Things to Think About Before You Decide on Underground Pet Fencing
If you have a dog, live in a gated community, don’t plan to live in your home long, or just don’t want to invest thousands of dollars to fence in your yard to keep your pet contained, underground fencing may or may not be the best alternative for you.
Physical fencing typically runs from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars to install, but for some reason, people think invisible fencing is more expensive. It’s not. Invisible fencing typically averages $250 to $1500 for one pet depending on the quality the of the system, the size of the area to cover, and the type of collar you need.
“Underground fencing is much less expensive than a physical fence, so it really is a great alternative,” said Cathy Burrier, co-owner of Pet Stop of Central Virginia.
“Even though underground electric fences cost far less than physical fences, the cost of the fencing is still a concern for most people,” she said. “You can go to the store and buy a do-it-yourself fencing kit, but the quality of the components in the kit is much less than what you get with a professional installation.”
For instance, most kits come with an 18 or even 20-gauge wire. Professionals will typically install 16-gauge, high-quality wire that’s designed to last, and they have the equipment to efficiently and quickly bury the wire five inches underground where it’s safe from lawn mowers and weed eaters.
What Makes a Company Great
All underground fencing isn’t created equal and while there are big names in the game, a good underground fence system is about more than just the equipment. It’s about warranties, service, and troubleshooting after the purchase.
The things that matter to dog owners are service after the sale, and free troubleshooting and those are the options you want to research.
“Find out what you’re getting before you buy,” she said. “Get recent references, not just ones that are several years old. A good company can have great references, but change hands, or be under new owners who aren’t as good and their service can suffer.”
Make sure any references you get are from the last six months to a year. Ask about any experiences with customer service, troubleshooting, and add-on charges.
“You also want to ask, how quickly does the company respond to customers? How soon can you fix my problem? How much is a service call? Will you try to troubleshoot my problem over the phone before I have to pay for a service call? Do I need to bring my dog’s collar in for a free adjustment or can you do it over the phone?” Burrier said.
Things to ask before you buy underground fencing
- How long is my warranty and what specifically does it cover and not cover?
- Is there a cost for a service call? How much? Is it a set fee or does it vary?
- How much does a battery for the collar cost?
- Do you charge to help me troubleshoot an issue over the phone?
- Do you offer rechargeable collars or battery operated only?
- Do they have a range of equipment from lower to higher priced? You want to consider what your budget is and ask if there is a budget option with fewer settings and less of a warranty if cost is your main concern.
- Are there ongoing costs? Are you required to sign up for a monthly service agreement? Push for details on any service agreement and read the fine print.
- What features does each set offer? Having a collar that allows for the most settings and combinations of corrections, warnings, sounds, and options that allow the owner to adjust the collar to make it the most comfortable and effective for them and their dog. Lower cost collars may not give you the best correction level for your dog – giving off too weak, or too strong a correction. Learn the pros and cons of each, as well as the cost.
- Some collars will continue to “correct” or shock your animal until it comes back into the yard – depending on the type of settings your system has. Ask about possible scenarios and what settings fit which yards and houses. Buy a system that can be configured to your needs and pet.
- Collars used on dogs with underground fencing used to be called “shock collars.” They do not harm your dog but instead give off an unpleasant electrical impulse. Test out any system on yourself before you buy so you know what your dog will feel.
- All invisible fencing is vulnerable to weed eaters, lawn mowers, and yard care equipment. It’s better to have it professionally installed underground fencing at least 5 inches to protect it from standard lawn care and snow removal equipment.
- Don’t over or under buy. “People think if they have a big dog they need a higher correction level, or a bigger, more sophisticated collar, but that’s not true. The response to an underground fence is not dependent on size, but personality,” Burrier said.
- Ask about all costs associated with the fence. Some companies charge extra for return visits to train your dog on the fence, but that’s not required if you’re an active owner. “You don’t need to pay extra to pay someone to train your dog. The average dog is fully trained within two weeks or less and you don’t need to be a professional or hire one if you just follow the installer’s instructions.”