Much of what makes our modern technology work is invisible. Our cell phones, televisions, and computers receive images and sounds through the air. GPS talks to satellites and tells us where we are, and our printers whir into motion, no strings attached. The invisibility of the workings of technology makes it all a little mysterious; some people even find it scary; our ancestors would have called it “magic.”

Electric fence, invisible fence, hidden dog fence, underground dog fence—What images do these terms conjure up in your mind and in the minds of other dog owners who are considering installing an electronic pet containment system? There are many misconceptions about hidden fences. Some people envision a live electric wire under an inch or two of soil running around the perimeter of their property, others imagine a kind of invisible force field surrounding their border. Many people assume that electronic fences keep pets in their yards by “punishing” them with an electric shock if they try to leave the yard.

Don’t let misconceptions keep you and your pet from enjoying the freedom and security of a Hidden Fence. Let us clear some things up. We call DogWatch’s outdoor pet containment system a “hidden fence” because it acts like a fence, keeping your pet inside a designated area, but there are no visible impediments. How does it accomplish this?

The Technology

Though electricity is essential to power the Hidden Fence system, the wire that creates the hidden fence does NOT carry an electrical charge. There is no danger of being shocked when crossing it and no danger if the wire gets wet; you can hold the wire in your hand and you won’t feel a thing. The buried wire is an antenna that transmits a radio signal from a transmitter that’s installed somewhere in your house or garage. Your pet wears a “radio receiver” on its collar that picks up that radio signal.

When the radio signal is picked up by the battery-operated “receiver” attached to your pet’s collar, it triggers a warning tone that, once trained, your dog recognizes. If the dog moves away from the underground wire, the receiver no longer receives the radio signal and the tone is silenced. If, however, the dog continues to move closer to the underground wire, he will receive a static shock, much like the static shock you receive when you walk across a nylon carpet and then reach for a metal doorknob—not drop-to-your-knees painful, but unpleasant enough to be avoided.

With the DogWatch system, the correction that the dog receives can be adjusted in strength and in the distance the signal transmits from the boundary wire. These and other adjustments allow the system to be set to the temperament of the pet – for those who need only a gentle reminder to those for whom escape is a never-ending challenge game.

Teaching Your Pet

Technology is an essential part of the effectiveness of an electronic fence, but it is not the only component. Your dog doesn’t automatically sense where the boundary is, nor that he needs to stay within that boundary, until you teach him.

A Hidden Fence is NOT a punishment system. It’s a training tool. You teach your pet to understand the containment area through voice commands, audible warning signals from the receiver collar, and visual flags that are set inside the boundary. He goes through a training session with you for a few minutes each day for 7 to 10 days. With training, the dog remembers the placement of the flags and associates the flags with the audible signal from the collar. He learns that if he goes beyond the flags he will receive an unpleasant static shock. Most dogs (and cats) are pretty smart and learn to avoid this by staying within the flags and by moving away when they hear the warning signal.

As the dog learns to stay within the boundary area, the flags are slowly taken away. At this point, most dogs know where the boundary is even without the visual cue, and if they forget, the audible warning signal from the collar is a gentle reminder not to go any further. That is usually all it takes for most dogs. Knowing where the boundary is allows your pet to play freely and safely in his own yard. And that makes for a very happy dog.

No, the Hidden Fence is not magic, but it will seem like magic to see your pet enjoying the outdoors while you are confident that he will remain in the safe environment that the Hidden Fence has created.