Dog Containment Systems and Pet Containment Systems

How a Dog Containment Fence Works

Dog Fence Basic Layout
Diagram: Typical Dog Fence Layout

Dog Containment Systems, also known as Invisible Fences*, Pet Containment Fences, Radio Fences, Dog Fences, or Underground Fences, work using three main component:

  • Transmitter Box – the transmitter box usually resides in the your home or garage and sends weak radio signals out through the boundary wire. The controls on the transmitter box control how wide the signals radiate out from the boundary wire.
  • Boundary Wire – the boundary wire is laid around the perimeter of your yard to mark the boundary line that your dog cannot cross. There are wireless dog fences that do not require boundary wire, but they have drawbacks like less precise boundaries.
  • Receiver Collar – the receiver collars are worn by your dog, and listen for the radio signal sent out through the boundary wire.  When the dog nears the boundary wire, the receiver collar beeps to warn the dog to retreat. The collar corrects the dog with a mild static shock if they do not retreat.

To learn more about the different kinds of Dog Containment systems take a look at our Reviews of Dog Fence Systems or Dog Fence Recommendations to figure out which fence would work best with your dog.  Or learn about planning and installing your system and training your dog.


Why a Dog Fence Works

The dog learns there are negative consequences for approaching the boundary and so learns to avoid the boundary.  In much the same way we learn not to touch a hot stove by being told that it is bad and having a couple of bad experiences touching a bad stove, the dog learns not to go near the boundary by us training it to think crossing the boundary is bad and by having a couple of bad experiences going near the boundary and receiving the correction.  Psychologists call this process Operant Conditioning.


Idle Speculation

We have been installing Dog Fences for a while now, and have a theory as to why they are so successful.  We think that Dog Fences mimic the boundaries a dog would have in nature. The closest relatives to our domestic dogs were nomadic but they had boundaries. The boundaries were marked by geographic features such as waterway or biological features such as the presence of competing animals as indicated by scent. The wild dog knows where it is safe to go and more importantly it knows where it is not safe to go.

The domestic dog does not have any of that.  It is not obvious to the dog that it cannot go outside your yard or that it cannot go onto the road. The dog fence fills the gap. It gives your dog a territory and teaches them that leaving the territory without you can be dangerous.

You will find it fascinating to see the change in your dogs once they learn their boundaries. Dogs that were running wild, digging under traditional fences or darting out open doors seem to transform. Suddenly, they are happy in their territory. The dog is at peace and does not worry about things outside the boundary, it does not even see them.  We speculate that dogs crave boundaries and that the dog fence provides the boundaries they crave.


*Invisible Fence is a registered trademark of Radio Systems Corporation.

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