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All You Need to Know About E-Fences for Dogs

All You Need to Know About E-Fences for Dogs

Good fences make good neighbors, as the saying goes. But what happens when your dog keeps jumping the fence straight to the neighbors? What do you do when your dog doesn't stop digging underneath the fence to escape? 

Chasing runaway pets is one of the most tedious and anxiety-inducing aspects of owning a dog. There's always the worry that they'll run to the street and into an absolute disaster. There's also the digging up of flower beds and yards that's annoying at best and costly at worst. 

Finding a way to keep dogs safely and happily within property lines is a challenge. More so if you live in an area where fences are not even allowed by the HOA. So, what can you do?


E-Fences to the Rescue

Electronic dog fences, also known as e-fences, work to keep your pets close to your property without a need for traditional wood or chain-link fences. There are mainly two kinds of e-fences available in the market today – the underground fence and the wireless fence.

A typical system includes a wall-mounted transmitter, receiver collar for the dog, power adapter, charger, and boundary flags. In-ground e-fences also come with fence wire spool.

 Dogtra E-Fence 3500

Photo: Dogtra E-Fence 3500 

How are they different from each other, and how do these e-fences work?


Different Types of E-Fences

Underground e-fences are also called in-ground fences. Systems like this typically come with a shallowly buried underground wire, hence "in-ground fence." The wire wraps around the perimeter of the yard or home. When the dog approaches the property line, the fence transmits stimulation to the dog's collar. This works as a warning to the dog to stay within the contained area.

Some of the more popular in ground fence models are the Dogtra E-Fence 3500 and the PetSafe Stubborn Dog In Ground Fence System.

 PetSafe Stubborn Dog In-Ground Fence System

Photo: PetSafe Stubborn Dog In Ground Fence System 


Wireless e-fences do the same thing. However, as the name implies, it does not require burying wires. Instead, a transmitter can be mounted indoors, and it will transmit within the boundary. PetSafe's Stay and Play Wireless Fence for Stubborn Dogs is one such system.

Whether you choose to get the in ground or wireless kind, collars that come with e-fence systems usually deliver static stimulation. However, many newer models also include tone-only or vibration stimulation options.


Benefits of Using an E-Fence

E-Fences are great training aids for pets. It's a quick way to teach them to stay within set areas. But that's not all an e-fence is suitable for. Here are a few more benefits to consider:

  • Freedom and Safety for Your Pet

Dog Training in Open Field

Remember how your dog dug up the flower bed you just planted? How about the time they attempted to dig under the neighbor's fence and almost impaled themselves on the splintered wood? How about when your tiny terrier thought it was a cat and persistently tried to climb the tree in the yard? 

Now, do you remember the anxiety it caused you? The fear? The apprehension? The endless pursuit of ways to keep them from doing it again? Is the only solution to lock your pet up at home so they don't do anything crazy?

The answer to that is no. Installing a simple e-fence allows you to mark off areas you'd rather keep off-limits from your pet. E-fence systems are flexible enough to close off areas and spots, even over obstacles. It works regardless of actual boundary dimension or shape. This gives pets the freedom to roam the yard and the property safely while still letting you have peace of mind that they won't get into silly shenanigans.

  • No Unsightly Views

Dog peeking Through Wood Fence

Let's admit, traditional fences are often an eyesore. There is a reason many Homeowners Associations ban them. Sometimes though, that unsightly fence is the only thing keeping your pet from bolting. 

With an e-fence, you still get to keep your dog within your property. So it has all the security benefits of a traditional fence, but without affecting the landscaping of your home (and avoiding the HOA fines). Another plus is your dog also has a clear view of the outside. That should keep him entertained and stimulated.

  • Cost-Efficient

Dirty and Broken Wooden Fence

Estimates show that traditional wooden fences can cost between $14 to $31 per foot, depending on the type of wood used. That means for a 1000 square foot property, the cost of installing one can go up into the thousands of dollars. Not only that, some fences will need replacing in as little as five years.

Meanwhile, most wired, in-ground e-fences come with wire enough to cover 500 feet. Good wireless e-fences cover ¾ acres or more off-the-box. These systems usually cost around $200-$300 on average. In addition, the shelf life of wired fences, if left undisturbed, can be as high as 27 years. So really, you not only save your sanity with an e-fence, you literally save more money in the long run.

  • Easy Installation

Sample E-Fence Boundary and Corretion Zone

 If you've ever tried putting up a physical fence yourself, then you probably already know it's not that easy. It's backbreaking work. Compared to that, e-fence installation is a breeze. All you need to do is lay the wires out along your property's boundary. Then install the transmitter according to the instructions in the manual.

A wireless fence for dogs is even quicker to set up because there are no wires to put in. E-fences work on all terrains. It doesn't matter if your property is sloping or wooded. It won't even matter if you live on top of a hill. They're highly adaptable.

  • Limited Room for Error

 Open Gate at Farm House

Pet owners do always forget to close gates or doors. With e-fences, there is no need to remember. As long as the barrier is adequately maintained and the transmitter and receiver are charged, it will keep working. The chances of escape are very low.

E-fences come with many perks, not just for the pet but also the pet owner. Dogs get the run of the property. Their hoomans will love how it's a worry-free and flexible solution. 

But will an e-fence work for all types of dogs?


E-Fences – Answers to Your Most Pressing Questions

Like anything associated with remote training collars, e-fences are also a cause of debate. Is it the right solution for your pet? Will it hurt them? Does it work for all dogs? Here are the answers to your most frequent questions.


Will an Electric Fence Hurt My Dog?

First off, let's be clear. Electric fences should not be confused for the in ground or wireless fences we are talking about in this blog. Traditional electric fences are usually used to keep large livestock within farm boundaries. Made with steel or aluminum, these typically have high voltage electricity running through them.

In-ground and wireless fences, meanwhile, are electric fence systems that look nothing like traditional fences. In fact, you probably won’t even notice a well-installed e-fence. These systems come with an e-collar for the dog to wear. E-collars are also commonly known as static stimulation or shock collars. When the dog approaches the property boundary, the e-fence wire transmits a signal to the collar. It, in turn, emits a light "shock" to warn the dog away.

E-fences, and remote training collars, are never meant to hurt dogs. They are mainly used to correct unwanted behavior. In this case, it's to keep the dog from straying away from where they should be. The shock from the e-collar should only be enough to startle the dog a bit to remind them of what they should not be doing.

Many e-fence systems also include a collar that has a tone-only option. So if pet owners do not want to use static stimulation, they have other options. Appropriately used, e-fences should not physically harm pets. It's even safe for children.


Do Electric Fences Work for Big Dogs?

Or, do e-fences work for all types of dogs?

Generally speaking, e-fences can be used for all dog types and sizes. The e-collars associated with the e-fence system allow the stimulation intensity level to be adjusted according to what works best for your dog.

However, this is not recommended for overly shy or fearful dogs. In these cases, the correction may further induce anxiety and trigger a flee response, which you're specifically trying to avoid.


Why is My Electric Fence Not Working?

There are a few possible answers to this.

Could the fence not be working because the dog is not responding? In this case, please check that you have installed and synced everything properly. It could be a simple case of no reaction because the fence isn't transmitting anything.

Is the system set up correctly and transmitting, but your dog is still not reacting as they should? Try adjusting the stimulation intensity on the e-collar. It may be too low for them to feel the stimulation.

You can also try using a different stimulation type like tone or vibrate to see if it works better for your pet. Finally, you can consider that maybe the e-fence system you have is not the best fit for your dog at all.

On that note, how do you choose the best e-fence system for your pet's needs? 

Choosing the Right E-Fence

If you're looking for an e-fence for dogs, these are the things you need to consider.

 PetSafe PIG00-15958 Yardmax Cordless In-Ground Fence

Photo: Petsafe PIG00-15958 Yardmax Cordless In-Ground Fence System


1. Coverage area – As previously mentioned, some systems can cover as little as ¾ acre, while some can go up to 25 acres. Look for one powerful enough to cover your entire property.

2. Boundary Shape – A wireless e-fence is easier to install, but the area of coverage is limited to a circle. This means that if your property is more of a square, rectangular or uneven shape, an in-ground e-fence may work better.

3. Dog Size – E-fences are packaged with a receiver collar for the dog. But not all collars are the same size. If your dog is bigger, you should look for an e-fence system with an adjustable strap to account for their neck size. Similarly, if your pet is small, you don't want them saddled with a receiver box too heavy to lift.

4. E-Collar Features – Make sure that the receiver included is durable and waterproof. Another factor to consider is whether it comes with rechargeable or disposable battery. Rechargeable batteries save money. But if you're busy, consider that you may forget to charge the unit at times. On that note, you may also want a collar with a low battery indicator.

Replaceable or disposable batteries mean spending more. And if you have a proprietary model, it may be hard to purchase replacements.

Battery back-ups and surge protectors are also good system inclusions.

5. Safety Time Out – An excellent e-fence system has safety time out built-in, so your dog will not receive stimulation longer than a set amount of time.

6. Multiple Correction Levels and Options – This allows you to find just the correct intensity or stimulation type for your dog.

7. Expandability – If you have multiple dogs or plan to add more later on, you'd want a system that lets you have all of them on the same system.

8. Ease of Installation – Most of the time, one person can set up an e-fence system handily. Still, some systems come with overly complicated instructions. So instead, choose one that is easy to install, or at least one with good customer support to help you as needed.

Installing an e-fence for dogs is a big decision. But bear in mind that it can prevent your pet from becoming a neighborhood nuisance. It also saves them from road mishaps, limits their exposure to contagious diseases, and still lets them roam freely.

 Small White Dog Running Happily

An e-fence puts your dog's happiness, safety, and well-being front and center while giving you peace that they are staying where they belong.

Looking for tips on how to install your e-fence? Check out out handy guide.


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