Electronic Fences—A Bad Idea

Spring has sprung, and our little canine friends, nostrils aquiver, are venturing forth into the great outdoors.  How can we keep them safe?  Some people consider installing an “invisible” fence – an underground, electrically-charged wire that, in conjunction with a special collar worn around a dog’s neck, delivers an electric shock when the dog steps across it. These electronic fences are easy to install, relatively inexpensive, and they don’t obstruct one’s view.  Unfortunately, however, one could argue that the risks of electronic fences greatly outweigh their benefits, especially for French Bulldogs.

Electronic fences rely on punishment as a training method.

French Bulldogs can be naturally stubborn and challenging to train, but they are also surprisingly sensitive.  Physical punishment (in this case in the form of a painful electric shock) is not a viable training tool for any dog, and certainly not for a Frenchie.

Electronic fences can cause severe behavior problems, including aggression and fearfulness.

French Bulldogs tend to be social little creatures.  Look up “aloof” in the dictionary, and you are not likely to see a picture of a Frenchie.  Say your Frenchie sees a nice lady walking with her toddler. She waddles over to greet them, and is zapped when she gets close.  In her pain and confusion, she might believe that the nice lady and/or the toddler were the source of the pain, and respond with fear or aggression.  Some dogs won’t leave their yards on leash for fear of a shock.  Some become afraid to go outside at all.

Dogs go through electronic fences.

Make no mistake about it, French Bulldogs are bulldogs through and through.  They can be willful.  A Frenchie might be perfectly willing to take a shock in order to get to that squirrel, dog, or (insert high-value item here), or to get away from something frightening like thunder.  Once outside the perimeter, she will be shocked when she tries to return, so she will instead wander off, completely vulnerable.

Electronic fences do not stop other animals from entering the yard.

Coyotes, wolves, bears, mountain lions… any one of these wild animals would love to feast on a scrumptious little Frenchie whose only crime is looking remarkably like a pot roast.  Loose dogs could attack, and if she tried to escape, she would be shocked by the electronic fence.  Some Frenchies have a high prey drive, and will chase wild, potentially disease-bearing animals that wander into the yard, not to mention your neighbor’s cat.  We’ll leave the whole skunk scenario to your imagination.

Electronic fences do not deter people from entering the yard.

We invite you to conduct an experiment.  Take a French Bulldog to any place where people congregate — a kindergarten class, a shopping mall, a Hell’s Angels clubhouse — place it on the floor and step away.  Observe what happens.  You will see that the majority of your subjects will immediately drop their crayons, blouses or socket wrenches, and lumber toward the grinning Frenchie like zombies.  They are people magnets. The sight of a Frenchie sitting alone in the middle of a lawn, surrounded by nothing but air screams “Pet me”, and in the case of more larcenous passers-by, “Take me”.

If you are considering installing a fence to contain your Frenchie, please keep in mind that a sturdy, visible, conventional fence is the safest, most humane option.  If this is not a possibility due to constraints placed upon you by a neighborhood association, frequent leashed walks are your best bet.