Invisible dog fence: 3 risks of the controversial fence

An invisible dog fence usually describes an electrical, optically invisible fence variant with which a dog should be kept within the property boundary by light electric shocks. As decorative as a fenced garden can be, the electric shocks intimidate the dog. Even if they are too weak to really cause pain, they are sending the wrong message about dog training. A garden is wonderful for a dog; it should best have a classic garden fence and not an electric one - Shuttertsock / Christian Mueller

An invisible dog fence usually means a system consisting of a cable or wire, radio transmitter and radio receiver, which generates a magnetic field that uses punitive stimuli such as light electric shocks to ensure that your four-legged friend does not cross a certain mark (property boundary). The cable is laid underground around the property boundary and is surrounded by a magnetic field that reacts with the radio receiver attached to the dog collar. If the four-legged friend comes into the area above the cable, the tension on the collar becomes noticeable and the dog learns over time that it has unpleasant consequences if he crosses the border so that he avoids this as far as possible. Other variants do not require a cable, but the principle (radio transmitter and receiver) is very similar. In addition to ethical concerns, an invisible dog fence also harbors other dangers and risks.

1. Electric shocks in dog training are ethically questionable

First things first: We do not recommend the use of an electric dog fence. Classic garden fences or mobile dog fences are better. Even if the punitive stimuli in the form of light electric shocks are physically harmless for a dog, this method of dog training is extremely controversial, since it can break the dog's heart and psychological damage is possible. The consequences of conditioning with punitive stimuli are difficult to assess. At first, a dog cannot necessarily establish a connection between the punishment and the property boundary and thus suffer behavioral problems or an anxiety disorder. Possible reactions are panic, stress and deep uncertainty as a result of the surprising stimulus.

2. Unwanted conditioning possible

Dogs make connections between their environment and impulses - this is an elementary part of dog training, but can have undesirable consequences with the principle of invisible dog fencing. An example: A cyclist walks past your garden. Your dog wants to greet him and walk with him, but the electrical punishment prevents him from doing so. As a result of this situation, your dog may now react aggressively to cyclists as it associates them with pain or horror. The same is also conceivable with children or other people and events.

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3. Invisible dog fence is not safe

An invisible dog fence prevents your dog from crossing the mark in most cases, but does not guarantee that the four-legged friend always shrinks back in time. If a dog runs across the border too quickly, for example driven by a desire to hunt or panic, it may startle, but may land on the other side of the property - and no longer dares to go back. The magnetic field does not only work on one side of the invisible fence. This way, a dog can lock itself out of the garden. In general, it must always be expected that a dog can cross the mark, which is why this fence variant is generally not suitable for plots on busy or even busy streets. Another problem: other dogs can step onto the property without being harmed at any time.