Invisible dog fences have been around for quite some time. These days you can find both wireless dog fence containment systems and in-ground dog fence containment systems. Under the right circumstances, these systems can be a great way to give your dog the freedom to roam about your property without the need for a regular or a retractable dog leash, even a runner.
How do these invisible dog fence systems work? Are they an effective form of containment? Will they hurt my dog? We aim to answer all of these questions and more here in this article.
At the root of it all, an invisible dog fence works by establishing a barrier and pairing that barrier with a wireless collar that your dog wears. The collar will warn your dog when they get close to the barrier, increasing the warning as they get closer and closer. Once they exceed the barrier a “static correction” is activated until they return within the permitted boundaries. This static correction is generally an electrical shock, which can be increased or decreased in strength based on your dog’s tendencies, and can even be set to an audible tone only in most cases. Dogs are initially trained to use the containment systems by placing marker flags around the established boundaries. After the dog gets used to the established boundaries, usually after a few weeks, you can remove the flags and just leave the invisible fence system in place.
Wireless dog fence systems are the easiest to use. Today’s best invisible dog fences are completely wireless, and work via GPS with smartphone app control. You have complete control over boundaries, plus you can receive escape notifications and track your dog if they somehow make it out. The best dog GPS tracker collars in the market also include health and activity monitoring, plus training guides.
If you have more traditional wireless dog fence with a base station, however, things are still pretty easy. You just set up your base station, make sure that it’s paired with your pet’s wireless collar, and set the radius of the boundaries. The boundaries then become a large circle centered upon the location of the base station. Since it is completely wireless, this means that there is no digging or anything like that to get the system up and running.
The downsides of a wireless system with a base station are that you have no control of the boundary shape. It’s going to be a circle no matter what you do. You can control how big the circle is, but that’s about it. One thing you can do is pair multiple base stations together allowing for larger coverage, but you’re still limited to the circular areas created by each base station. Another disadvantage is that the boundary can have holes if you have uneven terrain in your yard. Severe dips or hills can confuse the system, and your dog might be able to find their way to the boundary and beyond without warning.
In-ground systems work by burying a wire around the boundary area. Obviously this will take quite a bit more work to set up than installing a wireless dog fence, but it does come with its own set of advantages. First and foremost, with an in-ground system you can set the exact shape of the boundaries that you want. Regardless of the shape of your yard, you should be able to design it in an accommodating fashion. Next, because it’s not relying on a wireless signal an in-ground system is far less likely to have holes as you might experience with a wireless system .
The main disadvantages are that you have to dig to install them, you have to dig to make any changes, and you can’t pack up the system and take it with you when you go on vacations.
- Your dog can roam about your yard freely, untethered by the confines of a leash or a yard runner.
- Without a leash attached to your dogs collar there is reduced risk of snags that could potentially hurt your dog, especially if they are a particularly active pup.
- Some systems are portable, meaning you can take your invisible fence system with you camping or to your vacation home.
- Invisible fence systems are many times more affordable than a physical fence, they take up less space in your yard, and they don’t block your views.
- Since there is no physical barrier imposed by wireless or in-ground invisible fence systems, there is still the possibility that the dog could get out and find themselves in harm’s way.
- Some dogs just don’t want to play by the rules of an invisible fence system, and they will continually disobey the boundaries.
Do These Electric Fences Hurt Your Dog?
A fairly common question that comes up when talking about these invisible dog fence containment systems is whether or not they hurt your dog. You should always consult the manufacturer of the system as well as your veterinarian when answering this question. However, right off the bat a few things come to mind. First of all, on just about every one of these systems you’ll see that they advertise being rated for a certain weight of pet. For example, they might say “for use with dogs 5 pounds or greater”. Training with shock collar can definitely hurt a dog that is too small, so do not take these warnings lightly.
Secondly, there can be issues if you do not properly train your dog on a wireless fence. The systems are designed to give your dog clues as to when they are getting close to the boundaries, but if they exceed the boundaries they will receive what is referred to as a “static correction”. Basically this means that the dog’s collar is shocking them until they get back within the acceptable boundaries. If your dog repeatedly runs past the boundaries then this will not be good for them long term. Consider your alternatives if this is the case, the very last thing you want to do is cause any harm to your favorite four-legged friend.
Hopefully by now you have a better understanding of the basic concepts behind invisible dog fences, the differences between wireless and in-ground systems, and how they can affect your dog. Some pet owners swear by them, but some feel they are not the best fit. Unfortunately it’s nearly impossible to say what will work for your dog, your yard, and your home. However, you can take all of this information into consideration and hopefully make a pretty good guess.