When it comes to choosing a containment method for your dog, many options arise as a decent solution. Physical fences, stake and chain methods, and the more technologically advanced electric fences. This page contains useful information — as well as electric dog fence reviews — to educate you on the different types of fences and their characteristics. Hopefully you will have enough information by the end of our reviews to be able to choose the best dog fence system to suit your specific needs.
What is a Wireless Dog Fence?
A wireless dog fence is simply 2 pieces of technology that work together, these are a transmitter that sets the boundaries for your “fence” and a receiver attached to your dog’s collar that delivers one of the methods of behavior correction when that boundary is breached. In short, it sets off a shock, sound, or spray when your dog isn’t where it should be to encourage them to return to their play area.
There are hard-wired fences —which require a wire to be connected to the transmitter and buried along the boundary you wish to set around your yard— as well as fully wireless options that work based on distance from the receiver to the wireless transmitter. Think of it as a WiFi router, once your dog is out of range, the collar delivers a zap. Hard-wired fences can be configured into square shapes to fit your yard, while wireless options are circular because the signal has to be equal distance on all sides from the transmitter. There are also portable, GPS based fences which will be covered in this rundown of wireless dog fences and their benefits.
The most common and reliable type of behavior correction is an electric shock collar. The feeling for the dog can be compared to touching one of those “prank” electric pieces of bubblegum that one of your silly friends offered you when you were a kid or the “zap” that comes from touching something after you ran around the rug in socks. This shock, however, is slightly stronger. On many models, this is adjustable to suit the specific needs of your dog’s size and character.
Best 9 Wireless Dog Fence Models
Best In-Ground Invisible Fences
Best GPS Wireless Fences
Types of Dog Fences
This fence is, again, the easiest to install and adjust out of all of the ones on the list. The way it works is by having one transmitter mounted to a wall near a power outlet in the correct distance from where the receiver’s maximum distance will be located. It is quite important to consider that the coverage range is circular, being equal distances on all sides from the transmitter. Therefore, it is important to pick a site for the transmitter that will optimally cover your dog’s roaming range while also being shielded from the elements. Most users choose to put it on the inner side of their outer walls or on their shielded porch.
The upsides are that adjusting the range is exceedingly simple. Most models have an intuitive knob on the transmitter that is turned to extend or lower the range that the receiver can be located from it before it delivers a behavior correction measure. Adjusting the distance is most easily done with one person standing at the max distance with the receiver in hand, while another adjusts the knob on the transmitter until the receiver delivers a behavior correction. Many models come with an audible warning noise before delivering a shock, so when you hear the noise, it means that the range is near where you are standing.
The drawback of this type of system is that it may not be the best invisible dog fence for homeowners with rectangular yards. As the coverage area is circular, it becomes clear that your dog will not be able to go into the corners of your yard and will have to travel along the boundary in an arc rather than a line. There is somewhat of a remedy though, since some of these systems offer the option to connect multiple transmitters at various points to both change the shape of the coverage area to more of an “8” shape as well as extend the coverage area to make it more elongated.
One more thing to keep in mind is the margin of error in wireless fence systems. In high-end models, the boundary you set on the transmitter may be off by 1-2 feet, which should be expected. However, in cheaper models, this margin may be closer to 7-9 feet. It’s a very important aspect to consider if you live near a busy street or a playground, as a few feet may mean your dog’s behavior is not corrected before he gets to the street, possibly resulting in injury. The next option is better for homeowners that wish to remedy this problem fully.
Hard Wired Fences
This option comes with a length of wire that needs to be buried along the desired perimeter you wish to set aside for your dog to roam within. These options are more expensive than wireless ones, especially if you are not doing the installation yourself. However, a hard-wired fence may be a great option if you have a large territory, have irregularly shaped boundaries, or don’t travel much with your pet.
Hard wired fences work similarly to wireless ones, they have both a transmitter and a receiver. However, the difference is that the signal is not directly beamed from the transmitter, but instead comes from the wire attached to it and buried along the perimeter. This gives hard-wired fences a more accurate margin of error than wireless fences, keeping it within 6-12 inches.
Another upside of underground hard-wired fences compared to wireless fences is that the signal will not be interrupted by metal objects between the receiver and the transmitter. Wireless signals can be reflected, disrupted, and absorbed by many surfaces which makes the margin of error even greater. The presence of a signal coming from the perimeter rather than a fixed point in the center makes this option more reliable to contain your pup. Also, one of the best in ground dog fence features is that some models have the option to extend the buried wire to fit very large properties!
However, hard-wired fences have one huge drawback — they are not portable. If you are renting a home, burying a huge length of wire may not be a wise investment compared to a plug-and-play wireless option. You must consider the fact that you will have to dig up the wire if you decide to move or make any adjustments to your current underground fence setup. Our underground fence reviews can give you a better understanding of what to expect and how packages differ from one another.
Lastly, we have another wireless fence option. This one requires a receiver and a GPS-compatible dog collar and works slightly differently compared to the first option.
Firstly, GPS fences work by way of a receiver that can be either portable (handheld) or fixed. This receiver works in tandem with a GPS collar around your dog’s neck, allowing you to know where your dog is as well as setting the boundaries directly on the receiver instead of changing settings on a dial on a transmitter, or burying a wire around the perimeter you wish your dog to be contained within. With this kind of system, you harness the power of satellite positioning to maintain your dog within a certain area, freeing you from having to do any kind of installation around your area.
This is the most portable option of the three types of invisible dog fences, allowing you to change the containment area on the fly by setting specific points around you which the dog is not allowed to leave or setting the play area to be within a certain distance from the receiver. This makes it a great option for families that move around a lot on extended camping trips or long hikes through nature with their fluffy companion. Even the best underground dog fence is incapable of the portability of this type of system.
These systems offer several types of corrections, based on the personality of your dog. These can be either an audio cue, buzzing, or electric correction delivered from the collar. There is also an option to have a message sent to your handheld device or phone if your pup wanders beyond the perimeter you have set for them.
How to Choose a Wireless Dog Fence
This decision takes into account many different factors that may not suit every use case the same way. For instance, homeowners with a large, rural, 4-acre property and 2 large guard dogs will not have the same needs as a suburban, 30 foot by 30-foot yard with a Yorkie running around. The habits of the dog owners also come into play, as there are options to have a portable dog fence for families that like to take their furry friend on long camping trips. Namely, these questions are as follows.
As we have previously mentioned, large and small dogs have different needs when it comes to roaming distance and the intensity of the behavior correction method delivery. You don’t want it to be too strong for small dogs, and too weak for large ones. Also, where a Yorkie may be happy with a 25 foot by 25-foot yard, a German shepherd needs more space to stretch its legs and run around. Taking this into account, you can see how different models will differently affect the quality of life concerning your pup. You want something with a large roaming area for bigger dogs, assuming your property allows it. Take into account the size of the collar as well.
Some receivers and transmitters will have a larger coverage area, noted on the manufacturer’s specifications list. It is important to choose one that will adequately cover your property, especially if that property is a large one. Battery life is also usually better in models that cover larger areas, allowing your pooch to run around for extended periods of time without worrying that they will leave the allotment.
Many models come with 2-4 collars, as well as options to cover more. When you decide on a fence, look closely at the number of dog collars that the fence comes with. Some models come with one or two, but have the option to connect many more, although they may be sold separately. High-end models can potentially have an “unlimited” amount of dog collar coverage, which is great for sanctuaries or doggie daycares.
For families that enjoy camping for extended periods of time, leaving their dog at home is not really an option unless someone is dog-sitting for you. To circumvent that little hiccup, there are solutions for portable fences based on GPS that you can set up around your campsite to make sure your dog does not run past the boundaries of your camp. This is especially important if there are other campers around, other dogs, or even hunters in the area that could mistake your pet for game at a distance.
For DIY fans, this may not be much of a problem. However, for most people, this can make or break a purchase. Simple wireless fences that have a circular radius are simple to install, all you need is a power source for the transmitter and an area for the dog to roam around. Hard-wired fences take some more work, as there is a physical wire that must be buried along the perimeter of your designated roam area. Regardless of the type, there is usually an option to hire someone to come install it for you.
Training Your Dog For The Wireless Fence
Before you start training your dog, it is important to know the ins and outs of getting your furry companion used to their new boundaries. This usually entails reading a detailed instruction manual or finding good videos online to educate yourself on the best ways to reinforce the behavior you would like your dog to exhibit.
It is important to train your dog prior to setting him loose to figure out the bounds on his own — which, as we mentioned previously, can have an even more negative impact on the mental state of your dog. It can lead to confusion and fear, which is never a good thing for your loyal pup to experience, especially since this can be remedied by simply taking the time to train them and acquaint them with what those flags on the ground really mean.
In essence, an invisible fence solution is something that must be ingrained in your dog’s mind, rather than being a physical deterrent. This is most often done by placing physical training flags along the boundary of the fence where your dog can see them. You then spend a few days acquainting your dog with the fact that these flags are not to be crossed. This is best done without the shock option enabled on the collar, and instead using the audio cue to get your pup used to the sound. Once the beep is heard by the dog, pull them away from the fence and use positive reinforcement (a treat, petting, belly rubs, etc.) to get them used to the new behavior. Do this for about 10 minutes at a time, several times a day until they get used to it.
After a few days of this, turn on the shock option and correctly calibrate it so that your dog can feel it. You want to start from the lowest option and gradually increase it until your pup reacts to it. The same process is used with the static shock enabled over the course of 10-14 days until your pup is completely used to their new boundaries.
The next step is teaching them to stay within the bounds of the fence even with distractions, such as a frisbee landing outside the fence, squirrels running around, etc. Your fence will come with detailed instructions on how to complete each stage of the dog’s training and therefore make the fence more reliable and less stressful for the pup.
Types of Wireless Dog Fence Collars
The way that the various wireless dog fence models prevent your dog from crossing them can make a big difference depending on their temperament. Stubborn dogs will need a much different approach than timid ones. Accounting for the dog’s size also means you need something strong enough forig dogs, but not overpowering for small ones. Here are the options when it comes to the delivery method.
- Electric – This type of collar has probes on the inner part that make contact with the dog’s skin. Whenever the behavior correction is triggered by your dog, the probes send a shock to deter your dog from running beyond the borders of the fence. The size of the shock is adjustable, as you want the lowest setting possible for your dog to feel it but not get hurt. What works for a Great Dane may not work for a beagle, after all. However, you should not overtighten these collars, nor should it be on your furry friend for longer than 10-12 hours at a time.
- Sound – This works in tandem with the previous bullet, in that a sound correction is, in some models, a warning delivered before the static shock is applied once a dog has crossed the boundary. The sound cue alerts the dog that it is approaching a fence line, without actually shocking the pup. For some dogs, this alarm will be enough to stop them from going over the line, with the static shock option being saved for when it is actually needed. This is arguably better than JUST having a static shock collar, as it gives your dog the chance to avoid getting shocked entirely. Some models have the option to shut off the static shock option entirely, either when your dog is used to the boundaries or if it is an easily trainable pup.
- Citronella/Sonic – Lastly we have the spray collar. This type of behavior correction uses a safe, non-toxic spray to correct your dog’s undesired acts, such as going near flower beds or constant barking. While it may not be effective in stopping a big dog running after a car —completely ignoring the spray in the heat of the moment— it can be used as a less “shocking” form to correct small incidents, albeit with more sensitive dogs.