HISTORY OF THE DOG FENCE
Richard Peck, a traveling salesman, invented what we now know as a dog fence in 1971. Peck was troubled by seeing all the stray dogs that ended up on the roads and looked for ways that owners could keep their dog inside their property without an expensive and visually obtrusive fence. Working with an electrical engineer, Peck came up with the idea of using boundary wires in conjunction with a receiver collar to keep a dog contained. Peck patented his invention in U.S. Patent Number 3,753,421, entitled ‘Method and Apparatus for Controlling an Animal.’ Peck called his invention , Stay-Put but the product did not take off until Peck sold it.
In 1976 John Purtell purchased the patent from Peck and changed the name to Invisible Fence*, building the company up until he sold it in 1993.
In the 1990’s as the Peck patent expired, many new companies entered the industry, including Dog Watch, Dog Stop, Contain a Pet and smaller regional independent installers to provide competition to Invisible Fence. Companies also started to produce DIY kits to provide cheaper Invisible Fence alternatives.
Invisible Fence was bought and sold several more times and is now owned by Radio Systems Corporation, which dominates the industry. Invisible Fence’s parent also makes the DIY brands Innotek and PetSafe which you will use in your installation.
INVISIBLE FENCE BRAND HISTORY
Safety has always been the primary goal of Invisible Fence Brand. The leader in electronic pet containment began due to humanitarian emotion from Richard Peck. Peck was a salesman in Pennsylvania selling his company’s metal cutting and welding services.
“I traveled the United States and everywhere I went, I literally saw hundreds of dogs that had been slaughtered by cars. They were all over the roadway,” Peck said years later. “I loved dogs and knew there had to be a way to stop this.”
In 1973, Peck partnered with an electronic engineer and patented the first Invisible Fence, which was a package about the size of a pack of cigarettes that fit on a collar with electronic prongs touching the animal’s skin. The collar was placed on a pet and received radio waves from a thin wire buried about six inches beneath the ground. The radio waves were transmitted through the wire from a transmitter protected inside the house. When the radio waves are received by the collar, it sends a brief uncomfortable sensation under the pet’s skin which deters the pet from traveling farther into a designated zone.
Always concerned for dog safety, Peck worked with the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine to conduct extensive research on the short-and long-term effects the new system would have on animals. The study proved it was extremely effective for influencing behavior of animals and keeping them contained in a specified area. Furthermore, the study proved that pets that were contained by the Invisible Fence Brand Solution had no long-term ill effects from the corrections.
The late 1970s saw the popularity of housing tracts and development forbidding traditional fencing. This made it almost impossible to have a large dog so the new electronic pet containment system was immediately popular. Peck initially sold the systems through catalogs and direct mail. The growth of the company was very slow. There were only 50 systems sold the first year and were promoted by two nationally distributed dog magazines, Dogs and Dog Fancy.
Peck retired in the early 1980s and sold his company to private entrepreneurs outside of Philadelphia who invested in product improvements and named the product “Invisible Fence.” The engineering staff began refining the technology of the existing product. The company, called Sta-Put Invisible Fence Company, began selling a compact, lighter version of the computer collar that went from 13 ounces down to 3 ounces so smaller dogs and cats could utilize the Invisible Fence solution.
The first Invisible Fence Brand dealership was established in 1982 and was awarded to Ron and Duncan Clark, who remains an Invisible Fence Brand Distributor today. Management developed an aggressive growth plan and established 13 dealerships from Washington, D.C., north along the East Coast and eventually in California and Green Bay, Wisconsin. In the late 1980s, the company achieved more than a dozen patents in refining the technology. In 1987, the organization boasted sales over almost $4.5 million as the result of selling 17,000 systems.
The network expanded drastically over the next couple of years covering the entire United States by the early 90s. Product improvements continued to be developed until the company earned almost a dozen patents. As a result of constant consultation with leading behaviorists and dog trainers, certified training was added in 1995 to ensure the quick and easy learning process for the pet.
In 1996, Invisible Fence, Inc. diversified into contract manufacturing and was named IFCO Technologies. IFCO and the Invisible Fence Brand were sold to Kohlberg & Company in 2001. Invisible Fence Brand was the first to perfect indoor avoidance systems which keeps pets away from dangerous chemicals stored in a house, off valuable furniture or from escaping through an open door.
In 2006, IFCO and the Invisible Fence Brand was purchased by Radio Systems Corporation. The company was founded in 1991 and is based in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Today, Invisible Fence Brand continues to be the leader in technology and the marketplace with innovative products and ideas. Invisible Fence Brand invented the electronic pet containment category and was the first to offer an unconditional 30-day money-back guarantee*, lifetime warranty** on its products, and a one year money-back containment guarantee*. Invisible Fence is the only electronic pet containment company to be awarded the Consumers Digest “Best Buy” for seven years running in the premium pet containment category.
What is an Invisible Dog Fence anyway?
An invisible dog fence is a training tool that teaches your pet to stay within a defined area, like your yard. Some folks call every dog fence an "Invisible Fence," but that's a misnomer similar to calling all facial tissue "Kleenex®."
In fact, Invisible Fence is a specific brand that's available only through professional installers; but, if you have your heart set on getting an Invisible Fence and you want to install it yourself, don't worry! Radio Systems Corp., the same company that owns Invisible Fence, offers a variety of different do-it-yourself products including PetSafe, SportDOG, Innotek, and Guardian.
How do invisible dog fences work?
All dog fences consist of two basic components: a transmitter that you'll mount to a wall inside your home and a receiver that your pet will wear around its neck. The transmitter connects to a wire that surrounds the area in which you wish to contain your pet, and the wire emits a signal that the receiver uses to correct your pet when he moves past the wire.Most dog fences use static correction to deter a pet from crossing the wire. The static correction is similar to the sensation of rubbing your stocking feet on carpet and touching a metal object, though it can be more intense depending on the brand and model of dog fence collar you purchase and your dog's individual temperament.
In addition to static correction-based fences, you can also find sonic fences that use aversive tones and citronella fences that use a stinky spray aimed at the face to deter pets. Really, though, the only type of dog fence you should rely on to actually keep your pet in your yard is the static (or electronic) kind. Sonic and citronella fences may be appropriate for keeping your pet out of a particular area — like a flowerbed — but these types of dog fences will not reliably contain your pet.
Do invisible dog fences really work?
If your dog is an escape artist, you've probably tried more than one way to keep him in your yard. The creative solutions I've seen include: chicken wire and/or concrete pavers installed around the base of a traditional fence (sometimes even a few inches into the ground); chain link dog kennels that keep a dog cooped up all day; constant supervision; yelling, pleading, and tears.
Not only are some of these solutions pretty unsightly (especially the yelling and tears), they rarely actually work. A motivated dog — even a small one — can quickly destroy chicken wire or chain link; constantly supervising your dog gets really old really fast, especially when the weather is bad; and, finally, dogs just don't respond to emotional manipulation the way we humans tend to.
On the other hand, invisible dog fences really do work for almost any dog. Read on for answers to the questions folks commonly have when they hear that very definitive statement.
I know someone who tried an invisible dog fence, and it failed.
Why would a dog fence work for me?
Electronic dog fences do occasionally fail. Most of the time, however, they work just fine. So, what's the difference? Why do most dogs respond well to a dog fence, while a small percentage don't?
The answer is that most invisible dog fence failures are not a result of the technology itself. Instead, they are caused by inadequate training or low-quality hardware.
TRAINING: An electronic dog fence is really nothing more than a training aid that teaches your dog to stay within a defined boundary. For your dog to respect the dog fence, you must spend at least 15 minutes a day for the first 10 - 14 days after you install it training him to understand how the electronic fence works. Along these same lines, once your dog is trained to understand how the dog fence works, you must make sure that he wears the dog fence collar (receiver) EVERY TIME he is outdoors. Also, you should periodically check the receiver to ensure that the batteries are charged and the unit is working correctly.
Are invisible dog fences safe?
From a physical perspective, dog fences are safe for most pets; but, if your dog already has a significant health problem, he or she may be an exception. If you have any concerns at all about whether an invisible dog fence will physically harm your dog, you should consult your vet before installing one. Every vet is familiar with how invisible dog fences work, and should be able to offer you guidance that is specific to your own dog's health.
For many people, though, when they ask, "Are invisible dog fences safe?," what they really mean is are they psychologically damaging. As someone who has used static correction-based dog fences for years to successfully contain pets, I can answer you honestly: It depends.
Here are the basic criteria I would use to evaluate whether an invisible dog fence is psychologically appropriate for your dog:
How old is your dog? If your dog is younger than 6 months old, you should consider waiting before training him to understand an invisible dog fence. Before that age, he is still very much a puppy; to reinforce and strengthen his bond with you, you should accompany him whenever he goes outside and use a leash and positive reinforcement to help him stay nearby. If you have extenuating circumstances that prevent you from making that commitment, please consult your vet before deciding to introduce a dog fence.
What brand/model of dog fence collar will you buy?
If you want your dog to have the best possible experience on a dog fence, make sure to purchase a brand/model of receiver (the thing your dog will wear around his neck) that includes at least five different correction levels. That way, you can start your training using very low correction levels, and then gradually raise the correction until it is effective for your dog's unique temperament. Single-level receivers do not offer this option, running the risk of frightening sensitive dogs and not deterring tough or stubborn dogs.
Are you willing to spend time training your dog to understand his new invisible dog fence? If you aren't, then don't install one. Seriously. Invisible dog fences are nothing more than training tools; if you just install a fence, stick the receiver on your dog, and put him in the backyard to figure it out on his own, he WILL become confused and you will run a significant risk of needlessly frightening him. That's unfair (and kinda mean, if you ask me).
A final word.
Invisible dog fences have been available to consumers for over 30 years, and are endorsed both by veterinarians and animal welfare groups like the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and the IACP (International Association of Canine Professionals). When used correctly on healthy dogs of an appropriate age, they are a safe and humane way to keep your pet safely in your yard and out of danger.