Case in point: we have a large, 11 acre property with rather porous fences and an open gate next to a busy road. Our inquisitive labrador loves to check out the neighbourhood when not locked up.
SureGuard Australia seems to have the right solution for this and similar problems. Let's review their Solar Powered Dog Electric Fence Model 605.
There are several types of perimeter fences that will contain your dog. Probably what attracted me most in the SureGuard system is the fact that the perimeter wire is powered by solar. Particularly on rural properties it will be a hassle and sometimes just impractical to install a non-solar powered electric fence. The solar unit itself is pretty small but contains a large battery in the weatherproof enclosure.
The 605 comes complete with everything you need to make a 100 meter long fence around your house or wherever you want to contain your dog – or if you want to keep him away from digging in your precious flowerbeds.
So this package has everything to complete the job and there are some optional extras, such as extra wire, available from the site.
I had a good look at some of the other systems, some of which had to be professionally installed. SureGuard is an Australian company that firmly believes just about anybody can install this system.
So let's see how this went.
Probably the most time-consuming aspect of the whole installation process is to read through the well written instructions. Don't skip this step even though I believe that, generally, most products should work without reference to any manuals but there is a lot to this system. And you need to train your dog for the SureGuard to be most effective.
The dog collar itself contains the unit that will sense how close the dog is getting to the fence. It will set off an audible warning, followed by an electric "correction pulse" of increasing intensity the closer the dog gets to the boundary. Dogs are pretty smart and it doesn't take very long before they know where the boundaries are, even if the fence is buried. But to help train your canine in locating the fence there are some yellow boundary flags that come with the system.
And if your dog still wants to push the boundaries the SureGuard system records the number of interactions with the fence over the last 24 hours. And any interaction with the wire fence will also automatically adjust the correction levels. I find that a very good feature as with most systems you will have to adjust the correction level manually. This system has 12 correction levels!
SureGuard recommends that you trim the fur a little bit where the prongs of the collar unit should touch the skin of the dog, even though they claim a great fur penetration capability. It doesn't take much to trim away a bit of black hair from my labrador with a pair of scissors after I had adjusted the collar for size. In any case, the SureGuard 605 will also indicate whether any corrections have been felt by your dog and when it is time for another trim.
Talking about the collar unit: I was a little bit worried about it when I picked it up for the first time and it rattled like something was loose. That's never a good sign but when I opened it up there was a little plastic adjustment screw driver placed in there! I would suggest putting it in a plastic bag somewhere else....
With this little screwdriver you can adjust the distance from the boundary fence where the warning signals and corrections will take place.
The collar unit is pretty solid and waterproof. It's powered by a CR2032 battery which has a very long life and is universally available, even in supermarkets. We have reviewed dog training collars before and most of them have obscure types of batteries, that are hard to get and expensive. One of them even had a non-replaceable battery that gave up the ghost before too long!
There is no switch on the unit to change from training mode to containment mode but you have to unscrew the back and take out the battery which resets the electronics and replace the battery again. This is not as easy as having a switch but a switch might also make the unit less waterproof. Finally, if you have a dog like mine, which loves to chew on collars and leads, there is an optional chew guard that protects the collar unit.
Down to the Wire
Probably the biggest job would be to install the wires. In our case we had 200 m, some of which had to be buried a couple of inches in the ground where they crossed driveways. I chose a black irrigation pipe for those crossings. If you really need room to roam you can go up to 1600 m with extra wires. That's equivalent to about 30 acres! Imagine if that wire breaks somewhere and you would have no clue that it is broken.... Luckily, you can tell on the transmitter unit if there has been a boundary break.
Having connected the two lengths of 100m together and pegged them down at regular intervals so no one would trip over them, I hooked them up to the transmitter box. This contains a large, solar rechargeable battery and some status LEDs.
And even though the solar panel is fairly small it will generate enough electricity on cloudy days to keep the fence operational so that you don't have to worry if it is a week of overcast weather.
Almost time to switch the wire to "live"!
There's no point in suddenly letting your trusted mate be shocked into backing off from an invisible wire when there was no restraint before. We have to teach him there are now new rules. So the SureGuard comes with a set of yellow flags that clearly indicate the new boundaries. We have to show these markers to our dog and tell him to back away. He may not realise why but they catch on pretty fast.
Now, the instructions tell you to train for two full days and not to skip on this.
My dog got the hang of it on the second round where I went to the wire, pointed out the flags and told her: "No!!". We did this for all the flags whilst she was on the leash. Well, she didn't want to go near that wire even though all she got was the audible signal...
I noticed she became very timid with the new collar around her neck which emitted the alert sound every 5 mins. Apparently, the dog needs to get "de-sensitised"to the alarm... Not really sure why, because in Containment mode the chime will only occur when there's a problem.
So, noticing that our doggie was scampering away, trying to hide and not wanting to do any training, I cut the training short and switched the collar to Containment. So far, so good. She doesn't come near the wire but is more timid than usual.
We'll see how she goes over some weeks.
Well, I must say that the SureGuard Solar Powered Dog Electric Fence does do what it advertised: it contains your dog within the new perimeter boundaries you have created. In the past few weeks there has only been one incursion in the beginning when she tried to follow me across the fence.
She still is somewhat timid and doesn't want to go out as readily as she did before. I'm sure that this will change over time and because we have now created a large, safe zone around the house, we feel happier to leave our dog outside when we are gone for most of the day. Our house is better protected and most of all: our dog is much better protected.
Our conclusion: we can highly recommend the SureGuard Solar Powered Dog Electric Fence and find the price of $440 (currently on special) excellent value for money.
Check them out on: http://www.sureguard.com.au/products/Wireless-Dog-Fencing/Wireless-Dog-Fence-605