There are many invisible dog fences on the market – the idea is it’s often easier to stake out wires or have a signal transmitted 360 degrees around a given area than actually to put in a fence.
It is definitely cheaper and easier, but is it a good idea?
The best invisible dog fence you’ll find will offer safety, expandable ranges, “keep out” areas, and the wired invisible fences can be expanded to cover areas as large as 25 acres.
Some of the wireless invisible dog fences are even portable, so you can safely travel with your dogs with the knowledge that you can set up a 360-degree safe zone around an RV or camping site, for example.
We have had great success with invisible dog fences. At any given time, we often have an assortment of dogs that will jump a fence or make a breakthrough an open gate. We view the invisible dog fence as an affordable and safe backup for our physical fences.
Invisible Dog Fences
I grew up in the country, and I remember everybody owned a dog.
The streets were not busy, had very little traffic, and there were many woods and fields for the dogs and their owners to roam.
Walking around town and through the woods would reward you with a chance to meet a friend and walking with their dog.
The dogs were everywhere and often ran free, but they all knew where to go when feeding time arrived or when the sun went down.
I distinctly recall one time finding my own dog almost a mile from our home. I pulled over, got her into the car, and took her back home safely. She was exhausted, and I could tell by her panting, tired look that she had been having a lot of fun and probably got into a bit of mischief.
I think she appreciated the ride back home.
Those days bring back fond memories, but the days of letting your dogs run pretty much free are gone.
The streets are busier, your neighbors are more likely not to like them running around, and there seems to be plenty of local officials that are too happy to pick your dog up and take it to the pound.
People these days seem to be more possessive of their space, and letting your dog infringe on that space is a sure way to create conflict.
Couple this with mostly legislated requirements to keep pets at home and well contained, and we have an excellent reason for an effective containment system around your home.
Invisible Fencing Options for your pet
A physical fence is the most common you’ll see from neighborhood to neighborhood.
Keeping your pet on a leash is also common. Tying pets up in the backyard these days is frowned on (and rightfully so) and, in fact, is not sufficient in many areas due to local requirements to actually contain your pet, not just tie him up.
Leaving a pet outside on a tie-down is inhumane as well, as they can often be left outside during bad weather conditions and sometimes with no shelter.
A relatively new method is to use radio frequency or invisible fencing.
The electric dog fence system will establish a border around your yard, and when the pet approaches that border, they are given a small shock or audible static via the collar.
If they don’t turn around, they get another. If they get even closer, they get a last, more powerful notice that is enough of a deterrent for even the most determined pet.
After a while, most users of electric dog fences will say that their pets no longer even go near the borders and can roam outside even without the collar.
A dog will learn its boundaries.
There are several reasons to choose this approach:
- Fences are not permitted in some areas and some Home Owners Associations as they can get old, need maintenance, and eventually bring down the surrounding homes’ value if they are not well maintained. An invisible fence overcomes these problems by not being visible in the first place.
- Even if fences are allowed, dogs have a tendency to dig, and many a dog has dug under many a fence and found their way into mischief or danger. The invisible fence cannot be circumvented in this manner.
- The size of the area you want to contain may make conventional fencing unaffordable. 100 acres of fencing is expensive no matter how you look at it, but using buried wire for this may be more affordable and easier to manage.
- Fences have gates, and gates are occasionally left open. As with digging, many dogs have taken advantage of an open gate. An invisible fence has no gate to be left open and allows no exit point a pet can take advantage of.
Given the above reasoning, an invisible fence is worth consideration for anybody with pets.
But how does it work?
Isn’t it mean to shock a dog into behaving? Sounds cruel.
Well, is it cruel or mean to enable your dog to dig under a fence or run through a gate and get into traffic?
My stance is that I’d rather spend a bit of time teaching my dog boundaries, so they don’t get hurt.
The negative stimulus your dog receives, the industry term is “static correction”, will cause a bit of aggravation but no pain. You can try it yourself. It doesn’t hurt, but it will get your attention.
If it didn’t, it wouldn’t work.
But many dogs only have to receive this stimulus a couple of times to get the message. A more determined dog will receive it more times, but then again, a more determined dog is also more determined to dig under a fence, jump over it, or wait for that gate to be left open.
Another issue here is simply the terminology. If you think of this in terms of using a shock collar, the connotation is cruelty. However, today’s units offer nothing more than a tingling sensation, and we recommend you put it on your own arm or leg to experience it. You’ll also see those that emit an audible tone instead of a shock, which is often just as effective.
So I recommend you don’t think in terms of a “shock collar” as for today’s offerings, that’s not really the same thing. Perhaps in the past, but not so much today.
Do you need this even if you already have a fence?
Do you have dogs that jump your fence?
Would your dog run out of a gate that was left open?
If so, then the invisible fence might still be a worthwhile consideration as a backup.
Also, think of dogs when stressful situations occur. My dog, Rusty, stays in the yard all the time until he sees a rabbit or a deer on the other side of the fence.
About 50% of the time he sees something, this 75-pound pit bull sails over our 5-foot fence like it wasn’t even there and is off and chasing before anybody has a chance to react. As a side note, Pit Bulls are world-class fence climbers!
And what about inclement weather.
Some dogs, if outside, will run in panic after they see lightning or hear thunder.
Another of our dogs – Bruno – is a Boxer mix that is horribly afraid of bad weather despite our best efforts to help him calm down during storms. Depending on the severity, we sometimes give him what we call doggy downers when a storm hits.
If he were outside, though, he’d run in panic, either through or over a fence. So consider times when not everything is perfect for helping you decide.
Another consideration is if you have areas of your yard, you’d like your pets to not go, such as a swimming pool, work area, garden, play yard, etc.
An invisible fence around these areas will serve the same purpose.
One of our pets, Jake, is a heavy set pit bull that absolutely loves the pool. The problem is, he swims like a brick, and we have actually found him in the pool – unsupervised – clinging to the ladder and unable to get out.
If we hadn’t found him, he would have drowned.
An invisible fence around the pool would fix that problem.
Lastly is the question of doing it yourself or having a professional installation – this, of course, depends on your situation.
You may wish to enlist the aid of somebody to train your dog with the system as well as installers, or you may wish to do this yourself.
The good news is that these systems are easy to install – you don’t need professional installation, but it is available.
How do invisible fences work?
There are a couple of different methods – really two primarily.
Either you’ll have wire buried around the perimeter of the area you want your dogs to have access to, or you can have a central transmitter that sends a signal in a 360-degree circle the dogs can roam inside of.
For the most part, any of the different types of wireless electric fences can work with any number of collars, and therefore can protect all your friends.
As your pet approaches the invisible barrier, either the buried wire or the range of the transmitter, it will hear a warning, which eventually will become the only correction needed.
However, at first, your pet will probably go a bit too far and receive a static correction, which is a harmless electronic tingle that does a good job of interrupting their behavior.
This does not cause pain but rather only causes a slight tingle to get their attention.
It’s helpful to mark the boundaries with flags as these flags will remind the pet that they are approaching the boundary. After a period of time, they will learn the boundaries, and the flags can be removed.
Central Transmitter Wireless Invisible Fence
This type of wireless invisible fence creates a 360 diameter around the transmitter. As long as the dog stays within that perimeter, they are fine. As they approach the perimeter, the collar will emit a static noise that the dogs typically don’t like. As they get closer to the perimeter, the static gets louder. The idea is that the dog will hear the static and turn around, back towards the inside of the “safe” perimeter.
This type of invisible fence transmits the signal constantly to your dog’s collar, which results in no warning or static. Still, as the dog reaches the signal’s limits, the collar loses contact with the central system, and then the warning tone is sent. If your dog goes further, the static correction is then felt.
This type of wireless fence is great for traveling and is easy to set up. Set this up around an RV, on the beach, by a lake, etc., and you can ensure your pack can travel with you safely. You can find the top-selling central transmitter type of invisible wireless fence here:
(click to check price on Amazon)
Top Rated wireless dog fence covers 1/2 acre (180 feet diameter) but can also be personalized to a smaller space (10-foot diameter). This unit has several correction adjustment levels for the smaller dogs and the large ones, and it’s completely portable so that you can travel with it. Multiple dogs? Purchase an additional receiver collar for each dog, and the system will handle it.
Invisible In-ground fence
A transmitter is installed inside the house and is connected to a wire that runs around the perimeter of the boundary you choose, creating a ground electric dog fence. This wire acts as an antenna for the transmitter, sending radio frequency through the buried wire and into the air surrounding your yard. When your pet approaches this signal, it’s collar picks up the signal and sends an audio warning first to let the dog know it’s gone too far. As mentioned before, additional “notices” can be configured to get your dog’s attention as some dogs are more difficult to break out of a habit or get the attention of than others. As the dog tests the boundaries and receives warnings, it will eventually learn where it can go and where it shouldn’t go.
You can buy a standard entry-level basic in-ground fence that will cover about 1/3rd of an acre, but these units can be upsized by simply adding additional wire around the perimeter of the protected area, giving your dog the option to be free to roam your entire property. Another benefit here is that the area can be any shape you need it to be. Additionally, you can even add “keep out” areas within the perimeter, so if you have a playground, garden, or a pool, for example, these areas can be inside the “safe” perimeter yet “fenced off” from the rest.
(click to check price on Amazon)
This offering from Extreme Dog Fence offers an impressive array of features and coverage for up to 10 acres for those of you with a bit of land. Also importantly, the collars are completely waterproof to 10 feet deep, so your dog can swim to its heart’s content with no problems. This is a critical consideration for larger areas with ponds or streams. If you experience a wire break, which does happen, splicing kits or just a bit of technical know-how can easily repair the system.
We all know that some dogs are more stubborn than others, so there is also a system with a bit of an elevated notice for the dog, including static, tone, and vibration corrections. This starts at 1/3rd of an acre but can be upgraded to 25 acres if need be by adding more wire
(click to check price on Amazon)
This offering from the experts at PetSafe is targeted towards those dogs that are a bit more stubborn. This PetSafe wireless fence provides some extra settings to help contain and control more aggressive or stubborn dogs.
Is an invisible fence worth it?
As with so many things, it depends. Our current home has about 7 acres, consisting of a lot of wooded areas, some fairly steep ravines and ridges, water runoff, and a creek. It would be difficult to put in a physical fence without doing a lot of land clearing. The invisible fence has worked well for me in my situation. If you live in, for example, an HOA where getting a fence approved is difficult, an invisible fence is worth consideration. If you travel and like to take your furry friends with you, the wireless invisible fence is a great idea as you can set up the transmitter in your central area, and the dogs will be contained. If you compare any of the above with putting in an actual fence or perhaps boarding your dogs while you take your RV across the country, the value (as well as the convenience) of an invisible fence is compelling. As dog lovers, my wife and I did a good bit of research to find the best invisible dog fence to protect our pack, and we feel it’s money well spent.