Containment Option? Or Recipe for Disaster?
It's a warm, sunny day and you leash your dog for a walk. You decide to take a different route this day, through another neighborhood, for a change of scenery. Across the street and a few houses away, you see a dog napping peacefully beneath the shade of a maple tree in his front yard. Before you fully comprehend that no fence surrounds his property, he hears you and your dog approach. He springs to his feet and happily races across the yard to greet you. As he closes the distance between his napping spot and the promise of a new friend on the other side of the street, your heart races with fear as you picture him beneath the wheels of an oncoming car. Suddenly, he skids to a stop at the edge of his property, seeming to collide with a hidden wall.
The "hidden wall" is an invisible fencea buried wire or cable set around a property's boundary and connected to a transmitter located within your house or garage. The transmitter sends a low-frequency radio signal to a collar worn by a dog when he is approaching the wire. If the dog ignores the audible signal and continues approaching the boundary, the collar emits a brief and unpleasant correction.
As to whether an invisible fence can safely contain a husky, this subject has prompted many heated debates among its proponents and opponents. The only right answer is: It depends on the dog's temperament, whether his motivation to stay in the yard is greater than any temptation beyond his boundary, and how dedicated his owners are to properly training him to respect the fence.
Let's look at the benefits of an invisible fence:
And now let's look at the drawbacks:
The method for teaching a dog his boundary and training him to respect the fence is similar whether you do the training yourself or work with a professional. Depending on the dog, training can take as little as two weeks or as many as six or more. Dogs can be trained at any age, but puppies should be at least six months old before training begins.
First, flags placed along the wire provide a visual clue to the dog for where his boundary lies. With the dog wearing the collar but with the system turned off, the trainer walks the dog on leash toward the flags. When the audible warning is heard, the trainer says something like "Bad flags,!" and pulls the dog away from the flags and toward the center of the yard while praising him. The idea here is to teach the dog that when he hears the signal, he should back away from the flags.
Next, the trainer repeats this process with the system activated. This time, the trainer lets the dog feel the correction before pulling him away from the flags. The combination of the correction, the "Bad flags!" reminder, the pulling back to safety, and the praise teaches him that the only way to avoid the correction is to come back inside the "safe zone"his yard. This stage can provide a good indication of how well a dog will respect the fence (for many dogs, one correction is enough!). A critical factor in the success of this training is to never let the dog break through to the other side of the boundaryyou want him to believe that the only way to stop the correction is to turn back into the "safe zone."
From here, distractions are introduced. With the dog still on leash, the trainer introduces temptations beyond the boundary, such as asking a child to run with a ball or a volunteer to walk by with another dog. This stage determines whether the dog is ready to progress to the next stage or whether he needs more practice without distractions.
Lastly, training progresses to the point where the trainer drops the leash and tests the dog's awareness of the boundary. The trainer continues to try to distract the dog, always ready to grab the leash should the dog venture too close to the flags. Training is considered complete only when the trainer is confident that the dog's motivation to stay in the yard (that is, to avoid a correction) is stronger than outside distractions.
We've seen how the proper training can help prevent some of the bad points about the invisible fence. Let's revisit some of the other drawbacks we mentioned earlier:
It is true that a physical barrier is a greater deterrent than an invisible one. However, dogs should never be left unattended in a yard regardless of what type of containment system is used. Keeping an eye on your dogs also prevents accidents if they chew each other's collar off or get tangled in a collar during play.
For dogs with thick fur, such as huskies, most invisible fence companies make longer prongs to penetrate that fur. Using longer prongs, fitting the collar snugly, inspecting the collar daily, and clipping the fur if necessary all help the collar keep the proper contact with the dog's skin.
Invisible fence companies also enhance their systems in a variety of ways to prevent system failures, including:
Only you can answer this question. After reading the points in this article, ask yourself the following questions, and be truthful in your answers:
And lastly, but most importantly,