Posted by Pets Best on 10/17/2008 in General Articles
Owning a dog is a big responsibility, and having to train your dog to stay outside can be difficult at times. Many people decide to invest in invisible fencing, thinking that this is the best solution to keeping their dog contained. However, it is wise to research the long term health effects of invisible fencing on dogs before you decide to invest the money, time, and energy into buying one.
Invisible fencing works by burying a wire around your yard, typically where you would install a traditional fence. You then attach a special collar around your dog’s neck, and when he or she crosses the “invisible” line of the fence, they receive a shock. Many advocates of this type of training call it a “simple static electric shock.” Unfortunately, this is not always true. There have been people who have tried the collars on themselves, crossed the line, taken the shock and then realized that it is painful enough to cause limping, tingling and even nausea for hours afterwards. Different dogs can take different amounts of pain, so a shock that may be mild to one dog can be quite painful to another.
Long term health effects of invisible fencing can vary. For one, many dogs are so upset by the shock that they start to refuse to come outside. They are so scared of being shocked that they become languid, refusing to leave the house and cowering inside at times. Dogs may begin to live in fear that they will be electrocuted for normal behaviors. This can cause health problems gradually as the dog may become lazier and gain weight from lack of exercise, simply because they are too scared to venture outside. Psychological stress to a dog being trained with an invisible fence is very real indeed, and a problem that can lead to health problems later. These can include aggression and panicked behavior.
Some dogs simply do not respond to an invisible fence. Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are two breeds that have a high tolerance for pain. That being said, these breeds may not be stopped by the shock that an electric fence will give them and charge through it anyway. Repeated shocks to a dog can lead to changes in the dog’s system, such as the heart and respiration rate. It can also lead to gastrointestinal disorders and long term urinary problems.
Another long term health problem that can develop is the possibility of seizures. While there are still many disagreements over whether an invisible fence and the ensuing shock actually causes seizures, dogs that are epileptic may suffer a seizure if shocked. Dogs that have severe skin issues or sensitive skin can also suffer long term health effects from the use of an invisible fence since the collar must be worn outside at all times. There may also be prongs on the collar that have to be in close contact with skin, and these can cause long term irritations to the skin around the neck of many sensitive dogs.
Because the health effects of invisible fences can be unpredictable, be sure to monitor your dog’s health and behavior to determine whether or not an invisible fence is right for your dog.