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Do Fence Me In

Electronic fences are an option for fencing your pets, but choosing to install one requires some consideration of your pet and the surrounding area.

Good fences may make good neighbors, but do they make good pets? In addition to chain link or wood fences, you can pen your pet with a high-tech option-electronic fences. The basic model for this type of fence includes: a battery-powered receiver attached to your pet's collar, buried wires around your yard, and a transmitter that sends radio-wave signals along the buried wire, which are picked up by the collar. This fence keeps your pet in your yard by delivering an electric shock through a receiver on your pet's collar every time the animal tries to cross the buried wires.

Electronic fences are useful in that they can be installed in yards as small as a quarter of an acre or up to yards as large as 20 acres. Unlike a conventional wood or chain link fence, this fence (specifically, the wires of the electronic fence) can be buried in streams or ponds, curved around the bases of trees, and easily implanted up steep slopes. Installation is relatively easy since the wires only need to be buried a few inches below the ground, and the transmitter plugs into a standard outlet, generally in your basement or garage. In the interest of saving your time and your back many companies will install the system for you for a fee.

You can generally purchase an electronic fence starting at $200. Costs will vary based on the type of installation you choose.

Once the wires are buried and the transmitter is in place, simply attach the collar with the battery-powered receiver around your pet's neck. Most of the collars weigh one or two ounces and are appropriate for dogs and cats of varying sizes.

Before installing an electronic fence, check with your pet's veterinarian to ensure that the shocks will not harm your pet. Also, keep in mind that an electronic fence does have some disadvantages. Some pets have a propensity to charge the electronic fence to chase a squirrel, and once they are outside of the electronic fence, without adrenaline running trough their veins, they are understandably reluctant to cross the buried wires and get shocked in order to return to the yard. 

An electronic fence will not protect your pet from other animals that may wander into your yard. These unwelcome visitors can cross freely in and out of your yard, while your pet is constrained within the limits of your yard. It is also possible for these outside intruders to corner your pet against the electronic fence, resulting in serious injury to your pet. 

Having options in how to corral your pet is valuable. Determining the best option for your situation is an important first step in ensuring that your pet has both safety and freedom, and that your yard meets your needs.

Sources include: Mike McClintock, The Washington Post.