Americans will spend an estimated $60 billion on pets this year. One of the biggest decisions facing any homeowner is pet containment, given the strict leash laws in most jurisdictions.

Let’s face it — we love our pets. Although protecting your pets and protecting your property against them are major problems, new technology in pet containment is making owning a pet easier.

Donnie Ray, of Invisible Fence of Central Florida, has been solving pet containment issues for nearly a decade. He believes that technology is now available that takes the stress away from both homeowners and pets. Under their system, both cats and dogs (any size) can be trained. The system uses a low-voltage wire that is buried about six inches in the ground around the perimeter of the homeowner’s property, which emits a radio signal to a special collar worn by the pet. If the pet tries to go beyond the wire buried in the yard, the collar will emit a tone and tickle, which is called a static correction. The pet is conditioned to not go beyond the invisible fence area.

According to Ray, training the pet inside the home is the most important key for a successful invisible fence installation. Flags are used to mark the boundaries. After about a week, the pet should be fully trained to adhere to the boundaries of the invisible fence. New GPS technology is available for larger lots of three acres or more, thus eliminating the need to bury a wire. Plus it is great for farms where owners want to restrict their pet’s access to other animals.

An indoor shield (or avoidance area) can also be set up for pets. This is great for homeowners who have mischievous pets. The cat that can’t stay off the counter or the larger dog who always wants to sit on the leather couch can now be controlled with a small electronic disc and collar. The disc will set an avoidance area of 1 1/2 to 12 feet in circumference, which sends a tone and tickle signal to the pet’s collar if it comes into an area it should not be in. This system can be varied by pet and it is totally harmless to pets and humans.

Many homeowners are scared of pet doors because old-fashioned pet doors are entry points for stray cats, raccoons and possums, however, new technology in pet doors has resolved that issue. Electronic pet doors can be set to open at certain times or they can be set to open only when your pet approaches them.

“With electronic pet doors, different rules can be set for different pets. Plus they can be installed without the invisible fence,” said Ray. "It gives the homeowner peace of mind knowing their pet is not trapped in the home for extended periods of time."

Because pets cannot dig under or jump over an invisible fence, it is not uncommon to install this type of fencing with a traditional chain link or privacy fence. The price, type and style of fence varies by the requirements of the homeowner. Typically, an electronic fence costs from $1,000 to $2,000 and takes about a day to install. 

Technology is making owning a pet easier in areas where traditional fences are not allowed. Plus, it is eliminating the heartbreak of losing a beloved pet.

Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply Inc. He is also the host of the Around the House radio show heard every Monday at noon on My790AM WLBE in Leesburg.