Three best invisible fences

Kyle Schurman

Before placing your dog inside an invisible fence perimeter, you must train the dog to use it.

When you want to keep your dog safe and close to home, building a fence is a smart idea. But if a physical fence isn't allowed in your area, or you don't have the budget to install a wooden or metal fence, you do have another option: an invisible fence.

The best invisible fences deliver a warning through the dog's collar when the animal gets too close to the fence. With training, the dog will learn to stay away from the perimeter of your yard. Here are some things to keep in mind as you shop for an invisible fence.

Considerations when choosing invisible fences

An invisible fence works by establishing an invisible perimeter. The dog wears a collar with a receiver. Your dog is allowed to approach the perimeter without a warning, but once he is close to the edge, the system signals the receiver, which delivers a mild electric shock through two prongs in contact with the skin. This system only works to keep your dog inside the perimeter. It doesn't keep other animals or dogs from walking into your yard.

Additionally, if the battery in the collar runs down, your dog could walk through the perimeter without feeling a shock. Training your pet is required in order to make the fence a proper deterrent even when the battery is dead.

Invisible fence features

There are two types of invisible fence technologies: in-ground and wireless.

In-ground: This system uses a buried metal wire to mark the perimeter. The wire connects to the transmitter unit that sends the signal through the wire. If you want a perimeter of an odd shape, the in-ground system allows customization. For example, perhaps you want to keep your dog out of your vegetable garden. This is possible with the in-ground system, but it does require quite a bit more installation work to bury the wire.

Wireless: This system uses a centrally located transmitter. It sends a wireless signal outward over a certain radius, which creates the wireless perimeter of the fence. A wireless system is extremely easy to install, but the perimeter must be circular.


Q. Will an invisible fence work for any kind of dog?

A. As long as you have the patience to train your dog to use the fence, it should work for all breeds, ages, and sizes of dog. If you want to use the fence with dogs of different sizes, make sure to have collars that fit each dog properly.

Q. What are the ongoing costs of an invisible fence?

A. After you purchase the materials in the fence kit, you won't have many add-on costs. However, the collars and receivers eventually lose their ability to hold a charge, so you might need to purchase replacements later. The system uses a small amount of electrical power, but probably not enough to noticeably affect your electric bill.

Q. Will the correction system injure my dog?

A. The electric shock from the collar surprises most dogs but doesn't hurt them. As they learn to avoid the borders, dogs will rarely challenge the fence, thereby avoiding additional shocks. However, some dogs could develop sores on their skin from the prongs on the collar, which can be painful.

Invisible fences we recommend

Best of the best: SportDOG In-Ground Fence System 

Our take: Expensive, but this system remains popular because it's easy to use. Reliability ranks near the top of the market, which is important for keeping your dog safe.

What we like: This system works well for large properties because its signal strength can cover up to 100 acres. You can easily expand the system as needed, too.

What we dislike: The high price means this system won't fit into everyone's budget.

Best bang for your buck: PetSafe Wireless Fence System 

Our take: When you need a budget-friendly, reliable invisible fence, this system delivers. There's plenty of coverage for the average residence.

What we like: You can set up the system to deliver a tone-only correction, if that's more appropriate than a shock for your dog. It's also easy to expand the coverage area later.

What we dislike: Undulations in your property may interrupt the signal and cause coverage gaps.

Choice 3: Perimeter Technologies Ultimate Electric Fence System 

Our take: A wired system, so installation is a bit more of a hassle, but it's extremely reliable. You can set the system to deliver any of five levels of shock correction, depending on how obedient your dog is.

What we like: Once you lay out the wire perimeter, you only have to purchase additional collars to cover more dogs. Excellent reliability; few problems with interference.

What we dislike: Larger dogs may be able to figure out how to defeat this system.

Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.