Most dogs love the freedom of being outdoors and playing in the fresh grass of a lush lawn. As a responsible pet parent, you want their outdoor adventures to be drama free when it comes to their interactions with neighbors, little children and mail carriers. That is why so many pet owners consider electric fencing to keep their dogs contained within their property boundaries.  

Electric fence systems are inconspicuous and less expensive than traditional fences.  The typical electric fence system consists of hidden underground wires that trigger a sensor on a shock collar that is worn by your dog.  The shock that can be administered automatically or manually by the owner is used to deter the pet from crossing the invisible boundary.   

A conventional fence that can effectively deter your hound from escaping the yard will likely require a significant financial investment and perhaps special permission from your homeowner association.  Despite the seeming convenience of electric fence products, many pet parents agree that there are better ways to keep your beloved fur kid on their best behavior while they are outdoors playing or using the dog potty.  

dog on grass


Here are several reasons to reconsider electric fence systems for dogs.

# 1 Not Effective for Some Dog Breeds

According to some pet parents and many experienced veterinarians, electric fence systems are not as effective in real-world scenarios as they are in theory.  Besides electromechanical issues that can render the system ineffective, certain dog breeds don’t respond to invisible fences as expected.   


Some dogs are blessed or hindered with insatiable curiosity and a need to run free to investigate whatever catches their interest.  Dog breeds such as Siberian huskies, greyhounds and Old English sheepdogs have been known to take the shock and run through electric fencing systems to pursue the objects of their curiosity.  At least one pet parent of a husky noted that she stopped using the shock collar on her dog because she couldn’t stand hearing the dog scream every time he leapt through the electric fence.  


Dogs that are smart enough to understand the concept of the invisible fence but decide to defy the system anyway are less likely to return home on their own.  The shock hurts them, and they sometimes stay away from home rather than experiencing another shock to return to their home turf.


# 2 Causes Physical and Emotional Trauma in Many Dogs

Dogs and other animals are made up of sensitive nerves just like us humans.  Inflicting a shock when they cross an invisible line on the lawn is physically painful to them.  Depending on the type of invisible fence system and the chosen settings of the shock collar, the dog can experience varying levels of pain.  Pet parents who use this form of deterrent have to decide whether they will use a lower shock setting that may be ineffective or a higher one that causes real pain.  

In our society, pets are vulnerable to all types of abuse depending on the temperament or ignorance of their owners. Pet parents who are conscious and compassionate usually hesitate to shock their dogs.  Many equate it to tasering their own children.  After the pain subsides, the psychological scars remain.  Without extensive training, the dog will likely not understand why it’s being punished for playing outside.

# 3 Fear of Electric Fence Can Interfere With Potty Training

The use of invisible fences and shock collars can make some dogs fearful.  Some people may call these dogs slow learners.  Without proper training, they never really figure out when they’ve crossed the invisible line, and they are subject to shocks whenever they go outside.  As a result, many develop a fear of going into their own yards.  In at least one instance, a dog was so fearful of going outside that it began to urinate indoors.  Unless you are prepared to equip your home with an indoor dog potty, it’s probably best to forego the electric fence system.  

# 4 Results in Confusion in Some Dogs

Many dogs act as cherished companions as well as security guards for their human families.  When you use an invisible fence and shock collar on those dogs, they can become frustrated and confused while being contained in their yards.  Electric fences don’t stop intruders or pests from entering your property; they can come and go as they please.  It’s your guard dog that must be careful not to cross an invisible line on your property if they decide to chase human or animal intruders away.  They will likely give chase to intruders instinctively, but confusion will set in when they get punished for actions that you would normally praise them for doing.     

# 5 Shock Punishment Can Lead to Unwanted Aggressive Behavior  

Most pet owners consider invisible fences and shock collars for their dogs so that they can avoid dangerous conflicts with their neighbors, mail delivery persons and utility workers.  However, the use of electric fencing can have just the opposite effect.  With frequent shocks, your dog can begin to associate certain people and passersby as the reason why they are being punished.  This can lead to aggressive behavior towards those people if they come into your yard or home for an otherwise friendly visit.


Final Thoughts

When an invisible fence system is being considered, responsible pet owners should budget for some professional electric fence training for their dogs.  However, many pet owners consider themselves to be pet parents.  For this reason, they tend to find more compassionate ways of keeping their furry family members safely in their yards.