Q&A / 

Invisible Fence

DEAR TIM: I am about to add a new member to my family - a dog. I hate it when other neighbor's dogs roam so I intend to be a good neighbor and will install a fence. But a traditional fence will spoil the natural look of my yard. I have seen ads for fences that work via radio waves through a buried wire. My dog will be a large one and I just can't believe a buried wire can contain my beast. How do these buried wire fences work and are they reliable? Anne M., San Jose, CA

DEAR ANNE: Do buried wire fences work? Absolutely, positively Yes! Believe it or not they work for both dogs and cats. I have my own buried wire fence system and several of my neighbors have had one for years. In my opinion, this invention is one of the most practical, innovative and reliable inventions ever conceived for pet safety and control.

Cinder wearing his invisible fence collar. PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Carter

Cinder wearing his invisible fence collar. PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Carter

My own dog would have had a star role in the movie The Great Escape had he been cast for a part. He is a tenacious digger and could create an escape hole under a traditional fence in a matter of minutes. I never have to worry about him digging under the wire as he maintains an enormous respect for the boundaries of his personal territory created by the simple buried wire.

Buried wire fences are not much different than the radio in your home or car. A compact transmitter in your home or garage is connected to one end of a wire that loops around the safe area you create for your pet. After creating the loop, the other end of this wire connects to a second terminal at the transmitter. Once the transmitter is powered up, the buried wire becomes a simple antenna that transmits a radio signal, just as a commercial radio station does. The difference is that a real radio station creates a different frequency signal that travels for miles, while the buried wire creates a far weaker adjustable signal that can be transmitted anywhere from four to fifteen feet away from the wire. The circular signal field created around the entire wire stops animals from crossing or jumping over the wire.

Your pet wears a compact receiver on a special collar. The highest quality and most reliable receivers are those that can be programmed for your particular pet. The pet's personality, age and weight are all considered when the professional installer programs the receiver. The best receivers can be reprogrammed in just seconds if your pet starts to disrespect the boundaries you create. Not all buried wire fences have this innovative feature.

When your pet wears the best receiver collar, he hears a tone that warns him he is at the edge of his boundary. If he does not respond within a second or two, the receiver collar delivers a simple static electricity correction to the underside of your pet's neck. This stimulus is no different than the one you or I receive when we walk across a carpet and touch a door knob during dry winter weather. The system I use is so pet-friendly it is the only one of its kind to be granted the prestigious Seal of Approval from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

My wife Kathy loves our system for another reason. Before we installed it, our dog loved to bury things in her flower beds. Kathy is putting up with this bad habit for now, but if she snaps one day, the professionals can come back out to our home and create secondary off-limit islands within the primary outer boundary zone. You may decide that your pet is not allowed near a swimming pool, a vegetable garden, or pond. The right buried wire fence system will protect your beloved pet as well as all the other things you value in your yard.

Perhaps the most important part of the system I use is the professional training that was part of what I received when I ordered the system. I researched all buried wire fences and saw you could buy several from the Internet or a home center. But after talking to a real company that installs these systems each day, I quickly discovered that teaching my dog how to respect his boundaries was the most important thing. This hands-on training by a pro was so good that within an hour our dog knew where his new boundary was.

A professional trainer visited our home within an hour after our buried wire fence was installed. He worked personally with our dog. For the first three days, our dog learned the boundaries by responding to a special clicker attachment to his receiver collar. On the fourth day, this clicker was removed by the professional trainer. The training was so effective that our dog had no desire to cross test the buried wire fence. Believe it or not he would not even chase our frisky white kitty across the boundary. Imagine how effective both the fence and the training must be to keep an energetic puppy away from a swaggering cat!

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