I’m going to help you find the best invisible dog fence to keep your dog safe while they enjoy the freedom of roaming your yard unleashed.
And this is without installing a physical fence, which we all know can be expensive for a nice one. Not to mention they can block views and even be unsightly.
We’ll cover the three different technologies available, we’ll compare them in light of the most important buying considerations for pet owners, and I’ll tell you which products top dogs and why.
So why should you care about my opinion anyway?
Well, I’ve been working with invisible dog fences since 2019. That may not sound like a long time, but believe it or not, that’s longer than many of these products have been around. While there are certainly some brands with staying power, I’ve also seen quite a few products come and go.
When I review products I do my best to evaluate them from a dog’s perspective, and over the the course of this year I’ve strapped several invisible dog fence collars on my own neck to put them to the test.
The results have been shocking. I mean, seriously. I’ve been shocked by these collars more times than I care to count by now. But make no bones about it—the static correction, also known as shocking, is pretty freakin’ painful! This is why I can’t advocate using it to train your dog, and most invisible fences don’t require that you do.
However, I’m not here to tell you how to train your dog, I’m here to tell you which of these products is the best choice for you, your property, and your best friend.
What is an Invisible Dog Fence?
So there are three main technologies when it comes to invisible dog fences: wireless, in-ground (also known as electric), and GPS.
Each technology has up sides and down sides, so let’s start by quickly going over how each works.
Wireless Dog Fence
Wireless dog fences consist of a central transmitter and a receiver collar. The transmitter emits a circular signal, creating a wireless boundary around your property. The receiver collar worn by your pet detects the signal and provides a warning, such as a sound or vibration, when they approach the boundary.
In-ground dog fences
In-ground dog fences, also known as electric dog fences, are a widely used and reliable option. These systems involve burying a boundary wire underground to define the containment area. The wire is connected to a transmitter that emits a radio signal through the wire and your pet wears a receiver collar that detects the signal.
GPS Dog Fence
And lastly GPS dog fences utilize advanced Global Positioning System technology to create virtual boundaries for your pet. These systems consist simply of a receiver collar and they are typically controlled via a smartphone app.
What You Need to Know Before Using an Invisible Fence
Now just a word of caution before we dive deep here—it’s absolutely essential to go through proper boundary training with your dog in order for both of you to achieve success. This typically takes about 2-4 weeks with short daily training sessions depending on your dog.
I particularly want to highlight that you can’t just turn on an invisible dog fence and expect it to work all of a sudden. They are a training tool, and they need to be respected and treated as such.
Buying Considerations (What’s The Best Type of Invisible Dog Fence For Me?)
So based on my experiences with invisible dog fences combined with feedback from our audience, I’ve put together a list of buying considerations that are probably the most important to dog owners in making their decision.
Let’s outline what each of those right now, and then later I’ll tell you which products are the best and worst fits for each consideration.
1. Size of Your Yard
The first is the size of your yard, and about a half-acre is the cutoff here. Some systems actually aren’t designed for yards smaller than that, while others aren’t designed for yards larger than that.
In-ground dog fences work in pretty much all cases, although with very large yards of several acres you might run into some issues.
Traditional wireless pet fence options are typically designed for yards smaller than a half-acre, sometimes 3/4s of an acre. GPS dog fences are really best suited for yards greater than a half an acre once you account for GPS drift.
Now some GPS dog fences don’t say that they’re best for yards a half-acre and up, but the same considerations apply and I think it’s a good rule of thumb to make sure your dog has enough freedom to roam.
2. Ease of Installation
Then there’s the ease of installation. Are you willing to put in any work to get the fence up and running, or are you willing to pay someone to do it for you? Or are you like me and you prefer something that requires minimal work to set up?
When it comes to ease of installation, GPS dog fences and traditional wireless dog fences are really going to have the edge here. They can be downright simple to set up, and one GPS dog fence I’ve even set up in under 2 minutes.
In-ground dog fences are labor-intensive enough to keep you honest when it comes to installation. They require burying that wire, which is a decent amount of work at a minimum, and it can be a lot of work if you have a large property.
3. Level of Customization
Next is the level of customization. Do you want to have control over the shape of the boundary? Or, do you want to be able to change that shape over time without too much effort?
In terms of customization, GPS dog fences take the lead here. One product allows you to create as many as 1,500 virtual fence posts so that you can really be precise with the shape and the size.
In-ground dog fences are a close second, but keep in mind that if you want to change the shape or size as time goes on, that means you’re going to be digging up wires and burying them again.
Traditional wireless dog fences offer no customization of the boundary shape, they’re always circular. You can change the size, but that’s it. It can definitely be an inconvenience based on the layout of our yard and where you mount the transmitter.
Along similar lines do you want a fence that’s portable, or even the ability to have multiple fences at your fingertips?
Now if you want a system that’s portable, GPS dog fences are going to take the lead here once again. Since there’s no transmitter at all and they rely on GPS you can use them pretty much anywhere. Although some do rely on cell service, so that’s something to consider.
Traditional wireless fences can be reasonably portable as well, although keep in mind you’ll still need a way to power the transmitter. In-ground fences, as you can imagine, aren’t really designed for portability.
And if you want to have multiple fences—say for example one at your house and one at your dog sitter’s house and one at your camp—all with different shapes and sizes—then GPS fences are pretty much the only way to go.
You can do some fencing within the fence with in-ground systems via creative wiring, like to add a keep-out zone around a vegetable garden for example. And I guess you could technically make two fences in your own yard if you really wanted to.
Of course, this isn’t an option with traditional wireless dog fences.
Then what about reliability? Do you need the fence to hold the boundary line dead-on or is a little bit of drift over the course of the day something you can work with?
When it comes to reliability, an in-ground system is going to be the most dead-on accurate with where it draws the boundary line. Traditional wireless dog fences are a close second, but there can be a bit of drift—maybe 1-3 feet.
GPS fences, like any GPS devices, are subject to drift over the course of the day. Some are better than others, but the best I’ve seen says to plan for drift of up to 10 feet over the course of the day.
6. Boundary Logic and Warning System
From your dog’s perspective what’s the boundary logic warning system like? Does it give them a fair chance to return to the safe zone before issuing a correction?
In terms of boundary logic and warning systems for you dog, GPS fences take the lead here once again. They have the most computing power so they can have more functionality, often with distinct alert and warning zones prior to issuing a correction.
This gives your dog a chance to turn around and head to the safe zone before getting hit with static correction, if you use it.
Traditional wireless fences and in-ground systems tend to be a little light on the warnings in my experience. So much so that I’ve had trouble avoiding getting shocked, even though I knew what I was doing as a human.
7. GPS Tracking and Phone Notifications
In the event your dog escapes do you want escape notifications on your phone and GPS tracking so that you can bring them back to safety?
If your dog does escape then GPS dog fences are the only option when it comes to receiving escape notifications on your phone and keeping track of your dog’s location so that you can find them and bring them back home safely.
8. Boundary Training Support
As far as boundary training goes, is that something you’re fairly comfortable with or would you perhaps like some support from training professionals?
If you’d like a little bit of support with the whole boundary training process, then traditional wireless fences and in-ground fences can be a little lighter in this area than GPS fences.
Most GPS dog fences have video training modules accompanying them, and one of them even has training modules designed by the Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan. Another company offers a free live session with a professional trainer over Zoom.
9. Battery Life
Then something a lot of our viewers ask about is the collar’s battery life. Are you OK with charging the collar when you’re done using it every day? If not, are you OK with proprietary batteries?
When it comes to battery life for the collars, both traditional wireless dog fences and in-ground dog fences take the cake here with battery lives typically on the order of months. The batteries are often proprietary however, so you might have to buy them from specific places.
GPS dog fences have a lot more computing to do and as such they have a much higher power demand. They typically last a day or less on a charge so you’ll need to recharge overnight, but at least the batteries are rechargeable.
10. Risk of Interference
Now, some of these fence systems are more susceptible to interference. Is that something you can work with? And some of them really rely on good cell reception, do you live in an area that has good coverage?
In terms of interference, traditional wireless dog fences are the most susceptible. The biggest thing to consider if there are any large solid or metal objects they can block the signal and cause your dog to receive a correction when they are in the safe zone.
In-ground dog fences can have some interference if they are running close to and in parallel with power lines. And GPS dog fences will have reduced functionality, or even a complete lack of functionality in areas with poor cell coverage depending on the product.
And last, of course, there’s price—not only the up-front cost but also the ongoing cost of a subscription if required. Additionally, if you’re a multiple dog household, are you going to be able to buy an entire system for each pup, or do you need something that keeps the price down?
Then of course we have to talk price, and both wireless and in-ground systems are going to be more affordable—often as low as $300 or so at the time of writing.
There are some more affordable GPS options, but the best ones are closer to $700 to even the low $1,000s at the time of writing. A lot of them require you to have a monthly subscription, though not all of them.
If you’re a multiple-dog household, traditional wireless systems and in-ground systems can typically support unlimited collars, and you just have to buy additional collars for each dog. Those are typically around $150 or so at the time of writing.
With GPS dog fences, you’re gonna be stuck buying an entire collar for each dog.
My Recommendations: The Best Invisible Dog Fences in 2023
So hopefully that helps you really understand what camp you’re in, now I want to tell you my favorite products for each class.
My Favorite GPS Dog Fence: SpotOn GPS Dog Collar
If you want nothing but the best and you’re in the GPS dog fence camp, then I’d recommend you check out the SpotOn GPS dog fence.
They pretty much built the market, their product engineering is astounding, and they make the most reliable and easy to use GPS collar that I’ve ever worked with.
It doesn’t require a subscription, although you can unlock the full functionality if you get one. However, it does come with a hefty price tag. If you can afford it, it’s worth it.CLICK HERE: Get my EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT for the SpotOn (applied at checkout) →
Runner-up: Halo Collar
If the SpotOn is just a bit too expensive for you then the Halo Collar is another reasonable option for a GPS dog fence. I have some reservations about it, but it does the job pretty well. Keep in mind that it does require a subscription though, so that’s the trade off for a lower price tag.CLICK HERE: check for deals on the Halo Collar →
My Favorite In-ground Dog Fence: Extreme Dog Fence
If you’re in the in-ground dog fence then I’d recommend you check out the Extreme Dog Fence. Our audience has been very happy with it for years—it’s reliable, it’s dependable, and it’s affordable.CLICK HERE: see the latest price for the Extreme →
My Favorite Wireless Dog Fence: PetSafe Wireless Pet Containment System
If you find yourself in the traditional wireless dog fence camp then I’d recommend one of the options from PetSafe. They’ve been around quite some time and our audience has been quite happy with their products.
Their claim to fame is their PetSafe wireless pet containment system, although they have a PetSafe Stay and Play that’s a bit more of a modern system as well.CLICK HERE: Get my BEST DEAL on the PetSafe Wireless (applied at checkout) → CLICK HERE: Check LATEST PRICE on Amazon (applied at checkout) → CLICK HERE: Check LATEST PRICE at Chewy (applied at checkout) →
Until next time dog lovers, keep those tails waggin’!