Safety Tip: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

What is the purpose of a fence? It may seem like a silly question, but when you think about it, the answers do vary- so it is not that silly of a question. One of the first questions a breeder may ask of a prospective home is, “do you have a fenced yard?” If the answer is, “Yes” then a follow up question of, “what type of a fence is it?” needs to be asked- why? Because the answer to that question gets at the true nature of the purpose of the fence.

Fences that surround pools for example are there to provide the pool owner with “liability insurance” – to keep children and animals from “accidently falling in”. Some fences are decorative in nature. Some fences are for privacy so that your neighbors can’t see directly into your living space. Some fences are to protect the neighborhood children-outside the fence- from a large dog which is inside the fence. In the case of sheltie breeders, we want fences that will protect the dog-inside the fence- from the large dogs (and children) that are outside the fence. I consider fences to be a protection of my family member- a kind of “dog insurance”.

I am not a fan of Invisible fences. They do not serve to protect the dog within the fenced area from dangers that may come into the yard. I personally know of 5 people whose SHELTIES were KILLED by attacking dogs. Additionally, one dog that I bred and sold to a pet home was attacked by a large dog. This sheltie survived, but did have extensive damage. It happens a lot. I don’t know what it is about shelties, but they seem to wear a sign that says, “bite me”. I wouldn’t be surprised to have many of you leave comments saying things like, “yeah- a (such and such dog) attacked my sheltie while we were at the (park, agility trial, walking in the neighborhood….)”. Home associations might like invisible fences, but I don’t. They do not protect the dogs within their boundaries.

In my opinion, if the purpose of the fence is to enclose a dog, it must be an actual physical barrier. If it is not, then other dogs (or kids) can enter your yard and cause harm to your dog. This physical barrier must also reach the ground. There should not be spaces where a dog could squeeze out. Dogs can squeeze out of very small spaces.

I don’t always require prospective buyers to have fences. I often feel that people who get young puppies can teach the puppies boundaries, but be forewarned, when someone says to me, “I am always with them when they are outside”- just remember that just because you are out with them, it may not be enough to protect them. It does no good to see them get hit by the car. If you get a dog and you don’t have a fenced yard, you have to work doubly hard to help your dog understand boundaries, and this means that yes, they will test those boundaries, just to make sure you mean it. Hopefully, this will happen in your presence, and at a time when no car is coming, or big dog is chasing. If you do have an invisible fence, you should also never let your dog out unsupervised. It is just too dangerous for your dog.

SquirrelGurl  – (September 9, 2009 at 10:34:00 PM PDT)  

it's funny what you said about other dogs wanting to bite shelties... I have noticed on more than one occaision in the dog park that dogs have taken an unusually keen interest of my Stormy dog. Even if we are in the corner playing and fetch and ignoring everyone else. They seem drawn in by some imaginary force and won't leave him alone.

He's been bitten once, and well, that was by another sheltie. They were running and that dog without warning grabbed Stormy by the head. No harm done but it still was scary.

I agree about fencing, it's as much to protect what's inside as it is to protect what's outside. I live in a condo and don't have a fence but he's not off leash anywhere but a fenced area.

Sheltie Owner  – (September 10, 2009 at 4:56:00 AM PDT)  

Cadie, so glad to read what you said about invisible fences. #1 - I hate the idea of shocking my dog! #2 - It may keep your dog in but doesn't keep dangers out (as you said). Those are my two issues with those stinkin' "fences." The other issue I have is with walking past dogs who are inside the invisible fence. I'm always wondering, "Will he take the hit and come after us?" As you can tell, I'm not a fan. Give me a good, solid fence any day!

Bonnie Frank
with Acadia One No Trump

Mary  – (September 11, 2009 at 3:26:00 AM PDT)  

I agree that shelties are often singled out by other dogs to be attacked. Our Spinner was attacked at dog obedience class! We have a 6 ft. high solid fence for our guys. It was well-worth the money spent.

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