Recently I was invited to answer a question for a pet-related website, dogtime.com. The question posed to me was one that often arises when a dog trainer works in a surburban area, as I often do. Is it or is it not "ok" to install and use an electronic containment system instead of a physical fence to keep a dog from leaving one's yard?
As a "dog-friendly" trainer and one who is admittedly biased toward relying on using positive reinforcement to motivate dogs to perform desired behaviors, the immediate answer that came to mind was that only a physical fence would do. But as a professional dog trainer who is sincerely interested in giving advice based on facts, I did my homework and reviewed how electronic containment systems work from a learning theory standpoint as well as reviewing abstracts from articles published in animal behavior journals to find out their potential effect(s) on a dog's behavior. Then I wrote my answer to the question, basing my opinion on the information I gathered. The article contains links and endnotes so readers may reference the sources used and is best viewed in Firefox or Safari browsers (Internet Explorer does not display the endnotes well).
The resulting article is published on dogtime.com and can be read by clicking here. A lively discussion about the article has sprung up on a Facebook page titled "Save A Dog," and perhaps elsewhere on the internet as well. As of today, my only official published content on this subject is this article and the one on dogtime.com.
Your comments, as always, are welcome below. Please do everyone the courtesy of reading the article published on dogtime.com before commenting so that the discussion is based on its contents and is not simply a collection of strong opinions about this controversial topic. Thank you!