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Electric Fences: the Pros and Cons


Jun 05, 2020 by Maurie Backman

If you're a pet owner, having your dog escape your backyard is probably among your worst nightmares. But locking your furry friend inside the house isn't a great solution, either, since dogs need to run around and burn off energy. If your backyard has a traditional fence that your dog can't jump over, you can probably let your pal run free without worry. But if you don't have a standard fence, and you're not looking to invest in one, then an electric fence may be a solution worth contemplating.

How much does an electric fence cost?

The average cost of an electric fence is about $1,200, reports HomeAdvisor (NASDAQ: ANGI), which is much cheaper than a traditional fence. The average cost of an electric fence is $2.40 per linear foot. For a vinyl fence, it's $20 to $40 per linear foot. And for a wooden fence, you're looking at $17 to $45 per linear foot. Of course, the larger your outdoor space, the more you'll pay, so you'll need to keep that in mind as you run the numbers.

How does an electric fence work?

An electric fence uses a signal that activates when your dog gets too close to your property line. Your dog wears a collar that gets triggered when that signal goes off via the delivery of a small shock. While that may sound scary, many pet owners and experts alike swear by the fact that these shocks aren't actually painful to dogs.

Benefits of an electric fence

An electric fence is an affordable way to keep your dog contained. Electric fences are also much easier to install than traditional fences, which means you may not need to hire a contractor to put yours in. And if you prefer the feel of an open yard, electric fences are invisible, whereas it's hard to hide the presence of an actual fence.

Drawbacks of an electric fence

While an electric fence may help keep your dog from escaping your property, it won't offer privacy like a traditional fence. Furthermore, while an electric fence may do a good job of keeping your dog contained within your yard, it won't help keep other animals out. So if your goal is to allow your dog to run free unsupervised, an electric fence may not solve that problem.

Furthermore, with an electric fence, you'll need to be really careful about replacing the batteries on your dog's associated collar. Otherwise, that fence will be rendered useless, and you'll risk having your dog escape -- and losing your pet for good.

Should you get an electric fence?

Some dog owners don't like the idea of their pets getting shocked, even if it's minor. If you feel the same, an electric fence clearly isn't for you. Furthermore, while your primary goal in getting an electric fence may be to keep your dog from running away, you may also find that if you're going to invest in a fence, you're better off with a physical enclosure that offers the benefit of privacy.

If you decide you're interested in an electric fence, you'll need to research your town's zoning laws to make sure you're allowed to put one in. You may also need to obtain a permit, so check on that before you get started.

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Maurie Backman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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