Why shouldn't wireless connectivity extend to our pets? Although wireless dog fences have been around for more than a decade, WiFi fences are the latest thing in safe-pet technology.
Companies that market these systems have a point — wireless fencing has been a laggard given the rapid advancements in communications technology. Wireless fencing systems now use the 802.15 communications protocol and can provide a circular containment area up to 2.5 acres.
The dominant electronics in wireless fence systems are transceivers that connect a smart base station to the dog's collar. Systems typically include the base station; up to two collars; rechargeable lithium ion batteries; and various probes. Average prices are $400 to $600 per system.
According to Amazon.com, here’s how the systems work: Collars can be preset to one of four fixed static correction levels or a progressive correction setting. (The “correction” setting is a nice way of saying the collar shocks the dog.) When approaching the preset boundary the collar emits a warning tone. If the dog continues to approach the boundary, the preset correction level will be triggered.
Progressive correction starts at the lowest level. If the dog continues toward the boundary the internal microchip will continually increase the correction level based on the speed at which the dog is approaching the boundary and the dog's distance from the boundary. Dog owners (and, presumably, pet cats) can monitor all this from the WiFi base station.
In a multi-dog system, each collar can be independently programmed, allowing you to customize the system for the temperament of each dog. This is a cool feature. My neighbors had an electric fence system and two dogs — during a power outage, one dog ran for the hills, and the other cowered within the boundary line watching anxiously as her brother ran away. I eventually contained the non-conformist in my basement — the downside of this system is that once the power comes back on, the collar shocks the dog if it is out of bounds. This was very stressful for me, but the dog seemed OK with the situation.
What do you think of this technology? Have you found any other electronics in unconventional places? Let us know on the message boards!