Wireless, underground fence ideal for some pet owners

Invisible fence keeps pet in without blocking view

An underground or wireless pet fence can be a great option for pet owners who don't want a physical fence between them and their neighbors.

Indianapolis homeowner Greg Smith, who has six Chihuahuas, opted for an underground fence.

"We actually installed it shortly after we moved here about three years ago," Smith said. "It was working with either that one or a regular fence, and it seemed more convenient for us to still see the nature, still see the wildlife in the back if we used an underground fence."

Homeowners can tailor the layout of the fence to restrict virtually any area – it can run around the entire yard, flower beds, the swimming pool or the kids' play area.

Bob Swarm, with Indiana Dog Fence, said some training is necessary to teach pets about the fence.

"When they go out and get near the line, the collar reads the radio signal and the dog will get a tone, and that's warning that you need to get back," Swarm said. "So really the training is all about teaching the dog to back up when it hears the tone."

Angie Hicks, with Angie's List, said any pet owner thinking about installing an underground fence should talk to pros beforehand.

"You want to be sure you are talking to an installer about the type of training that is incorporated with the cost of the fence," Hicks said. "If you are concerned about the charge that comes with the fence and your pet, you should also consult with your veterinarian."

Swarm said wireless fences -- and the shocks used to keep pets inside them -- have gotten safer in recent years.

"It used to be when I started here 10 years ago we had four shock levels. Now we have 13," he said. "A lot of times I'll insist a homeowner feel it. I'll say, 'I want you to know what your dog is experiencing.' It eases their mind a lot to know that their dog is not getting zapped to a point where it's making them fearful."

The collars contain batteries that typically need to be replaced every three to four months, which can cost between $15 and $20.

Even with the added cost of batteries, Hicks said a wireless fence can still save homeowners money.

"An invisible fence can be less expensive than a traditional fence," she said. "It can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a thousand dollars depending on the size of the area that you are trying to contain."

Though underground and wireless fences can help keep pets in certain boundaries, it's important to remember that these systems cannot keep other animals out of a yard.

Also, before installing any type of fencing, homeowners should check with their local municipality and homeowner's association about any specific requirements.

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