Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fences for Men

By Julie Rahm

An invisible fence is an electronic system that prevents pets (mostly dogs) from leaving a yard. A buried wire in the yard is energized with coded signals. A shock collar on the dog receives these signals. When the pet approaches the buried fence line, the collar makes a warning sound and then gives the pet a harmless electric shock. The pet soon learns to avoid the invisible fence location, making it an effective virtual barrier. Although called "fences", these fenceless boundary systems are more accurately termed “electronic pet containment systems.”  These systems are less expensive and more aesthetically pleasing than physical fences. One popular brand claims more than three million installations. Most pet fence systems are one of three types.
Most common is the aforementioned buried wire that emits a radio signal to activate the receiver collar. Other pet fences are wireless. Rather than using an underground wire, they emit a radio signal from a central unit, and activate when the pet travels beyond a certain distance from the unit. Other sophisticated systems use GPS signals to determine proximity to a predetermined "virtual fence", without the need for any physical installation at all. These GPS systems allow additional flexibility, such as inclusion of "islands" within the containment area, and easier changes to the boundary. Although, location of the boundary is only as precise as GPS. The first commercial underground fencing system was patented in 1974 by Richard Peck, owner of Invisible Fence Company. However, there are drawbacks to these various systems.
Underground fences cannot exclude other animals. A dog contained within an underground fence can still fall prey to a larger dog or coyote, or even a person looking to harass or steal animals. Also, this type of fencing does not provide a warning to humans who might inadvertently wander inside the perimeter. Children or other persons may still be able to approach dogs or other animals that are confined by an invisible fence. And, the fence may cause the behavior of a confined animal to appear better than it actually is. This type of containment is also not maintenance free. This system requires functioning batteries in the animal’s collar. Finally, underground fencing is not accepted by every animal. Some pets become too afraid to wander their yards for fear of being shocked. And lastly, an electronic fence may not be effective if an animal crosses a boundary while in a state of excitement. This was the case with my in-laws dog, Luther. Luther was a formidable German Shepherd who often bolted, at full speed, though the electronic fence. Luther resolved to endure the electric shock for the sake of pursuit. Unfortunately, Luther could run a lot faster than my husband and his brother when they both tried the collar! Read my column next week to learn what happened when these two grown/educated men tried to run through the invisible fence wearing the dog collar! And, visit me online at

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