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Ask a Vet: Do good fences make good neighbor dogs?
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I’m a philosopher. So are you. Our philosophies may differ, but they are there, nonetheless.

Consider the idea of separatism. While the term often refers to political matters, today I’m thinking of it in reference to Robert Frost.

In his poem, Mending Wall, someone offers the idea “good fences make good neighbors.” The poem questions this, and rightfully so. If you’re a good neighbor, must you be made so? Or would you be good regardless of the fence?

So I ask you, do good fences make good dogs?

A good fence should function to protect the dog and to protect the world from the dog if needed as well. Your opinion on this will vary of course, but allow me to offer the electric fence for consideration.

They are relatively cheap, compared to a full privacy fence or high-quality chain link. And they don’t tend to be as complicated to fit into neighborhood standards.

However, drawbacks certainly arise.

Most electric fences work with a collar that shocks the dog if it gets too close to the boundary. This is painful when it occurs. And although it can be effective, pain is to be avoided, right?

I have seen significant injuries caused by malfunctioning collars. Often on dogs too polite to complain.

Please consider your young, happy, exuberant dog. He sees something so amazing, so enticing, that he runs as fast as he can after it. The passage through the boundary at full speed takes only a second. The odds are, when the moment passes, he will want to return home, walking. Now the boundary discourages his re-entry into the yard.

Now think of the other side of the fence. Electric fences don’t keep other animals out of your yard. Big dogs can get in and harm your small pet, then leave with impunity. Electric fences don’t keep toddlers out, either.

Consider these factors before deciding on what makes a “good” fence. What “good” means is another philosophical conversation. Develop your own definition.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at