Invisible Dog Fence: How Does it Work?

How Does an Invisible Dog Fence Actually Work

Our pets fulfill a significant role in our home and the bond we create with them can easily be compared to the relationship we have with other family members. While we know that your mother-in-law is in no hurry to leave the house, our furry companions tend to get distracted and sometimes wander off, putting themselves in jeopardy.

So what can you do to keep your pet out of harm's way and give yourself some piece of mind?

If you don't have the time, space or funds to invest in a more traditional containment method like a physical fence, an invisible dog fence might just be the next best thing. While it won't keep strangers and other animals at bay, it costs far less to set up and is more effective when it comes to preventing your pet to dig his way out of yours and into the neighbor's yard. But how does it work?

Border collie with owners

Understanding the basics of an invisible dog fence and how it works

So before we get into the basics, you need to figure out a couple of things.

  • How much money are you willing to spend? - proper budgeting is key.
  • How much time can you invest? - some systems can be set up in a couple of hours, others may require even days.
  • What is the size of your property? - Not all invisible dog fences can cover larger properties.
  • What is the shape of your property? - Some systems feature a customizable layout, others are restricted to a certain shape.
  • Do you need a permanent or a portable solution? - Some are easier to take with you if you're frequently on the move.

These factors will help you make the right choice between the two basic types of invisible dog fences -  wired or wireless.

The wired method is an in-ground solution and requires you to dig a trench and bury the wire in a custom layout that fits your yard and suits your needs. This is a more permanent solution than it's wireless counterpart and is more suited for stationary pet owners. The buried wire is then connected to a transmitter that should be located in well-ventilated and easy to reach space like a garage for example.

Two dogs on the grass

There are a number of default layouts available but you can also get creative and make your own as long as you create a loop. That means that the wire that comes out of the transmitter box needs to go all the way around and back. How a wired dog fence works is fairly simple. The transmitter sends a radio signal through the wires and establishes an invisible barrier. This acts as a deterrent for your pet and communicates with the collar around its neck. The biggest advantages of the wired method are the flexibility when it comes to customizing the perimeters shape and size, also the initial price is somewhat lower, but bear in mind that the total cost can go up exponentially if you plan to hire an installer. If you need an in-depth guide on how to set up a wired in-ground invisible dog fence on your own, we already wrote an article on the subject.

The wireless method is better if you move frequently or love taking your pet and containment system with you when visiting family or friends, but how does it differ from a wired system and how does it actually work? A wireless invisible dog fence comes with a transmitter that establishes a circular shaped boundary area by emitting radio signals and a collar that your pet wears around its neck. When your canine pal tries to challenge the outer edge of the circle, the collar will warn him not to do so.

The biggest advantages are portability and minimum effort required to set up the system. Going wireless is also great for inexperienced users because of its ease of use. However, there are some downsides compared to an in-ground solution. The boundary zone diameter can be adjusted but there is no way to customize the shape. Today there are a number of long-range products on the market but don't expect to cover 20 acres of land with a wireless system. Also, if you have a number of large obstacles located in your yard, you might experience a decrease in signal strength.

Both types of invisible dog fences are containment systems that give your faithful furry companion its much-needed freedom and off-leash exercise while keeping him safely inside the boundary zone. While they can roam freely inside the yard, the system reminds them that going out of bounds is unwanted behavior and the way it does it is by static correction.

So what is static correction?

Static correction is delivered through a collar your pet wears around its neck. More specifically - a pair of contact points that are touching the neck dispatch a harmless and completely safe electric stimulation. To best describe it, try to imagine it as a slight tingling sensation, an unexpected tap on the shoulder, something to surprise your pet and grab its attention. Some models feature an adjustable intensity level, so you can tailor the static simulation to perfectly fit your pet's temperament.

Beagle dog sitting

Most models have a tone-only mode as well. This mode is usually used in the training process or as a warning sign when your pet enters the trigger zone and before the static correction is applied. A trigger zone determines the distance from the boundary line before your pet receives the audible beep. The width and adjustability of the trigger zone depend on the product you choose to purchase.

Spend time training your dog

Now that you got a basic idea what is an invisible dog fence and how does it work, it's time to check out some products and compare their specifications. We compiled a couple of lists based on the types and specific needs. Making the purchase is easy, but training your dog requires focus, time and effort. These containment systems are merely a tool that will teach your dog not to wander off without supervision.

We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to set aside at least an hour a day in the first week after installing the invisible dog fence for training purposes. It will be worthwhile and you and your pup can even have some fun.

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