Are GPS Dog Fences Effective? – How to Know it’s for You

Just a couple of decades ago, there really was only one type of pet containment fence.

Now, there are many options out there including in-ground, wireless, and more recently than others, GPS. But, are GPS dog fences effective?

While there are inconsistencies in the functionality of GPS dog fences, they are effective and mostly work to keep dogs contained and are easy to set up.

If you intend to acquire a GPS fence, you may be wondering how effective they are and if they’re safe or a better choice than alternative fences.

We aim to answer these points and more in the following sections!

Disclaimer

Before opting for a GPS fence, we strongly recommend obedience training and taking the time to understand and carry out the process.

Training your dog can prevent the potential stress of an GPS fence collar, and focuses on positive cues to reinforce boundaries. 

While GPS fence collars aren’t physically harmful, for certain dogs they can cause potentially severe emotional distress without the proper training.

Brain training techniques are a science-backed way to help prepare your dog for new boundaries without the use of force or dominance!

Are GPS Dog Fences Effective?

Are GPS Dog Fences Effective
GPS dog fences are effective, but only to a point. There is a 30-foot buffer before the signal is activated, so there may be unclear boundaries.

GPS dog fences are effective, for the most part.

However, there are certain factors that can affect the GPS and can negatively impact the following:

  • Consistency
  • Reliability
  • Safety
  • Effectiveness

How Does a GPS Dog Fence Work?

How Does a GPS Dog Fence Work
Your dog wears a collar that is programmed to detect radio signals (called a receiver collar.)

To comprehend how effective GPS dog fences are, it helps to understand how they work.

Understanding how they work also helps to troubleshoot any issues you may experience with the fence. 

Typically pet containment systems use a collar and some form of a transmitter (e.g. wire,  wireless transmitter device) to track the boundary and correct your dog.

While they are technically wireless, GPS dog fences act differently as they do not come with a transmitter.

Instead, they rely on satellites to map and track a boundary.

These satellites then communicate directly with the collar to track the location of your pet.

Even though setting up a GPS dog fence is quite simple, it also helps to understand how to set the fence up.

Typically, to do so, you will:

  • Charge the collar or insert a battery
  • Power collar on
  • Activate the collar at the center of the desired boundary 
  • Adjust the range of boundary using the collar

This is generally how GPS dog fences work with a set boundary shape.

However, there are options that allow you to walk with the collar, or use your phone, to create a custom shape.

Read our related article, Portable Electric Dog Fence for Camping, where we discuss how GPS fences can be a great asset on your outdoor adventures!

How Reliable are GPS Dog Fences?

How Reliable are GPS Dog Fences
GPS dog fences are not recommended for smaller properties due to the GPS boundary line’s unpredictability (up to 10 feet).

The reliability of a GPS dog fence is not always consistent.

There are certain factors that may interfere with the signal from the satellites to the collar, but GPS dog fences can be also affected by sources such as:

  • Tall trees or thick brush
  • Tall buildings or structures
  • Severe weather conditions

Most of the time, a GPS dog fence does exactly as expected, effectively containing and correcting your dog within the boundary.

However, in areas with heavy vegetation, many tall buildings, or even areas with inclement weather, satellite signals can be affected.

Furthermore, GPS dog fences are not always stable.

Because of the satellites, your boundary may inadvertently shift about 10 feet or sometimes more.

This inconsistency can allow your dog to leave the boundary they are accustomed to, and become confused.

Are GPS Dog Fences Safe?

Are GPS Dog Fences Safe
Because GPS dog fences can be unreliable at times, you may wonder if they are safe.

The sometimes unreliable functionality of GPS dog fences may make you question if they are safe.

If the signal is blocked, or a GPS fence is not functioning properly for one reason or another, it is simply not safe for your dog.

Your dog is at risk of escaping the boundary, getting lost or hurt, or possibly receiving unnecessary corrections.

However, when functioning as promised, GPS dog fences are extremely safe.

Like other containment systems, GPS dog fences effectively keep your furry friend contained to your property and safely correct your dog for attempts to escape.

While we’re on the topic of other containment systems, check out our guide on Invisible Fence Myths and safety!

GPS dog systems also have many of the same safety features as other systems, keeping your dog’s health and happiness in mind.

These safety features include but are not limited to:

  • Auditory, or vibration warning only
  • Limited shock correction
  • No correction upon returning

If you have a dog who is sensitive or older, they may not be able to physically handle an electric correction.

Thankfully, many of today’s pet fence collars have audio and vibration options. 

Many fences also have a feature that only uses shock correction on your dog for a limited time outside the boundary.

Additionally, there are features that will not correct as the dog is returning to the boundary to avoid further shock and confusion.

GPS fences also allow you to track the location of your dog in the event that they escape the yard.

Take a look at this video showcasing many of the great features a GPS dog fence can offer, including live location tracking!

Is a Wireless or In-Ground Fence Better?

Is a Wireless or In Ground Fence Better
Wired fences are more dependable, especially when it comes to system failure. Because wireless fences rely solely on a wireless signal, they may malfunction and incorrectly shock your dog.

The age-old question: is a wireless or in-ground fence better?

Which fence is better is up for debate.

It really depends on each individual user’s needs and location, but here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of a wireless fence, and an in-ground fence. 

Wireless ProsIn Ground Pros
Easy installationMore reliable signal
Essentially no maintenanceFewer interference issues
Convenient/ portableCustomizable, larger coverage area
Wireless ConsIn Ground Cons
Interference Fence/ wire maintenance
Small, circular coverageNot portable
Requires a wide open flat, surfaceExtensive installation process

For more on wireless fences, take a look at this article from PetMd that breaks down what can go wrong with an invisible fence.

If you have a smaller area that does not have any large obstructions and do not want to spend all day on setup, a wireless fence is for you.

Keep in mind though that trees, metal appliances, brick or concrete walls, cars, and more can affect the transmitter signal.

On the other hand, if you have a larger yard, do not mind doing some digging, and wish to create a custom boundary, your best bet is to go with an in-ground fence.

But remember, do it yourself invisible fence installation may not be easy, and wire maintenance when there is a break can be a pain!

Ultimately, both dog fence systems cater to different needs, and neither is really better than the other.

Put simply, deciding on the dog fence to use really depends on what you are looking for from the fence, and only you can decide which is best for your situation and dog.

What is the Best GPS Dog Fence?

Are GPS Dog Fences Effective
SpotOn GPS Dog Fence is the market leader in terms of location accuracy, particularly in rural areas.

With countless brands out there, you may be wondering which GPS dog fence is the best.

The best GPS dog fence is ultimately subject to user opinion. Finding the best GPS to cater to you and your dog’s specific needs, however, is rather easy.

To find the best GPS dog fence, you should consider:

  • Size and shape of your property
  • Safety features desired
  • Intended use of GPS feature
  • Possible interference/obstructions

While most GPS dog fences allow you to create a custom boundary, some only allow a circular boundary.

Furthermore, GPS dog fences typically fare better on larger properties to allow for shifting of the boundary.

Decide if there are any safety features you would like the GPS dog fence to have.

If you have a sensitive dog, or your dog has fence fear, you may want to ensure the collar has a warning-only mode or a limited correction mode.

You should also consider exactly how and why you wish to utilize a GPS fence.

They are great if you do not have an accessible power source, as satellites can be reached from almost anywhere.

But you can also utilize the GPS to track your canine.

With that being said there are a couple of brands worthy of taking a look at, such as Garmin and WIEZ.

Read our related article on the Best Wireless Dog Fence for Acreage for more options to cover your large yard!

Garmin GPS DOG Fence

Garmin GPS DOG Fence

Garmin offers more than just helping you navigate. They also offer an amazing GPS dog fence, at an affordable price too.

Here are some features of the Garmin GPS dog fence:

  • 2-acre radius
  • 20 dog system
  • No correction upon returning
  • Anti-bark correction
  • Compatible phone app
  • Designated prohibited areas

The Garmin GPS dog fence has a great coverage area, and even allows for 20 dogs!

Furthermore, it allows for a dog to return to the boundary without receiving correction, unlike some other dog fences.

Also unique to some dog fences, the Garmin collar features nuisance bark collar correction.

Plus, you can download a free app that tracks your dog’s activity, helping you monitor their exercise.

Lastly, you can set small areas, such as near the garbage bin, or around your garden, to keep your dog away while using the collar.

Read More: How Big Can an Invisible Fence Be? If you have a large yard, here’s how big wired and wireless fences can get!

SEE PRICE ON AMAZON

WIEZ GPS Dog Fence

WIEZ GPS Dog Fence

The WIEZ GPS Dog Fence is another great fence that comes at a fraction of the price some fences cost!

Here is what you can expect from the WIEZ GPS dog fence:

  • Up to 776 acres of coverage area
  • Limited correction
  • No transmitter, simple setup
  • Money back guarantee/warranty policy

Those who use a GPS dog fence often do so because they have a large property.

If that is the case for you, the WIEZ dog fence will be perfect as it offers a coverage radius of up to 3,281 feet or 776 acres total!

WIEZ also has some great safety features.

For example, if your dog happens to breach the boundary and does not return, it will stop receiving corrections.

The WIEZ collar will correct for a few cycles, then stop until the dog returns and breaches again.

Like many GPS dog fences, this fence does not have an annoying transmitter, or pesky wires to set up, making for an easy carefree setup.

Lastly, you can purchase a WIEZ GPS Dog Fence without fear, as they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied.

Additionally, each fence also comes with a 2-year warranty!

Read our related article, Best Virtual Dog Fence 2022, for more virtual fence options that can expand up to over 700 acres!

SEE PRICE ON AMAZON

Conclusion

So after all is said and done, are GPS dog fences effective?

All pet containment systems have flaws and GPS dog fences are no exception.

However, if you do your research and understand how they work, a GPS dog fence can be effective.

If looking for a fence, take your time, and research as much as possible. 

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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