The Controversy Surrounding Dog Fences: Are They Cruel or Necessary? DogFence

The Controversy Surrounding Dog Fences: Are They Cruel or Necessary?

Dog owners grapple with the responsibility of keeping their furry friends safe while allowing them the freedom to roam. One solution that sparks heated debates is the use of dog fences. While some argue that these fences provide necessary boundaries, others question their ethical implications, raising concerns about whether they are, in fact, cruel to use. At the end of the day, only an owner can decide whether dog fences are cruel or necessary to keep their pet safe but below may answer some questions.

The Purpose of Dog Fences:

Dog fences come in various forms, including physical barriers, electric or invisible fences, and wireless containment systems. The primary goal is to confine dogs to a specific area, preventing them from wandering into unsafe zones, encountering traffic, or disturbing neighbors. Proponents of dog fences emphasize the potential life-saving benefits and stress the importance of responsible pet ownership.

Ethical Considerations:

Critics argue that certain types of dog fences, raise ethical concerns. They argue that the use of aversive stimuli, like static correction, can cause distress and anxiety in dogs, leading to behavioral issues. However, studies by DEFRA and other worldwide investigations have found no evidence to substantiate these claims. Indeed the UK Government gave an endorsement to the use of such fences in 2018 as they recognised that they save pets’ lives.

Does a dog fence give an electric shock?

No, absolutely not! A dog fence gives out a static impulse, triggered only after the pet has had a warning beep and tailored to your pet’s own personality. It is the technology and sensation of an exercise belt, Tens machine, and nothing like your child’s “electric shock game!” A dog fence gives off a static pulse which is harmless – it is the same sensation as getting a static shock from a handrail or carpet.

Can a static harm my pet?

No, most owners are very surprised at how mild the static correction is and it is recognised worldwide that static “shocks” are very rarely harmful.  There is little risk attached to such electrostatic discharges People consider them to be more of a nuisance albeit a slightly uncomfortable one and it is this conditioning that is the basis of the success of containment fences. The pet quickly learns through training including visual and audible warnings to avoid the “static” area.

Contrary to popular myth it does not deter the dog or cat from entering the garden. Indeed leading Feline Expert Prof Daniel Mills endorsed the use of the fence and brilliantly described how the pet understands the fence system by stating “If I go into the kitchen and touch and oven when it’s hot, I am not afraid to re-enter the kitchen but I am aware that I must not touch the oven when its hot”.

Alternatives to Conventional Dog Fences:

As technology advances, alternatives to traditional dog fences have emerged. GPS-based tracking devices, have proved popular but do not offer a solution for keeping the dog or cat at home, just the ability to trace the pet.  Smart collars and positive reinforcement training are gaining popularity as more humane options. This new generation of pet fences offers further insight into a pet’s behaviour when the owner is not present.

Balancing Safety and Welfare:

The debate surrounding dog fences boils down to finding a balance between the safety of the pet and their overall welfare. Owners of pet fences and many pet professionals argue that when used responsibly and with proper training, conventional dog fences can provide a secure environment for dogs to thrive. On the other hand, opponents call for a shift towards more enclosed methods by giving the dog a secure enclosed area or keeping a dog under supervision to avoid breakouts.

When a dog escapes from a garden or an enclosed area, several factors can contribute to potential issues or damage:

  1. Traffic Accidents: Unsupervised dogs on the loose may run into traffic, leading to accidents or injuries to themselves and motorists.
  2. Property Damage: Dogs may dig, scratch, or chew on fences, gardens, or other property elements during their escape.
  3. Noise Complaints: Unattended dogs may bark excessively, causing noise complaints from neighbors.
  4. Animal Interactions: Escaped dogs might engage in confrontations with other animals, leading to fights or injuries.
  5. Injury to the Dog: Dogs can get injured or lost when they roam freely. They might encounter hazards like busy roads, toxic substances, or wild animals.
  6. Legal Issues: In some places, there are leash laws or regulations regarding pets’ confinement. If a dog is found roaming, it may lead to fines or other legal consequences for the owners.
  7. Death of the Pet: Dogs have an inbuilt prey drive, that is stronger in some breeds or personalities. A dog that is running free can cause untolled damage to livestock and this can sadly lead to the death of a pet by a farmer or through prosecution.
  8. Neighbour Relations: Frequent escapes can strain relations with neighbors, causing frustration and concerns about safety.

To prevent these issues, responsible pet ownership involves securing your property, training your dog to obey commands, and addressing any behavior issues that may contribute to attempts to escape. Regular exercise, mental stimulation, and attention can also reduce a dog’s desire to wander.


The question of whether dog fences are cruel hinges on the methods employed and the impact on the well-being of our canine companions. As responsible pet owners, it is crucial to carefully consider the options available, taking into account the safety and happiness of our furry friends. Striking the right balance between providing necessary boundaries and ensuring a positive, safe, and free environment is key to fostering a strong, loving relationship between humans and their canine companions.