When and When Not to Use a Wireless Dog Fence

It can come with many advantages, but is a wireless dog fence right for you? Consider these important factors before running out and buying a system.

Is your dog an escape artist? By: Tristan Honscheid
Is your dog an escape artist when it comes to traditional fencing? By: Tristan Honscheid

I first started researching wireless fence systems when I kept coming home to my dog, Sam, sitting in the front yard looking up in the tree as pleased as she could be.

I keep her in a fenced backyard. The first time this happened it had been a windy day, and I just assumed I hadn’t closed the gate firmly enough. For some reason I held this belief for the next 2 days when I arrived home to the now familiar sight of my dog sitting in the front yard.

How Was My Dog Getting Loose?

At this point I conducted a thorough investigation of my backyard looking for any weakness in the fence, ground or gate. Nothing. That evening I decided to go high-tech. I set up a web cam in my window facing the backyard so I could monitor things from work the next day.

The morning passed without incident. Sam wandered around, played with a stick and did her business. It wasn’t until about 3 in the afternoon that I noticed a lot of frenzied activity; Sam was going nuts! At first I couldn’t tell what had her in such a tizzy, but then I realized she was being taunted by squirrels.

As the squirrels jumped from the backyard trees onto the roof and into the front yard, Sam followed them by wall-running up my garage, hooking her feet over my fence and scrambling her way over.

You can imagine my disbelief! I wouldn’t have thought she had that type of skill and agility if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

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I Needed a Plan B

After that, I started researching alternate methods of containment for my pup — specifically adding a wireless fence a few yards away from my existing fence to prevent her from getting close enough to jump over. Here’s what I found:

Using a wireless fence has many advantages, freedom and customization among them. Also, it’s less expensive than a physical fence. With the advances in technology, wireless fences don’t require wires to be buried and some even have customizable shapes, creating an easy way to have a portable space for your pets to play.

Another escape artist caught in the act. By: donnierayjones
Another escape artist caught in the act. By: donnierayjones

However, there are a few factors I had to consider before running out and buying a system.

When to Use a Wireless Dog Fence

There are many times a wireless fence system can be beneficial for your canine companions, but only when the conditions are right. Some environments and dogs are better suited to a wireless system than others:

  • Environments Conducive to a Wireless Fence: The best environment for a wireless fence is a secure neighborhood that doesn’t have problems with stray dogs or wildlife or if you have a large and open area. Wireless fences work best without large, dense objects to disrupt the signal between the base and collar. A great application is if your backyard has plant beds or an in-ground pool; the customizable wireless fence can create boundaries around these features that prevent a pet from pulling up the petunias or going for a swim in the pool.
  • Dog Type and Training: Dogs with a lower prey instinct will be less likely to ignore the signals from the collar. Additionally, dogs who have been trained and respond well to operant conditioning such as clicker training are great candidates for a wireless dog fence that has tonal cues in addition to static cues.

Above all else, any dog must be thoroughly trained and conditioned to respond to the correction; without this, the fence will be ineffective.

Situations Where a Physical Fence Would Be Better

Wireless fences serve only to keep your pets inside the fence — they don’t necessarily keep other animals out. Physical fences may be the better option when faced with challenges such as these:

  1. Hostile or Unpredictable Environments: A physical fence would be better when you live in an area that has predators of small to mid-sized dogs, such as wildlife. It’s important to protect your dog from coyotes because they are known to move into human-populated areas in the winter.
  2. Dense Trees or Severe Sloping: Large objects such as dense trees or uneven terrain can have a negative effect on wireless fences. For the most reliable and best application, the base should have as few objects between it and the collar as possible.
  3. High Prey Instinct: Not all dogs are receptive to the cues a wireless collar gives; a dog with a high prey instinct such as a Vizsla will run straight through the fence boundary when in chase of a ball, squirrels (I’m looking at you, Sam!), a cat or anything else that might catch its attention.

The Key Takeaway

Wireless fences are an effective solution with the proper combination of environment, dog and — above all else — training. These 3 factors will make or break the effectiveness of the fence and safety of your pet.

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So what was my final decision? Ultimately, I chose an alternate method, creating a barrier of crossbeams and brightly colored fabric to prevent Sam from being able to reach the top of the fence.

I chose this method over a wireless fence for 2 reasons: First, I already had a fence and didn’t want to make my yard smaller by adding a wireless barrier inside the physical fence. Second, Sam was way too intent on getting to the squirrels for a tone or static cue to prevent her from going over that fence. I had the environment but not the dog: no trifecta of conditions for me.

* * *

This featured contribution was submitted on behalf of Havahart Wireless by Ron Rutherford, an animal enthusiast who loves integrating his dogs into his workout routine. He enjoys the unmarred view from his back porch as he barbecues and plays fetch with his 2 dogs, Sam and Bosco.

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