Why Electronic Dog Fences Fail You & Your Pet

Some dog owners have considered using electronic dog fences to keep dogs confined in front yards or unfenced backyards. But fences like these have a number of drawbacks that are both inhumane to the animal and ineffective for the dog owner.

How they “work”

Electronic fencing and shock collars rely on pain and negative reinforcement to contain your dog. It’s the “stick” approach to training, rather than the “carrot.” Most electronic dog fences consist of a wire buried along the perimeter of the “confined” area and a dog collar that’s equipped with a receiver. When your dog approaches the buried wire, a signal is transmitted to your dog’s collar. The collar initially generates an audible ‘beep” as a first warning to the dog. If your dog ignores the beep and passes over the buried wire, the collar imparts an electric shock to your dog’s neck.

Promoting Fear, Aggression

Dogs confined by electronic fences don’t behave like humans. They perceive the collar’s electric shock as being connected to what compelled them to move past it—be it a meter reader, mail carrier, passersby or other dogs.  As a result, your dog may learn to fear or behave aggressively toward the imagined “source” of the shock in his neck.

Won’t Stop Frightened, Determined Dogs

When your average dog sees a cat, rabbit, or someone it recognizes and wants to play with, an electronic fence won’t stop him. This is especially true if a dog is suddenly frightened and the “fight or flight” response kicks in. Your dog will dart—pain in the neck or no.

Punishment for Coming Home

After your dog has been shocked for darting out for whatever reason, he’ll be reluctant to come back to pass through the annoying and potentially painful “shock barrier.” Those that endure this shock learn to regard the pain as punishment for returning home. Dr. Karen Overall notes that in situations where shock has been used, some damage has been done to the animal, even if it’s not readily apparent. She advises pet owners not to use this technique for dog confinement. In general, dogs that cease to exhibit a problem behavior using this technique usually also cease to exhibit normal behaviors.

Leaving Your Dog Vulnerable

Electronic fencing and shock collars leave you dog at the mercy of teasing humans and loose predatory animals who don’t have to worry about shocks to their necks when they enter or leave your yard. There’s also the potential risk for severe electrical burns, should the collar become wet. Dr. Susan Benson, who works at the Animal Medical Center in Preston, Idaho treated a dog’s electric collar burn and noted that it was one of the worst electrical burns she’d ever seen.

Choose Humane Alternatives

Electronic fencing and shock collars ignore the value of positive training methods, which are much preferred. These humane, alternatives reward dogs to stay in your yard with a gentle “attaboy” and a treat. In Boundary Training: No fence, no problem, Certified Professional Dog Trainer Judy Luther details how to train your dog to observe and stay in your yard without fencing of any kind.


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Christine J.
Christine J2 years ago

I don't like the sound of them. Seems they would be confusing for your dog. Also it doesn't stop other animals from getting into your yard, which could end up in fights.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H4 years ago

I would never trust one. The only good fence is a real fence.

Roxana Saez
Roxana Saez4 years ago


Melania Padilla
Melania P4 years ago

I could never use one!

Karen Everton
Karen E4 years ago

thank you

Spencer Young
Spencer Young4 years ago

I hate them and think they're unusually cruel and confusing for your pet

JOSE Honr4 years ago


Stardust Noel
Past Member 4 years ago

Never for my dog, I have a chain lnnk fence in the back yard for her. Her view in a pasture with cows & horses.

Jeannet Bertelink
Jeannet B4 years ago

Never for my dogs, thanks

Sharon Stein
Sharon Stein4 years ago

WoW! I only trust a real fence...although I have seeen a dog scale a chain link one once...but most are very effective!