FENCE FACTS: barrier VS. SHOCK COLLAR FENCES
Introduction to Dog Fence Facts
Barrier Versus Shock Collar Fences
Dog Size and Jumping
Digging and Chewing
Dog Temperament and Motivation
Number of Dogs and Changing Dog Residents
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Barrier vs. Shock Collar Fences
Basically, barrier dog fences are reliable. Either they work to begin with or can be modified to ensure they do. In contrast, the shock collar fences commonly sold in pet stores, despite their high-tech allure, produce spotty results. Some dogs dislike the shock so much they simply stay inside. Others, once trained, will go outside and stay within the flagged boundary until they see another dog, or some animal like a cat or squirrel, and then they're gone. To put it another way, people considering shock collar fences (also called "electric," "electronic," "wireless," or "radio" fences) need to realize that at heart this class of fence is a psychological barrier. If the psychology is wrong it won't work, and that's what often happens.Besides failing in many cases, shock collar fences have other problems. The ones with wires are vulnerable to anything that may break the wire. If the wire breaks they stop working. And diverse things (spades, rototillers, etc.) can break the wire. They're also dicey to install if the homeowner does it; and they're expensive to install if professional installers do it. For these reasons, one might think that the "wireless" shock collar fence that uses a transmitter without any underground wire would be a godsend. Typically, however, the circular boundary of the enclosure generated by the wireless fence transmitter is inconvenient and does not conform to the boundary of any desired fence. And for those humanely inclined toward their pets there is another problem. Anytime a power failure occurs the radio transmitter stops sending out its signal, and that means the pet will get a temporary but prolonged shock from its collar -- just as if it had gone beyond the outer limit of the fence. Think how you wold feel in that situation, wearing such a collar, and it won't take long to decide against this kind of fence.
Barrier dog fences aren't problem-free, but in general their problems are manageable. Take the fence's visibility as an example. If a barrier dog fence is slapped together higgledy-piggledy (with U-posts and green mesh fencing or some other way) it can be really ugly. But there's no need for that. If the fence is well-designed -- with good-looking posts, straight lines, a formal gate, and corners -- it can be as handsome as any other fence. Of course, any barrier fence made to serve as a dog fence is a stationary target. A dog with gumption can probe its defenses and sometimes find a weakness that permits escape. But the situation is not static. Modifications like digging barriers, mesh barriers, or height extensions are available to make virtually any barrier fence proof against any dog. That being the case, anyone who plans to get a dog fence or modify an existing fence to contain a dog should realize that barrier dog fences have the edge over shock collar fences -- because unlike the latter they either work or can be made to work all of the time.