Invisible Fences
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  • So I moved in with my boyfriend 2 months ago. We have a lovely house with, more importantly to me, a HUGE, mostly flat backyard with lots of fun wildlife. Since I first got basenjis about 4 years ago, all I've ever wanted is a big, SAFELY FENCED, back yard for them to run and chase squirrels and be silly and play.
    Of course, the boyfriend has a bulldog, who hates any form of exercise, and does not run or chase things. He does not have much of a need for a fence.
    We're butting heads on fencing. Neither one of us wants to break up the view or the flow of the backyard; none of our neighbors have fences. I was hoping for an invisible fence/picket fence combo to contain my two basenjis. However, he doesn't even want a picket fence. He says I can have an invisible fence and nothing more.
    I will say this: this is my boyfriend's house. He is on the mortgage, and if we break up, he has to live with anything I've changed. He is very tolerant of basenjis although he is a bulldog guy, and we agree on virtually everything else. So breaking up with him over the fence and the bulldog is not a possibility ;) I just want to know if anybody else has had success with basenjis and invisible fences. I know they are not ideal, and I don't worry about Lola. Lola is very eager to please, and follows boundaries set for her (ie: although she can, she won't jump over a baby gate put up in a doorway because she knows she's not supposed to.) However, Callie can and will jump over baby gates, and one of her littermates discovered she could run the battery down on an invisible fence collar by standing close enough to set off the warning beep and then simply walk away.
    It seems to be my only option at this point; I'd just feel more comfortable with hearing some success stories or advice. I would not be leaving them unattended outside and would exercise more caution with an invisible fence than I would with a full privacy fence.
    Any words of wisdom, consolation, or advice?

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  • Don't buy one of those. If they would see something they want to chase, an invicible fence won't stop them!!

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  • I have friends with far better behaved dogs than mine, ones with far better recall and history of off leash work and they wouldn't trust their dogs to an invisible fence.

    There are just so many issues with invisible fencing and not just the dog leaving the property but really serious issues with dogs developing aggression issues because they associate things near them with the shock. Also, there is the issue that invisible fences don't keep people out and we hear far too often on this list about the stupid neighbor who lets their kid trespass on private property to run up on the dog and gets bit and it is always the dog that ends up having to pay. Many of the instances the owners were there but just couldn't get there fast enough. IMO, no fence = no yard for dog. If you are good with leash walks and dog parks then, no big deal. If not, then he really needs to listen to your very real concerns for your dogs' safety and your liability if something happens (or his since it is his homeowner's insurance people will go after since that is where the deep pockets are).

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  • Eeeek!! Panic Attack!!! I have to agree with Voodoo - basenjis have a very Strong Prey Drive- and an invisible fence will not hold them back if they see a squirl or fuzzy animal they want to get. And even most owners with fences sometimes even have scarry occurances of "Houdini" Basenjis that find ways to escape/or/scale them. An Electric fence - to a basenji- they would say to you "what fence"…"I see nothing" ...."hmmm that was weird- what was that zap?....oh-well -never-mind" and go right through....

    My dog Star is very prey driven - and even when walking her with her choke/or/pinch collar- she will strongly/persistanly pull me towards a tree when wanting to "tree-a-squirl" and no pulling back - at that momment of instinct - distracts her from her prize. I know if I did not have a fenced yard- she would be gone in a heartbeat.

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  • I can give you a compromise idea. How about something like this…..much less visible than the average fence....

    http://www.invisible-deer-fence.com/invisible-deer-fences/deer_fence_rolls_2.htm#metalHexagrid

    And back it up with invisible fence, so your dogs won't be tempted to try to get through it. I think invisible fence is best used to keep the dogs off the regular fence. They are unlikely to stand getting zapped for long enough to climb, dig under, or damage the regular fence.

    I concur that invisible fence alone is probably not the best solution for a Basenji, unless you have done the fence training very thoroughly and are also supervising and never leaving them alone. However, I would disagree that invisible fence is any more likely to make a dog aggressive than any fence they can see through. What you get is "normal" fence fighting/chasing, if the dog is prone to it, which tends to make him want to get at what is tempting/teasing him. Of course, with invisible fence if he is tempted too far, he may ignore the shock and run through it.

    In my experience, a properly trained (ah, there's the rub!) dog understands that he "controls" the shock, and need never feel it unless he "chooses" to, in the same way that horses fully understand they don't need to get a jolt from electric fence. And believe me, they know how close they can get without suffering any consequences! (they also know when the fence is off, but that is another subject) :)

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  • I would never trust a Basenji or any other dog for that matter to an invisable fence… Not only will a dog run through, it will not come back because on the way back the dog is not prey driven to run past the shock.. and worst then that it doesn't keep out other dogs, people, critters.

    Here is a scenario for you: Invisable Fence, neighborhood children... teasing the dogs.. dog tries to get to the ones doing the teasing.... gets shocked.. then the ones doing the teasing crosses the invisable fence line... dog is NOT happy...

    Think that can't happen.... think again. I fully agree with lvoss

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  • @eeeefarm:

    However, I would disagree that invisible fence is any more likely to make a dog aggressive than any fence they can see through. What you get is "normal" fence fighting/chasing, if the dog is prone to it, which tends to make him want to get at what is tempting/teasing him. Of course, with invisible fence if he is tempted too far, he may ignore the shock and run through it.

    You may disagree but the information out there supports that dogs do make negative associations with objects, people, or animals near them when they get shocked and this can cause fear and aggression. Yes, it is true that barrier frustration can be an issue but it is not the same as fear aggression caused by the negative associations caused when the dog is shocked.

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  • I really appreciate all of the feedback…. these were all concerns of mine. I don't worry so much about the children aspect as we live on the end of a quiet street. The children around us are all teens, and there are a lot of dogs around so they all seem pretty dog savvy. I wouldn't be leaving them out unattended, but we have a HUGE yard, so it would be impossible for me to beat my dogs from one end to another if something happened. Also concerned because we have a lot of deer. If its baby season, I know deer can be extremely protective.
    My biggest concern is prey drive, and there is a LOT of very interesting prey on our street. Unfortunately, our across the street neighbors have an invisible fence for their two mixed breed dogs. My boyfriend talked to them, and now he is sold on an invisible fence. Their dogs don't seem too driven to go after anything, human, prey or otherwise, and they seem pretty well socialized (they let Callie & Lola cross their invisible fence when they were supervised by myself and their own owners and mine were on leash).
    I'll just use all of this in my argument.... I'd really like a physical barrier AND invisible fence combination.

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  • Why not a physical, visual barrier with a shock device on it? Like they use with horses and such? There are devices that don't have that much wattage, so only small chocks that 'suprise' the dog. Used one with my racoondogs and worked perfect. They ran against it twice and then allways stayd at a little distance from it.

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  • @Voodoo:

    Why not a physical, visual barrier with a shock device on it? Like they use with horses and such? There are devices that don't have that much wattage, so only small chocks that 'suprise' the dog. Used one with my racoondogs and worked perfect. They ran against it twice and then allways stayd at a little distance from it.

    The whole reason for this discussion is that my boyfriend is opposed to a physical, visual barrier. He will only allow an invisible fence unless I can convince him otherwise.

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  • @lvoss:

    You may disagree but the information out there supports that dogs do make negative associations with objects, people, or animals near them when they get shocked and this can cause fear and aggression. Yes, it is true that barrier frustration can be an issue but it is not the same as fear aggression caused by the negative associations caused when the dog is shocked.

    Dogs certainly can make negative associations with something if they are not introduced to it properly. This, I suspect, is unfortunately most often the case when people buy something and expect instant results without regard for the necessary training. A dog who understands invisible fence knows it has nothing to do with the people or animals that come and go. I have a few friends who use it to make sure their farm dogs don't go visiting when they aren't around. The dogs understand the fence perfectly, and are also "collar wise" and know once the collar is removed they are free to go about their farm chores and cross the fence line without repercussions…..but these dogs were properly trained to the fence. (and yes, one of them will run through it to chase coyotes off the property......generally not, otherwise.)

    @Andrew:

    Also concerned because we have a lot of deer. If its baby season, I know deer can be extremely protective…....I'll just use all of this in my argument.... I'd really like a physical barrier AND invisible fence combination.

    Then why not look into the deer fence at my link, as then you would have your physical barrier and also a deterrent to having deer in your yard. :)

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  • You can put some plants along the borders, make a high rock garden, put some fences that you paint in a nice color (or even write a love po?m for him on them :D). A fence doesn't have to look like a fence to be effective. ;)

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  • It is not about being properly introduced, it is about what is around when the shock is delivered because even "properly introduced and trained" dogs have been documented to make negative associations with things in the environment near them when the shock is delivered. There are trainers all over this country whose primary business has become to rehab dogs whose owners use invisible fences. Some of those owners didn't train their dogs properly and that contributed to the issues but some spent big bucks to hire professionals to do the training and still ended up with huge issues with their dogs because of the invisible fence.

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  • @eeeefarm:

    I can give you a compromise idea. How about something like this…..much less visible than the average fence....

    http://www.invisible-deer-fence.com/invisible-deer-fences/deer_fence_rolls_2.htm#metalHexagrid

    And back it up with invisible fence, so your dogs won't be tempted to try to get through it. I think invisible fence is best used to keep the dogs off the regular fence. They are unlikely to stand getting zapped for long enough to climb, dig under, or damage the regular fence.

    That is a great looking fence! You could combine it with either invisibile fence, or hot wire fence to keep them away from it. There is also aluminum fencing that looks like wraught iron…that is attractive, and doesnt spoil the view, but will keep the dogs in. Both of these are pretty pricey, though...

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  • Oh, and no…I wouldn't trust invisible fence with my dogs. That being said, I have clients (witout Basenjis) that are very happy with it. I might use it if I really needed to keep a dog out of a certain area in the yard, but I wouldn't trust it as a barrier....for all the afore mentioned reasons.

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  • @lvoss:

    It is not about being properly introduced, it is about what is around when the shock is delivered because even "properly introduced and trained" dogs have been documented to make negative associations with things in the environment near them when the shock is delivered. There are trainers all over this country whose primary business has become to rehab dogs whose owners use invisible fences. Some of those owners didn't train their dogs properly and that contributed to the issues but some spent big bucks to hire professionals to do the training and still ended up with huge issues with their dogs because of the invisible fence.

    O.K we will have to agree to disagree.

    "documented to make negative associations with things in the environment near them when the shock is delivered"

    Documented by who? Who witnessed the training, the "association", etc. I am always suspicious of generalized comments. You can prove pretty much whatever you want with statistics. (perhaps those would have been problem dogs no matter whether they ever experienced shock or not?) You can also not go by results in a lab, because in the real world there are way too many variables to control. With invisible fence, if the dog is trained correctly it never experiences shock after the initial training, since the collars typically supply a "tone" or "vibration" when the dog is getting close to the fence. Most dogs heed the warning signal, thereby not experiencing shock again. Some dogs learn they can run through it…...a momentarily unpleasant feeling.....but again, it isn't a matter of not knowing they will get a jolt.

    "Shock" training sounds nasty, but it works because most of us do not enjoy the sensation and try to avoid it. I hate getting zapped by my electric fence. My neighbour, OTOH, will touch it to make sure it is on! Not me. If I touch it accidentally, I mutter obscene words under my breath, but I don't really feel like biting anyone......nor do my horses, or any dog I have yet met.

    BTW, "Professional" means you got paid, it doesn't necessarily mean you know what you are doing! :D

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  • Unless you live in a deed restricted neighborhood with fence rules, that deer fence looks great,likely easy to put up and take down, not 'forever' fencing, and doesn't block the view.

    We have a friend who tried to use an invisible fence with his basenji, she would just put her head down and run through it, and not come back across it, actually became afraid to come back into the yard.

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  • Here's another alternative from the same site, which they are marketing as "portable". Won't keep the deer out, but should work unless your dogs are keen on jumping. :)

    http://www.topdogfences.com/products/electric_fences/kits/index.htm#mesh

    The only real caveat I have about electric fence is that they don't work in a power failure, or if they have been shorted out. It is necessary to check them constantly, and I for one would not go away for the day and trust my (non reliable) dog to stay inside one. But if you want something to contain them while you are home, it might be a good compromise.

    Basenjis are not Border Collies, and if they can figure out a way past the fence, they will. (Once upon a time, I inadvertently left my Border Collie on a down stay, got distracted and went to town. Two hours later, when I returned, he was exactly where I had left him. No Basenji I have met would ever do that!)

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  • S

    Good luck, I think you need to put your foot down and tell your partner that it has to be a barrier fence.

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  • Here are some published journal articles on invisible fences and shock collars.

    Polsky, Richard, (2000), Can Aggression in Dogs Be Elicited Through the Use of Electronic Pet Containment Systems?, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 3(4), 345-357

    Schilder, Matthijs B.H. and van der Borg, Joanne A.M., (2004), Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effects, Applied Animal Behavior Science 85 (2004) 319-334

    Schalke, E., Stichnoth, J. and Jones-Baade, R., Stress Symptoms Caused by the Use of Electric Training Collars on Dogs (Canis familiaris) in Everyday Life Situations, Current Issues and Research in Veterinary Behavioral Medicine,

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  • @lvoss:

    Here are some published journal articles on invisible fences and shock collars.

    Polsky, Richard, (2000), Can Aggression in Dogs Be Elicited Through the Use of Electronic Pet Containment Systems?, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 3(4), 345-357

    Schilder, Matthijs B.H. and van der Borg, Joanne A.M., (2004), Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effects, Applied Animal Behavior Science 85 (2004) 319-334

    Schalke, E., Stichnoth, J. and Jones-Baade, R., Stress Symptoms Caused by the Use of Electric Training Collars on Dogs (Canis familiaris) in Everyday Life Situations, Current Issues and Research in Veterinary Behavioral Medicine,

    Interesting articles. The first one appears relevant to the topic, as it deals with invisible fence systems. The author has a PHD, is prominent as a dog bite expert, and is available as a professional "expert witness" for court cases. His subjects for this study are limited and his data is anecdotal. His conclusions are also qualified. ("the implication that shock was associated with, or the cause of, the dog's attack remains tenuous") Reading the actual cases was illuminating. The mistakes made by the owners were obvious, and the training received by the dogs…...all five of them......inadequate. I believe the last incident in particular would have had the same result had the dog been contained behind a physical fence and gotten out. Still, it makes for entertaining reading. www.dogexpert.com/…/Electronic%20fences.pdf

    The second, supposedly clinical, study referenced makes use of GSD's undergoing military training. The study is not double blind, and I believe it is not peer reviewed. The conclusions are entirely subjective, as all observed dogs appeared to have some stress from their training, whether they were shocked or not, and the observers (who knew which dogs had had shock training) assessed that the shocked dogs were more affected. Not a very scientific approach. And not directly related to invisible fence.

    The third reference is the most interesting, and in fact proves my point. The researchers document that poor timing on the part of the trainer can result in unintended associations (they mention that this is also the case with reward based training, but since reward based training is less resistant to extinction it presents less of a problem).

    So I will give you this: invisible fences are not a good idea if the training isn't properly carried out, and since many (most?) people are unlikely to take the necessary time to do the job right, there will be incidents when improperly prepared dogs may make undesired associations, possibly resulting in transferred aggression. I doubt this has resulted very often, but it is possible that it has happened. That said, I believe there are many, many more incidents involving dogs on leashes in public places biting people…...perhaps we should all stop walking our dogs! :)

    (BTW transferred aggression is an interesting thing. I'm sure I am not the only one who has witnessed dogs who normally like each other attack each other because they can't get at the thing they really want. "When you can't bite the one you want, bite the one you're with")

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