Pet Tips 'n' Tales

Wired for Safety
- Electric Fence-Sense -

Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
After Sheri and Brick saw their dog, Chante, hit and killed by a vehicle on their quiet country road, they decided that an electric fence was needed to keep their new American Eskimo dog, Lily, safe.

When Sheri and Brick's new neighbors and their dog moved in, Sheri's eleven-year-old American Eskimo dog, Chante, enthusiastically ran across the road to greet them.

"Chante was killed in front of us," Sheri explained. "We stood there stunned at the side of the road.  The vehicle never stopped. In honor of Chante, we named our next dog Lily-Chante of Saginaw.  To prevent another traumatic experience, we purchased an underground invisible fence for our five acres.

Training the dog on how the fence works is fascinating.  You don't just put a shock collar on a dog and let them discover where you buried the electric wire.  The idea is not to hurt or terrorize your dog; instead you use their intelligence to educate them. 

When the fence is installed, little flags are placed two feet apart along it as a visual for the dog. The dog associates the flags and a beep noise emitting from the collar with where the boundary line is.   As soon as Lily hears the beeping, she leaves the area and avoids a shock.

Over time, you remove every other flag until only a few are left. Please understand Lily didn't learn by being zapped.  It is a behavioral training process, the same as you would use to train a dog to heel, come, or stay.  Lily only wears the collar when she is outside.

Lily was three months old when the invisible fence people helped us train her. Now, we are not  concerned about her chasing the sheep in the next pasture or the feral cats who pass through our yard.  The cats realize that they can walk along the fence line and Lilly won't chase them.  The cats must feel powerful stopping a dog in its tracks!" laughs Sheri.

The fence adds to the quality of Lily's life because she has freedom to wander in our yard; she is healthier, more mentally alert, and has fewer behavioral problems.  I have seen dogs in small enclosures or tied on leads in yards, but our Lily is free to run, play, and safely investigate our acreage.

Lily is a different dog with me than with my husband, Brick. When I am cooking, Lily calmly lies in the kitchen but with Brick, her story is the opposite.

As soon as Lily sees him, she begins a happy dance, and then she goes into hyper mode.  She knows he is more fun than I am.  Brick takes her with him while he mows the lawn or for rides in the jeep.

American Eskimo dogs are primary agility dogs, thus they are an active breed.  This should be considered when adopting a dog. Lily at three years old is still very much a puppy; she chews, digs, runs, and sees what she can get away with.

There is one thing Lily loves almost as much as a bone--going to the "beauty shop" (Cottage Grove Professional Grooming).  She loves everyone there, and comes home acting like she has spent the day at the spa.

Brick and I have been married forty-five years and every night I wait at the door for him after work. But when I see Brick, I am not out in the cold weather and doing a happy dance like Lily does. Her love is priceless and everyday she does something to make us laugh!  She truly makes our house a home."


Sheri explains why they chose an electric fence, "We have five acres, and we wanted Lily to have as much room as possible.  There is the possibility that a dog might dig under a chain-link fence or a  gate might be left open.  We researched invisible fences and learned that the biggest expense is the collar and the transmitter. 

The fence consists of a wire buried eight inches underground, and it is bought by the foot. You are able to shape the fence wire however you want.  If you want to keep your dog out of flower beds or a pond, you run the wire around them. 

A beeper alerts Lily as she approaches a boundary.  This warning helps prevent her from being shocked.  I can't emphasize enough, this is not inhumane.  There is far more pain in being hit by a car than can be felt by the collar.

The fence does not work when the batteries go dead. "Every three months, new batteries arrive in the mail. Brick holds the collar and tests it himself by walking over the line. This way our precious Lily does not undergo any discomfort.  You can hear Brick 'yelping' all the way back into the house!" 

Be aware that any roving animal can enter an electric fence area because they do not have a collar.  Read about fencing in your area; type your zip code in here:
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