Can an Electric Dog Fence KILL a Dog? (Consider the Dangers)

When looking into safety concerns surrounding different kinds of fencing for our pets, it’s important that we do our research to make the most informed decision possible.

Can an electric dog fence kill a dog?

The risk of death associated with electric fencing systems designed for dogs is incredibly low. 

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at electric dog fences and answer common questions you may have on the topic.


Before opting for an electric fence, we highly suggest obedience training to train your dog with the basic commands and take the time to understand the process.

Training your dog can prevent the potential stress of an electric fence collar, and focuses on positive cues to reinforce boundaries. 

Electric fence collars are not innately harmful, but for certain dogs, they can cause potentially severe emotional distress without the proper training.

Check out brain training techniques, a science-backed way to improve your dog’s behavior without the use of force or dominance!

Can an Electric Dog Fence Kill a Dog?

Electric Dog Fence Kill a Dog
An electric dog fence will not kill your dog, as they are designed to correct, not injure.

The simple answer is no, an electric dog fence will not kill your dog.

These fences are designed specifically for dogs, and as such, should not pose any risk of death

The term electric dog fence often can provoke the image of the type of electric fence that is used for livestock like cattle.

When we mention electric dog fences, we are referring to the wired or wireless fences that keep a pet within a boundary with a mild electric shock from the dog’s collar. 

The amount of electricity that’s released into a dog that’s approaching an invisible fence boundary is an amount that is safe for dogs.

The shock is not designed to hurt the dog, only to get their attention and prevent them from escaping.

The risk of death associated with electric dog fences is so extremely low, it’s rare.

Can an Electric Dog Fence Traumatize a Dog?

Without proper training, your dog may fear its fence.
If you don’t properly train your dog to its electric fence, timid dogs can become fearful of going outside.

Yes, dogs can be traumatized by electric dog fences. 

Therefore, it’s important that all animals be properly trained when an underground, electric fence is introduced.

The training should occur in short bursts, with lots of reward and play.

A dog should never be left in an invisible boundary without training. 

Read our related article on How to Train Your Dog With PetSafe Wireless Fence for the proper procedure. This guide is applicable to all electric dog fences.

Owners also need to do careful research into finding the appropriate recognition level. The pulse from a dog’s e-collar should never make your dog jump or yelp.

The pulse is merely designed to get the animal’s attention in order to prevent whatever behavior is occurring.

If you believe that your pet has been traumatized by its underground fencing system, here’s a resource on dealing with fence fear.

If you would prefer a video explaining the training process, here is an excellent resource:

Can a Traditional Electric Fence Kill a Dog?

Electric Dog Fence
It’s not likely that an electric fence designed for livestock will kill a dog.

Perhaps your concern doesn’t lie in the electric fences that are designed for dogs, but instead in the type of electric fences designed for livestock

Electric fences designed to contain livestock do not constantly release electricity.

Instead, they release short pulses of electricity which shocks an animal that comes into contact with the fence.

This short pulse of electricity should not be enough electricity to kill a dog either, but it does have more electricity than is released by a dog-specific option.

When a dog comes into contact with an electric fence wire, it will likely yelp and run away.

It is generally agreed upon that the shock does not usually hurt the dog as much as it frightens them. 

However, if your dog somehow got tangled into the fence and was exposed to the electric current for a long period of time, there is a risk of death.

If you plan to have your dog around electric fence wires, you should be supervising them at all times to avoid any incidents.

This article takes a deeper look into the question: Will a Cattle Electric Fence Hurt a Dog?

Will an Electric Fence Kill a Puppy?

Electric Fence Kill a Puppy
It’s not likely that an electric livestock fence will kill an established puppy (one that is old enough to run around and play).

In general, an electric fence will not kill a dog, but you may be wondering if it poses a threat to a puppy. 

There is not much research on this, but the general consensus is that it likely will not kill an established puppy.

A puppy that is strong, eating well, and becoming relatively independent from its mother is not likely to die from a quick shock from the fence.

A pup will likely yelp from a shock from the fence, but it will face no long-term consequences.

However, a puppy that is still particularly young and vulnerable may be at an increased risk of death if they come into contact with a livestock electric fence.

Again, it’s best if the puppy never comes in contact with the fence.

Keeping the puppy away from the fence by keeping them contained by another fencing system that is dog-approved, on a leash, or supervised is always the best for the puppy.

Will an Electric Fence Kill a Small Dog?

Again, the answer to this is likely it will not.

An electric fence designed for livestock lets out short, strong pulses of electricity.

If your dog were to brush up against it by accident, it would receive a short shock that is stronger than one intended for a dog. 

Once the pulse is over, the dog will be released and able to flee from the shock.

Your dog will likely yelp, and smaller dogs are likely to be in more pain, but the risk for death is still low.

If your small dog became entangled in the wires and was shocked for several cycles, that is where the risk of death increases.

Side Effects of Shock

In general, a dog that comes into contact with an electric fence will show no long-term symptoms.

There is, however, still a chance that a brush with these fences will have some effects. 

If your pet has been shocked and is still behaving as if they are in pain, it is best to take them to a vet to get them checked over. 

Electric shock in dogs can cause:

  • Coughing
  • Burns
  • Pain
  • Distress
  • Collapse

One of the most common issues associated with a quick shock is burning, and if the burns are left untreated, they can become infected

Further information can be found in this article: How to Deal With Electric Shock Injuries in Dogs.

How Many Volts of Electricity is Deadly to a Dog?

Oddly enough, it’s not the voltage of the fence that is dangerous to the dog. It’s the length of exposure to the voltage. 

A dog can have a brush with a 100-volt fence and be fine, but if it comes into contact with the same 100-volt fence for 30 seconds, then it could be killed.


Your dog is very safe when using underground electric fencing systems that are designed specifically for dogs.

However, having your pet around other electric fencing systems is not as safe and requires supervision.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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