Training Collar or Dog Fence

by Gajan Retnasaba on March 16, 2013

A reader has a question about whether to use a training collar or a dog fence system.

I am moving to an apartment next month and have 2 dogs, both Cocker Spaniels and about 20-25 pounds. With the new apartment we have a small area just around our apartment that is open for the dogs to go out and use the potty. Also we have a 150 acre off leash dog park within walking distance that I have taken them to once. The dog park is only partially fenced so the dogs could get out to the street, or venture into farther into the 2500 acre park.

My dilema is that I want to let the dogs out of the apartment to potty without having to leash them up, but they don’t always listen when they are distracted by birds or kids running by, and I don’t want them to run into the road. I was thinking of getting a wireless fence because I don’t think my apartment complex is going to let me go digging trenches in the yard. Would this work, and if so, would I be able to shrink the range to a small enough area to allow them to venture outside, without going into the road?

Or possibly, could I lay the wire by hand around the edges of the concrete sidewalks just deep enough that I wouldn’t need a trencher but still protect the wire from being exposed or cut?

Lastly, I was thinking of getting manual shock collars that I could control when we went to the big dog park so that if they start to venture I am able to stop them for their own safety. Should I save the money on buying the fence and just get manual collars and buy some of the flags and just train them not to pass the flags and manually shock them if they challenge the flag boundary as I only let them out to potty when I’m with them and never when I’m not.

Thanks for all your help in advance and sorry for throwing so many questions your way at once.

-Tyson

Hi Tyson,

We usually don’t recommend using a manual training collar as a substitute for a dog fence. Most people aren’t consistent enough in applying the correction and so usually only end up teaching the dog not to escape while they are looking.

In your case, I think the training collar would actually be the better choice. Since you will always be out with the dogs when they are in the apartment yard or the dog park, you will always be able to keep an eye on them. Although, instead of using flags, I would just teach them the ‘come’ command with the training collar and use that to establish the safe area of play.

I don’t think a wireless system is going to work well in your situation. They work best in big open areas where small variations in the boundary location don’t matter. They do poorly when operating over a small range, where even small movements in the boundary are significant, and where the dogs need to be able to reliably get near the boundary otherwise they effectively have no play area.

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