Whether it’s the neighbor’s cat or a passing car on your street, sometimes it seems like a dog’s instinct is to give chase to virtually anything that moves. This behavior is one of the reasons a growing number of dog owners are installing electronic fences to help keep their canine companions safe and secure in the confines of the yard.

While many people endorse these hidden fences* for their efficacy with smaller breeds, some dog owners wonder: Do electronic fences work for big dogs? This guide will examine whether electronic fences meet the challenge of containing our larger furry companions.

Understanding Electronic Fences

An electronic fence is pretty straightforward. Think of it as an invisible boundary that gently reminds your dog, “Hey, don’t cross this line!” Now, how does it do that? The fence uses two key components: the transmitter and the receiver (usually a collar your dog wears).

The transmitter sends signals through a boundary wire, which your DogWatch installer will bury underground around the area you want to keep your dog within. This wire is like the magic line that defines where your dog can and can’t go. If Fido starts to get a bit adventurous and approaches the boundary, the receiver (or dog collar) picks up the signal from the wire and delivers a subtle static shock (or correction). It’s not harmful—just a nudge saying, “Maybe you shouldn’t go that way!”

That’s the magic of electronic fences: A smart combination of a transmitter, boundary wire, and a receiver collar keeps your furry pal safely within your desired space.

Yellow Labrador retriever staying in yard with electronic fence flags around the property

Considerations Specifically for Big Dogs

You now know how electronic fences work, but the question remains: Do electronic fences work for big dogs? First, let’s factor in some unique challenges for larger breeds.

The World Through Your Dog’s Eyes

The way big dogs perceive the world around them can be vastly different from their tinier counterparts. Larger dogs often have a stronger prey drive, heightened curiosity, and are more territorial. This means that they might be inclined to bolt when faced with an external stimulus—like the neighbor’s cat sauntering just out of reach or a squirrel scampering up the tree across the street—regardless of the fence boundary.

Proportional Correction

Now, let’s talk about the correction mechanism. With some dogs, a gentle nudge from the collar when they approach the boundary might suffice. But for dogs with a stronger prey drive, that might not be enough to distract the dog from their object (or critter) of interest. The intensity of the correction must be adjusted to be adequate to deter them without causing distress or harm. It’s a delicate balance, and what works for a older lap dog won’t be the same for a eager young herding dog.

The Power of Big Dogs

Another element to consider is the sheer strength and speed of big dogs. If they decide to run at the boundary, they’ll cover ground much faster than smaller breeds. This requires the electronic fence system to respond quickly and effectively.

Nonetheless, electronic fences do work for big dogs. You just need to calibrate the equipment according to your dog’s size, strength, and mindset.

Two Great Pyrenees dogs standing in snow on a farm property

Benefits of Using Electronic Fences for Big Dogs

Big dogs are lovable, huggable creatures with big personalities to match. However, keeping them safe in the yard poses unique challenges. While various methods are available, electronic fences have emerged as a popular choice for numerous reasons. Let’s delve into the distinct benefits of electronic fences tailored for our larger canine companions.

1. Cost-Effectiveness

Building a traditional fence, especially one tall and robust enough for bigger breeds, can be costly. On the other hand, electronic fences often come at a fraction of that price, ensuring your dog’s safety without draining your pockets. Furthermore, traditional fences deteriorate from exposure to the elements, requiring costly repairs and replacement. With electronic fences, maintenance is minimal, usually limited to battery replacements or occasional system checks.

2. Flexibility

Every yard is unique, and electronic fences easily adaptable. Unlike traditional fences that adhere to linear and fixed designs, electronic fences allow you to craft boundaries that suit your yard’s peculiarities. Steep terrain, wooded areas, or ponds can complicate the installation of a traditional fence. Electronic fences seamlessly integrate, ensuring that natural obstacles don’t compromise your dog’s safety.

3. Aesthetic Advantages

Preserving the visual charm of your yard is another consideration. Electronic fences, being invisible*, don’t obstruct views or alter the visual harmony of your surroundings. If you’ve toiled over your garden or invested in landscaping, an electronic fence ensures none of that beauty is hidden behind wooden slats or metal bars.

If you have large dogs, electronic fences offer an effective, economical, and elegant solution to ensure their safety.

Two Great Dane dogs with owners in Montana

The Importance of Training Big Dogs After Installing Electronic Fences

Aside from installing the electronic fence and setting the correction, you must train your dog.

Why Training Is Pivotal

Even though electronic fences work well for big dogs, they’re only as effective as the training accompanying them. Larger canines often come with a bold streak, a sense of curiosity, or a dash of stubbornness.

Without proper understanding and respect for the boundaries set by the fence, there’s a risk that the dog might either consistently test the limits or become anxious around the yard. Training, especially when conducted by experienced pet fence expert, ensures the electronic fence serves its purpose: keeping your dog safe within a designated area without causing distress.

Basic Training Steps and Boundary Reinforcement

  1. Introduce the Flag Markers: Set up flag markers along the boundary. These give your dog a visual cue of where the limits lie.
  2. Leash-Walk Along the Boundary: With the receiver collar on and the leash connected to the dog’s regular collar, walk your dog near the boundary, allowing them to explore and understand the visual markers.
  3. Incorporate the Correction: Once they’re familiar with the flags, turn on the collar. Let them approach the boundary. When they get the warning beep or feel the correction, redirect them back into the safe zone with positive reinforcement like treats or praise.
  4. Practice Consistently: Regular, short training sessions are more effective than infrequent, lengthy ones. Over time, reduce and eventually remove the flags as your dog starts respecting the boundary.
  5. Create a Safe and Positive Experience: Proper training ensures the electronic fence becomes a safe tool rather than a source of fear or confusion.

A properly trained dog understands and respects the limits, reducing the chances of repeated corrections. More so, it guarantees peace of mind for the owner and a positive, restriction-free experience for the dog, where they can play and roam without constant supervision.

German Shepherd dog in front yard with DogWatch flags in background

Maintenance and Equipment Checks

Just as with any system, regular checks and maintenance are essential for an effective electronic fence, especially when it’s responsible for the safety of our large canine buddies. A primary concern is the battery life of the collars. A depleted battery negates the fence’s functionality, potentially putting your dog at risk. Make it a habit to check and replace them as needed.

It is also important to remove your dog’s receiver collar at the end of day. Removing the collar when not in use helps prevent irritation of the dog’s skin. If you have a puppy, be sure to monitor the collar fit, as they’ll need larger collar straps as they grow.

Routine maintenance isn’t just about the collar, though. Periodically inspect the transmitter and the boundary wire for any signs of damage or wear. Ensure the connections are secure and the system is responsive.

Moreover, never compromise on equipment quality and durability. Big dogs might be more boisterous or adventurous, demanding sturdier equipment to handle their energy and size. Investing in durable gear upfront can save future hassles and ensure consistent functionality.

Rottweiler puppy wearing DogWatch collar

DogWatch Helps Keep Your Dog Safe and Secure

By now, it should be clear that electronic fences work for big dogs. And, if you want to give your four-legged friend the freedom to roam outdoors without sacrificing their safety and security, DogWatch has you covered!

We offer high-quality electronic fences and a host of other products to keep your pet safe outdoors. Don’t compromise on your pet’s safety or happiness. Choose DogWatch today and experience peace of mind like never before.

DogWatch flag closeup with dog in background

*Hidden fences are often mistakenly referred to generically as “invisible fences.” Invisible Fence® and Invisible Fencing® are Brand names, products and registered trademarks of Invisible Fence, Inc. Compare DogWatch® to Invisible Fence®.