Why I Do Not Like The Invisible Fence

by Richard McLaughlin

“Invisible Fence® Brand has been keeping dogs and cats safe at home by providing pet owners with trusted technology, proven training procedures – and total peace of mind.”
according to Invisible Fence that is

Personally, I think that this is a wonderful tool because it does exactly what it intends to do, exactly as described. On the other hand, I have tested this material myself and find it a bit cruel.  dogelectrocution

I visited my family in Ohio who has had an invisible fence installed for about 15 years. While there, my parent’s dog was chasing a neighbor’s cat across the yard, as dogs will do, and he ran through the invisible line that marked his boundaries.

According to the literature of the invisible fence site, a running dog would have to be running in excess of 200 miles per hour to move through the signal field and escape without being shocked. I am pretty sure that the dog was not doing 200 miles an hour.

The dog yelped and had one of those looks in its face where you want to give some human quality to your dog; fear, sadness or confusion I suppose.

To get him back on the right side of the fence I had to go over, take his collar off and carry him (120 pounds of him) back to the right side of the fence. He would not walk through that invisible line, nor could I drag him.

So, my brother-in-law Jamie and I were talking to Dad about how effective the fence was, to the point of making the poor dog afraid to come back. I went into a rant about how I both love the fence and hate the fence. Love it because it really does what it was designed to do, and hate it because I am opposed to hurting any animal. Dad was pretty sure that the fence did not hurt “that much” so I put on the dog collar and walked through the line. It did hurt “that much”. Then I backed up to gain some speed and ran through the magic line, simulating what the dog felt when he did it, and it did hurt “that much”.

Jamie couldn’t be outdone by me, so he put on the collar and the pain was bad enough that he could not get to the middle of the line. Then he tried running through the line, but Jamie is rather overweight and not really a sprinter. He could not make it all the way through the line, the shock made him stop. Then he could not get back, because the zapping left him confuse. I had to grab his arm and pull him to the right side of the line. From my point of view – not wearing the collar – it was rather funny.

As I said, my Dad was watching. He decided that couldn’t be outdone by me, so he put on the collar and started walking towards the line. The collar started beeping, and he hesitated. Then continued and go the first light zap, which made him back off and not continue through. Like I said, the product does what it intends. On the same idea, a hand gun does what it is intended to do, get bullets moving really fast. A lot of people like, and a lot of people dislike, handguns. Like guns or not, you have to admit that they do what they were designed to do quite well.

So, in the end I suppose that I am not strongly for or against the invisible fence, I just feel that people should give it a test on themselves before they attach one to their pet.

About The Author

*Richard McLaughlin is a Project Manager, Productivity Coach, Former US Marine & Cat Herder. He can be seen on http://www.linkedin.com/in/richmcl and http://twitter.com/_McLaughlin. His blog is http://richardmclaughlin.biz/

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26 Responses

  1. HART (1-800-HART)
    | Reply

    (new PetLvr post ).. Why I Do Not Like The Invisible Fence: by Richard McLaughlin
    “In.. http://cli.gs/bBYXj

  2. Kim Randall
    | Reply

    I don’t think I would like the fence at all

  3. Ryan
    | Reply

    I personally don’t believe there’s anything wrong with the fence. You’re only inflicting pain on the animal, not any physical harm. I’ve tried wearing my colar on the highest setting and it really isn’t that bad. I had it at 10 but I only keep it at 5 for my dogs.

  4. Dan
    | Reply

    I’ve had the fence since my dog was a pup. As you say, it does exactly what it is intended to do. I haven’t put the collar back on him in over a year, still no problems with him going past the line. Do the ends justify the means… hmm…

  5. Heidi
    | Reply

    i know a dog who gets out of an electric fence all the time. she has to be supervised or on a chain or she will get out and get in traffic. the shock doesn’t stop her somehow. and my mom’s dog went right thrua skunk’s smell and killed it dead.

  6. Brandon
    | Reply

    After once or twice, when the dog learns where the fence lines are, there won’t be any more issues with inflicting pain on the dog. It won’t go near the line anymore, and will, therefore, not be subject to the pain the fence inflicts.

    Its not like the dog is going to get zapped on a daily basis. Is not your dog getting zapped once or twice worth the price of it never running out into the road and getting ran over?

  7. Soylent Green
    | Reply

    I have had 4 dogs with IF. 2 died of old age and two are still with me. After a few shocks they know. They don’t speak English so I could not warn them. Just like my children who do not understand English. Wish they had a collar for them. I want them safe too!

  8. Paula Royce
    | Reply

    I know just what you mean about being ambivalent about the fence, but as you say, it works as promised. Some years ago my Sheltie and Visla took it upon themselves to eat and tear the wood gate. They apparently did this during a storm, while I was at work, even though they could get into the house through a doggie door. They both escaped. The Sheltie was killed on the highway and I never found my Visla even though she was chipped.

    I knew I could not allow this horror to happen again. I would never leave my dogs *unprotected* again. But the invisible fence is not really meant to be the *only* fence. It’s the insurance fence. I still have a wood privacy fence around the yard but I also have the invisible fence, which gives me peace of mind…and keeps my beloved dogs safe from escape.

    • Cindy Schultz
      | Reply

      I agree with you 100 percent, my husband bought me a yorkie-poo puppie a year ago, I have never owned a puppy before and fell completely in love with dog, for the last year we have had to chase her through the neighborhood a couple of times she almost got run over by a car and the girl across the street cused me out because my puppy kept running in her yard, causing her dogs to bark and waking her up from a nap one Sunday, finally we moved and we invested in the invisible fence, I feel so relived and I am also able to answer the door without worrying about her running away, Victoria Stillwell says its cruel to use the fence, but I disagree.

  9. Loup Dargent
    | Reply

    Why I Do Not Like The Invisible Fence | PetLvr.com – [The Blog] http://ff.im/-5ezjD

  10. John
    | Reply

    To the author:

    Did you ever consider that animals have a different perception or threshold of pain than humans?… thus the reason your father could not go near the line yet the dog could blast through it no problem. It sounds like if your father went through the line like that he would collapse to the ground.

    Humans and animals are different (for example chocolate kills dogs but not humans).

    Lastly, if it is that painful, your dog won’t go near it… so I don’t know if I would exactly call that “cruel”. Given the option of being tied up to a chain in my yard, or wearing a collar that allows me to roam freely in the yard, I think I would take the collar.

    Cruel would be randomly zapping your dog for no reason.

  11. Anonymous
    | Reply

    Tip for getting your dog over the line (either away from home or back home): put them in the car. Dogs love car rides!

  12. Joe
    | Reply

    I have nothing but praise for the Invisible Fence. My Great Dane was a “runner” – taking off and getting into all kinds of trouble. I reluctantly tried the wireless fence – he was shocked ONE TIME on a low setting and that was it. He has never had to be shocked a second time. He is now a happier and friendlier dog who plays in the yard and lounges on the front porch. He no longer spends his time looking for the opportunity to run off and chase the other dogs in the neighborhood who are not responsibly contained.

    There is one drawback – the invisible fence contains my dog, but obviously does not keep out other people’s dogs.

  13. brad
    | Reply

    I would love to see you put a collar on and run through a fence, now that would be hillarious!!!

  14. Chris
    | Reply

    Good points here but I think temperment plays a large part in the electronic fence. We used to have an akita at well over 100 pounds and the transmitter would not stop the dog at all. She always had to be chained up when she went outside on a dog run or the dog would run away every time. I also believe that how well you train the dog plays the largest role in how well your dog adjusts to the fence.

  15. Really interested when i read this hope to visit again

  16. Tim Arguien
    | Reply

    I want to add something here. My dog was a runner, Labradors tend to love to roam the neighborhood if allowed to. Then he spent a year chained to a tree or locked inside before we discovered the freedom granted by an Invisible Fence.

    The key is in proper training. These fence kits are not cheep and they require a good amount of effort to install correctly. But all that money and effort is wasted if your dog is not properly trained how to handle this new environment.

    There is always a training DVD included or at least a book. I think too many people don’t pay this enough attention.
    When trained properly, that IE may as well be a concrete wall. My dog still chases squirrels, cats, even chickens. But knowing full well where that line is, he chases them TOO the fence, not through it. The fence is always there, it never moves, it is a consistent presence. The interior of the fence becomes HIS territory. Most dogs do not chase to kill, they just want intruders or critters out of their territory.

    It is obvious he is so much happier now and full of energy.

  17. Jackie Hamilton
    | Reply

    Used the fence for 16 years with our Lab and worked great. Now that Shasta’s gone, trying to adopt from a shelter and they may let adopt because of the fence. What’s the deal?

  18. Jackie Hamilton
    | Reply

    oops typo – they may not let me adopt because of the electrict fence.

  19. HART (1-800-HART)
    | Reply

    Hi Jackie … I’ve heard that same sentiment at various humane society and shelters … just like they don’t recommend anti-bark collars to shock dogs from barking because they are painful to the dog and can cause increased tension and anxiety and thus resulting in a very unhappy dog. You want to adopt a pet and make them happy, and most might already have behavior issues to start with (also – dogs bark – it’s in their nature, and having an anti-barking collar won’t get to the root of the problem if why they are barking)

    It’s the same with the electric fence and shocking them to stay on the property. You might have grown up with your lab for 16 years and trained it to stay in the yard, but some dogs from shelters have probably not been trained and need a physical barrier to stay with a new family.

    Purely just my opinion – not based on facts. Best advice might be to just phone your shelter and ask them outright – what’s their beef about the invisible fence and, what will it take for you to adopt a pet today?

  20. Leigh Ann
    | Reply

    I am now opposed to the invisible fence! We had ours professionally installed, used professional trainers and thought we were doing everything right. We took their advice and allowed our dog access to our driveway. Well, two days the unthinkable happened and I ran over and killed our 16 month beautiful Mal-Shi, named Max!

    If you get a fence, DO NOT let your pet have access to the driveway.

    I am guilt striken and heartbroken.

    • Julie
      | Reply

      Are you being serious????? You hate the fence because YOU ran over your own dog? How is it that trainers fault?! Yes, they told you your dog could have access to the driveway, but they didn’t think you would actually run it over! That is your own fault!

  21. Paul
    | Reply

    A good quality invisible fence will teach the animal where the line is. As others have mentioned, the animal should stop even trying to get past the fence after a month or so of training.

    Like all products, a potential buyer should do a positives/negatives list before purchase. While the discomfort experienced by the dog is potentially a negative, there are many positives of an invisible fence including the fact they are way less expensive to install than a traditional fence.

    • Richard McLaughlin
      | Reply

      @ Paul.

      Sir, did you ever stub your toe? Get a speeding ticket? Write I after E not after C?

      Even well trained, if you are in a hurry, you make mistakes. Dogs are no better (OK, not much better) than people. They make mistakes just like we do.

      Please note, I began this post by saying that I think the invisible fence is a wonderful tool because it does exactly what it intends to do, exactly as described. On the other hand, I have tested this material myself and find it a bit cruel.

      • John Miele
        | Reply

        Yes you are right Mr.McLaughlin you began this with I think…. And I think Paul made mistake as usual he does 😛 By the Way its a great article. Thanks!

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