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Pet Containment: What’s in it for Cats and Dogs?

Pet Containment: What's in it for Cats and Dogs?

Fences aren’t always practical. Even if you have one, some dogs can jump them, and to cats, they’re just a flat, narrow tree to climb.Indoors, we may want to limit our pets from out-of-bounds areas. Counters, tables, couches, babies’ rooms, balconies, and poisonous plants may be restricted areas or objects. Training methods such as spraying water deter pets only while we’re there.

Fortunately, there are other types of pet containment systems. Confinement systems keep pets from leaving designated areas, while exclusionary systems keep pets from entering off-limits areas. These systems differ in the type of deterrent used (sonic deterrent, electric shock) and in their range of confinement or exclusion.

Confinement systems

1. Deluxe Dog Fence (a.k.a. “Invisible Fence”) / Outdoor Cat Containment System

For use with: Dogs and cats
Price: $118.99 and up for dogs; $249.99 for cats (currently on sale for $199.99)
Type: Electric shock
Manufacturer: PetSafe

Electric pet containment fences can work for small yards and for areas up to about 20 acres. To install the fences, electric cable is buried along the boundaries of the areas where you want to allow your pet. This cable can be around the perimeter of your property, and it can also go around areas that you want to keep pets out of, such as flower beds. Electric fences are invisible, and they’re cheaper than wood or metal fences. Pets can’t dig under them or jump over them.

This invisible fence works in conjunction with a receiver attached to a special collar that your pet wears. When the pet approaches the boundary wire, the receiver emits a warning signal. If the pet continues after receiving the warning signal, he receives a brief electric shock, causing him to retreat from the boundary. Plan to spend about 15 minutes a day working with your pet for one to two weeks until he understands how the fence works.

Pros:

  • Electric fences are cheaper than regular fences.
  • You can confine pets within odd shapes and large areas.
  • You can restrict pets from certain areas within a larger area.
  • Once pets have used the collar for a long time, they may stay within the boundaries even if the batteries aren’t working.

Cons:

  • Burying the wire is labor-intensive.
  • Extensive training is required to train the pet in the use of the fence and collar.
  • New collar batteries are needed every six months.
  • If the batteries die before they’re replaced, the fence is ineffective.
  • Some dogs figure out that they can charge the fence and gain freedom for the price of a temporary shock. These dogs may be unwilling to cross the fence to return to your property later.

2. Instant Fence

For use with: Dogs that weigh over 20 pounds
Price: $279.99 (currently on sale for $239.99)
Type: Electric shock
Manufacturer: PetSafe

PetSafe Wireless Instant Fence confines your dog to within the radius you set — wherever you are. Instead of a “no-go” zone, the receiver on the dog’s collar creates a “stay” zone. The dog can move freely until he approaches the boundary of the signal area. A warning beep emits from the receiver on his collar, which becomes a light static energy pulse if the dog proceeds past the warning zone. This mild correction continues until the dog returns to the “stay” zone. You can set the dog’s boundary on the transmitter to be anywhere from 20 feet to 180 feet.

No wires are needed, just a standard 110-volt outlet to plug the transmitter into. The signal can transmit through walls or other objects. If you’re away from home, you can plug the transformer into a power converter attached to your motor vehicle lighter. With an additional receiver collar for each dog, the PetSafe Wireless Instant Fence can work with an unlimited number of dogs.

Pros:

  • It can be installed in about an hour or two.
  • No digging or wires are required.
  • It can be used with an unlimited number of dogs at the same time.
  • It’s portable.
  • The correction continues if the dog crosses the boundary, making it very unlikely that the dog will escape.

Cons:

  • Extensive training is required to train the pet in the use of the fence and collar.
  • New collar batteries are needed every six months.
  • If the batteries die before they’re replaced, the fence is ineffective.
  • Because the receiver weighs about three ounces, it isn’t suitable for dogs under about 20 pounds.

Exclusionary systems

1. CatScram electronic cat repellent

For use with: Cats only
Price: $29.95
Type: Sonic deterrent
Manufacturer: Innovative Products

CatScram is an electronic motion detector. Your cat doesn’t need to wear a collar for CatScram to work. On a flat surface such as a floor, it guards a six-foot range; when elevated or tilted, it guards a 90-degree protected area with up to (possibly more than) a 15-foot range. Point it into the area where you don’t want your cat to go, and it emits a high-pitched squeal when it detects motion in that area. The sound is inaudible to humans and dogs, but it’s enough to make a cat scram — 24 hours a day.

Pros:

  • It’s inaudible to humans.
  • It’s wireless.
  • Cats don’t need to wear a receiver for it to work.
  • It can work with an unlimited number of cats.
  • It can protect specific parts of a room as well as whole rooms.

Cons:

  • It’s battery hungry; it uses a 9-volt battery or a 9-volt AC/DC adapter.
  • Cats that are hard of hearing (white cats, some exotic breeds, Maine Coons, older cats) may not respond to this device.

2. Wireless Indoor Fence / Invisible Cat Fence

For use with: Dogs (Wireless Indoor Fence) and cats (Invisible Cat Fence)
Price: $119.99 and up for dogs (currently on sale for $99.99); $199.99 and up for cats (currently on sale for $169.99)
Type: Electric shock
Manufacturer: PetSafe

Place a transmitter near the area you want to protect, and equip your pet with a lightweight receiver attached to a collar. Your pet will learn to stay out of the off-limits areas. When your pet approaches the pet containment boundary, the receiver emits a warning signal. If the pet moves closer, the receiver will produce a brief electrical shock. Once pets learn how the fence works, they’ll move away from the fence as soon as they feel the receiver alert.

Pros:

  • It’s wireless.
  • It can be installed in minutes.
  • It’s light enough for dogs that weigh five pounds or more, and for cats that weigh four pounds or more.

Cons:

  • Because the radio signal passes through walls, it may affect undesired areas.
  • The pet must wear a receiver on a collar at all times for it to be effective.
  • New collar batteries are needed every six months.
  • If the batteries die before they’re replaced, the fence is ineffective.

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