We hear often that the underground fence is "one of the best investments" our customers have ever made (don't believe me, check out our testimonials page). But now the tricky part begins. How to choose what type of system and who to install it for you? Obviously we hope you choose us, but we recognize there are other options out there. Here's are attempt to give you a list of questions you should definitely ask of any company that comes out for an estimate or when comparing store bought brands.
What is the warranty policy on the equipment?
Your best (and in our mind only) answer to this question is a lifetime warranty that absolutely must include dog chews. The collar that your dog wears will take a beating everyday. It will be exposed to all elements, lots of dirt and everyday use. Over time, it is possible that something will happen to the collar, so don't you want to be able to make a phone call for a new one? So that's the second part of this answer - make sure warranty returns are easy and painless to accomplish.
Another question regarding the warranty. Is it a national warranty program or will the warranties be voided when you move?
Battery Questions are Threefold.
First question, what is the expected battery life? The longer the better for your dog's safety, for your convenience, and for substantial cost savings. Our batteries last 2 years, by the way.
Second question, are your batteries rechargeable? While at first this may seem the best option, rechargeable batteries should only be charged when the collar is completely dead. It is absolutely unsafe to take the chance of having having your dog run free on an extremely low battery. In addition, what is the procedure for replacing the rechargeable battery once it no longer charging?
Third question, are your batteries proprietary? If you can only purchase batteries through one source, you may want to rethink that decision. Remember, competition keeps companies honest.
Safety Features (Beware of smoke and mirrors)
There are some features of a fence that are important and others that just try to look important that really don't matter. In our opinion, here are the questions to ask that are truly relevant to your purchase.
Does your system run on a time delay, is it distance based or just give an immediate shock plus hang on time?
- A time delay means that a certain amount of time will pass before the dog receives a correction, which is bad if the dog is running fast at the wire.
- Distanced based means that there is an audible warning and if the dog is going slow, they have time to turn around before receiving a correction; however, if the dog is going fast at the wire, correction will begin immediately giving them a chance to u-turn back into the yard. This is the type we have.
- Immediate shock plus hang on time basically means the dog has no warning before they get a shock and may continue to receive a correction even if they head back into the yard (which could cause confusion over "safe" areas).
What kind of Surge Protection does your system offer? This question is important because you are going to have a copper wire buried around the perimeter of your house attached to your garage or sun room. If lightning were to strike your yard, it COULD follow the wire into your house. Surge protection helps to keep it outside of your house, so you are obviously looking for both internal and external surge and lightning protection. We offer this as well.
Do your collars have a battery indicator light? This simple little light just lets you know if the battery in the collar is okay or if it needs replaced. A small addition to the equipment that provides big time peace of mind.
Is your equipment customer adjustable?
You are looking for a "yes" answer on this one. Occasionally the system may need a bit of tweaking and what is more frustrating than paying a service call ($80 - $125) for someone to come out and be there for a total of two minutes. Make sure you can adjust your own equipment and see what support they offer for over-the-phone or internet assistance. If they do say "yes" ask them for a demo right there at the estimate. The salesperson should bring all the equipment with him to the estimate so you know what you're buying. Ask if you can do the adjustment yourself to see if you're comfortable with the procedure.
Are you a local company or a corporate company?
This answer is basically your preference. Some people prefer big business and other people prefer supporting local. Regardless, you want to ask:
- How long have you been in business?
- What brand of equipment do you install?
- Affiliations that ensure they do quality work (BBB, Angie's List, local Chamber, etc)
- If you move, will warranties follow you where you go?
Other questions to ask for things to look for:
- What does your equipment look like? Hopefully they've brought for you to see and hold.
- What is your service protocol? How much is a service call? Why would I need a service call? How long does it typically take for your to respond to my service request? Stay away from the additionally charged service plan anyone may offer you up front (or at least read the small print). It is unlikely you're going to have a problem with the fence in the first year and if you do, be sure the type of problems you may have (digging in a garden or edging) are covered under that plan.
- What is your company's training protocol? Just make sure you're comfortable with what the company offers.
- Is there a performance guarantee? If not, there should be.
Do your research and follow your gut. You are going to have this equipment for a long time and it's to be used to keep your four-legged family member safe.
Bravo if you made it to the end of this article! If you have any questions or would like to set up a free-in yard estimate, just give us a call at 614-527-3799 or fill out a contact form. And if you mention this blog post specifically at the estimate, we'll throw in a battery at no cost (a little reward for reading this far).