Posted by: lizcatalano | September 15, 2009

Puppy Diaries #8 : Treats and E-fences

This is a great post regarding E-fences.  I am not a fan of them for all the reasons stated but I have committed to so many blogs, I don’t know when I’ll be writing about them!  Until then, this wonderful post will more than suffice.  I believe that there is no substitute for a good solid fence!

Puppy Diaries #8 : Treats and E-fences

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  1. OK, There may be many reasons to not be a fan of e-fences, but I am really tired of hearing these. (they have been repeated on many blogs and aren’t original). Believe me, I’ve seen them before when we agonized about getting an Invisible fence years ago.

    Most of these points just don’t hold up.

    1. No, of course e-fences don’t always work, but neither do solid fences. Dogs dig under them, jump over them, and bust through the gates all the time! It is wholly unfair to say that e-fences alone don’t always contain your dogs.

    2. Sure, they are only designed to keep your dog in your yard, not others out, as we say in the software biz, this is a feature, not a bug- So are tie outs and trolleys… I guess those are bad too. I have friends that have a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and a beautiful sturdy fenced in yard. Well, one evening Merlin was out in the yard and a raccoon climbed their fence and met up with him in the yard. Merlin cornered him (in a corner of the sturdy fence) and ended up with a $2000 vet bill. With an e-fence, the raccoon could have run away easily and not been cornered. Maybe Merlin would have chased through the fence, maybe not, but having a solid fence certainly wasn’t a benefit there. Also, even with the fence, they get coons, possum, and deer in their yard all the time, so it is hardly an e-fence issue alone.

    3 & 4 Leaving a dog alone and unattended in your yard is a bad thing regardless of what kind of fence you have. In these cases, problems like nuisance digging and barking are the result of being left alone, and are totally unrelated to the kind of pet containment used. It is again unfair to blame an e-fence for this when leaving your dog in a yard with a traditional fence will give the same results.

    As for the aggression issue, I can’t speak on that. All I can say is that we never had a problem with our 2 dogs and none of our friends with e-fences have had aggression issues at all. We just keep hearing that e-fences can cause aggression, I think (and this is a gut feeling) that the aggression issues that are being blamed on the fence stem more from the dog being unattended than the e-fence, though I won’t disagree that the e-fence might be a factor. Though dogs have been known to get very territorial when left to roam in (traditionally) fenced in yards- and that’s not a good thing.

    5. Here we have the crux of the issue. He (and you) doesn’t like the shock. I can respect that. But unfortunately sometimes there is just no other choice. Due to our yard shape and size and the town’s regulations, we can’t put up a regular fence. There is literally no feasible way. The e-fence is by far the best option. I have shocked myself with the collar, on my neck, and while it is unpleasant, it is sure better than having a tie out loose all slack when charging and jar my neck. It (the shock) doesn’t feel good, but it isn’t painful.

    I’d love to boundary train Rockie using only praise based methods (we can discuss that in class next week), but I absolutely want a back up for when I am distracted. The e-fence is that backup.

    • Hi Mike,

      You may be tired of reading the arguments and I’m sure by this time, they aren’t original, but they bear repeating. I agree with all of your points on leaving a dog unattended in the yard (did you see my post on that?), but e-fences can have consequences and some of them dire. I am on the receiving end of the problems, dogs who were fine one day and scared to go outside, afraid of strangers, afraid of passers-by, biting etc. the day after the fence was installed. Anecdotal information aside, science backs us on this one (check the info page on my website for a study recently done on dogs/shock collars). You can’t equate an adult human who chooses to shock himself to see if it hurts, to a dog getting an unsuspected shock for something he can not relate the punishment to. An electric shock produces physiologic stress responses in the dog. These stresses are exacerbated by the fact that boundary training is one of the more difficult things for a dog to associate with a punisher. They are more likely to associate the shock with the presence of something rather than an area. Think of evolution, if you got hurt by it, you stayed away from it – this is an object focused response. Finally, fear reactions are stronger in animals than in humans, they have to be to keep them safe. You may want to read “The Emotional Lives of Animals” by Mark Beckoff or “For the Love of a Dog” by Patricia McConnell. Both books expound on the science of emotion in our animal friends.

  2. See, my problem is that they DON’T bear repeating.

    Saying that an e-fence is bad because dogs can run through them while ignoring that dogs jump, dig or bust through regular fences too is a specious argument at best.

    Same with the other arguments except for the shock.

    If you want to argue that they are bad because of the shock, I’m all ears (and your response is very convincing). That is truly the only valid argument listed in those 5 points because that is the only one that deals with an issue that is wholly specific to an e-fence. The rest are basically BS, and are full of logical fallacy.

    I would love to put up a regular fence, but town codes only allow a 4 foot high fence (which Rockie could jump over like it isn’t there) and the zoning setbacks make installing one impossible in all but a postage stamp size of our yard (maybe 10×15 feet total).

    An e-fence is my only solution.

    I don’t doubt that they can create problems, but those seem to be a small minority of dogs while the majority of e-fence owners are very satisfied and have happy dogs, I know many around here. Because of the town regs they are very popular. I don’t know of one that has had problems.


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