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Do Electronic Pet Fences Really Work? Effectiveness of Invisible Pet Containment Fences

Also referred to as invisible fences, electronic pet fences are a popular choice for keeping your pets in your yard. They're affordable, easy to set up, and don't clash with the aesthetic you've set for your home.

What Are Electronic Pet Fences?

An electronic pet fence works through a combination of an underground wired fence, a transmitter device, and a receiver attached to your pet's collar. Electrically charged wires are placed three to four inches underground, marking the desired boundaries of where you wish to restrict your pet's access. The transmitter is the central hub and is set up in the home. Whenever your pet approaches the boundary line, the receiver emits a tone or vibration to the receiver worn by your pet. This deters them from crossing the boundary.

How Effective Are Electronic Pet Fences?

The effectiveness of an electronic pet fence is largely determined by training. Since there is no physical boundary, your pet must be trained to stay within the fence. Underground fencing systems typically come with instructions for training your pet to stay within the set boundaries.

First, you must train your pet to recognize physical cues that determine the boundary lines, such as flags or posts. During this stage of training, your pet stays on the leash and is rewarded with praise or treats when they stay within the fence. After this, electronic correction is established whenever the pet goes outside the fence. The collars can be set to different levels, with different dogs requiring different levels of correction.

It is important to note that electronic fences can only be used with pets that weigh at least eight pounds; any less and they are too small to support the collar's weight. If you are training a puppy, it should be at least eight weeks old.

How Much Does an Electronic Pet Fence Cost?

The cost of an electric fence is largely dependent on the specific fence you buy and the additional accessories you need.

  • Most electronic pet fences and collars come in packages, with costs averaging between $100 and $400.
  • If you need additional wiring or collars (or are replacing them), each come at an average cost of $50.
  • Installation costs average between $965 and $1,455, with most homeowners paying around $1,170.

Additional costs include:

  • You have to replace batteries every three or four months, which comes at an average cost between $60 and $90 per year.
  • Electronic pet fence systems also require a charger, which costs anywhere between $50 and $300.
  • It is recommended to get a voltage meter to test the charge of the system, which has an average cost between $5 and $30.

Pros and Cons of Electronic Pet Fences

Like any other type of fence, electronic pet fences come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that an electronic fence installs faster than a traditional one, since trenching and laying wire take less time than other fencing methods. They also match your property's overall aesthetic and design, since they're invisible. Electronic pet fences also allow you to block your pet's access to certain areas of your landscaping without the hassle (and look) of surrounding forbidden areas with a physical fence. Finally, the cost of an electronic fence is significantly lower than a metal or wood fence, as is the cost of installation.

However, unlike a regular fence, electronic pet fences require you to train your pet to understand the boundary lines. While a physical barrier automatically keeps them in check, an invisible one means they need to learn to respect unseen boundaries. And though they keep pets from getting out, they don't keep other animals from getting in. It must also be noted that, even with all the proper training, your pet can get out. If something scares or entices it enough, the electronic correction becomes nothing more than a suggestion.

As with any other purchase, it is important that you weigh all the pros and cons of an electronic fence before making your final decision. Some yards and pets are better suited to an invisible fence than others, so you need to consider all the factors.