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6 Common Wireless Dog Fence Problems (And How To Fix Them)

Key Takeaways

  • Wireless dog fence systems usually rely on a wireless transmitter and a receiver collar, and even a small issue with either of those will prevent the whole system from functioning properly.
  • They’re also quite vulnerable to outside factors, such as interference from the environment or even dogs not responding to the beeps and static correction.
  • Fortunately most of them are fixable with a little patience and troubleshooting know-how.

Just like any piece of complex equipment, even the best wireless fences are prone to a number of issues that can hamper its performance. I can personally attest to this, having used several wireless fence models in the past myself. Fortunately, the technology has been around for a while, and so the most common problems are well-known at this point and their tried and true fixes are well-documented as well. In this article I’ll go through the most likely things to go wrong with wireless dog fence systems: things like the collar not beeping or not engaging its other corrections, signal interference, a faulty transmitter, and even dogs that don’t respond to the corrections. I’ll also give some pointers on how to resolve them.

Collar is beeping, but not delivering an electric shock

Sometimes a wireless dog fence collar might beep, but fail to deliver its electric shock or other correction method. In order to definitively test whether this is the case, place your fingers on both ends of the receiver and walk towards the wireless fence boundary. If you feel nothing, or if you only feel a weak static correction, then there may be something wrong with its power supply. This can cause the signal to get weaker, making it harder for the collar to pick up. Either that, or the collar itself is faulty and should be repaired or replaced.

If the collar works, then it might just be that your dog is resistant to the current correction levels, and hence you should adjust these higher. Either that, or the wireless fence collar fit is too loose. Check whether the collar is snug enough around the dog’s neck for the collar shock to properly make contact with the dog’s skin.

Collar receiver not playing an audible beep

The collar beep is an essential part of the wireless dog fence system. This preemptive warning tone gives your dog ample indication that they’re about to do something wrong. When it’s working properly, they’ll be able to veer off before a higher correction level kicks in.

Faulty collar

Dog with red collar. | The Pampered Pup

One of the main reasons for a lack of beeping is a malfunction in the receiver collar itself. Check whether the indicator light is on to determine whether the collar receiver is being powered as intended. It could be something as innocuous as insufficient battery power, so try to replace the battery with a fresh one before proceeding.

Resetting the collar

If the wireless dog collar isn’t lighting up, remove all batteries from the device, then hold down the correction level button until the LED indicator goes out. Afterwards, put the batteries back in and check whether it’s working properly.

Once the LED indicator is on, you can test for beeping by moving towards the wireless fence boundary, much like you would do for a wired fence where you approach the boundary wire.

If the indicator light is on but there is still no beeping, it may be an issue with the speaker.

When to consider replacement

If you know somebody who is good at repairing electronics or think you could try your own hand at it, this can be as easy as fixing a few connections [1]. In my experience, the internal speaker was always the first to go down, so I learned to solder just to avoid the extra expense. If that doesn’t sound like something you’d enjoy doing, you may want to simply consider getting a replacement receiver collar.

Issues can also arise with the receiver itself. This can be harder to repair than the speaker. When in doubt, it might be best to just purchase another collar.

But if there’s still no beeping even with a brand-new receiver collar, the problem may lie with the wireless fence transmitter itself.

Transmitter trouble

Without the wireless dog fence transmitter, there would be nothing to tell the collar receiver when to administer the different corrections, essentially making the entire invisible fence system useless. Of course, wireless dog fence systems that don’t make use of a transmitter, such as GPS-based ones, are exempt from this rule.

Sometimes transmitter issues might just weaken the signal, reducing the ranges that trigger each correction, or make it so that it would sometimes trigger and sometimes not. But in certain cases, a faulty fence transmitter can prevent the collar from beeping, but not from shocking. Sometimes it could be the other way around, or result in another problem. Most transmitters have warning lights to tell you whether or not the issue lies with the transmitter itself or with the wiring.

If you run into a problem with your transmitter, the first thing you should check is whether the power outlet or the charging cord is faulty, if your particular model uses those. Some wireless fences, particularly older models, may rely exclusively on D cell battery packs.

In most instances, the fix can be as simple as resetting the transmitter. First, bring your dog indoors to prevent them triggering the system while you reset it. Then, simply disconnect power from the transmitter. Check for any sources of interference. If you’ve found none or have removed all of them, plug everything back in. That should reset the device.

If that doesn’t work, then the transmitter may need repair. Transmitters can be complex pieces of equipment for your average dog owners. Hence, you should schedule a service call with your manufacturer or take it to a technician to resolve such issues.

Signal interference

Person with phone. | The Pampered Pup

Another problem that can occur with wiring is disruption of the signal field. With wired invisible fences, you just need to make sure that the boundary wire is at least 3-4 feet away from other electrically charged material, such as telephone wires, light posts, and even the existing boundary wire of neighbors’ invisible fences or other wireless fences. But with a wireless dog fence, interference is much more of an issue and can suddenly increase in potency because of an external factor outside of your control. This is another area in which a GPS receiver collar has the advantage, since it only receives signals from satellites instead of relying on a wireless transmitter.

Metal can sometimes cause interference as well, so make sure any substantial metal objects aren’t too close to the transmitter or can occlude line of sight from it to the point on the yard you want it to set the boundary to. You might want to make sure that the metal object isn’t at the same height as the transmitter as well. This is why I tend to set up the transmitter on an elevated platform a few feet above the ground, or even on the roof if that particular model allows.

In addition, anything that emits a wireless signal can also interfere with the proper functioning of the wireless fence. And vice versa. This particular user experienced heavy interference caused by their PetSafe fence, that caused them to lose control of the drone they were flying.

Dog not hearing the beep

Some dogs, particularly older ones, may be hard of hearing. Hence, the beep will never have its intended effect, causing the dog to run through the invisible fence even though everything’s working correctly. Anyone who’s owned a dog who has gotten on in years knows all too well that they can be harder to train, but it’s never too late to try. In cases like this, I find that it’s better to obtain a vibrating collar.

Some PetSafe collars on offer have vibrations as part of their correction levels, but there are also offerings that exclusively make use of vibrations to correct unwanted behavior. Remember to ensure that the collar is fitted properly around the dog’s neck so that the vibrations permeate at full effect through the dog’s skin. Visual cues such as training flags should help them acclimate to the restrictions of the wireless dog fence, in lieu of a warning beep.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my invisible fence not working?

An invisible fence is not a single, self-contained system, but multiple smaller ones working together. Any one of these moving parts can encounter a malfunction. Adding a dog to that equation only makes things more unpredictable.

How do you reset an Invisible Fence transmitter?

First, bring your dog inside. Afterwards, you have to disconnect it from power. Then, disconnect the twisted boundary wire from the transmitter. Once the system is fully inactive, check for any possible sources of interference. If there are none, reconnect everything. The system should be reset.

How do you fix a broken invisible fence wire?

You will have to locate the underground wire break and reconnect it or replace the faulty segment.

How do you find a break in an invisible fence?

You either make use of a wire break locator, or you can use the short loop method to manually search for the underground wire break.

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2 thoughts on “6 Common Wireless Dog Fence Problems (And How To Fix Them)”

    • Hi John,

      The way the PetSafe wireless works is that if the collar loses reception from the base station, the collar issues correction. One likely cause could be some source of interference in your house – large metal objects trigger this behavior, for example. There are probably many sources of interference in a house, such as appliances.

      The best bet would be to remove the collar when inside the house.


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