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TrainingPet Care

March 6, 2015

PetSafe® Expert

Gretchen Statz, DVM, DACVECC

Which Is Better, a Traditional or Electronic Fence?

When you buy a new house or add a dog to your already established home, you'll need to consider which type of fence is best for your family and your pet. This article will discuss the major benefits of the two major fencing options - traditional vs. electronic fencing.

What's the Difference between Traditional and Electronic Fences?

Traditional fencing consists of either metal or wood fencing that provides a barrier between your yard and the outside word. These fences provide containment by creating a physical barrier. In the case of wooden privacy fences, they also provide a visual barrier so your pet can't see what's happening on the other side of the fence. If you fancy a DIY project, you can install the fence yourself, or you can hire someone to install it for you.

In-ground fences keep your pet in your yard by placing a wire underground around the area you wish to fence. Wireless fences work the same way, but the barrier is created wirelessly. You teach your dog where the yard boundaries are in short training sessions in 2 weeks. Your dog wears a special collar that can sense when he's approaching the perimeter of the yard near the wire. The collar emits a sound to warn your pet that they are nearing the barrier. If your pet continues towards the barrier, a correction will occur. The degree of the correction can be adjusted or removed altogether depending on the dog. Most dogs learn the boundaries of the fence quickly during the training period, and some will no longer need the correction to stay within the boundaries of the yard.

Why Buy a Traditional Fence?

Traditional fences have some benefits over wireless fencing. One major benefit is that they keep some other animals and people out of the yard in addition to keeping your pets in the yard. This is beneficial if your neighbors allow their pets to roam off leash or if you have wildlife nearby that wanders into your yard. This can also be of benefit if you live near young children who might try to approach your dog, especially if your pet is apprehensive or aggressive.

Another benefit of some traditional fencing, specifically wooden privacy fences, is that dogs who are barrier aggressive can't see people or other dogs, so they may be less likely to bark. This also provides privacy for the people enjoying the backyard.

Dogs who are very prey-motivated or very timid might do better with traditional fencing. In some cases, dogs who are highly prey motivated might bolt through the wireless fence if they see something to chase, despite the correction, but then be reluctant to re-enter the yard. Timid or fearful dogs may have a hard time adjusting to the correction, especially if you don't complete the recommended training.

Benefits of Traditional Fencing

  • Keeps other animals (pets and wildlife) out
  • Keeps children from approaching your dog
  • Visual barrier to decrease barking
  • Visual barrier for privacy
  • Better for some dogs with intense prey drive or anxiety

Why Buy a Wireless or In-Ground Fence?

Electronic fences have a different set of benefits. One major benefit is cost. Wireless and in-ground fences are often significantly cheaper than traditional fences, to the tune of thousands of dollars in some cases. If you have a large yard, the lower cost may let you fence a larger portion of your property, which will give your pet more freedom.

Electronic fences are easy to install and can be installed in a short period of time, usually in a weekend. In-ground fences can also be installed in unique patterns to avoid certain areas of your yard. For example, if you have a garden or a water feature, the wire can be placed in front of the garden so your dog cannot enter this area.

Because these fences work without being seen, they are ideal for neighborhoods that prohibit traditional fencing in order to keep specific aesthetics.

Another benefit to electronic fences is that some dogs will escape from traditional fences by jumping over, climbing over, or digging under the fence. Dog who try to escape from traditional fences often do well with the wireless or in-ground option. If you already have a fence in place that is not containing your pet, such as if there are holes in the fence or if the fence is too low, you can add an electronic fence to the perimeter to help keep your pet confined.

Another major benefit to electronic fences is that they do not require as much maintenance. Wire or wooden fences undergo wear and tear from sun, rain, and snow. They need to be maintained or replaced periodically, which adds additional cost and time. With a wireless fence, you will only need to charge or replace the collar battery regularly. With an in-ground fence, you might also need to repair boundary wire occasionally.

Benefits of Wireless & In-Ground Fences

  • Lower cost
  • Easy to install
  • Easier to fence large areas
  • In-ground fence can be placed strategically to avoid parts of the yard
  • No obstruction of view
  • Prevent escape by jumping or digging
  • Low maintenance

Choosing the right fence is an important decision. Hopefully this article will help you choose the best option for you and your dog.

Written by

Gretchen Statz, DVM, DACVECC

Gretchen Statz, DVM, DACVECC

Disease & ER Vet

PetSafe® Expert

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