My neighborhood won't let me put in a fence. Will an underground fence work well in containing my dog?
Many neighborhood associations do not allow traditional fences between yards, and for homeowners needing another way to contain their dogs, an underground, or invisible, fence may be a good solution.
Most underground fences consist of buried wire fencing around the perimeter of the yard. The wire is connected to a power source, which delivers a static shock to a special collar when a dog goes near the underground fence. The wire is buried about 6 inches below ground and can be shaped to go around gardens or to protect various parts of the yard where you want to exclude the dog. There are newer versions on the market that are wireless, but these may make training your dog more difficult.
All invisible fences work on the principle that the dog will be trained to understand that if it goes near the underground fence it will get a shock. Because the dog wants to avoid the pain of the static shock, it will avoid the fence line. Most dogs can be trained to avoid the fence line in about a week. The dog owner needs to walk the dog on a leash during this time and help it understand where the boundaries are. Most companies that install underground fences will assist with training tips and provide service. Be sure to check with the company before installation to thoroughly understand its policies.
Before investing in an underground fencing system, there are a few things you should consider. Underground fencing will keep most dogs home and safe; however, if your dog has a high threshold for pain or is extremely excitable, it may bolt across the fence line. In addition, dogs with very heavy coats, such as collies, chows, and Samoyeds, may need to have a small patch of coat shaved for good contact with the collar prongs. Many dogs learn that the collar is the source of the shock, and if the collar is not on the dog, it may ignore the boundary. If the batteries in the collar get weak, the collar may fail to work. It is important to check them regularly. Some owners like to keep a light on the dog's collar to keep track of the dog when it is outside at night.
Another thing to consider is that underground fences do nothing to deter people or other animals from entering a yard. If you are concerned with theft or with how your dog might interact or respond to strangers, a traditional fence might be a better solution. In some areas of the country where coyotes are a problem, an underground fence will do nothing to deter them from coming into a yard and preying on small animals.