Most dogs love the freedom of an open yard, with room to frolic and play. However, the thought of your beloved pup taking off and running around the neighborhood may keep you from allowing your dog that freedom. You could build a traditional fence to protect your dog from potential risks, but there’s another option: the invisible dog fence.
The best invisible dog fences are attractive alternatives to privacy fences or dog pens. Instead of enclosing your dog with a physical barrier, a special collar interacts with the fencing system to keep your canine in your yard. The collar vibrates as your dog approaches the boundary, and then gives an electrical correction when the pup has gone too far. Invisible fences do this while maintaining an open backyard with a clear view.
This guide includes some of the best invisible dog fences, as well as some of the finer points of invisible dog fencing.
- BEST OVERALL: PetSafe Stubborn Dog In-Ground Fence for Dogs/Cats
- RUNNER-UP: Extreme Dog Fence – Second Generation
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Feeke Pet Wireless Dog Fence
- BEST UNDERGROUND: PetSafe Basic In-Ground Dog and Cat Fence
- BEST WITH REMOTE: Pet Control HQ Dog Containment System
- BEST WIRELESS: PetSafe Stay & Play Wireless Fence for Stubborn Dogs
Types of Invisible Dog Fences
There are two main types of invisible dog fences, and each has its pros and cons. The kind that you choose will have a lot to do with convenience and the shape of your property.
Wireless dog fences use a transmitter to create a 360-degree, radio-frequency-controlled barrier around your yard. They’re easy to install and program. After you plug in the transmitter, you can adjust the perimeter to fit your yard.
A wireless dog fence is an excellent choice if you have a relatively square-shaped yard, as these systems create dome-shaped, round perimeters. They allow your pup the run of the yard, save for the corners. If you have a long, skinny property, you may find that a wireless fence will restrict your dog to a smaller portion of your property.
Wireless fences come in various sizes, which range from half-acre coverage to several acres. You also can use multiple dog collars, keeping several dogs safe in your yard with the same system.
Underground or Hybrid
Underground, or hybrid, invisible fences use a buried wire to create a barrier for your dog. They’re completely customizable, making them a great choice for long yards, odd-shaped properties, and areas with no-go zones.
The transmitter for an underground or hybrid system doesn’t need to be in a central location, so you can install it in a garage or other location without worrying about coverage. To install underground systems, run the wire along the perimeter of the area where you’d like to allow your dog to play. Twisting the wire allows you to reach garden beds or fountains, so you can block off areas without creating a physical barrier for your dog.
Underground systems are offered in sizes for larger and smaller properties, allowing you to encircle your entire yard, blocking off gardens, ponds, and pools as you go. While these systems can work above ground, they’ll be more susceptible to breaking or damage. If the loop breaks, the system won’t work.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Invisible Dog Fence
If you’ve decided on the style of invisible fencing, it’s time to learn about the special features of the different systems. These attributes are worth keeping in mind while you shop for the best invisible dog fence for your yard and pup.
Invisible dog fencing systems are available for different-size yards. The transmitter for a smaller underground system can create up to a half-acre circular barrier.
If your yard is larger, consider a more powerful system. Generally speaking, kits of up to 1⅓ acres are available, providing plenty of puppy play area. These larger systems are usually underground or hybrid systems.
Keep in mind that with careful planning, it’s possible to extend your system with additional wire to give your dog more space. Some systems can be modified to include an area of up to 25 acres.
Containing vs. Repelling
The most common goal of an invisible dog fence is to contain your dog in your yard. Most systems do this quite well by creating a barrier that sends a correction to your dog’s collar when the barrier is approached.
Repelling is another goal for some dog owners. You can set up an underground system to repel your dog. If you’d prefer that your dog stay out of your garden or away from the pool, looping the restricted area into your system is quick and easy. By twisting the wire around itself, you can run wire out to the no-no zone, and then loop the area with a single, untwisted wire. The twisted wire will not transmit to the collar, allowing your dog to travel freely. The signal again will work with the collar after entering the single-wire section, keeping your dog inside the yard.
Electronic Collars and Multiple Dogs
With an invisible fence system, the collar works as a receiver, detecting the signal from the transmitter in a wireless system or from the wire in an underground fence system. After it detects that signal, the collar warns or corrects the dog.
Since these collars simply detect a signal, adding more collars to the system is easy. You will need to buy an additional collar that is designed to work with your specific system. You also can purchase collars for small and large dogs that will work with the same invisible fence.
Be sure to find a system with a quality collar that has swappable contacts. The contacts are the two points that press against the dog’s skin to provide an electrical correction. Shorter contacts work well for short-haired dogs, while the longer contacts may be necessary for thick-furred companions.
Static Correction Levels
Most invisible fence systems allow you to adjust the level of electrical correction that your dogs receive when they cross the fence line. Adjustable levels are incredibly important.
Sensitive dogs will feel a low level of correction and recognize that the sensation was the result of where they are standing, which is too close to the edge of the invisible fence. However, high-energy dogs may require a more substantial jolt to show them that they’re making a mistake.
The electrical correction setting is usually on the collar in the form of a small dial. Use the lowest effective setting, as too much of a jolt may inhibit your dog from enjoying the yard.
Battery Backup and Surge Protector
There are two accessories you can add to your underground system for peace of mind and an additional layer of security: battery backup and surge protection.
If you live in an area that experiences frequent power outages, a battery backup for your underground invisible fence system might be worth the investment. These devices plug in-line with your system and can provide a few days of power for an underground system. This can be particularly important if your dog is outside when a power outage occurs.
Your underground system can be affected by lightning strikes from up to 2 miles away. To minimize this effect, you can install a surge protector that will take the brunt of these jolts. It will redirect the surge from the fence system before the surge can damage your fence or your home’s electrical system.
If you’d like a little more flexibility from your dog collar, you might consider an invisible fence system with a remote control. It also can be a helpful training aid.
By purchasing a system with a handheld remote, you not only provide your dog with a safe place to play, but you also have the ability to correct other unwanted behaviors within the yard. If your dog is a jumper, you can send a correction to the collar when he or she starts jumping on guests. Likewise, if you have an area of the yard like a garden bed or pool that you’d prefer your dogs not enter, you can send a correction when they get near it.
Just be aware that corrections do drain the battery, so don’t rely on the remote control corrections to keep a dog contained for a particularly mischievous day that requires seemingly endless corrections. These collars will work by remote outside the fenced area, as well.
When it comes to ease of installation, a wireless system is by far the quickest and easiest to set up. Installation involves plugging the transmitter into a wall outlet and then adjusting the distance you’d like the invisible dome to cover.
For an underground system, installation is much more involved. First, install your transmitter in an area that allows your dog to walk outside without receiving a correction. Second, loop the wire around the yard and any areas you want to keep dog-free. Next, plug in the system and adjust the amount of signal that runs through the wire. The amount of signal determines how close your dog can get to the wire.
Regardless of which system you use, flags are helpful to show your dog where the barrier ends. Most kits come with flags, and your dog will learn that the flags indicate the edge of the system. The flags easily push into the ground, and they’re only intended to be temporary. However, the flags can help dogs learn.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know how invisible fence systems work and their key features, you can start comparing the top products. The following is a list of some of the best invisible dog fences you can buy to keep your pooch contained in your yard safely, securely, and easily.
When looking for an invisible underground fence that includes the items you need to get started and is easy to customize with a variety of accessories, check out the PetSafe Stubborn Dog In-Ground Fence. This kit comes with a transmitter, a surge protector, an adjustable collar, flags, and 500 feet of wire that is capable of covering a third of an acre. If you have a larger property, you can purchase more wire, enabling you to cover up to 25 acres of property with one system.
When it comes to correcting very stubborn dogs, the included collar has several layers of warning. It offers a tone warning, a vibration, and four levels of static correction. You can purchase additional collars to work with your system as well (available online).
The Extreme Dog Fence Second Generation standard grade kit is customizable for several dogs and different-size properties. The Extreme Dog Fence has enough wire to cover properties that are up to a third of an acre. With the purchase of additional wire, the system can cover up to 6 acres. The standard kit includes a transmitter, 500 feet of wire, flags, and waterproof splices. The kit is available with a collar that is waterproof to 10 feet, allowing you to let your dog run and play in a pond or pool without worrying about the collar shorting or shocking your dog.
If you have more than five dogs, you can purchase additional collars online.
When looking for a long-range wireless barrier, Feeke Pet’s Wireless Dog Fence can work up to 500 meters, which is about 1,600 feet. This kit comes with a rechargeable collar receiver and a wireless transmitter that allows you to travel with this system. The transmitter has 50 range settings, offering range choices between 20 and 500 meters of yard for your pup. The receiver also is waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about ponds or pools.
The system’s static shock works automatically, increasing the amount of correction until the dog complies. After three cycles of correction, the collar will shut off automatically to prevent excessive punishment for stubborn dogs.
The Basic In-Ground Dog Fence from PetSafe is a well-equipped kit that will contain your dog in up to a third of an acre. This kit comes with 500 feet of wiring, flags, splices, an adjustable transmitter, a surge protector, and one dog collar. The collar has four adjustable levels of static correction as well as a tone-only mode when your dog is approaching the barrier.
While the PetSafe Basic In-Ground system has everything you need to get started, it’s also modular. You can purchase additional wire (available online) to extend its range up to 5 acres, and you can add collars (available online).
If you need a bit more capability from your system or just aid in training, the Pet Control HQ Dog Containment System provides the benefit of an invisible underground fence with the convenience of a training remote. The kit comes with a rechargeable remote control, wall-mounted transmitter, collar receiver (or two depending on which kit you buy), and 492 feet of wire.
This system can envelop your yard while also blocking off areas, which may include garden beds and a swimming pool. The remote control can deter unwanted behaviors such as barking or jumping. The remote will work with up to three separate collars (available online). The Pet Control HQ Dog Containment system is modular, allowing you to add enough wire to cover 10 acres.
If you want to create a wireless boundary for your dog to play in, consider the PetSafe Stay & Play Wireless Fence for Stubborn Dogs. This kit includes a wireless transmitter with a power adapter, a rechargeable collar receiver, and 50 boundary flags. This kit covers up to three-quarters of an acre. An additional transmitter can be added to overlap and expand the range.
The collar has five adjustable static correction levels, allowing you to choose the lowest effective level for your dog. Also, if your dog leaves the zone, the system allows static-free reentry. Additional collars are available (online) for multiple dogs.
FAQs About Your New Invisible Dog Fence
If you still have some questions about invisible dog fences, this section might help. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers about the best invisible dog fences. If you still have questions, feel free to contact the manufacturer’s customer service line.
Q. How does an invisible dog fence work?
Wireless dog fences send radio waves that the dog’s collar receives. Underground dog fences send signals through the wire for the dog’s collar to pick up. Depending on the dog’s proximity to the edge of the invisible fence border, the strength of the frequency will change. As the dog moves closer to the border, the collar will discourage a dog from crossing the invisible fence by warning, alerting, and then correcting the dog.
Q. Does an invisible fence hurt dogs?
The reality is that the static correction does temporarily hurt. It is recommended to use the minimum amount of correction to help correct behavior. As long as you buy a high-quality kit, static correction is completely safe.
Q. Will my neighbors’ invisible fence interfere with mine?
Neighboring invisible fences can interfere with each other. Two wires that run too closely together can cancel each other’s signal, effectively allowing your dogs to travel back and forth between yards.
Q. Can I place the wire above the ground?
Yes, you can place a wire above the ground. You also can run the wire through your physical fencing and flower beds if needed. While it will work fine, running your wire above ground leaves the wire susceptible to damage from lawn mowers, string trimmers, and other yard activities.
Q. How do you install an invisible dog fence?
Wireless fences are plug-and-play. Just plug in the transmitter and adjust its range to work for your yard. For underground fences, you need to loop the wire around your dog’s play space while also cordoning off any puppy-free zones. Both ends of the wire then tie into the transmitter, which requires a power source. You can bury your wire underground or use landscaping staples to hold it in place.