How Underground Pet Fences Work

The Correction

An underground pet fence is basically a psychological device. It cannot harm your pet. In fact, underground pet fences often have no deterrent value at all unless combined with training. You need to teach your pet where the boundary is, and inform your pet that going past the boundary is bad. Once you establish the rules, the collar is there to remind your pet about them when you are away.

The collar reminds your pet using different levels of correction, and how the fence system corrects your pet is up to you. Most underground or wireless pet fence companies offer two types of transmitters -- standard and deluxe -- and the correction options vary according to which transmitter you have. A basic transmitter can cover up to 25 acres of land and offers only a "warning and correction option." The advanced transmitter can cover up to 100 acres and offers three operating modes: "warning," "warning and correction," and "correction only."

With either type of transmitter system, when your pet gets too close to the boundary, its receiver will begin to beep -- this is the "warning." The closer your pet gets to the boundary, the slower the beep gets. If your pet ignores the warning and proceeds toward the boundary, the receiver will emit the correction of your choosing -- static electricity or a spray of citronella.

The static correction is similar to a static shock you get when you shuffle your feet across carpet and then touch a metal door handle. Citronella is commonly used in the candles you put on your porch or deck in the summer to keep the mosquitos away. It has a spicy, citrus smell that your pet's sensitive nose will find annoying. Neither correction is harmful to your pet. Rather, your pet will begin to associate the correction with the area in your yard where the boundary is.

How Will My Pet React?
With training, your pet will ideally retreat immediately once he hears the warning from his receiver. However, many pets will -- at one time or another -- test the boundary. Your pet will probably react in one of two ways:

  • RETREAT!!! (usually with tail between hind legs)
  • Hunker down and wait it out

Of course, you want your pet to retreat, not to wait around. A pet who "freezes" when the correction is delivered is being continually corrected, and that isn't pleasant for the pet or the owner. If this occurs, re-train your pet with a leash and teach him to retreat to back into the yard when he hears the warning.