Dogs are skilled escape artists, and sometimes, using a fence is the only way to contain your pet to keep them out of trouble. When a physical fence is not an option, your next best bet is an invisible dog fence.
Table of Contents
- Pros and Cons of Invisible Dog Fences
- Fence Types: Wireless vs. In-ground vs. Traditional
- When is Invisible Fence the Right Choice for You?
- Top 10 Best Invisible Dog Fences
- 1 Second Generation In-Ground Electric Dog Fence by Extreme Dog Fence
- 2 Yardmax Rechargeable In-Ground System for Dogs by PetSafe
- 3 Underground Wire Dog Containment Kit by SportDog Brand
- 4 In-Ground Dog Fence System, SDF-100A by SportDOG
- 5 Free To Roam Wireless Fence for Dogs by PetSafe
- 6 Elite Little Dog Invisible Fence by PetSafe
- 7 PIF00-12917 Stay and Play Wireless Pet Fence by PetSafe
- 8 Wireless Pet Containment System by PetSafe
- 9 Stubborn Dog Fence by PetSafe
- 10 Radial-Shape Select Fence by Havart Wireless
Invisible fences for dogs are a type of containment system that you install in your backyard, which then send a signal to a dog's collar. When your pet approaches a boundary line, the collar emits a “beep” or vibration at first, signaling to the dog to stop. If your still proceeds, the collar will then emit a shock.
These devices are a hot-button topic for many, and the debate continues on whether they should be used or not. The truth is that they do in fact work well, and many find success with them where the dog learns not to go past the boundary, and never needs to receive the shock. However, there are also downsides.
Pros and Cons of Invisible Dog Fences
Here are some of the advantages of invisible fences for dogs as opposed to using physical fencing.
- Affordable. While pricing varies, invisible electric fences are cheaper than physical ones.
- Invisibility. With most of them, nobody will ever know that the fence is even installed.
- Ease of use. They're simple and quick to install, and convenient to use.
- Reliability. Unlike with physical fences, dogs are unable to “dig under” an electrical fencing.
- Adjustments. They work on pretty much any surface and terrain, including over water.
- Home safety. Thieves don't like seeing a dog in an open yard, as opposed to behind a fence.
And here are some of the disadvantages that you may face with such containment systems.
- Discomfort. Most dogs won't cross the line after a “beep” but others may get an electrical shock.
- Training. To prevent unnecessary shock for the dog, training is required.
- Frustration. Some dogs will be “annoyed” when seeing distractions that are past their boundary.
- Unreliability. There's a chance the battery will die, rendering the invisible pet fence useless.
There are also a few different types of invisible fencing, and we'll discuss this later in the article. We've also tested and reviewed different brands to find the best invisible dog fences, including these top five below.
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Fence Types: Wireless vs. In-ground vs. Traditional
A traditional dog fence is exactly what you imagine – a regular type of fence that you put up to contain your dog. The problem with traditional dog fences is they are very expensive (average of $3,000 to $6000 per home), take a look time to install, and after all of this, many dogs escape artists still find a way to get out.
The real question is what's the difference between a wireless dog fence and an in-ground canine fence (both of which are considered invisible fence for dogs, but with different setups), how much each one costs and what are their pros and cons. Here's a brief on both of them.
Wireless Dog Fence:
- It's simple to install, remove and adjust
- Average setup time: 2-5 hours (depending on the system)
- Covers only circular areas up to 3/4 of acre
Pros: Ease of use and setup
Cons: It's less reliable, covers only circular and small areas
In-ground Dog Fence:
- It can be custom tailored for each yard and pet(s)
- It takes longer to install and remove
- Average setup time: 1 day (a DIY project)
- Covers preferred areas and up to 11 acres in size
Pros: Much more reliable, coverage setup that can be customized, largest cover area
Cons: Takes longer to install and remove
Both types of invisible dog fences – wireless or in-ground fence system – have their own pros and cons, and it depends what you're looking to get out of it. However, if a small DIY project that will take about a day to do does not scare you, then an in-ground option is a better choice due to larger coverage and reliability.
When is Invisible Fence the Right Choice for You?
Despite the fact that many disagree with the use of invisible fences for dogs (and even created petitions to remove these devices from circulation), these systems are very effective at keeping dogs contained.
The reason most owners use invisible fences is to keep their dogs away from getting into trouble, which could be far worse than an quick electrical shock. Moreover, not all dog containment systems are created equal. And if you're not sure whether this is the right choice for you, consider the below questions:
- Have you first considered other ways to contain your pet, such as physical fencing?
- Have you already tried boundary training your dog? Training should be your first choice.
- Is your dog healthy enough to be wearing a shock collar? Consult with a vet beforehand.
- If at all possible, can you have an animal behaviorist check your fencing setup for safety?
- For the device that you're buying, is there a non-shock setting as the first point of stimuli?
- Are you prepared to get rid of electric fence if your pet doesn't respond well to it?
In the end, if using electrical fencing for dogs is unavoidable (for example, you need to prevent your dog from accessing a pool in case they drown), below you can find ten of our favorite best invisible dog fence brands that we've reviewed over the years, available on Amazon or Chewy.
Top 10 Best Invisible Dog Fences
1 Second Generation In-Ground Electric Dog Fence
by Extreme Dog Fence
- Find it on Amazon ($289.95)
- Unavailable on Chewy
After having tested this brand, the Extreme Dog Fence System jumped up to the first spot. Currently, this is the most popular company and product in the whole invisible dog fences market, and a long-time Amazon best seller. Extreme Dog Fence has manufactured the highest quality invisible dog fence with a ton of perks, features and additions that are hard to beat.
Their price is higher than the average invisible fence out there, but they have a far better cost-to-value ratio, since they offer the largest cover area, best rated and largest wiring options with a ton of additional options. It extends from 500 to 5000 feet of the highest rate 14 gauge wiring, depending on how much you need to cover the areas on your property you want to have fenced in. The receiver collar of this wireless dog fence contains five correction levels, so you can keep it at a low power if necessary.
Alongside a big box of stuff that you receive with this package, some of the more notable ones is a surge protector that's included in the kit, which comes in handy in the event of lightning strikes or power surges. The kit also contains an underground dog fence wire (waterproof professional-grade twisted), waterproof splices, and other necessary installation material for your very first electric fence for dogs.
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We've ranked the Second Generation in-ground electric dog fence as our first pick of most recommended invisible dog fence brands due to its ease of installation and additional features when comparing to most other brands. A huge amount of positive reviews from other owners have proved our assessment to be true, and we love fact that its wiring is so extensive. The correction levels for this electric dog fence are more varied, which makes it convenient option for most pet parents.
Other dog owners were impressed by the quality of this electric doggy fence and many have noted the importance of the fact that it's made in the USA and is of really high-quality. The waterproof durability of the wiring is especially useful (no one wants to deal with haywire every time there’s a rainstorm) and, as one pet owner said, it was “heavier duty than most of the retail systems you can buy on the market.”
The battery life of this wireless fence for dogs is long-lasting. The system isn’t rechargeable because charges tend to lose their power after a long period of time. Extreme Dog Fence System's heaviness and its ease of installment are two big pluses for pet parents looking to secure their pets using a high quality fence in their yard.
The downside is that it can be rather unwieldy. This electric dog fence is heavy, especially its wiring, so you’re going to do some lugging when you’re setting it up. Customers also shared their recommendations for laying down the wire: one suggested digging a trench whereas others thought of threading it through a PVC pipe.
Either way, it was widely recommended that installers walk the perimeter of the wire and ensure that there are no gaps in connectivity not only before laying it down, but even before purchasing any of these fences. Overall, this is undeniably the best inground dog fence on the market, but it comes at a price and would only be recommended for owners who are serious about their dogs' containment.
2 Yardmax Rechargeable In-Ground System for Dogs
The second brand on this list is from a well-known and much more established company, PetSafe, who essentially dominates the market with different types of pet fencing systems. This in-ground fence system is rechargeable and not battery powered like the invisible dog fence I mentioned above. It also has been tested and found to conform to pet safety and health measures (some have labeled it as humane, but this is entirely subjective).
This in-ground fence for dogs uses a transmitter and buried wire to encircle the property. Your pet’s collar is also rechargeable and the warning tone and static are quickly emitted if he or she crosses the boundary.
Our decision to put PetSafe Yardmax Rechargeable System as the second top rated dog fence was due to fact that the wiring isn’t as long as that one on the first dog fence, and the correction levels aren’t as flexible, yet it is still a high quality, very effective underground dog fence for the price.
With this Yardmax technology, if your dog receives static when he or she leaves the boundary, they will not be shocked again if they return after fifteen seconds (which is very likely, considering they’re probably chasing after something). This way, your dog won’t be afraid to return back into your yard even past the wireless dog fence. PetSafe dog fences are also made of very hardy material so they won’t be damaged easily, especially considering the wiring is in-ground.
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You may want to purchase a heavier gauge wire for your future in-ground electric dog fence, just in case conditions require you to have an extra-strength wiring. It’s very simple to install, but make sure you have a shovel—the wire doesn’t have to be deeply under the ground, but it still does need to be buried. Overall, it's a solid choice and for a much cheaper price than the Extreme Dog Fence System.
3 Underground Wire Dog Containment Kit
by SportDog Brand
This in-ground fence kit contains a few additional flags and the cost is a little less than the SportDog fence listed below. The wire also stretches 1,000 feet and there are 100 flags included in the system kit. There also is the option to expand the transmitter’s reach to your other dogs simply by buying another SDF-R receiver, which is convenient for canine owners with multiple dogs (a good number of us). The battery life is great and there are four levels of corrective action available on the collar.
This electric dog fence is an effective containment system that works consistently and as it should. We advise using a staple gun to ensure that the wires stay in place. Also, make sure that you check the screws on the battery pack often on your dog to make sure that it hasn’t fallen off. After using it for a while, the battery life is still holding up and everything seems to stay in place well. The downside of this invisible fence is that the corrective levels on it don’t stretch as high as the ones before it, but the large amount of flags and wiring make it a great bargain.
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Something that should be said for all invisible fences for dogs is that they’re not right for some pets. If your canine has a nervous temperament, he or she could become more fearful and stressed because of this electric dog fence. Before purchasing SportDOG 100-Acre In-Ground Fence System or any other electric equipment, such as shock collars or in-ground fences, make sure your pet has the personality and the health to handle it—i.e. that they’ll learn fast and won’t be scared by the shock.
4 In-Ground Dog Fence System, SDF-100A
- Find it on Amazon ($309.93)
- Unavailable on Chewy
Fourth best invisible dog fence on the list comes from the same dog supplies brand that is well-known to dog trainers and hunters with gun dogs. SportDog is established as one of the top manufacturers of dog shock collars and dog GPS collars, among many other pet tech products. Now they've entered the in-ground fence system market.
SportDog is a company that has made many different pieces of outdoor equipment for dogs, and theirs includes a 1,000 feet of wire. It can enclose two-thirds to one acre. SportDog's invisible dog fence also has a lightning surge protector and is recommended for dogs over ten pounds.
The wire is an extremely heavy duty 18-gauge and the company recommends that you mark the areas to be bordered with flags first so that you know where you’re laying down the wire for the wireless dog fence (the strength of the wiring will make it hard to redo).
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SportDOG 100-Acre In-Ground Fence System was placed on the list of our recommended electric fence for dogs due to its wiring being very long; however, that same wiring is slightly difficult to get into the transmitter. Though setup is easy, the struggle with the wiring is a small issue to consider.
The obvious pro of this underground dog fence is the durability of the wiring and how hefty it is. 18 gauge is very strong, ensuring that you won’t run into any issues involving damage being done to the wire or other possible inconveniences like that. We liked the convenience of being able to do it ourselves at home without professional installation.
The adjustable zone and power levels reach a wide range on this equipment, so you’ll be able to program the transmitters for these dog fences to whatever level you think is appropriate and necessary. Always make sure you don’t mix the two up, as that can lead to your dog possibly getting a nasty shock.
One of the biggest disadvantages of this wireless animal fence from SportDog is that although the wiring itself is strong, the insulation may not be able to prevent a creature with large teeth who chews on it continuously from ruining it. We’re talking more like a bear, but I'm sure a really large and enthusiastic dog can also chew through some of this pet fence.
Though this seems like an infrequent thing—how many wire-chewing bears do most people live by?—it is worth mentioning. This is a solid choice that's a great alternative to the PetSafe brand, and is also much cheaper than the Extreme brand.
5 Free To Roam Wireless Fence for Dogs
The PetSafe company has the technology for both wireless and in-ground fences down very well; however, by its own design, a wireless dog fence simply cannot beat an in-ground fence, thus we're only getting to them with the top options out of the way. This PetSafe kit of the fifth top rated fence brand because it comes with two extra battery packs that are free of charge and a great connection and range, compared to some other wireless dog fence brands discuss below. It covers a circular area of ½ an acre and is adjustable to the distance you need it for, which is always great.
You can put it in the tone-only mode or in the correctional level, but those are adjustable too. This is a wireless dog fence and it's also easily portable, if you need to move it.
PetSafe's new Free To Roam Wireless Fence model got the middle spot at number five because the battery packs were spotty for some customers and the acreage it covers wasn’t as high as that of other most recommended invisible fences for dogs on this list. But, if you have a smaller yard and purchase extra packs – and the costs obviously add up – it will most likely work well for you.
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The convenience of this fence is the best part. It’s very portable and easy to install, but it is also very durable and water-resistant. This is one of the more durable models on the list which makes it a great bargain for its current price. Also, whether it's a pro or a con, the fence is not in-ground, so setup is less labor-intensive. We did notice a battery issue with the collar; the replacement batteries are having a shorter life—the replacements being different from the actual battery.
6 Elite Little Dog Invisible Fence
Yet another good invisible dog fence from PetSafe, designed for smaller dogs between five and fifty pounds (hence the name). It’s compatible with several different types of correctional collars for dogs and it can also work for multiple canines. The collars it’s compatible with include: Deluxe Ultralight Collar, cat collars, SportDOG in-ground fence collars, and most rechargeable dog collars. It also works with the PetSafe indoor barrier.
PetSafe Elite Little Dog In-Ground Fence is the sixth best product and at the bottom half of the list not because it isn’t a good pet fence, but because the size limit makes it restrictive to only small breeds, not owners with medium or large size dogs. We liked the quality of this electric dog fence, but for the price, some may think it's not worth it, especially for little dogs.
We were impressed at the versatility of this fence and the way it works with multiple dog collars for multiple purposes, both indoor and outdoor. PetSafe Elite Little Fence is also very easy to install and set up—it'll be a relief for dog owners who are tired of dealing with pet equipment that seems needlessly complicated.
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You do need something to cut through the ground with to bury the wire, but that’s to be expected (we suggest edgers or hand shovels to accomplish this task). It's a good system for extremely energetic puppies and small breed dogs who have trouble obeying instructions and constantly try running into the street.
The biggest problem with this invisible dog fence is that there is a size limit, and for our bigger dogs we experienced user error and found that large breeds blasted straight through the fencing. Take heed of the instructions. Also, note that a double wire is possibly necessary to install if you live in an area where the wiring could be damaged, such as near woods where creatures might chew on it or in an area with a lot of lightning strikes (tornado alley).
7 PIF00-12917 Stay and Play Wireless Pet Fence
As we continue with more PetSafe dog fences, they have another newer model out, called “Stay and Play.” With this new PetSafe's PIF00-12917 model as our seventh choice, you'd think there's not much left to offer, and you're almost right. There are no wires to bury and the transmitter is portable, as with all other wireless dog fences. There are five levels of static corrective power and you can also set it to “tone only,” which has no static in it.
These invisible fences from PetSafe are also compatible with the PetSafe PIF-300, which is the original PetSafe dog fence and electric collars. The perimeter of this fence is ¾ of an acre, which is definitely a decent area. It can be set up wherever you need it to be, and not just at home.
Though the wireless system on PetSafe PIF00-12917 Stay and Play Wireless Fence is convenient, certainly, the transmitter doesn’t always cover all of the areas it needs to, though it is compatible with another PetSafe fence. Again, it depends on the size of your yard. Smaller yards probably work better, which is why many customers still find this to be one of the best brands you can purchase. But we'll leave it at number seven, and present you with more reasons as to why below.
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The portability of this electric fencing kit is what draws many customers to it. If you travel frequently or need your wireless dog fence for other outside purposes, it is possible to set it up anywhere. PetSafe PIF00-12917 Stay and Play Wireless Fence also works with smaller dogs that are around five pounds. Customers with, as one put it, “oddly shaped yards,” were delighted that these animal fences worked with their ground plan and weren't that inconvenient for them. The fence is also simple to set up and use and works with multiple dogs.
Several customers who purchased this dog electric fence pointed out that if your lawn is on a hill or steep slope, the signal won’t curve with the slope and will not reach the ground level. Be aware of that before purchasing this model, if you have a yard that is on an incline or decline, you may want to look into an in-ground fencing instead, like the ones we’ve listed above.
8 Wireless Pet Containment System
- Find it on Amazon ($259.95)
- Unavailable on Chewy
Another product from PetSafe is their Wireless Pet Containment System, a brand that has been tested and found to meet the safety and health levels required by canines. It covers a range of ½ an acre in diameter (AKA 180 feet) and is definitely worth being on this list.
It works for pets that are eight pounds or more and there are no wires to bury, making the system easy to set up. The static correction is also set at a low level that the company describes as “startling but not harmful.” The company also notes that the pet area is only workable in a circular area and cannot be transferred into a square/rectangular shape.
PetSafe Wireless Pet Containment System is the eighth most popular invisible dog fence that covers a smaller area and the connection problems when around metal objects were definitely something to take heed of (see the cons section below). However, it remains a potentially great option from this list as many customers were still very satisfied with their purchase.
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This is arguably one of the best wireless dog fences out there, but due to some flaws it ranked slightly lower. However, despite the fact that the shape is circular only, customers still found that it provided enough space and “wiggle room” for their dogs.
Customers reported on the effectiveness of this wireless dog fence, saying that their pets were trained with little to no extra effort necessary (dogs are good at figuring these things out most of the time). Owners with labs especially said that this eighth brand had been successful for them.
Be aware that your dog shouldn’t wear this while in the house because of false corrections spurred by metal objects, which is a huge con for this product and a big potential problem for the owner if you ever forget. This was the main reason we've ranked this as the eight fence overall.
One pet owner reported that the metal items in the kitchen ended up setting off the collar; however, this is still anecdotal evidence and more proof would be needed to make sure that this is certainly the case. These things do happen, of course, so be careful to take the collar off the dog if you have a lot of metal materials, or simply opt in for any other option from this list.
9 Stubborn Dog Fence
The ninth dog fence and a fourth product from PetSafe simply because the company is truly focused on these items. Their Stubborn fence works with dogs that are stubborn and large and probably haven’t responded well to training or prior fence implementation. This fence has four different static correctional levels, with the highest one being 50% stronger than most collars.
Again, the fence works mostly for larger dogs that have shown a lack of interest in being trained and told to stay within their boundaries. You can purchase extra shock collars, which are sold separately, for unlimited amounts of other dogs. There also is a tone-only setting for the collar that doesn’t emit any static.
The wire is 14 gauge and very durable (it may require some extra muscle to weave it into the transmitter). Included in the kit is 500 feet of wire, a transmitter, training guide, 50 boundary flags, and a few other essentials.
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PetSafe Stubborn Canine Fence is placed here because although it’s very good at correcting stubborn dogs, it did pose a problem for some owners when it came to the wire getting chewed through. The wire strength didn’t withstand a good chewing from some larger dogs, and nobody wants to run into that. I suggest you to do your due diligence if for some reason you'd like to choose this item over anything else on this list.
The size of the dog and the coat thickness are the most determinable factors in getting your dog to listen effectively to the static of your invisible dog fences. Other customers remarked that it was “perfect for awkward yards,” meaning that people with yards that aren’t in a perfect circle or square (i.e. most of us) will find this inground dog fence to be well-worth the money and installation time.
If you have a smart dog, as one irritated purchaser did, he or she may be able to discover what is actually the source of the shock—the wire. This individual’s dog, who the owner termed a “very talented escape artist,” figured out that the wire was what was shocking him and chewed through it with some effort.
After doing that, he was able to run out and this fence was truly invisible to him. I doubt that this ingeniousness is typical of many dogs, but it is something to be aware of (do consistent boundary checks if you think your dog is the type to do this).
10 Radial-Shape Select Fence
by Havart Wireless
Coverage area: 11 acres
Dog size: 8 lbs and up
- Unavailable on Amazon
- Unavailable on Chewy
Our last pick is the product from Havahard, a trusted company. This Radial-Shape wireless dog fence has a large coverage of about eleven acres, more than most other invisible fences for dogs on this list. To use this, dogs must be over eight pounds and have neck circumferences of 14-16 inches. It is also waterproof and can work for two dogs.
The correction levels are adjustable and the fence is radial, operating from no wires. FYI: according to the company, “Properties that are at least 30 feet from the road, and have minimal landscaping and minimal sloping, work best.” If your property does not conform to this, you may want to look into any other wireless fences for dogs listed above.
Even though it's at number ten, Havahart Wireless Radial-Shape Select Fence is still one of the top rated invisible dog fences you can find to purchase on Amazon or most other online retailers. Its coverage on this is very large, but one problem are the boundaries that are limited to forty feet, which might not work for customers who live closer to the road than that.
The radial shape of this tenth top rated wireless fence for dogs provides adequate coverage for pet owners who live on large spaces of land. Customers with several acres said that they were excited to finally have a canine fence that would cover the necessary areas.
The “trigger zone” is three to six feet, a shorter zone than most, so be aware when deciding the boundaries you want this fence to be—keep it away from the road. Customers who disliked having to dig underground fences were relieved that this was wireless and simple to install. The multiple correctional levels of Havahart Wireless Radial-Shape Select Fence also provide leeway when teaching your dog not to cross the boundary.
Dog owners who attempted to set the boundary at less than forty feet found that that was inadequate. One person remarked that this wireless dog fence wasn’t working until he moved it to a different location in his house with the appropriate boundary.
At that point it was consistent and he had no problems, but it's still far from an ideal position. Be aware that that might be something you’ll need to do if the Havahart is acting up. And with this brand, it rounds up our list, giving you plenty of options to choose from.