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Ask the experts

Are electronic underground fences good for dogs?


Electronic fencing is one way to keep your dog at home. Installing an underground wire and having the dog wear a receiver collar that emits a warning tone when he gets too close and then a shock if he goes further can in most cases work.

Some neighborhoods do not allow a structural fence, so dog owners have few options. Tie the dog out, or walk him on a leash.

For the dog, the tie-out option is frustrating as they have only a few square yards to spend time in, usually resulting in excessive barking, digging and even aggression. Few dog owners are willing to take their dog out for walks as often as the dog may need to relieve himself.

Electronic fencing can be very effective at keeping a dog in his yard, but isn't always the best way. The electronic fence may keep the dog in the yard, but it does not keep others out of the yard. Many dogs have been stolen from their yards or attacked by other dogs or wildlife when left unattended in their yard.

Some dogs continually test the fence system, going close to the boundaries to see if the warning sound is given. When the collar battery is low there's no warning tone and the dog knows it's safe to explore the other side of the border. Owners of these dogs must continually check and change the batteries in the dog's collar so there are no escapes.

Other dogs are so traumatized when they begin training on the electronic fence they fear going outside at all. The shock they received when outside generalized not to just one area of the yard, but to the entire outdoors. Some of these dogs fear stepping off the porch or can be too afraid to leave the safety of the house causing elimination inside the home. Other problems often occur like chewing and destructive behaviors to relieve anxiety.

Know that low batteries can produce random shocks. This means your dog may be well within the safe area and still be shocked. Televisions, radios, etc. can also cause the collar to produce intermittent shocks. When this happens your dog suffers a shock causing fear and anxiety while inside the home.

Battery replacement needs to be on a schedule and not forgotten! The electric collar needs removed each time the dog enters the house. The collar's prongs shouldn't constantly be pressing or even resting against the dog's skin when inside the home. These collars are not meant to be worn all the time.

If you decide to use an electronic fence, and in some cases they are the best option, remember it doesn't prevent anyone or anything from entering your yard so don't leave your dog outside when not at home. Electronic fencing never relieves an owner of his or her responsibility to ensure their dog lives in a friendly and safe environment.

Tip of the week: If you use an electronic fence system, be wary of those that use a radio frequency system. Other electronic equipment can activate some of those and dogs have been shocked by a ringing telephone!

Bark questions to: Canine Companion, 11652 North - 825 West, Huntington, IN 46750 or email

Canine Companion conducts dog training classes in Fort Wayne, Huntington, Columbia City and surrounding communities and behavior consulting nationwide. Along with their combined 30 years experience and endorsement by national organizations, the trainers are all graduates of Purdue University's DOGS! Program and have earned the title of Certified Pet Dog Trainer through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.