Some dogs are born to wander.
While it’s good to know that our canines can also suffer from wanderlust, most of us know that can cause some serious problems when they get going too far. Luckily there’s a solution that works for most pets and their owners readily available.
Invisible dog fences are one of the best solutions ever formulated, and most people will quickly find that they’re a better alternative to their dog wandering off.
So, before we dive into our recommendations, let’s take a look into what makes invisible dog fences a great solution for the majority of canines and their people.
Why Should I Use an Invisible Dog Fence?
Invisible dog fences aren’t really a requirement for all people, but if your animal is driven to roam they’re a great option. In addition to keeping your pet safe, they can also keep other people safe from being frightened by your animal if they’re of the horrifying type.
They make an ideal solution for leapers as well since they can’t really be jumped over or avoided just because your mutt has the agility of a squirrel. Some of us know the frustration that accompanies a dog which can make it over the neighbor’s fence after all.
The most common usage for them is to help avoid having to install extensive fencing and all of the associated costs and physical upkeep that’s associated with them. The prices often look high until you calculate the costs of a physical fence.
Of course, unlike a regular fence, they don’t really keep other critters out either. This is because the whole affair is powered by a collar around your dog’s neck.
The best part is that they’re easier to install than a normal fence. Even if you’re technically inept and don’t know much about electricity beyond it coming out of the outlet, most people have the skills to install one with minimal difficulty.
How Do Invisible Dog Fences Work?
Invisible dog fences are something of a controversial issue, due to the fact that they use an electric shock to keep a dog in the fenced in area.
There’s an unfortunate conflation that occurs with shock collars, which are generally considered inhumane, due to the fact that both use electrical current as a deterrent from the dog leaving the area you want to keep them confined to.
They’re extremely safe overall. The charge generated isn’t as direct as most people imagine when they hear them referred to as “electric fences” and is instead a static discharge.
If you’ve ever tried to get off a trampoline in your socks on a dry summer day then you know exactly what will happen: a quick snap that’s surprising with minimal pain.
In addition, most of them will have various settings to accommodate a wide range of dogs and with some training, you can actually get down to a minimal shock which will just be a gentle reminder that a dog isn’t supposed to leave the immediate area.
We’ll talk about training towards the end of the article, just be aware that you can’t just throw one of these fences down and hope your dog understands why they’re being shocked. It’s still going to take some effort on your part.
Wireless or In-Ground?
The biggest distinction in your fencing is going to come with the two different types of invisible dog fence.
Wireless fences are the easiest to use. They use a radio transmitter and allow for a certain radius of movement within them. Unfortunately, they can also be a little bit more difficult to “fine-tune” and they may not be the best option if you’re planning on keeping your dog out of a pond or a specific area in the yard like your vegetable garden.
If you move regularly, or you’re not too worried about specific areas, however, the convenience and ease of use may outweigh the relatively minor cons when it comes time to pick a fence.
In-ground fences are more complex to install, but allow for a great amount of customization when you’re putting them in. If you have an irregularly shaped yard or even if you’re just trying to keep the dog out of a specific area they’re an ideal solution.
They’re also a lot more stable, if you need some super well-defined boundaries then you should take a closer look at these. You’re going to need to get digging, however, and they’re much more difficult to repair or replace due to their nature.
Wireless fences are best for those who aren’t concerned with being able to shape their boundaries.
In-ground invisible fences are best for those who are planning on making more complex arrangements with their fence.
Reviews Wireless Dog Fences
We’ve gone through the trouble of finding three of the best wireless fences around, just for you. If this is the type of fence that you’re interested in, we encourage you to keep the following in mind:
- Range: The range of your wireless fence is probably the most important factor since it determines how large of an area your animal will have free access to without receiving correction. You may want to break out the tape measure before you make a final decision, keep in mind that wireless signals will always work in a sphere so you’ll want to measure from where you want to place the transmitter.
- Number of Collars: If you’ve got a multiple dog household, then you’re going to want to make sure that the transmitter you’re using can support multiple collars. With some systems, you may have to buy additional collars separately, but quite often they’ll come with the amount that you need.
- Adjustable Level of Correction: This might be one of the most important factors behind range. Some dogs may need more or less correction than others in order to keep them within the boundaries of the fence. Being able to control this can keep the discomfort to your pet to a minimum while allowing you to step things up a bit for particularly stubborn mutts.
- Battery Types: The type of battery which your fence uses can be a blessing or a curse. If they use proprietary batteries you may be forced to buy them from the manufacturer in order to keep your unit powered, on the other hand, some of them will use common batteries you can pick up anywhere. Keep an eye out for battery level indicators as well, since it will let you monitor where your fence’s power level is with ease.
So, without further ado let’s take a look at three of the best that we’ve been able to find. We’re sure that you’ll be as impressed with them as we were.
Undoubtedly our favorite of the bunch, the Stay & Play Wireless Fence is a portable solution for your roaming dog. The wireless coverage reaches out to 105 feet in optimal conditions, and it’s suitable for any dog which is five pounds or over.
There are numerous options available for this system, including multiple collars and those which are most suited for multiple dogs.
The ease of setup and powerful signal are some of the best on the market, of course, the price also rises with the sheer amount of value that you’ll get out of things.
The charge lasts for about three weeks in the collar, but the batteries are rechargeable so you won’t have to rush out and buy something specialized in order to ensure that things keep working.
Overall, this is one of the best wireless invisible dog fences around. If you’re willing to spend the money, your dogs will be safe while contained within its radius with just a bit of training.
- 105 foot range
- Powerful and stable transmitter
- Rechargeable collar batteries
- Supports multiple dogs
- Tons of options
- Signal can be obstructed so be careful with placement
Another great option from PetSafe, this wireless dog fence comes with only a single collar but there’s a couple of extra batteries. These ones are a bit rare, being designated RFA-67 but you should be able to find them online if that’s the route that you choose to go down.
The level of correction is modifiable, with five different levels of shock and even a tone-only mode that works great for dogs who’ve been well trained to stay within the boundaries of the fence.
The transmitter has a range of about 90 feet, which works pretty well for a property that’s around 200 feet by 200 feet, and it’s easily movable in order to ensure that you can take this protection everywhere. That means a 180 foot in diameter system, giving it some pretty awesome range.
Unfortunately, the system’s wide range can be blocked if you’re not careful about the initial placement and that can lead to a couple of “dead spots” where a dog can walk freely. Make sure to take the collar around in order to ensure that nothing is interfering with the signal.
While it has a couple of flaws, the wide range of this system makes it ideally suited for larger properties. Just make sure you have extra batteries on hand and that you’ve checked for dead spots in the boundary before you decide to rely on it.
- Huge range
- Collar battery lasts for roughly 30 days
- Easy to install and use
- Variable tone and shock ratings
- Waterproof transmitter and receivers
- Prone to “dead spots”
- Batteries are fairly rare, you may need to order them online
PetSafe once again makes our list, this system being designed from the ground up to handle a pair of dogs. It comes with a 180-foot diameter being put out by the transmitter, which is a considerable amount for most of us.
Like all wireless transmitters, it suffers some problems when the signal comes into contact with metal so you may want to be careful that you don’t place it around cars. This means more work testing and looking for malfunctioning signal on your part but it’s still easier than upgrading the physical fence.
It comes with five different levels of adjustment, and most dogs seem to take to it pretty easily when it comes time to train them.
The main disadvantage of this system is that it’s a bit older and seems to go through batteries quicker than the other options the company offers. If you’re willing to put up with it, however, it’s fairly cheap and it’s easy to install.
If you want a budget solution for multiple canines, then you might have found the answer with the PIF-300, just be sure to stock up on batteries when you pick it up.
- 180-foot diameter range
- Comes with two collars
- Super easy installation
- Variable correction ratings
- Comes with training manual
- Goes through batteries quickly
- Prone to “dead spots” in signal
This is a fairly basic wireless invisible dog fence, but the price is right if you’ve got a normal-sized property. It reaches out to about five hundred feet and has adjustable levels of correction which will let your dog know when they’re getting too close to the borders that you’ve defined for them.
Even better, this is one of the more stable transmitters around and seems to have less “dead spots” than many of the other options on the market.
The correction on this particular fence lasts for three minutes, before a one minute break, and will repeat until the dog either returns or the battery goes dead. While useful, this feature also makes it a bit unsafe for smaller pets and you may want to make sure your dog is at least 10 pounds or so before you go with this option.
The main unfortunate quality, however, is the fact that the transmitter and collar are rather cheaply built. They’re unlikely to stand up to a lot of nasty weather or abuse, so make that a consideration before you invest.
If you’re looking for a basic wireless fence, however, it’s a good option provided that you aren’t dealing with dogs who are too small to be able to handle the correction cycle.
- 500-foot range
- Adjustable boundary levels
- Long cycle of correction
- Fairly priced
- Stable transmitter
- Lower build quality than more well-known brands
- Correction cycle may be too much for small dogs
Reviews Underground Dog Fences
In-ground fences are the solution which you’ll find that most people are looking for. They’re great for large or irregularly shaped areas and tend to be much more reliable than their wireless counterparts.
Of course, they also tend to cost more due to this and you’ll have to bury the wires for them to work properly. If you’re willing to put in the work, however, you’ll find they’re generally the superior option.
- Total Wire: The wire which comes with your system is going to determine how long you can run the fence. 1000 feet is roughly equivalent to about an acre, so keep that in mind when you’re making your purchase. If you’re looking at a super large area, then you’re going to want to make sure that the transmitter can handle the area you’re planning on using the fence in.
- Collar Support: If you have multiple dogs then you’re going to want to know exactly how many dogs the transmitter can handle. In many cases, it’ll be as many as you have money to buy, but it’s always best to double check before committing to the significant expense.
- Wire Gauge: Smaller numbers mean a bigger wire, and generally a higher cost. On the other hand, bigger wires are much less prone to breaking but even the best will eventually have something happen to it. Cheaper wire is also easier to replace.
- Customizability of Layout: While some in-ground dog fences will allow you to run the design pretty much however you want, others are going to require you to make certain angles in order to keep the fence running. Make sure of this before you decide to buy a fence.
- Controllable Levels: Just like with wireless fences, you want to be able to control the correction levels which are applied to your dog. After training, keep it to the minimum that they’ll mind, but before that, you want to be able to ensure that everything can be kept as safe as possible.
Keeping all of that in mind, let’s take a look at our picks for the best in-ground fences available.
This is one of the best in-ground systems around, and the best part of all is that it’s scalable to about 23 acres. This makes it ideal for those with large properties that want to let their dogs roam free without them getting into trouble on the neighbor’s property.
The configuration of the shapes is one hundred percent customizable. Run the wires however you feel fit to and the system will respond appropriately.
The best part is that the collars are actually waterproof. Not resistant, proof. They can be submersed up to 100 feet and come out of it just fine. This means that if you’ve got a watering hole and a dog who swims: you don’t have to worry about them wrecking things.
If you want the best system possible, with thick and durable wires and the ability to withstand almost anything over a large area, then you should definitely take a closer look at the eXtreme Dog Fence. It’ll definitely put a dent in your wallet, though.
- Super scalable
- Waterproof collar and receiver
- 14 gauge wire is thick and sturdy
- Able to be shaped however you want
- Customizable collar
- Collars sometimes lack quality control
Another in-ground option for those larger properties, SportDOG assures us it can be expanded to cover a hundred acres if you decide to spend the money on the wire. This makes it suitable for almost everyone and will give your canine a wide roaming range over your property.
It only comes with 1,000 feet of wire, however, but more flags and wires are easily bought if you want to expand. Make sure to measure out the area that you’re planning on handling before you get to it, you’ll be thankful in the end.
There are also several levels of correction available for your dog, which is a must-have feature to ensure that you don’t have to over-do it.
One of the cooler features: a wire break alarm. If something happens to your wires, most likely rabid moles with an affinity for copper, you’ll know immediately. This lets you correct the problem with a large amount of ease.
Even better, it can support an unlimited number of dogs as long as you’re willing to purchase more collars.
Overall, this fence is probably the best choice for those who are planning on handling a huge property. It’s upgradeable to be able to handle as many dogs as possible and with the purchasable upgrades, you can handle almost any property you can imagine.
- Able to support up to 100 acres
- Can handle unlimited dogs
- Easy to install
- Made of tough 20 gauge wire
- Low battery indicator
- Rather expensive for small properties
- Not suitable for dogs under 20lbs
The PetSafe YardMax is a great option for those who don’t need to protect acres of property. For those who do have a considerable amount of property, however, it can be expanded to take care of up to ten acres which makes it ideal for many homeowners.
It comes with the ability to fit a wide range of dogs and has five different levels of correction and tone to ensure that your animal, once properly trained, stays within the boundaries that you’ve set up.
The entire border is pretty easy to setup and is comprised of tough 20 gauge wire. This will allow you to make sure that you’ve got a well-protected underground fence.
There are two different modes which you are able to activate from the transmitter itself. Traditional works like any other fence and creates a warning for your dog as they approach the fence itself. Yard Max ensures that the shock only activates once the dog has stepped over the line.
This allows you to maximize the amount of space which your dog can run in, although it takes a bit more planning to ensure that your dog has time to stop after being corrected if they were, for instance, to bolt into the street.
The YardMax is one of the best in-ground fences around, but it particularly shines on smaller properties where the Yard Max mode can be utilized to give your dog a much larger run than with a traditional fence.
- Two modes able to be accessed from the transmitter
- Can handle up to 10 acres
- Able to use with multiple dogs
- Easily upgradable
- Can be upgraded to 14 gauge wire
- Yard Max mode requires extra planning
- Switching between modes after installation can be problematic without proper planning
The PetSafe Basic In-Ground Fence is just that: a basic and effective in-ground fence that’s not going to put a hole in your pocket book. Since it’s so cheap you shouldn’t expect too much in the way of extra features.
Of course, being produced by PetSafe means that you can expect the fence to do exactly what it needs to. It provides you with a controllable tone and correction settings at five levels and it’s fairly easy to install – although the wires themselves aren’t super tough.
It’s easily customizable as well, allowing you to run the wires any way you need to which is great for irregularly shaped properties and should be expected of pretty much any decent in-ground fence.
The main problem is that the connections which come with the fence aren’t all that great. Thankfully, a crafty hand with some wire nuts and waterproof tape will be able to make the most of it and it should be just as secure as any other fence if you take the extra time with your splices.
While not suitable for huge properties, the PetSafe Basic is ideal for regular sized homes in the suburbs or town. It also allows you to keep your dog safe with a simple install, placing it as our favorite for those who are on a tight budget.
- Budget priced
- Can create interior boundaries for ponds and other landscaping features
- Can be upgraded to 5 acres
- Tough collar unit
- Easily installed
- No extra features
- Transmitter is vulnerable to power surges
Training Your Dog for Your Invisible Fence
It’s absolutely essential that you train your dog for your invisible fence. If they’re not trained, a dog isn’t going to understand why they’re receiving correction and this will just lead to anxiety and a confused canine which isn’t good for anyone involved.
Training them is quite simple, but it’s best to do it in short sessions. Try ten to twenty minutes at a time and don’t rely on the fence until you’re absolutely sure that your dog knows what’s going on.
As long as the dog in question is at least eight months old you’ll be able to start training them. It’s a fairly simple process, just do the following:
- Begin with a tone only mode if your fence allows it. Boundary flags should be placed every few feet with in-ground fences as a visual indicator of where the border lies. Bring your dog to the edge of the fence and allow it to beep for a couple of seconds before you pull your dog back into the “safe zone.” You want to get the dog to understand the tone means “back up.”
- Repeat this until the dog tries to get back inside the boundary by themselves.
- After this, introduce them to the static correction mechanism by turning it on the lowest setting. If your pet doesn’t react to the static, then you’ll want to ensure the collar is working then turn the setting up by one point until they begin to avoid the boundary.
- After this, you’ll want to try to provide them with some distractions. Throw a ball, have a person walk by on the outside of the fence, be creative and think of something. Try multiple distractions and keep trying until you’re sure the dog will remain.
- After this, unleash them and let them roam. Play with them, see how they react to the fence. Keep this up for a couple of weeks, after which you can usually be sure that the dog is going to mind the fence.
Throughout the training use whichever positive reinforcement technique(ie: treats, verbal praise) you generally use when you’re working with your dog.
Most dogs will get the hang of things pretty quickly, but some will be more stubborn. Expect at least a month before you can fully trust the boundary fence. You can also begin slowly removing the flags over a couple of weeks once you’re sure your dog is comfortable with their new boundaries.
Some Additional Pointers
- They really aren’t suitable for dogs under ten pounds, or heavier in some cases. Consider things carefully if you’re a fan of miniature dogs.
- Not all dogs will respond to even the strongest shock, use GPS collars in conjunction with the fence if you’ve got a truly stubborn mutt on your hands.
- In-ground fences are going to require a considerable amount of time to install since you have to place the fences underground. Set aside a day for most properties and a couple of them for larger properties in order to ensure that you can get things installed.
- Rent a fence trencher for truly large properties, you’ll thank us for that tidbit if you’re running a wire over multiple acres.
- Always check for dead-spots with wireless fences, large pieces of metal like cars are the biggest sink you’ll find but a lot of interesting items can cause some problems.
- Keep the collar on, even if you think your dog has mastered the boundary limits. It only takes one badly timed run into the street and things will end badly for your dog.
Invisible dog fences are some of the most useful boundaries you can invest in, particularly if you want to maintain your property’s view. Even escape artists can’t leap over or dig under the fence, which means that with a bit of training you can be assured of the safety of your furry friends and that will leave everyone involved a whole lot happier and more secure.