FOR TODAY’S PROJECT
Dear Jim: I have a dog and a cat. I thought of installing either a chain link fence or an underground electronic fence. Do these hidden fences use much electricity, do they hurt the pet and can I install one myself?
â€” Carl G.
Dear Carl: It can be a problem training some dogs, and especially cats, to stay in your yard. One option, standard chain link fences, are effective for dogs but not for cats. Installing a perimeter chain link fence around your yard can be expensive and it is not an attractive landscaping addition.
Electronic fences work by creating a radio wave field with a transmitter. When the collar receiver on your pet gets near the boundary of its play area, the collar beeps. If your pet continues to move farther out, it will receive a corrective shock. It is similar to a static shock your feel from carpeting during winter. It just startles your pet, but does not harm it.
Standard electronic fencing is actually designed to be a training tool. After going through a two-week training program, people can sometimes turn it off and the pet still stays within its yard. For larger, stubborn dogs, there are higher-powered collar receivers. The intensity of the shock can be adjusted on the receiver to several levels or to “beep only.”
The most common type of electronic pet fencing uses an underground wire attached to a transmitter. Controls on the transmitter allow you to adjust the distance between where the beeping starts and the shock occurs. This gives your pet notice to stop before it gets shocked. A wider distance provides more notice, but it reduces your pet’s free play area.
Wireless models are also available. The transmitter sends out a signal in a circle around it. The radius is adjustable up to 90 feet. When your pet gets near the signal’s perimeter, it triggers the collar beeper and shock similar to an underground wire model.
Most home center stores carry do-it-yourself electronic pet fencing kits. The prices of a complete do-it-yourself system typically range from about $170 to $290.
The electric output from the transmitters is from 12 to 14 volts so it is not hazardous. The electronic transmitters use very little electricity. Underground wire models by Pet Safe use only 10 watts of electricity, about as much as a night light. Their wireless model consumes only 32 watts.
The only other operating expense is the replaceable battery in the pet’s collar receiver (about $5 for a two-pack). A good option for cats is nonelectric fine (almost invisible) plastic mesh fencing by Purrfect Fence. The fencing is flexible, so cats cannot climb over it. They just end up hanging upside down and then they climb back down. Its bottom 2 feet are made of a rodent-chew-proof steel mesh.
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