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Pet containment systems

Pet Containment

Responsible pet ownership starts with keeping your pet safe and protecting him from dangers both inside and outside your house. In addition, pet containment can be used for training and keep him protected while traveling.

The term “pet containment” refers to a variety of ways that people contain or confine their pets. It covers all sorts of products – fences (traditional wood, metal, or cement wall), crates and cages, electronic fences, gates, kennels, runs, doors, dog runs, pens, and dog houses – all will restrain your pet from straying away from your yard.

If you have ever found yourself driving around your neighborhood, calling out the window for the family dog, you’ve probably thought about pet containment.

It is also important to think about your reasons for containing your pet – whether to keep your pet secure at night or while you are away, to provide a safe outdoor space in your yard, for training, or travel. Several choices for outdoor and indoor pet containment are available. This article will help you find the type of pet containment appropriate for your pet while taking into account his personality, and the type of containment specific to your needs.

Inside kennels are available in crate or cage form. These are used to housebreak puppies, to secure your pets when you are away, and to help your pet learn to calm down at night.

Containment inside a vehicle includes barriers or seat belts that protect your pet from danger while riding in the car.

Kennels and travel carriers can be used on airplanes, car trips, or even as a temporary indoor kennel. Be sure that the carrier is large enough for your pet to turn around comfortably. During travel, provide access to water and let pets out as often as possible.

Pet containment generally denotes a method or means of containing your pet in a larger area such as the yard, or a room in the house, preventing him from leaving the area, while allowing him freedom of movement within it. There are many reasons why you as a pet owner might want and need to do this – including:

– Freedom. By confining your pet to a specific area, you are actually granting him more freedom than if he were crated, or tied to a chain. You are also giving yourself freedom from having your pet underfoot where and when you don’t want him to be.
– Safe haven. Knowing his boundaries will give your pet a sense of security in knowing where his place is, a place where he can go to feel safe.
– Preventing damage. Some pets can cause mischief or even harm to your home, especially when left alone. If this is a problem for you, you can select and define the area your pet has access to, thus limiting any potential mischief he may cause.
– Segregation. You may need to keep your pet away from other pets, from children, the mailman, your houseguests, or any other people you don’t want him to be near, and having a pet containment system in place will help you to do that easily.
– Protection. Your pet also needs protection from dangers indoors and out, such as wandering off and getting lost, possibly consuming poisons, getting hit by a car or fighting with the neighbor’s pets. It’s also the neighborly thing to do!

– Exercise. By using a containment system outside, you are giving your pet a place where he can move more freely and get the exercise he needs.
– Law. Many localities have laws against allowing pets to roam free, and you will need to devise a way to contain your pet in order to comply with these laws and avoid being served a citation and/or having to bail your four-legged friend out of pet jail.

Once you’ve decided you’re going to get a pet containment system, you’ll need to make a decision as to what type, or combination of types will best suit your and your pets’ needs. There are several from which to choose, with enough variety that you will likely be able to find something that will meet your specific requirements.


Indoor barriers can be made of plastic, wood, fabric or a combination of all these. They may bar a hallway, the doorway to a room, or even fence off a portion of a room. Outdoor containment means a fence or wall, and can be made of anything you’d ordinarily make any fence out of, such as boards, post and wire, chain link, masonry, pickets, or slats. It can include your whole yard, or just a run or smaller area. Things to keep in mind with any fencing material – indoor or outside – are your pet’s size; habits such as chewing, jumping, digging; your convenience; and your budget. A fence can be a significant investment, so if you’re concerned about cost, and don’t need a physical barrier or fence for other reasons, you might want to consider one of the other alternatives for pet containment.

Electronic pet containment systems are of two types:

Wired or “hidden fences” consist of a wire buried underground around the perimeter of your yard, or any area you wish, such as a garden or swimming pool. Flags are placed in strategic locations to give you and your pet a visual reference to the location of the perimeter. The wire is combined with an electronic “containment collar,” which has a receiver that detects when your pet is getting close to the wire, and delivers an audible warning sound. If your pet keeps going toward the wire, the collar then delivers a mild electric shock, enough to get your pet’s attention, but not painful – similar to the feeling of static electricity. If he continues, the intensity of the stimulation will increase until he stops and goes back. Pets quickly learn to stay within the boundaries of the wire.

Wireless containment systems consist of a transmitter (or several) together with a collar receiver. In operation they’re similar to the wired systems, but easier to install. The main advantage of a wireless system is its ease of installation and flexibility in that you can move the transmitter wherever you like, including in the house or outside, and even taking it with you when you travel. Another good point is that some systems can protect an area as small as one piece of furniture, a room, an area, or your entire yard. However, a drawback is that the area covered is usually smaller, and in a pre-defined shape, i.e. a circular radius around the transmitter. This makes it hard to include all the corners of your yard, put the edge at a particular place, or accommodate oddly shaped areas.


In addition to the basics, there are a number of accessories or extra features available for electronic pet containment systems, most of which are designed to protect the system from various types of failures. Both wired and wireless systems are electronic, meaning they operate by electricity. There are several potential problems that can interfere with electrically powered devices, and that includes your pet containment system. Consider that if the system fails, your pet will be free to wander outside the perimeter. Without the reminder of his collar, this can happen even if he is well-trained and accustomed to his area.

– A surge protector can protect your system from power surges in your home’s AC current, caused by your power company or some other source.
– Lightning protection will guard against lightning, and also the static buildup in the atmosphere during an electrical storm, which can play havoc with electrical systems.
– A battery backup or UPS (uninterruptible power supply) can give you piece of mind by ensuring that if the power fails altogether your system will remain operational.
– An audible line break warning system is for wired systems. This type of system is a closed loop of wire. Therefore, if the wire breaks, the system fails. An audible warning can alert you to this problem. Once you know there’s a problem, then you can use an
RF choke device available at most electronic stores, to locate and repair the problem by using the device with an AM radio. You can, of course, install an electronic pet containment system without these devices, but just keep in mind that then you will need to continuously monitor the transmitter yourself to ensure it’s working properly.


There are several different ways and means of installing and/or using electronic pet containment systems for different needs and preferences.

Wired Systems:
First, just lay out the wire around the area you want, but leave it out and above ground until you’ve tested it to make sure it’s working. Then, just take a shovel or an edger to cut a very thin, shallow (one – two inch) cut in the ground, put the wire in it and then pat the edges of the earth back down over the wire. Remember, the wire has to be a closed loop, so if you encounter obstacles like a driveway or sidewalk, you can either run the wire through or under existing cracks or drainage pipes.

Suggested ways to install a wired system include:

– Full installation including front yard and back yard, around the entire perimeter of your lot. This will give your pet access to the house and the greatest possible area.
– Back yard only. This will restrict the size of the area to which your pet has access. But remember, since the wire must be a loop, it also has the drawback of denying him access to the house.
– Double loop installations, or using two or more separate loops of wire, can cost a little more, but have the advantage of flexibility in allowing you to more precisely define an area. For example, you could enclose the house and back yard, while restricting access to a pool, patio, or flower garden.
– You could also combine an electronic fence with a physical one for extra protection. Just be sure not to install a wire too close to a chain link or other metal fence.
– A gate blocking setup allows you to just restrict access to a small area, such as a gate or opening in an existing fence.

Wireless Systems:

Installing a wireless pet containment system is as easy as putting the transmitter in a room and turning it on, then putting the receiver collar on your pet. Though a wireless system is not as flexible as a wired one in terms of shape or selection of confinement area, there are a couple of different ways to install these systems to maximize what flexibility they do have.

Suggested ways to install a wireless system include:

– Single transmitter. These setups create one circular containment area. For instance, if your home is fairly centered on a square lot, then you could put the transmitter inside your home, with the containment area being approximately your whole yard. The size of the area will vary with the strength of the transmitter, so you’ll need to check the specifications for any specific model you’re considering to make sure the size is appropriate for your needs. Some models are adjustable, allowing you to customize the area depending on the situation.
– Double or multiple transmitter installations allow you to define two or more areas, either conjoined or completely separate. With overlapping systems, your pet can pass from one zone to another without receiving a correction. Installed separately, you can put him in one place or another without have to re-set up each time. For example, you might have one system set up in the garage so your dog can be with you there, and another in the back yard, turning off whichever one is not in use. For indoor use, you can put one or more transmitters in different areas to keep your pet off furniture, away from doorways, or just confined to a certain room.

Maintaining the system will include periodic monitoring to ensure it’s working properly, as well as physically checking the wire for signs of wear. Make sure any backup systems are charged regularly, and be sure to replace or recharge the batteries in the receiver collar on a regular basis.

More on Pet Containment

Pet Containment Training
Pet Containment System Brands

Safety considerations of physical (traditional) pet containment:
Pet Containment – The Bottom Line

Related Pages


Pet Gates

Pet Doors


Dog Crates



Underground dog fence

Wireless dog fences

Dog Fence and training combined


Pet Carriers

Vehicle Constraints

Dog seat belts


Exercise Pen and Kennels

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