8 Dos and Donts When Buying an Electronic Dog Fence System

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8 Dos and Donts When Buying an Electronic Fence System for Your Dog

Electronic fences are training systems designed to keep a puppy or grown dog in the yard or within a set boundary in the yard. Using a transmitter to send a signal to underground wires, electronic fencing creates an effective boundary that is invisible to the eye. The dog wears a radial collar receiver with a battery that sounds an alarm if the animal wanders too close to the boundary, and if the dog continues to go near the boundary, the collar gives a mild static correction. After being trained, the dog can respond to an auditory signal, minimizing the static correction, or tiny shock. Although an electronic fence provides an invisible alternative to traditional fences, it is important for the owner to know whether such a system is best for their dog's needs. Learning the basic dos and don'ts before purchasing an electronic fence system is a good idea for undecided owners and owners who want to use the fencing. Professionally-installed fences can be purchased through Internet retailers and online marketplaces, like eBay, making it easy to find units that are compatible to the owner's needs.


The Do's of Electronic Fence Systems

Electronic fence systems provide a concealed barrier that prevents dogs from jumping or digging under their predetermined boundaries. With an effective, yet harmless correction, dogs can be trained quickly to stay within the set boundary or keep them away from designated areas in the owner's yard, such as a pool or garden bed. Although electronic fences offer many benefits, it is important to learn all the things to do to ensure the best possible use of this containment system.

1. Do Consult a Veterinarian

When using an electronic fence, it is important for the user to consult a veterinarian since these devices are not appropriate for all dogs. A veterinarian can determine if using an electronic fence is appropriate for the owner's dog based on its medical records and temperament. This is crucial because if the owner's dog is not well suited to an electronic fence, the owner has spent a significant amount of money and time on an ineffective containment method.

2. Do Plot the Wire Perimeter Beforehand

Whether the owner is having an electronic fence professionally installed or doing it on his or her own, it is a good idea to pre-plot the perimeter where the wires are buried. This preparation allows for a quicker installation time because it helps the installer or owner determine which kind of tools may be required. For example, if the wires need to go over concrete or pavement, then a circular saw with a masonry blade is required to dig a trench for the wire. If the owner is using a do-it-yourself kit, plotting the perimeter is especially helpful because it determines the amount of wire needed for the job. Also, certain transmitters cover more area than others, so it is good to know what kind of area needs to be contained to get the appropriate transmitter to cover it.

3. Do Test Wires Above Ground

Professional installers test the electronic fence system for the dog owner, but owners doing their own installation must make sure to check the system prior to burying the wires. This saves owners the hassle of having to dig up the wires if something is not working correctly.

4. Do Invest Enough Time to Train the Dog

Once the veterinarian has signed off on the use of an electronic fence, it is important for the owner to spend the right amount of time training the dog on how the fence operates. A minimum of 48 hours needs to be set aside for maximum effectiveness, although some dogs may require more training time. The owner must place the perimeter flags between 5 and 10 feet apart so the dog or puppy has visual cues. Every hour, the owner must take the dog near the boundary using a leash until the receiver collar beeps, then he or she must pull the dog away and give it a treat or praise. When the owner is not training, the dog must remain indoors or away from the boundary. Near the end of the 48 hours, the owner can let the dog wander near the boundary on its own to see if the dog is learning. The dog must be pulled away from the boundary a minimum of 50 times for the training to take effect.

5. Do Test Collar Batteries Often

The dog owner should test each battery in the collar often since they need replacing every three to six months. If the owner's dog tests the boundaries often, then the batteries may need replacing sooner. Having fully functional batteries is crucial for the electronic fencing to operate as intended.

The Don'ts of Electronic Fence Systems

It is important for the dog owner to be fully aware of all the things not to do when using an electronic fence system. Knowing these don'ts ensures optimal satisfaction for both the owner and his or her dog.

1. Don't Use a Fence With Certain Types of Dogs

As stated above, it is important to consult a veterinarian before using an electronic fence, but as a general rule of thumb, it is not recommended to use this type of system for guard dogs, vicious dogs, or dogs with health problems. Guard dogs, by their very nature, should not be contained in an electronic fence because their instincts are to protect their home at whatever cost, and they try to leave the boundary if they feel the need to protect their territory. The static correction can aggravate vicious dogs, so it is not a good idea to use this type of containment. The fence can harm dogs with health problems, such as heart conditions, because although the correction is mild, it can be jolting.

2. Don't Run Wire Along Other Wires

If the owner is installing the system, he or she needs to make sure not to run the ground wires along electrical, telephone, or antenna wires to prevent electrical hazards and service interruption. Similarly, the wires should not be run along television cables or near satellite dishes. It is best to check with utility companies if the owner is unsure of where power lines are located so the fence wires do not cross power lines.

3. Don't Put the Transmitter Outdoors

If the rechargeable in-ground invisible fencing system is on a property with many acres, the transmitter should not be placed in a shed or barn where it may get wet. The best place to put the transmitter is indoors in a dry and protected area. Professional installers can choose the best possible location for the transmitter and can ground it so a malfunction does not occur during power loss or surges. If the owner is installing the electronic fence system, DIY kits include instructions on how to ground the transmitter properly. It is important to not skip this step to prevent damage to the electronic fence system.

History of Electronic Fences

In 1971, Richard Peck, a traveling salesman from Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, was bothered by all the dogs that regularly wandered into the streets from people's houses. With the help of an electrical engineer, he conceptualized the idea of the electronic fence. Using boundary wires and a receiver collar, he invented and patented the first electronic fence system named Stay-Put. John Purtell bought Peck's patent in 1976 and renamed the product the Invisible Fence. Purtell successfully built up the company until he sold it in 1993. By the 1990s, Peck's original patent expired, so many new companies entered the electronic fence industry to produce new brands of fences. Some companies also started manufacturing DIY kits to provide more cost-effective alternatives to the big-name brands, which were particularly helpful for customers with large properties to cover. The original Invisible Fence has been bought and sold various times through the years, but has continued to dominate the electronic fence industry and is a harmless and effective way for keeping dogs safe. This type of fencing also provides a great alternative to metal or chain link varieties.

Choosing a Professional or DIY Electronic Fence

Electronic dog fences are good alternatives when other types of barriers fail. Professional electronic fences can be pricey, but most companies install them through the use of nationwide network of professional installers. The installers bury the cable and install the transmitter, making sure to test the system before use, and some companies even provide assistance in training the owner's dog. Although professional systems provide the full package in terms of installation, they can run a few thousand dollars compared to do-it-yourself systems that cost a few hundred dollars. DIY electronic fence systems typically come with 500 feet of wire and transmitters with the capacity to enclose an area of 25 acres. There are more high power transmitters available to enclose larger areas, as well as additional wire if needed. The owner must decide how close his or her dog can get to the boundary before receiving a warning. Once determined by the owner, the distance can be adjusted on the indoor transmitter. The distance can range from 1 foot to 30 feet, depending on the system the owner purchased. DIY electric fence kits usually come with flags for marking boundaries during the dog training process, but other tools that may be needed for installation are a spade, lawn edger, shovel, wire stripping pliers, and industrial tape. When installing an electric fence, it is important to check all the installation directions and refer to the dos and don'ts to prevent any electrical hazards.

Wireless Fence Options

To avoid the hassle of burying wires, dog owners can consider wireless containment options, like the radial shape Havahart wireless dog fence. Wireless fence systems employ the use of radio signals in a centralized area to create a uniform boundary. Since this type of system uses radio signals, it can emit through walls, but may not be the best choice for yards of irregular shape.

Where to Buy an Electronic Dog Fence System

For professional installation, it is best to purchase an electronic fence system directly from the manufacturer or through one of its local dealers. Pet supply and hardware stores, as well as certain brick-and-mortar stores, sell DIY electronic fence systems. Although electronic fences can be purchased second hand, it is always best to test whether or not all the components are in good shape to prevent any electrical hazards or harm to the owner's dog. Electronic fence systems can also be purchased on the Internet through online retailers, like eBay.

Purchasing Electronic Fence Systems on eBay

When purchasing an electronic fence system on eBay, type in the keywords "electronic fence" and eBay lists all the auction listings correlated to those keywords. To narrow down the results, click on any of the relevant filters in the category sidebar. Another option for filtering the auction listings is sorting by price, condition, or location. Sorting listings by location can help the buyer find local sellers for lower shipping costs or for arranging a possible pick up. If you are purchasing a used electronic fence system, you should ask the seller if he or she offers a return policy in case any of the components are not in working order.

Getting to Know the Seller

Because eBay is based on an honor system, it is in the best interest for sellers to receive positive feedback. eBay Top Rated sellers merit that particular distinction by continuously receiving positive feedback and providing quick shipping, so choosing a Top Rated seller over a seller with less stellar ratings is a good idea. If you have any questions for the seller, eBay provides a reliable message system to get in contact with the seller.


Electronic fence systems were invented to help owners contain their dogs in the yard with the use of a transmitter, wiring, and a receiver collar. With buried wires or wireless transmitters, this electronic fence provides an invisible boundary and is a good alternative when dogs are constantly digging under or jumping over traditional barriers. Once owners have chosen between a professional or DIY electronic fence, it is important for them to know all the basic dos and don'ts to ensure the most effective and safe containment for their dog. Electronic fences for dogs can be purchased online through sites like eBay. Although electronic fence systems have many advantages, it is always best for the owner to consult with a veterinarian to make sure his or her dog is suited for this type of containment.

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