Pros and cons of electronic confinement systems for dogs

Electronic confinement system for dogs

Dog trainers are often asked if they recommend electronic confinement systems for dogs. You’re likely to receive one of two responses either pro or con depending upon the trainer’s background.  The trainers who align themselves with what they call “pure positive reinforcement” (which doesn’t really exist, but that’s a topic for another article) will point out the cons of electronic fencing and will try to compare it to animal abuse.  Some of the cons include:

  • It is an aversive set at a high level to cause pain if the dog attempts to go through the fence zone.
  • The level may not be set high enough to discourage the dog from going through the zone when presented with a more intriguing distraction.
  • Batteries die out and sometimes owners forget to replace them in time.
  • The dog may associate receiving the shock with other things other than simply trying to go through the fence zone, such as people or other dogs it sees on the other side of the fence zone.
  • Dogs with high drive may endure the shock and still go through the fence zone. Once on the other side, they rarely come back through the zone to reenter the property.
  • And, of course invisible fencing does not prevent people, dogs and other animals from entering the property.

Balanced humane dog trainers (those who use positive reinforcement along with fair corrections when necessary) tend to be in favor of electronic fencing and cite the following:

  • While nothing is full proof, it does work for most dogs most of the time.
  • The dog learns to avoid the shock and therefore, stay within the confines of the yard despite intriguing distractions to do otherwise.
  • The confinement systems come with varying levels so it can be adjusted to the individual dog.
  • Most systems come with a warning beep to warn the dog that they are getting close to the boundary.  This allows them to move away from the boundary and not receive the shock.
  • Dogs trained with just positive reinforcement to come away from the boundary will leave the property when enticed with a more intriguing distraction and/or when unsupervised.
  • Having a dog properly trained on a confinement system gives the dog more room to run and play in the yard as well as keep him/her safe.
  • Without the system and if physical fences are not allowed by the community standards; the owner would have to tie the dog in the backyard, erect a non-permanent kennel (if permissible) next to the house, or take the dog out on a leash to potty and exercise many times per day.

The best confinement system is a physical fence.  Even better yet, is a large kennel constructed within the back yard in addition to the perimeter physical fence.  This way your dog is contained within two fences when unsupervised but can have the run of the yard while supervised. This also prevents your dog from running the perimeter fence line with the neighbor dogs.

However, many neighborhoods do not allow physical fences.  Therefore, an invisible fencing system might be the logical second best choice. However, a third option exists and that is to train your dog to the boundary utilizing a remote collar system. The pros include:

  • You can train your dog to the boundary utilizing a “just right setting” that get’s your dog’s attention but is not too high to cause pain.
  • Your dog can enjoy freedom to run and play in your entire yard and stay safe.
  • You can use the system to train other behaviors such as a reliable “come” command as well as other commands.
  • You can use the system for off leash obedience in other locations because it can go with you and your dog anywhere.

Utilizing a remote collar system; most dogs, most of the time will respect the boundary. However, it is recommended to supervise their activities to make sure they are not tempted to chase something off property when you are not present.

So there you have it, the pros and cons of electronic fencing. To properly train your dog utilizing a remote collar system, contact the Michigan Dog Trainer.

About Michael Burkey

Michael Burkey is a professional dog trainer, behaviorist and owner of MichiganDogTrainer.com, a highly successful dog training company whose aim is to promote peaceful relationships between pets and families. Additionally, he is an expert trial witness, certified Canine Good Citizen (CGC) evaluator for the American Kennel Club (AKC), former Police K9 Handler, Search and Rescue (SAR) K9 Training Director and SAR K9 Handler, obedience and rally competitor and social worker. Dog training is a complex science and art requiring knowledge of behavioral science and learning. You can rely on Michael's experience, teaching methods, and integrity. He can be contacted at info@MichiganDogTrainer.com or 734-634-4152.
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