As a family of rookie dog owners, it didn't take long for us to realize that we needed to get a fence for our puppy. Puppies need to be outside to get quality exercise, they need exercise to get tired, and tired puppies are good puppies. Not to mention the obvious benefit of training your dog to go outside on his own, find a designated spot, and do his business.

A fence is obviously critical to have these things done safely. We looked at getting the yard fenced in, but anything that looked decent was going to cost a fortune.

For a few weeks, we used a runner out in the yard so that we could try to get some work done while the dog was outside. He'd inevitably end up tangling himself up in the leash. Plus, a couple of times I saw him almost strangle himself when he was running and the leash ran out. I felt terrible.

A friend of mine suggested an invisible fence. As I'm sure you know, the invisible fence works by burying a wire around the border of the property. The dog wears a collar that "corrects" him if he crosses the above the wire. At first, flags are used as visual cues for the dog to understand where he can and can't go. The flags are eventually removed as the dog learns his limits.

I was hesitant at first because I didn't love the idea of giving the dog any discomfort during a correction. It made me feel guilty. Thinking about it logically, though, an invisible fence makes a lot of sense. The corrections only really happen at the beginning while the dog is training. If owners are committed to keeping the collar on the dog, and following a simple routine when it's time for the dog to go out on a walk, the dog won't normally be faced with many corrections after the first few weeks.  I asked my vet about them and he told me that he actually had one for his dog.

As a payoff, the dog is rewarded with a lifetime of more freedom to safely roam his property. A gate could be accidentally left open on a regular fence, leaving the dog vulnerable to running out on the street and getting hit by a car.

Another fellow dog owner shared a story about how his dog chases squirrels in his back yard. He runs so fast to catch them that he loses track of where he is and his head slams into his chain-link fence as the squirrel gets away. That's got to hurt more than an occasional correction.

We decided that any drawbacks were well worth the benefits of freedom and safety for our pup. Our installation is coming on Friday. I'll keep you informed about the progress.

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