Outdoors Column: Electric Fence

Several years ago, I installed an underground fence with a shock collar to control the areas around the house where the dog could go. We had a large black dog named Hooch at the time. He was half mastiff and half rottweiler. Needless to say, he was an imposing looking animal with a few idiosyncrasies. The major one was he would attempt to remove the tires from vehicles he did not know that drove into his yard. I was concerned he might one day be successful. There was no worry that he would bite someone as nobody in their right mind would get out of their vehicle while the dog was angrily chewing on their tires. I ran the fence so the dog could roam the yard, the barn and part of the pasture. He could not go to the highway and there was a safe space in front of the house where a car could pull up and the dog would not be able to get to it. The fence did a fair job of keeping Hooch where he belonged, but if he felt it really important, he would put up with getting shocked to get his way. Since I only had marginal success with the underground fence, I was hesitant to try it again.


Last winter, when Billie, our poodle pup, wandered off and almost froze to death before I found him, I decided to try again with a control fence of some sort. Doing some research, I found a radio-controlled shock collar. A base unit transmits a signal out to a range of up to about 200 yards. I decided to give it a try for Billie’s safety and my peace of mind.


The day the unit arrived, our grandson, Zane was at our house. He volunteered to help set it up. To train a dog to where the boundaries are, a person plants flags at the perimeter. When the dog gets too close to their limit, the collar will beep. If they cross the line, they receive a mild electric shock. To find the boundary, we walked in a large circle through about a foot of snow trying to hear the beep telling us to plant a flag.


It was cold and the wind was blowing. The beeping was high pitched and not very loud, which may be easy for a dog to hear, but not so much for people. I got shocked three or four times and Zane at least twice as we were not hearing the warning sound. The shock is not painful but somewhat annoying. When we got done, we had a large number of flags in a big circle going all the way around the house. Several times over the next couple of days, I walked Billie to let him know what his boundaries were. He seemed to understand, so I let him go on his own. We apparently had placed the flags too far inside the boundary line as one by one, he collected all the flags and brought them to the house.


Billie must find the mild shock even more annoying than I do as he has only crossed the line twice that I know. He has plenty of room to run and play while keeping safely within the limits we set. After several months, he will stay within the prescribed area whether he is wearing his collar or not. It is nice to be able to let him out and not worry he is going to get into some sort of trouble when no one is looking.