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Back to Wireless Dog Fence Comparison Last update:

Guide To The Best Wireless Dog Fence System

Is your furry family member a better escape artist than Harry Houdini? If so, you have probably been trying to find a wireless dog fence that will keep your pup securely within your yard. But how much do you really know about these types of fences? Chances are that you probably have some lingering questions, so read on to further your education.

Will a wireless dog fence work on a hill?

image of a dog wearning a PetSafe Wireless Fence

The functionality of a wireless fence for dogs is largely dependent on the shape of your yard. The flatter and more open the landscape of the yard is, the more effective the fence will be for keeping your dog safely confined within the containment area.

There are actually communities out there that will not allow you to erect a fence in your yard for various legal reasons, so having a wireless dog fence can be practical in addition to being effective. While you might not be able to construct a fence on top of the land you live on, you can have wireless systems pretty much anywhere.

If you have a yard that has a lot of hills and slopes, you might be worried that a wireless dog fence will not work well. The truth of the matter is that, if you have a yard with mild slopes, the fence should work just fine. If your yard is extremely hilly, however, some systems might struggle to function properly.

Of course, flat terrains are best for wireless dog fences since they allow the transmitters that come with your fence's system to clearly transmit signals between all points. Large hills can obstruct the signals that these transmitters send out. If you have smaller slopes in your yard, you should be able to re-position the transmitter in order to get a strong and uninterrupted signal.

image of Sloped Backyard Design

In addition to sloping hills, trees tend to get in the way of a strong and clear wireless dog fence signal. In fact, most dense objects will cause an interference with the frequency's transmission. When the signal is disrupted, the part of the fence boundary that is being blocked will tend to dip or bow inward toward where you have set up the system's base or controller. This essentially diminishes the amount of roaming area that is available to your dog.

When you are shopping around for a wireless dog fence, you will want to check out specific brands that are made for hilly or densely wooded areas. Brands like Havahart Wireless are known for making wireless fence models that are able to work well in yards with a lot of trees or hills. In fact, a great wireless fence can be customized to fit your specific design needs.

Just be aware that many manufacturers of these fences will tell you that your ideal fence boundary should be at least 20 feet away from your home. If you cannot put the fence boundary 20 feet or more away from your home, you will need to look for an underground dog fence that can conform more precisely to the shape of your yard. In general, an underground dog fence can more easily conform to larger hills, trees, and other dense objects in your yard that might otherwise block the transmitter's signal.

You need to keep in mind that many wireless fences for dogs are circular in their boundary shapes. In other words, if your yard is rather narrow, oddly-shaped, or simply just small (and in close proximity to your neighbor's house), the transmitter's signal might not work for you.

Think of the transmitter's signal as being similar to what you get on your cell phone. Boundaries have a tendency to change. There will likely be times when you get great reception from the transmitter, and there will be times when the signal is weak and spotty. When there is something blocking your signal, you might get absolutely no signal at all. And, with a wireless fence in place, you need to maintain that signal while your dog is out in the yard with their collar on.

If you have a large metal shed in the middle of your property, the transmitter's signal will potentially get interrupted by the presence of this metal structure. You will likely have to be creative in working around any large metal structures on your property in addition to those pesky hills and trees. Positioning your fence around these objects can prove to be rather difficult, if not downright impossible, depending on the shape of your yard.

Another important factor to keep in mind is that your typical wireless fence is able to reach a maximum of approximately 25 acres. (There are, however, some wireless models that can reach beyond this, but bear in mind that they tend to cost more money to buy.) Therefore, navigating around those extra slopes and dense objects in the yard can impact the maximum reach of your fence.

Since these wireless fences are relatively easy to install, you can find some creative ways to make them work in your yard. Hills that are smaller in size can be worked around as long as you keep the circular shape of the permanent, as this is the way that it can best transmit signals.

Finally, it is absolutely important to keep a direct line of contact with your transmitter's signal since the way the fence works depends on it. Wireless fences actually require the signal to be present. Otherwise, when the signal is lost, a shock will be sent to your dog's collar. This allows you to maintain a direct line of sight on your furry family member at all times. The more open and flat your yard is, the better the fence will work for you and your pooch.

How effective are wireless dog fences?

If you have spent any amount of time researching wireless dog fences, you have probably already come across the debate on whether the wireless dog fence is better than an underground dog fence. While both of these types of fences have their merits and their downfalls, the truth is that both can be effective.

image of invisible fence for dogs

Let's face it. Some dogs just cannot be contained by a regular fence. In fact, certain breeds of dogs are known for being talented escape artists, leaping and bounding over even seemingly high fences. If your dog is struggling to stay within the safe boundary of your yard, you might need to consider getting a wireless fence put in.

The effectiveness of a wireless fence is predominantly based on what type of a yard you have. The flatter and more open your yard is, the better the system will work. The signal your system's transmitter receives should remain strong enough to induce a slight shock whenever your dog tries to stray over the boundaries you have set up with your fence.

When you go to install your wireless transmitter, you will need to find a nice, open area for it since the boundary will need to be set up in a circular shape. Once you have selected the centralized spot you want to play host for your transmitter, you can start setting up the boundaries. Most wireless fences are effective at establishing decently sized boundaries in which your dog can run and play.

Wireless fences are able to be installed virtually anywhere in your yard, which makes them more effective (and a lot easier to set up) than wired fences. Wired fences cannot be obstructed by driveways, sheds, and pathways, which can cause quite a few boundary issues when you go to set up your transmitters.

With wireless models, you can set up perimeters around in-ground or above-ground pools, underground sprinkler systems, flowerbeds, fountains, and small ponds.

You will need to keep in mind that the base unit for your fence will have to be kept inside. The technology behind wireless fences is relatively delicate, so exposing it to harsh weather elements might make the system less effective.

As far as space goes, at the very maximum, you can get an effective range of a couple hundred feet. If you try to make the circumference any larger than what the fence can handle, you most likely won't get a strong reception. In other words, the fence can be rendered ineffective when you try to make it too big.

As far as the shock that gets delivered to your dog's collar goes, the minor shocks that get transmitted to the dog's collar when they stray too close to the boundary line seem to mostly be effective at deterring dogs from escaping. Some dogs will even learn to respond to the warning sound that the collar gives off when they are coming close to the boundary.

image of wireless dog fence custom shape

Wireless fences might not work at deterring the most determined dogs from escaping their yards. While many dogs do respond well to the warning sounds and small shocks that their collars emit, some dogs will completely ignore these warnings and hop the boundary anyway. Some collars will only admit very high pitched beeps to deter your dog while others will send out small shocks. Some dogs respond better to the high pitched beeping noises while others respond better to the small shocks they get from their collars. Bear in mind that these small shocks typically do not cause harm to most dogs unless the product is faulty. The shocks are, if anything, a bit of an annoyance to the dog.

A lot of dog owners just want to use these wireless fences as ways to keep their dogs safe from harm and from running away. However, there are some dog owners that see these fences as effective means for punishment training their pets. These fences were not designed to be used as tools for punishment and might not even be effective at training a pup to obey their owner. Therefore, these fences should not be used as means for punishing dogs while trying to train them.

Some dogs might become fearful or even aggressive if they feel that the small shocks they receive are hurting them. This might actually terrify certain dogs of leaving the house, which is something most owners do not want to have happen. Unfortunately, it tends to be one of the unintended consequences of using a wireless dog fence. On the other hand, it can make dogs lash out at their owners if they feel their owners are unjustly causing them harm.

The wireless fence might also deter dogs from easily greeting new people who come over to the house to visit. If the boundary is set in an area that prevents them from running up to greet any visitors, the dog might assume that they are being punished for trying to be friendly. This could potentially cause the dog to become shy, reserved, or even aggressive with people who come up to the door to visit.

The age of your dog does make a difference in terms of how they might end up responding to the fence. Many veterinarians recommend that you do not use a wireless fence with dogs who are younger than six months old. Young pups might not physically or behaviorally respond well to the shocks or warning sounds they receive from their collars.

Therefore, it is generally best to wait until the dog has surpassed the six-month mark before installing a wireless fence. Unfortunately, this can also mean that your puppy is not free to run and play at will in your backyard, which can be crucial during those formative first six months of his or her life.

Finally, it is important to note that a wireless system will not keep other animals out of your yard. This can be problematic if you live in an area where predatory animals might come into your yard or if you have neighborhood pets that run loose and might decide to enter. An actual above-ground fence will likely work best at keeping unwanted animal visitors out of your yard.

How does a wireless dog fence work?

One of the best things about owning a wireless dog fence is that these devices are highly portable. This means that you can take this fence with you wherever you go. If you end up moving into a different home, you can take the fence system with you whereas, with a wired system, your setup is pretty stationary. Also, wireless fences tend to be a lot easier to set up than wired fences. Wired fences are known to experiences breaks in the wires and tend to need replacing as time goes on. Wireless fences do not have those problems.

image of Wireless or invisible electric dog fences

A wireless dog fence is relatively simple in terms of how it works. The system is controlled by a transmitter, which should be centrally located inside of your home, in a safe place where your dog (or young children) cannot get to it. This transmitter sends signals out to where the fence is set up in your yard.

The first 90 feet or so in each direction (which can be larger depending on which fence you purchase) constitute the Safe Zone. This Safe Zone will end up being a circular containment space of about half an acre. This is where your dog can run and play without receiving a beeping alarm or a small shock to the collar. However, once your dog gets past the Safe Zone, they enter the Correction Area, which is where they will receive the beep or shock to their collar. Some collars will emit a warning sound as the dog gets closer to the Correction Area.

Depending on which fence you decide to buy, you can get an adjustable minimum Safe Zone of about 10 feet and a maximum space of about three acres. Of course, not all wireless fences are created the same, so you need to double check which size you are getting before you actually buy it.

Each wireless system comes with a special collar that receives signals from your fence's transmitter. As long as the collar is receiving a clear signal from the transmitter, your dog can run and play within the boundaries of the Safe Zone without receiving any shocks.

However, when your dog strays closer to the boundary lines, the transmitter will pick up on this and emit a warning beep to alert your dog that he or she is too close to the Correction Zone. If your dog actually ventures into the Correction Zone, the collar will emit a loud beep or a slight shock to let your dog know that he or she needs to retreat back into the Safe Zone. The collar will continue to emit these beeping noises or small shocks until your dog makes their way back into the Safety Zone.

image of Invisible Containment Systems for Your Dog

You, as the dog's owner, have the ability to set and later adjust the fence's perimeters to fit you and your dog's needs. For example, if you end up moving to a home with a somewhat larger yard, you can increase the Safe Zone perimeter for the fence as long as you do not surpass the system's maximum distance. You can also adjust the settings so that the perimeter can fit a smaller or more oddly shaped yard, should you need to do so in the future.

Not only can you take these fence systems with you when you move, but you can also take them with you when you travel with your canine companion. If you plan on leaving your pooch with a trusted friend or relative while you are away on vacation or on a business trip, the wireless fence can be set up in your pet sitter's yard, given that it is rather flat and free from obstructions.

If at any point you no longer wish to use the wireless fence, you can uninstall it just as easily as you set it up. Just be aware that, if this system was effective at keeping your dog within the Safe Zone, your dog might need some time to adapt to any changes that come into play with a new fence setup.

A lot of wireless fences come with rechargeable batteries that can easily be inserted into the transmitter. If you do happen to let the batteries die, the system will not work. This is why it is important to make sure that you have fully charged batteries that have good enough lifespans. Also, note that some systems do not come with rechargeable batteries, which can be a particularly big downside to buying these systems.

Many wireless fences can accommodate most sizes of dogs. However, some fences do a better job at catering to smaller sized dogs than others. If you have a dog that weighs five pounds or a little bit more than that, you should do your research before you invest in a fence to make sure that particular model is known to work well for smaller dogs. Otherwise, smaller breeds might be able to more easily slip past the Correction Zone.

Some fences are limited to how many dogs they can accommodate. In fact, some fences will only work for a maximum of two dogs at a time. If you have more than two dogs who you plan on letting play outside together, you will need to make sure that you buy a model that can accommodate all of them at once.

On a final note, most collars are now made to be waterproof since dogs seem to frequently enjoy getting into water outside. These collars work the same way but are safe for your dog to wear in the pool, in a pond, or to wear while playing in the sprinkler.

If you are not sure whether your dog's collar is waterproof, check the owner's manual from the manufacturer that should come with your wireless fence.

Which wireless dog fence is best for large areas?

Now that you know a little bit about how wireless dog fences work and what you should look for when you go to buy a model, let us take a closer look at some of the models out there right now. Since you most likely want to maximize the amount of Safe Zone space your dog has in the yard, we will look at which fences are best suited for larger areas.

image of a dog fetching a frisbee disk

First and foremost, the Havahart Radial-Shape Select Wireless Dog Fence has a massive radius of up to 400 feet away from the transmitter. This gives you plenty of space to work with, which is especially helpful if you have a large yard with small hills here and there. This Havahart model comes with a built-in rechargeable battery, even though the battery itself does tend to wear out within one to two years and therefore requires replacement.

While it can only accommodate two dogs at a time, the 400 feet radius gives both dogs plenty of room to run. Additionally, the collars that come with the fence are waterproof, so this fence should work well in a yard that contains bodies of water or has sprinklers for the dogs to run through. The only major downside is, of course, the cost.

Another wireless fence that provides an ample amount of running room in the Safe Zone is the PetSafe Stay + Play Wireless Fence. This PetSafe wireless fence covers up to 3/4 of an acre (or 32,670 square feet) of land. In other words, you get an adjustable range of up to 105 feet in all directions from where you have stationed your transmitting device.

With the PetSafe Stay & Play, you can add an unlimited number of pets to the system. All you have to do is buy a wireless receiver collar for each dog. The charge on each of these ergonomic collars can last up to three weeks depending on how much they get used, and it only takes about 2 to 3 hours to recharge their batteries. Another nice bonus is that this fence is excellent for smaller dogs. In fact, it is designed for any breed of dog that weighs 5 pounds or more. Also, this model has 5 different levels of correction, which can make training your dog easier and less time-consuming.

image of Safe Zone is the PetSafe Stay + Play Wireless Fence

If you need a wireless dog fence that will cover more than just a few acres, you should consider getting FunAcre's Wireless Rechargeable Pet Containment System. The maximum coverage you can get on this fence is 17 acres (or about 500 feet as the maximum radius). The system also supports an unlimited amount of dogs who can play within the Safe Zone at the same time. Additional wireless receiver collars are sold separately.

The FunAcre fence has a transmitter that is designed to (unlike other transmitters on the market) not overheat while in use. The system is implanted with an IC chip, which allows the fence to cover all 17 acres without a problem. The transmitter itself has a rechargeable battery with a life of 18 hours. This system can be used while camping or during power outages at home.

Additionally, the FunAcre system was built with an anti-over shock design. The wireless receiver collar will receive a simultaneous slight shock and a beep for 18 seconds before it switches over to just beeping for another 34 seconds. This cycle of beeping and shocking continues for three rounds before it will shut itself off altogether. In total, your dog will only receive 54 seconds of static shock. The idea behind this technology is that the emphasis should be on safe containment, not on containment and punishment.

Another option for those who need several acres covered is the Friendly Pet Products Wireless Dog Fence. This fence has enough cord in it to cover 1/3 of an acre, but additional cord can be used to maximize the coverage area to 5 acres.

The in-ground fence cord is meant to get rid of the pesky radio holes that you typically find with cordless systems. This allows you to place the fence where you want to have it and gives you a good amount of room to work with when you are setting your fence up. The system also allows you to have multiple dogs playing within the containment area at one time and leaves them plenty of space to run about. The collar is adjustable so that you can have the system issue only beeps or only shocks to warn your dog when they are getting too close to the Correction Area.

The only problem with the Friendly Pet system is that the wireless receiver collars that come with it seem too big for dogs who weigh under 40 to 50 pounds. The collar might end up feeling a bit too cumbersome for smaller dogs.

Finally, there is the PetSafe Free to Roam Wireless Fence. This system is able to cover up to half an acre of land (or about 180 feet in diameter) from where you set up the transmitter. This means that your dogs can roam for 90 feet in any given direction.

If you need to reduce the size of the fence, it is easy to do so with the Free to Roam system. All you have to do is change the dial on the transmitter, but you will still have to keep the coverage area in the form of a circle.

The collars that come with the system can be fitted to dogs weighing 5 pounds or more and who have neck sizes ranging from 6 to 28 inches. Additionally, PetSafe's Free to Roam fence has five different levels of static correction. The first level is a tone-only setting that is meant to be used for the first day of the dog's training. You can adjust the levels as your dog's training progresses. Also, you can take this wireless fence anywhere with you so long as that area has 45 feet or more of land coverage and, of course, an electrical outlet.

Are wireless dog fences humane?

One of the biggest debates going on between pet owners right now is whether or not wireless dog fences are humane forms of containment and training. The truth is, you are going to get a different answer to this question depending on who you happen to ask.

image of a dog smiling

For example, PETA has spoken out against wireless dog fences. Among their many claims, PETA states that these wireless fences are not just painful and confusing to animals but also extremely dangerous. PETA asserts that, in addition to the shocks making dogs feel pain and being a confusing method for training dogs, these fences can do more permanent physical and psychological damage.

PETA claims that shocks from the wireless collar receivers can cause burns to the skin as well as serious instances of cardiac fibrillation. They also maintain that the receiving of shocks can cause a dog to experience elevated levels of anxiety, fear, and displaced aggression. In other words, PETA believes that training via shocks can cause dogs to lash out at humans and experience other negative behaviors.

The other aspect of PETA's argument is that wireless dog fences actually punish dogs for coming home. They hold that chasing down rabbits and squirrels outside of the yard is a natural instinct for dogs to express.

Dogs tend to cut across fence lines when they are caught up in the heat of chasing prey. Of course, this argument extends to the fact that invisible fences cannot keep dangers outside of the perimeter from coming within its boundaries.

However, there are a lot of suburban dog owners who feel like they do not have too many other options. Many people who live in suburban neighborhoods are, for various reasons, unable to erect above-ground, traditional-style fences to help keep their pets inside their yards. These owners need some sort of safe alternative. While a wireless dog fence won't keep other dangers out, they can be effective at keeping your dog from running away.

image of PETA member testing dog fence for approval

There are some common myths floating around, as is evident from PETA's claims. The first major myth that supporters of wireless dog fences like to bust is that the shocks that are administered through the wireless receiver collars are not harmful to most dogs. The shock that is received is just a static shock. Think of how it feels when you touch a blanket that is carrying a little bit of static electricity. The jolt is not painful, just surprising and a little bit annoying. It is just enough to get you to stop what you are doing.

This shock lets dogs know that it's not okay to go to certain areas of the yard. If you take the time to train your dog and reinforce their good behavior (through things like treats and toys), your dog might just come to rely less on the collar anyway.

Also, the level of static correction is not always the same. A beeping noise will sound as a warning the first few times your dog gets too close to the Correction Zone. Only after that will your dog receive a static shock if they have not retreated back into the Safe Zone. Higher static correction levels are sometimes necessary to let your dog know where their boundaries are, but you should start at a low to medium setting with your dog to start off. As your dog becomes more acclimated to the setup, you can adjust the levels as needed.

The goal is to get your dog's attention and let them know where it is and is not safe to go. While this will be harder for dogs with high prey drives, it is not impossible to train these dogs on the wireless system. Just remember, training does not happen overnight.

Some dogs might need a few weeks, so it is important that you give them time to adjust to the changes you have made for them.

Also, bear in mind that an electronic fence is not an electric fence. It will not shock any other animals or humans who step across its boundaries. Only a dog wearing a wireless receiver collar will receive the warning. These collars typically do not just randomly go off while a dog is lingering inside the Safe Zone.

If you do happen to notice any malfunctions with your wireless dog fence or collar, it is up to you to repair or replace whatever is not working properly in a timely fashion.

Now, to address the biggest issue that gets debated – whether or not wireless dog fences can induce seizures. There have been claims that these fences can trigger seizure activity in dogs regardless of whether or not they are known to have epilepsy. The truth of the matter is that these are some pretty intense scare tactics.

The static correction does not have the strength to bypass the external layers of skin. If it did cause seizures, these shocks would have to be strong enough to travel into your dog's central nervous system in order to trigger seizure activity in the brain. Of course, dogs with severe seizures or who have skin irritation issues should be handled with more care and monitored more closely.

The biggest thing that you need to note with regard to how these fences impact dogs is that every dog is different. Your average Siberian Husky might not take to it the same way as a Golden Retriever might. Dogs have different personalities and different levels of prey drive. Some dogs will disregard the shocks and pass on through the Correction Zone. Other dogs might feel intimidated by the system and refuse to stray far into the yard.

Just because you have a wireless dog fence doesn't mean you shouldn't be active with your dog. Remember to bond with your dog out in the yard and get them out for regular walks. Wireless dog fences are certainly much more humane when humans are actively engaged with their precious pups.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.
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