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NOT to Use One for a Cairn
Electronic containment systems or "electric fencing" as they are called are big sellers these days to busy families. They sound like an easy and convenient way to teach your dog to stay in a given space. Think again. They are not for all dogs. In particular, they are NOT for terriers.
Potential problems of using an electric containment system include:
1. They may not work as promised. Equipment failure or improper use (e.g., collar too loose or tight) can render them ineffective. Terriers, in particular may burst through the barrier in pursuit of something, willing to endure the consequences, to get to the reward on the other side of the barrier. The dog may simply learn to tolerate the shock, rendering it ineffective, particularly likely with a terrier breed whose tendencies are to be fearless, pain tolerant and tenacious in their pursuit of that squirrel or rodent.
2. Most systems correct the dog as he crosses or comes near the barrier no matter which direction. The result is a dog who doesn’t come back for fear of getting shocked again on his return home.
3. None of the systems keep anything out, including vicious dogs, wild animals and teasing children. A small, feisty dog, such as a Cairn, can easily be killed by an aggressive dog.
4. Some dogs can be frightened to the degree that it affects their willingness to go into the yard and, most importantly, eliminate in it.
5. Dogs can develop a fear of anything that remotely resembles a training flag.
6. As a result of having to be fearful of the affects of something they cannot see, dogs can develop a generalized fear of all unfamiliar places or situations. An unstable temperament can be the result.
7. They make some dogs extremely aggressive at the territorial boundary. The dog can’t “get out” but feels vulnerable to a person or animal that can “get in.” Dogs who are already territorial, such as terriers, may exhibit an exaggerated response. This aggressiveness can generalize to other situations and places, again contributing to an unstable, untrustworthy or even aggressive companion.
8. The dog may perceive a person or animal on the other side of the barrier as the source of his discomfort, such as a neighbor or neighbor dog, and direct aggression toward it.
9. Because territorial aggression is generally self-rewarding, the dog may learn to use an aggressive response to other stressful situations.
10.The collar can be activated by other equipment on the same frequency, shocking the dog without reason.
11. The collar probes can cause physical injury to the dog’s neck if the collar is left on for long periods of time.
12. Studies reveal that electronic containment systems have been shown to affect dogs in the same way shock treatments affect humans, possibly causing neurological as well as behavioral side affects.
13. The dog may start exhibiting compulsive displacement behaviors such as rubbing its face on the ground to rid himself of the collar or the affects of it.
14. Those who use remote trainers, used primarily with hunting breeds in field work, may find that an electronic fence may negate their effectiveness by creating a negative “place” response.
There are many alternatives to electronic control systems, even for those who cannot construct a conventional fence. Ask your breeder or local dog training club or center for suggestions.