Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Wireless Fence

A few weeks ago I bought the Petsafe Wireless Fence system for our house. The system includes a 18 kHz radio transmitter that mounts on the wall in the house and monitors the signal from the dog's reciever collar. When the transmitter loses the signal (when the collar crosses the owner-defined boundary) the reciever "corrects" the dog with an electric pulse. The receiver comes with two different length sets of contact points for short or long-haired dogsI had serious doubts about the effectiveness of the wireless system because my Savage is very sensitive and the corrections might scare him too much. I also know that it has been absolutely impossible to even slow him down when he sees the fox outside the house, and I didn't believe even an electric shock could stop him from chasing it. Installing the system was made difficult by the fact that the full 180 foot diameter of the "safe zone" passes through the thick woods behind our house, as well as around the yard and driveway, so I had to crawl through the brush to mark the boundaries. Also, the boundary flags included with the system were useless on snow-covered ground. Being white, they are almost invisible, and the thin wire just sunk into the snow. I solved that problem by buying an inverted can of orange spray paint and actually marking a continuous line on the snow. After shocking myself to see how strong the corrections were, I adjusted the collar to the #2 level (there are five levels of correction, plus beep-only mode), filled my pockets with treats, and set out to teach Savvy his new boundaries. In the beginning he was frightened, but easily learned that the uncomfortable shock is always preceded by beeping noises, and it took him only a couple hours over two days to fully understand the meaning of the orange line, and the consequences of stepping over it. In the following weeks, he has only attempted to cross the line twice when there are people in the yard beyond the safe zone. Each time he has gotten shocked and quickly turned back. We have had no fox sightings yet, so that may be a different story. For the first few days after he learned the boundaries, he stayed right next to me when we were in the yard, assuming that wherever I walked must be safe. Day by day he increased his roaming area, and now I think he's comfortable knowing where he is and is not allowed to go. His safe zone includes the yard, the porch, our trucks and snowmobiles, the grassy hill he uses as a bathroom, his designated "bone-chewing" area, and the woods behind the house.
So far the system has worked very well, and wasn't too time-consuming to install. Because we live on R.'s mother's property, and will be moving into our new house this summer (hopefully) I can't really put up a physical fence, and would reccommend the Petsafe Wireless Fence to anyone in a similar position. The transmitter is completely portable so I can set it up at the new place when we move. The second level of correction controls my 150 lb dog fine, and I feel comfortable letting him roam outside without watching him constantly, though I would never leave the house with him outside unattended. It gives both Savage and I a little more freedom, without putting him in danger. The entire system cost me about $270.00 and I feel that it's been worth it in only the short time we've been using it.
The only thing that bothers me is that the collar only comes in one color: red. And I was so hoping for purple. LOL.


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