Are electronic (non-visible) fences good to use?

There are several reasons why I detest electronic shock fences. While I have certainly heard from people who have used them and are very pleased, I am also personally familiar with a number of electronic fence horror stories. I do not recommend them for my clients. I don’t consider them an adequate means of primary confinement – for far too many dogs, there will always be a stimulus that is strong enough to entice them to suffer the shock and run through the fence. Batteries fail and collars malfunction. When I worked at the Marin Humane Society in Novato, California, we regularly took in stray dogs who were wearing their fence collars. In fact, just last week our neighbor’s Labrador Retriever visited us several times happily wearing his fence collar. In Santa Clara, California, my husband, in his role as a humane officer, responded to a call for a dog whose collar had shorted out and was constantly shocking the dog.

Another of my objections to the non-visible shock fence is that it provides no protection to your dog from outside intruders. Other dogs, kids, and potential dog-stealers and abusers can enter your yard at will, and your dog is at their mercy. The fence can also contribute to aggression problems – if the dog associates the shock of the collar with a person walking by, or a bicyclist, or skateboarder, etc., he may become aggressive toward whatever he feels is the source of his pain. Finally, some dogs are very sensitive to electric shock, especially a shock that seems to come out of nowhere and attack a dog’s neck. I have heard of dogs who literally refused to go out in to their yards because they were so traumatized by the electric shock collar.

Sure, it may work for some dogs. I would never be willing to risk my beloved canine companions to the uncertainties of the non-visible electronic shock fence.