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The Disadvantages of Invisible Electric Fences for Dogs

Have you been considering an invisible electric fence for your dog? After all, they have been gaining in popularity. But, before you decide on a system, there are some disadvantages of invisible electric fences for dogs that you need to be aware of.

With that thought in mind, let’s discuss the pros and cons of electric fences so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not they are right for your dog.

The Disadvantages of Invisible Electric Fences for Dogs

We know advertisements for an invisible dog fence make a lot of promising claims. However, owners must be aware of some important considerations before investing in such fences.

Most companies and manufacturers of electronic containment systems for dogs market their product’s qualities without mention of the drawbacks of such systems.

The fact is, there are several drawbacks when it comes to using electronic containment systems and most dog owners do not realize them unfortunately until after they have made the purchase.

What Are Electric Fences?

Electronic containment systems go by many names such as invisible fences, radio fences, or hidden fences.

By definition, an electronic containment system for dogs is simply a containment system that involves the use of an electronic transmitter, a receiver, and a buried underground wire.

How Do They Work?

Most electronic dog fences deliver a static correction when the dog goes through it, but some also deliver ultrasonic noises, a warning beep, or a sudden spritz of citronella.

You can have a company professionally install them or you can get a DIY kit. These are available at your local hardware stores and even on Amazon.

Dog with stick in his mouth

What are the Disadvantages of Invisible Electric Dog Fences?

While electronic pet fences may look like a good solution for people who cannot afford physical fences, there are important factors to keep in mind before committing to such devices.

The following are some risk factors dog owners should keep in mind.

They Are Expensive

Another disadvantage of electric fences is that they can be expensive to install and maintain.

A DIY kit for underground fences usually comes with the boundary wire, transmitter, one or more shock collars, and training flags to use as visual markers when training.

These kits can run $150 to $600 while a professional installation easily is over $1,000.

Possible Aggressive Reactions

Not all dogs react to electronic boundaries as wanted.

The problem is that electronic fences may have harmful side effects such as aggression and barrier frustration.

For example, a dog may see a person and want to greet him.

If upon going towards the person, the dog gets a shock, it may soon learn to associate the person with the shock and pain.

It is not surprising that after getting shock after shock, the dog starts barking and growling at people walking by.

Possible Fearful Reactions

Another potential problem is the risk of fearful reactions.

Some soft and more sensitive dogs may easily be intimidated by the shock, upon passing the barrier.

After repeated shocks, the dog may learn to be fearful of the yard.

This may lead to dogs that shut down and become reluctant to leave the porch or deck.

You may find that they are leary to even go outside to go to the bathroom.

That would be undesirable and hard to correct.

Dog digging a hole in yard

Do You Have a Digger?

If your dog is one that likes to wander or dig, he will have little trouble escaping from the confines of an electronic fence.

The wire that marks the boundaries of the electric fence is usually placed just a few inches below ground level and can be easily dug up by a determined dog.

However, they would get a shock if they tried this but never underestimate a determined dog’s abilities!

Is it Wet Outside?

In addition, electric fences do not work well in wet weather conditions as the electric current does not travel well through moisture.

So if your pup likes to play in the rain or snow, he will be able to easily escape from the confines of the electric fence.

Closeup of a smiling Husky

Possible Malfunctions

At times, dogs figure out how to outsmart the whole fencing system.

They may hear the beeping sounds which warn them they are getting too close to the boundary, but they know that if they run fast they can get to the other side with only a slight shock.

Some breeds such as Siberian Huskies and dogs with a high prey drive are particularly good at this.

In other cases, electric fence collars have stopped working or batteries die without the owner being aware.

You also have to allow for power failures. If the power is out so is the fence.

This could leave a dog stranded on the opposite side of an electric fence from his home and yard.

Requires Proper Training

Invisible fences normally come with a set of flags that you place around the perimeter of the area.

It is then your job to implement a training process in which you train your dog to associate the warning tones and the flags.

This requires multiple training sessions over a period of time in which your dog will learn to stop when it hears the warning signal.

Training takes time, effort, and patience. And, if done improperly, your dog can get unnecessary shocks.

Unwanted Critters

Another important consideration is that electronic fences will not keep other critters or other roaming wild animals from entering the boundaries.

This means other dogs, cats, and animals may freely enter the area your dog is contained in and even attack your dog.

Compared to a physical fence such as a chain link fence or wooden fence that would keep other animals out, an invisible fence can be a safety hazard for your own dog.

They Can Be Deadly

One of the primary disadvantages of electric fences is that they can be harmful or even deadly to dogs.

The shock from an electric fence can cause a dog to suffer from cardiac arrest, and in some cases, death.

In addition, electric fences are not always reliable and may not keep your pet within the boundaries you have set for them.

There Is No Guarantee

Lastly, there is no guarantee that an electric fence will keep your dog contained.

Regardless of advertisements, dogs have been known to jump over, dig under, or even run through the fence accepting the electrical shock to get out and run off.

Once the dog is on the other side, it may not be able to get back in because it will fear being shocked again.

This means that you may be risking your pet’s safety by using this type of containment system.

A large dog's nose sticking through a wooden slatted fence


As seen, there are a variety of pitfalls and disadvantages of invisible electric fences for dogs.

Dog owners are better off using a traditional fence that will stand up to determined dogs, or if they cannot afford it, they may try to work on boundary training their dog to respect boundaries without the aid of a fence.

If after reading these disadvantages you are still considering an electric fence for your dog, please do your research and be sure to talk with a professional before making a purchase.


Monday 20th of November 2023

So many communities in the surrounding area are HOA/COA's and fences aren't permitted (makes mowing easier)

Anne Perry

Sunday 5th of November 2023

I have never been a fan of electric fences.

Anne Perry

Sunday 5th of November 2023

I have never been a fan of electric fences.

Lauryn R

Wednesday 22nd of February 2023

While I do understand why some get electric fences, I feel like there are a lot of cons. I would personally not get one. If I did not have a fence, I would try to build a smaller enclosure or just take my dog on walks with lease on. This was such an informative post, thank you so much!

monique s

Tuesday 21st of February 2023

Such good information. I was looking into an electric fence and this shed real light on the downsides of doing it. Thanks

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