She'll run out and then not be able to come back in. I also have friends who got one in their front yard for their dog but all that did was make her afraid of grass for a good long while.

Funny story with my stepdad's dog, though. He was walking her off-leash (which is ridiculous because her recall is NOT good, but that's beside the point) on the trail behind the house one day when she saw a deer and took off after it. The deer ran up into my mom's yard and then across the street and got away but the dog found herself in the back yard. She wasn't wearing the collar for the fence since she'd been out on a walk but didn't realize she could leave the yard again so she just wandered up to the back door to be let in. We couldn't for the life of us figure out where she'd come from or why she was back while my stepdad and the other dog were still out somewhere.

Got food? I- can be bought ya- know....
Barked: Tue Apr 30, '13 7:13am PST 
Most of my dog owning neighbors have underground fences, as do I.
Some dogs still get out, usually if the owner has not maintained the collar/battery. Some fence brands work better than others.
Whether or not the dog stays inside the fence is a combination of fence brand, dog personality, training.
My experience:
I have 2 of my 3.5 acres fenced. Professionally installed to avoid "corners" or "dead zones".
I tested the collar in my hand before I put it on my dog. It feels weird and wrong and after a couple of seconds, I dropped it. It felt like I was holding a buzzing bee in my hand. Instinct tells you to let go. I did it twice to make sure. I would not call it painful, but it feels wrong and I wouldn't go past my boundary if I wore one around my neck.
Collars die, but batteries last longer than they say. Test monthly.
Hidden wire gets cut. Buy a spool of wire, connection tubes and silicone to fix yourself, it's easy.
Train, train, train! Use positive reinforcers to teach your dog where he can be. Too many owners slap on the collar and let the shock teach the dog to fear the flags. Any dog that gets over the fear, will go through the fence.
A physical fence is not a sure thing - One of my neighbors has a 6 foot, wood, stockade fence around the backyard. A bear scaled the fence and was sitting on their deck "cleaning" their grill for them. My sister's neighbor had a beagle that would regularly climb the chain link fence to play with her dog (Cricket). Pamela was a champion digger, so even though Labs4rescue doesn't like buried wire fences, they made an exception for her. I trained her on my system, she is doing great.
I have trained 7 dogs on my Invisible Fence. The only one that has taken advantage of a dead collar is Snickers (Siberian Husky mix). Sonny is a Golden Retriever and Beagle or Basset mix. With his hound nose, he should be out all the time. But he goes naked (no collar) because he has never gone out of bounds( in 3 years). None of my dogs test the collar or boundary so they don't know most of the time if it's broken or battery is dead. After Storm Alfred (Halloween 2011) I was unable to find a break in the fence, and repair it, till the ground thawed in April. None of my dogs left the yard. We have plenty of enticements, Deer, Bear, Coyotes and smaller critters.

I highly recommend this type of fence. I also know it isn't right for everyone. Small yards are not good. If other dogs regularly wander in and may harm your dog, not good. If you never spend time working with your dog, not good. If your dog is impervious to any correction, the collar isn't enough to keep him in.
Ideally, your dog is taught that staying in is the best place to be and will be rewarded for doing so. A correction for testing the limits should go no further than hearing a beep and not advance to a shock.

bitches love- pantaloons
Barked: Tue Apr 30, '13 11:19am PST 
My brother's neighborhood has a lot of homes with e-fences in them. From what I've seen, the dogs look like they were properly barrier trained- I've never had an incident with dogs bolting through. However the e-fences go around the entire perimeter of the house and right up to the sidewalk. Although it is a beautiful neighborhood, I can't take Nicky down certain streets because I am bombarded with dogs barking in my face. Nobody is outside monitoring them either. My dad's friend also has an e-fence going around the perimeter and he actually accidentally ran over one of his dogs backing out of the driveway (she survived after a lot of surgery). One of my neighbors had an e-fence and their dog got out daily. They probably just slapped the collar on the dog and that's it. Personally it's not my first choice in containment. I prefer privacy fences- easier to see weak spots and liking my privacy comes into play too wink

Edited by author Tue Apr 30, '13 11:20am PST


Barked: Tue Apr 30, '13 12:25pm PST 
Thanks for all of the input! I think we will try the fence, but still not allow her to be outside by herself. The electric fence will be more of a backup in case she decides to scale the 3ft pen, and maybe eventually we can trust her to be out there once she is properly trained. Our city rules only allow a 10x10 chain link enclosure for animals...which our yard is 3/4 acre, so that's not really allowing her any room to run! It's obnoxious that our city won't allow us to put up a nice fence, otherwise we'd fence in the whole darn yard no matter what the cost!

And another question for those with the fence - did your dog ever experience the shock, or did they learn simply through the positive reinforcement not to go past where it beeps? I feel like they would need to know the shock is there in order to really stop them from going through it after something if we aren't near them?

Edited by author Tue Apr 30, '13 12:30pm PST

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