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Letting your dog into the backyard may seem like an ordinary task. For some people, your dog insists on having you with them (works that way in our house). For others, your dog doesn’t mind going out on their own. Whether you leave your dog unaccompanied may come down to the presence of a fence. Maybe you’d like your dog to have their freedom, but you don’t like the look of fencing. If that’s the case, invisible dog fences provide the answer.
Invisible dog fences come in a few forms:
- Electric fencing
- Underground fencing
- Wireless fencing
They all work on the same principle. Rather than a free-standing fence marking the boundary of your property, there’s nothing to see. Instead, your dog wears an electric-type collar that senses a perimeter. The collar then delivers a correction (a tone, vibration, or static shock) to guide them away. (Electric fencing uses a physical barrier – it’s just more discrete)
You usually have a choice as to the correction the collar administers. Over time, you can adjust the setting as your dog learns the fence’s boundaries. Dogs are smart, and they catch on pretty quickly.
Invisible dog fences make great choices for people that live in neighborhoods with restrictions over yard aesthetics. As the fence isn’t visible, there’s nothing to upset the neighbors. And your dog stays safe in their yard.
Invisible dog fences can also keep your dog from trampling your vegetables or digging up the rosebushes. You don’t have to fence in your gardens, making weeding a difficult chore. Set up the invisible dog fence around the bed, and your dog learns to avoid the area. It’s an easy way to correct that destructive behavior when your back’s turned.
When you have a large piece of property, fencing gets EXPENSIVE. Not to mention the labor involved with installation. Invisible dog fences take half the time, and they don’t cost anywhere near as much. You can enclose all of that space, giving your dog plenty of room to romp and play in safety.
Of course, invisible dog fences come with a few hiccups, too. Metal or wooden fencing creates a firm boundary between your yard and encroaching wildlife. Your dog has their collar to react to the invisible dog fence, but deer, raccoon, and fox? They don’t have collars. So other animals can cross that boundary line without a problem.
Invisible dog fences have some requirements. They don’t work well in the following situations:
- If a metal object comes between the transmitter and the fence
- Any metal within ten feet of the transmitter
- Metal roofing blocks transmitters
- Uneven ground – you need a flat yard
- Cars pulling into a driveway (that pesky metal!) disrupts the signal
Look over your yard carefully before opting for an invisible dog fence. (And maybe skip the front yard, or at least make sure you avoid the driveway)
Choosing an Invisible Dog Fence
Giving your dog a chance to explore the yard without you hovering over their shoulder brings a lot of excitement (for everyone). It’s still important to consider the outside temperature (and your dog’s size – tiny breed dogs present a temptation to flying raptors), and do a quick check now and then, but some dogs appreciate freedom. Invisible dog fences are the perfect blend of safety and relaxation.
Just keep some key features in mind during your shopping:
- Yard Perimeter: Every transmitter has an effective range, which you’ll find listed. Make sure your yard space falls into that designated space.
- Wireless or Underground: Invisible dog fences comes in two forms: wireless dog fences and underground dog fences. Underground dog fences require you to bury a wire to establish the boundaries. It’s going to need more work on your part, but you have more control over the size and shape of the region.
- Containment vs. Repelling: Do you want the invisible dog fence to keep your dog in the yard, or are you trying to keep him OUT of your garden? Wireless works best for one while underground works better for the other.
- Training and Correction: Look for a system that allows you to walk your dog through a training process. If the collar jumps straight to correction, you’ll end up scaring them, defeating the purpose of the invisible dog fence.
The Training Process
Your dog’s smart. However, putting the invisible dog fence collar on them and letting them loose in the yard is NOT going to work. If you do that, your dog may bolt THROUGH the fence out of fear, or they may cower in the middle of the yard. Anxiety isn’t the goal of invisible dog fences.
You need to invest a solid TWO WEEKS of training before you can let them have their freedom. Working alongside your dog with a steady supply of dog training treats will yield the best results.
Every invisible dog fence kit comes with nifty boundary flags. You want to place them in roughly ten-foot intervals along the edge of your yard. Make sure they’re where your dog can see them (no fair hiding them in bushes). To start, set the collar to tone ONLY. Remember, this is the start of training, and you don’t want any fear.
- Put your dog on their leash (NOT attached to the correction collar) and walk them along the flags.
- Go to a flag so the tone sounds (and they associate the flag with the tone).
- Move away and ask them to “sit.” Give a treat and praise.
- Continue along for at least three flags.
- Your dog will start trying to avoid the flags, so they don’t have to hear that tone.
Days 2 to 4
You can now increase the correction of the collar. If the kit you have allows it, opt for just a vibration. Otherwise, set the static to the LOWEST setting.
- Again, walk them along the boundary on their leash.
- Allow them to cross a flag to feel the correction.
- Immediately move away and ask them to “sit.” Treat and praise them.
- Continue until they refuse to approach a flag.
Days 5 to 8
Only adjust the static correction to what your dog will tolerate. This may be the lowest setting! This isn’t a punishment, after all, just a correction.
- Still place your dog on a leash.
- Place a favorite toy OUTSIDE of the boundary to see if they’ll go after it.
- Put treats OUTSIDE of the boundary as a test.
- If they stay INSIDE, offer praise and treats.
Days 9 to 14
Take the leash off. Don’t add any further tests, but stay with them and monitor your dog. By this point, your dog should recognize those flags without a problem. You can remove the flags by the third week if you’re feeling comfortable.
Safety Notes for Invisible Dog Fences
Invisible dog fences work beautifully. You need to invest the time in training, and you need to remain reasonable in your dog’s common sense. You also need to take a few steps to keep your dog as safe as possible. After all, you’re using an electronic collar.
You CAN’T leave that collar on 24/7. The prongs will start to cause burns. The collar should ONLY go on when your dog goes outside. The rest of the time, take it off. It’s a pain to remember, but the resulting damage to your dog’s neck isn’t worth it. Don’t use the collar for walks (after all, it serves no purpose outside the yard), and don’t use it inside the house.
The Invisible Dog Fence “Gate”
Particularly if you set up invisible dog fences in your front yard, you need to create a “gate.” This is an area where your dog can safely exit the yard without correction. Remember, you just taught your dog where the boundaries were. Now you need to teach him how to use the gate.
- Choose your gate’s location.
- Turn the system OFF.
- Ask your dog to “sit” and “stay” at the designated gate.
- Cross over the gate and ask your dog to “come.”
- ONLY use that spot for leaving the yard.
Use this same routine each time. Your dog will understand they need to wait for you to “open the gate” to leave the yard.
Best Invisible Dog Fences
Invisible dog fences make excellent tools for families with kids. Small children may not be able to control a larger dog if something catches their attention. You’ll feel confident letting everyone out into the yard for playtime. And no one has to fuss that they hate the fence you chose.
Best Wireless Invisible Dog Fences
Wireless invisible dog fences work simply: a transmitter establishes a circular perimeter. So long as no metal interferes (and the terrain stays flat), you have nothing to worry about. Just set up your flags for the training process, and you’re good to go. What more could you ask?
Say you have more than one dog. Pet Control HQ comes with two collars to allow you to keep everyone in the yard. You get up to 10 acres of coverage, giving your pups plenty of space to roam. This invisible dog fence allows for multiple correction options, including a warning tone if your dog approaches the boundary. The transmitter comes in a waterproof housing with an easy-to-read LED screen.
Downsides? While the collars are rechargeable, people complained the batteries required frequent visits to the charging unit. Also, the points on the collar are rather sharp. You definitely don’t want to keep these collars on longer than necessary.
PetSafe offers a wireless invisible dog fence that’s portable! Covering half an acre, you can take it anywhere. The collars provide five stages of correction, including a warning tone. They also offer the advantage of a no-shock return. This means if your dog happens to cross the boundary, they won’t receive a correction for coming home. The prongs adjust to keep dogs with long and short hair comfortable, and the collar’s lightweight and waterproof. Batteries last a solid two months.
The downsides? The boundary wobble (the chance the transmitter will fail to find the perimeter) is around five feet, which is large. Check your yard carefully at the edges. Also, you can’t recharge the batteries – you’ll have to buy fresh ones.
PetSafe’s upgrade option is the Stay and Play. The coverage extends to 3/4 of an acre, and you can add up to FIVE collars to the transmitter. The collar features the same options as before, but now you can recharge the batteries in around 3 hours. The transmitter lets you adjust the radius of your perimeter, so if your yard’s a little smaller, you can narrow the circle of protection. And it’s still portable if you want to take it on a trip.
So what are the downsides? It’s on the pricey side (though you ARE getting a lot). Also, the transmitter MUST remain indoors, as it’s not waterproof.
Best Underground Invisible Dog Fences
Properties don’t always fit within circles. This is where underground invisible dog fences come in. You get wire that you bury in the ground to establish the boundary. They work great for keeping sneaky dogs out of flower beds or for creating designated play areas. You’ll need to do more work since you need to lay the cable, but the investment will pay off in the long run. (And it’s still less work than setting up a larger fence)
Sit Boo-Boo offers you a couple of options for their invisible dog fence. The copper wire works equally well attached to existing structures, stapled to the ground, OR buried. You have enough wire to enclose up to 1.2 acres of ground, and you can purchase extra collars if you have more than one dog. The collar’s completely waterproof, letting your dog enjoy his swimming activities.
Downsides? The wire is delicate, and you need to be careful when installing it to ensure you don’t damage it. Also, the indicator for a low battery isn’t the most reliable. Try to stay on top of your charge.
SportDOG provides enough wire to cover up to 2.5 acres (with an option to buy more if you need up to 100 acres of room). The system comes with automatic lightning protection, a wire-break alarm, and a feature that tells you when your dog’s hanging out on the boundary (testing the limit). The collar features seven levels of correction, just in case you have a stubborn hound, and it’s completely waterproof. The batteries last three days of constant use (please don’t do that), and they recharge without a problem.
The downsides? This is one of the pricier invisible dog fences out there. Also, the boundary wobble is high at eight feet (even with the buried cable).
Do you have a large property? Do you only want a single kit? Extreme Dog Fence provides the answer. This invisible dog fence has enough industrial gauge wire to cover SIX ACRES! And that heavy-duty wire holds up to abuse without a worry. Three included antennas guarantee your dog will stay out of trouble. The waterproof collar administers seven levels of correction, including the warning tone.
So what’s the downside? The instructions are lacking, making installation a bit of a challenge. Hopefully, you have a knowledgeable friend.
Yeah, PetSafe makes quite a few appearances on this list. The Stubborn Fence covers 1/3 of an acre with 14-gauge wire surrounded in a polyethylene jacket. The jacket protects the wire from corrosion (and it’s UV-resistant if you opt to staple it to the ground). The waterproof collar allows for four levels of correction, and it incorporates a safety auto-off function that kicks in after thirty seconds (in case your dog decides to hang out ON the boundary).
Downsides? People found problems with the transmitters. Make sure you keep them charged appropriately. And, again, no rechargeable batteries.
Honestly, I can’t say how ANY cat would react to the idea of a shock collar. However, the In-Ground Dog and Cat Fence assures you both pets can use this invisible dog fence. (Up to you) Once again, you’ll get about 1/3 of an acre worth of wire (or you can purchase extra to cover up to five acres). The collars feature five settings, including the tonal warning. One collar comes in the kit, but you can add on others for additional pets.
The downsides? It’s not the most cost-friendly system. And, again, people found problems with wire breaks and transmitter issues. Just check your system closely before the refund period’s up.
“Can’t Fence Me In”
Invisible dog fences require some work. You’ll need to invest in careful training, so your dog learns where the boundaries are, and you may need to bury the wires if you opt for an underground option. However, they don’t break up sightlines if you have a spectacular view out your windows. And they give your dog extra protection while they enjoy their time outside.
Maybe others can’t see that invisible dog fence, but you – and your dog – know it’s there. And that’s what matters.