Don’t Believe the Hype
By Eileen Anderson
A typical product description for an electronic fence will say it is safe and simple. Its references to the collar will make it seem like it is comfortable for the dog. It will highlight the dog’s enjoyment of his yard. When describing the deterrent effect, it might say the dog will hear a sound as he approaches the wireless fence and then receive a static correction, avoiding the word shock, and implying that what the dog feels is a mild sensation. The implication is that the product is benign, humane and easy to use. To contrast, here is how I would write a product description of an electric fence using complete descriptions of the processes involved: The electronic fence system uses a shock collar connected to a radio transmitter with the goal of keeping your dog inside a chosen area. Electric shock has been used in laboratory experiments for decades for behavioral studies to put animals in a state of stress or fear and is also linked to increased aggression. You will plug in the transmitter in your house. The transmitter emits a 17.5 kHz radio signal. Your pet will wear a shock collar that will be triggered by a change in the signal. The collar must be fastened tightly on the dog’s neck so the probes will poke through his fur and press firmly into his skin. Even when not generating a shock, the collar is likely to be uncomfortable. While the collar is receiving the standard signal your dog is safe from shock. When he approaches the boundary of the signal area he receives a warning beep. If he does not return, or goes through the boundary, he receives a shock to his neck that can range from a tingle to very painful, depending on the setting you choose. Read more.