It’s been almost a year since we adopted our two dogs, Dreydl and Mattie, from the Seattle Humane Society. They are great companions, full of their own unique personalities, and both are almost a year old. They are dogs – they chew, bark, poop, dig, and as puppies have generally been appropriately mischievous.
Fortunately we have a pretty good size chunk of land out here, with plenty of areas to explore. We’re also on very good terms with our neighbors, who have their own chunks of land. That being said, it’s not too cool to have your new dogs run over the to neighbor’s yard to “explore.”
To our west we have neighbors that have an older dog and our ups would enjoy going over there to play with him, which I think he enjoyed as well. And although we live on a dead-end street we don’t want them wandering away from house into the road.
I had seen those “electronic fence” signs but I wasn’t keen on throwing down a couple of thousand dollars for someone to bury a coil around the property. I had also heard that those can decay (makes sense) and get unreliable. Exactly, what I did not want.
My neighbor, the one with the dog, suggested I look into a wireless fence. These basically work off of a transmitter and radiate a signal, in which the dogs, with collars, can roam freely. If they get near the radius of the set area, they get an audible “beep beep,” then if they go farther, they get a zap.
Ah, the zap. I was concerned about this as I am not into zapping my dogs. I wanted something that I could set the “zap level.”
I ended up with the PetSafe Wireless Containment System (model #PIF-300) for about $300. You can get various SKUs (and I bought mine through a reseller on eBay) that came with the transmitter, which is a bit larger than a gallon paint can, and two collars, with batteries, etc. There isn’t much to it, but the set up will take you a bit of time.
I had to find a spot where I could get a good broadcast signal and also maximize my dog’s usable space. It ranges out to a max of 90 feet in any direction. You also want to keep the transmitter dry, so after first trying my garage I ended up moving it to kitchen on a low shelf. They suggest you put the thing about a foot off the ground.
Turn it on, set the range dial (for me it was maximum), then snap in the batteries to the collars. The batteries look proprietary so I you need to get replacements by mail or at a pet store. Not much, $8 for two, but something to consider.
Then you go for a walk. You need to find the border and put a little PetSafe flag in the ground. Keep walking and you will hear a “beep beep.” Keeping in mind this thing radiates in a circle you can pretty quickly map out the area.
You can also dial up or down the zap. I dialed mine way down to 2. I actually did zap myself and it was a zap all right, but not much more than I would get from shuffling across the carpet and touching the TV (a pastime that has been left behind with CRTs, I’m afraid).
A big part of this is training the dogs. You need to have them on a leash and introduce them to the sound, the zap. They will get it, quick, but make sure they are ion a leash. You should also teach them the word “flag” so they know not to go further. It’s all in the book that comes with the unit.
Funny thing happened when I installed it. It worked great to my neighbors to the east, but there was no “border” to my west, with my neighbor that had a dog. Hmm….
Then it hit me. This guy has the same transmitter! Since we’re all on the same frequency, the circles are now overlapping, so my dogs can go to his house and vice versa. The thing is, his dog is twelve and knows very well not to leave the area. In fact, he wasn’t even sure the battery in his dog’s collar worked anymore. After he turned his transmitter off we actually had a good border. Suggested feature for the next PetSafe model – add in a frequency/channel switch if you plan on “word-of-mouth” sales. Just sayin’.
Am I satisfied? Yes, it works like a charm. You need to remember to put the collars on before they go out (and make sure you take them off before they get into the car!), but all in all it’s an excellent, easy, and affordable system.