"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Electronic Fence

– Posted in: Aggression, Behavior Problems, Columns

Hello John,

I have a sensitive dog that is maybe fear aggressive.  Unfortunately he escapes from our yard to chase children on bikes and terrifies them.  We are vigilant about watching him but all it takes is a quick escape when someone is at the door and he’s out.

We are considering an electronic fence to prevent him from leaving our yard but I’m concerned it would make his fear aggression worse?

Also, he is extremely sensitive to pain/discomfort. Is there a gentle electronic fence that might work for him?  A physical fence is not possible.

Thanks so much,

Mary

Hi Mary,

I don’t know what you mean about a “gentle” electronic fence. I don’t know of any that “gently whisper” a request in the dog’s ear for its attention. It’s more of a “demand” otherwise the dog would blow them off as readily as he’s blowing you off now when it comes to staying on property.

They do have various level settings available so that the right match can be found to warn a dog away from the boundary. Not too much and not too little. It depends entirely on the individual dog. I encourage anyone thinking of using this type of equipment to feel the stimulation the dog is going to feel. Personally, on the lowest levels I can’t feel it. At higher levels I feel what I perceive as a tingle identical to the stimulation I’ve felt from the TENS machine used for nerve stimulation at my chiropractor and similarly the intensity changes from my feeling indifferent – to aware – to attentive – to you don’t have to tell me twice. It really seems to vary from person to person and dog to dog. The bottom line is you have to take the time to find the level that does the job without doing harm which isn’t hard. As the dog is taught to understand that the stimulation is a consequence for getting too close to the fence they are also learning that an audio warning will go off before hand.

I don’t get as worked up about the use of electronics in dog training and containment as some, as I’ve found that like most tools they’re only as good or bad as the knowledge and ignorance wielded along with them. In the case of electronic fences my only concern is when they’re used, as a shortcut, which I think, is what you may have in mind.

Your problem isn’t that you have a dog you want to keep in his yard for his own safety. It’s that you want to keep him in a yard for others safety because he is aggressive. It’s not that the fence mightn’t be part of how I’d approach this issue but while the fence might solve your problem, it won’t necessarily solve your dog’s problem which is he has issues with kids or kids on bikes. I’d rather you dealt with the agitation he feels in those scenarios.

Before I’d use a fence of any kind with your dog I’d look at training. First the basics – come, heel and stay, and then the basics around low-level distractions and then the basics around things he likes to chase. Fencing in any form would only be back up.

Pawsitively yours,

John *protected email*

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