If you have dogs and you want to keep them from escaping when they’re out in the yard, what can you do?
Well, you should give serious consideration to installing an in-ground dog fence.
Also known as invisible fences or underground fences, these complete kits typically come with training flags, wire you bury under the ground, a collar receiver, digital transmitter, and probes.
After training your dog for a couple weeks, you then leave the fence to administer static correction if your dogs makes his way outside the boundaries.
Today, we’re bring you everything you need to know about these highly effective containment systems. We’ll be examining the top 6 invisible fences suitable for a range of needs.
Beyond this in-ground dog fence reviews, we’ll also work you through how these things work.
OK, before we get started, here’s a quick look at our top picks for containment systems so you can see their key benefits at a glance.
I. Our Picks For In-Ground Dog Fences
|Products & Features||Image & Price|
Extreme Dog-Fence Second-Generation Kit Package Our #1 Pick
SportDOG In-Ground Fence
PetSafe Stubborn Dog In-Ground Fence
Extreme Dog Fence Ultimate Performance Electric Dog Fence System
PetSafe Elite Little Dog In-Ground Fence
PetSafe YardMax Rechargeable In-Ground Fence
II. How Does an In-Ground Dog Fence Work?
Sometimes called invisible or underground dog fences, in-ground fences offer an effective solution to stop your dog running if you can’t install a wooden or metal fence.
If you’re not happy keeping your dog on a lead but you want him to enjoy your backyard, with this type of fence, your dog can roam the garden within an invisible boundary.
Invisible dog fences are made of a wire that is buried underground. The wire communicates a signal to an electronic collar which your dog wears.
Dogs quickly learn to stay within the boundary of the wire as the collar administers a mild electric shock when they approach the boundary.
Underground dog fences are ideal if you want to stop your inquisitive pup from entering no-go zones. Maybe you’re fed up of him ripping up your landscaped area? Or perhaps you need to keep him from the pool area. Either way, this type of containment system is the ideal solution.
You can run the wire in any shape or size you want so you can customize it around your landscaping design. These wired underground dog fences are perfect if you have a large garden. There’s no limit to how big you can go, you just need the right amount of wire.
Rather than transmitting a static shock from a wire buried underground, a wireless fence system transmits a signal as a radius from a device. It’s much simpler to install as it works just by plugging the transmitter into a power supply. Pups will go no further than the radius you set the transmitter at.
Just like with the wired fence, the transmitter sends a signal to your dog’s collar. If he tries to cross the line, the collar sends a mild static shock. He quickly learns that he can’t go past that point.
By the way, with both types of fences, the shock can’t hurt the pup either. It’s just a mild static ping he’ll get which is designed to startle him rather than hurt him.
Don’t worry, he won’t be toast!
That said, if you don’t like the idea of causing your pooch any discomfort at all, we’re not here to sell you on the idea.
III. Is An Underground Dog Fence Better Than A Wireless Dog Fence?
It depends on what your needs are. But, many dog owners go for the underground wired type of dog fence if their garden is an awkward shape, or if there is an abundance of landscaped features. In-ground dog fences allow for more creativity with exclusion zones.
Underground Dog Fences Cover Larger Areas
For many, underground dog fences are superior to wireless fence systems as they can cover very large areas of 30 acres or more, providing you’ve got enough wiring. Wireless dog fences only cover up to 3/4 acre.
While wireless systems are cheaper and much simpler to install, they aren’t as flexible in distance and range. Wireless fences are better suited to smaller gardens with flat surfaces.
Underground Dog Fences Are More Reliable
With wireless fences, the signal can be easily disrupted by objects that obstruct the signal. Strangely shaped gardens that extend around building corners will need an underground dog fence rather than a wireless fence.
It’s important that the signal is not blocked in any way as this will leave a weakness in the fence and your dog will be off in seconds.
Cons of Underground Dog Fences
If you don’t want to dig up your garden, save money and an easy set-up, a wireless dog fence are great. underground dog fences aren’t completely escape-proof, so you’ll always need to keep an eye on the pup while he’s outside, just in case, you know, he spots a juicy pigeon to chase.
Another downside of underground dog fences is that they aren’t really portable, unless you’re prepared to dig up the existing wiring and dig up a new location. In contrast, wireless dog fences are entirely portable. You can even take them camping.
Ultimately, underground dog fences are more suitable for those with particularly large gardens and gardens with unusual shapes. If your garden is small and flat, and you go camping, you might prefer a wireless option.
With those basics sketched in, it’s time to double down on what factors are worth considering when you’re on the buying trail.
IV. Things You Should Consider
Focus on the following areas and you’ve got the best chance of containing your pets in the most appropriate manner…
Your Dog’s Personality
If your dog has a nervous disposition or anxious personality, you may want to reconsider installing a wireless or underground dog fence. Similarly, dogs with aggression or other behavior problems may benefit more from a wooden or metal fence. Dogs with behavior problems may be confused by the shocks or associate them with passers-by or other dogs. It’s possible that their aggression could worsen.
You Can’t Leave Your Dog Unattended
With these types of fence, you run the risk of other animals and dogs crossing the fence and entering your garden. As they will not have the e-collar they will not receive a shock.
Also, some dogs can be rather strong-willed and ignore the correction shock if something tempts them enough to bolt.
With electronic fence systems, you can’t just leave your dog unattended. There is a chance that they’ll run off or meet an intruding dog.
If you’ve got a relatively small garden without too many irregularities, you should get along just fine with a wireless dog fence. This is the cheapest option as the device consists of the transmitter itself and the e-collar. To install you don’t need to hire a professional, you can just plug in and it’ll start transmitting straight away.
If you’re going for an underground dog fence however, the costs will go up. You’ll need to purchase accessories like wiring and staples. You might also need to hire a contractor to install the fence and a professional trainer to teach your dog the ropes.
Training Your Dog
With any type of invisible fence, whether it’s wireless or underground, you’ll need to train your dog. Wireless and underground dog fences both come with flags that you stick in the ground.
Once you’ve installed the fence it’s a good idea to start with flags placed around the boundary as visual cues so that your pup gets to know where the fence is. Once he has received a couple of corrections, he should have a pretty good idea of the new boundaries. When you’re confident he won’t cross the boundary, you can remove the flags.
The Shape of Your Garden
The size and shape of your garden will largely determine what type of electric dog fence you opt for. Large gardens with misshapen rockeries, swimming pools and vegetable patches may be more suited to the underground type as they are more flexible when customizing.
If your garden is regularly shaped and doesn’t have anything to obstruct the signal, a wireless dog fence can be ideal.
Installing Your Electronic Dog Fence
underground electronic dog fences require a lot of digging. You’ll need to prepare to put in a load of elbow grease as this is heavy and exhausting work.
But if you can’t face it, you could always hire a professional to take the pain away. Alternatively, you could consider running the wire over the ground and secure with staples that you can buy separately. Over ground electronic dog fences are good deterrents for rodents and dogs from outside and also your dog won’t have to wear an e-collar.
Location of Electronic Dog Fence
If your property is located next to a busy road, installing the fence right up to the edge of the garden will likely cause your dog to start displaying aggressive behaviors.
Dogs are inquisitive about passersby. When they run up to meet a passing stranger or dog and they receive a shock, they can start to associate the shock with people. Resultantly, a dog can start to be really aggressive towards other dogs and the general public.
A good rule of thumb is to install the fence at a minimum 10 feet away from the perimeter of the garden. It’ll act as a buffer zone between the fence and your road, and you’ll be much more popular with your neighbors.
Trained Dogs Can Overcome The Shocks
Even the best trained dog can overcome the shocks with time. Particularly strong-willed doggos might need a higher shock frequency or there could be something malfunctioning if it runs through the fence.
It’s best to view electronic dog fences as a training tool rather than a fence as it is possible that some dogs will ignore the fence if they see something they can’t resist chasing.
For dogs that do run across the electronic dog fence, you might need to check that the e-collar batteries haven’t expired. If your dog has thick fur, the prongs that emit the static correction might need more contact with the dog’s skin.
It’s important to consider, that if your dog does go over the fence, he’ll have to go through another shock to get back. This could have behavioral implications further down the line.
V. Top 6 Best In-Ground Dog Fences
1. Our #1 Pick: Extreme Dog-Fence Second-Generation Kit Package
First up is our overall favorite underground fence from the inimitable Extreme. This comprehensive kit is modular and flexible. You can also contain unlimited dogs using the single set-up. What do you get for your money, then?
Choose the length of wire most appropriate for your property first:
- 500 feet
- 1000 feet
- 1500 feet
- 2000 feet
- 2500 feet
You can also choose a number of sizes according to how many dogs you need to contain. There’s no upper limit with this system.
The collar receiver is completely waterproof and submersible unlike much of the opposition which tends to be only water resistant.
This base level kit includes 500 feet of wire, 50 training flags so you can ease your pooches in gently along with the collar receiver, digital transmitter, and a couple sets of probes.
Static correction through 7 levels should be enough to keep most dogs contained. (If your canine is especially stubborn, we’ve got something for you down below so keep reading.) For most normal purposes, though, you should keep your pets safely contained.
Coverage extends to a whopping 6 acres. This should be more than enough for even larger gardens.
Invest in this all-American invisible fence while you’re at home right now and make sure your dog doesn’t end up taking a wander. Extreme gives you the complete package.
2. SportDOG In-Ground Fence
SportDOG has a deep bench of pet containment systems. This fence comes from the parent company of Invisible Fence but what makes it stand out?
Off the bat, this system is relatively cheap considering the peace of mind and security it brings. This model is good for one dog and has a maximum coverage area of 1/3 acre. Pick yourself up some more collars and there’s no upper limit to the number of dogs you can keep safe and sound at home.
If your dog breaches the boundaries, initial warnings come in the form of a tone followed by vibration. If this is not sufficient, static correction should dissuade your furball from wandering.
Unlike some invisible dog fences, the SportDOG is a cinch to install. Everything you need comes bundled including detailed instructions.
The collar runs on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries with a 2-month lifespan. You can get a quick burst of charge in just 2 hours. The collar is submersible to 25 feet.
The only real drawback is that working your way through the settings can be challenging. This is a small price to pay for the value you’ll get all-in.
A 2-year limited guarantee along with US-based customer care means you can buy with complete confidence.
3. PetSafe Stubborn Dog In-Ground Fence
Do you have an obstinate dog who doesn’t comply with any training? If so, not all invisible dog fences are effective. Consider this model from the legendary PetSafe that’s specifically designed for dogs like yours.
You’ll get a choice of sizes and styles. 500 feet of wire offers maximum coverage of 1/3 acre. Step up to 1000 feet package and you’ll be all set in areas up to 1 acre. Wire comes in 16 or 20-gauge.
So, whether you want to secure your back yard, your front yard or both, you have plenty of flexibility with this fence.
You get equal freedom with the size of dogs it contains. The collar is designed for neck sizes up to 28 inches on dogs weighing up to 8 pounds.
Set-up is straightforward and instructions pretty decent.
With the fence installed, take advantage of the included training guide. Within 2 weeks of training, you can remove the training flags and let the fence do its work while you relax inside and your pooch plays in the garden.
4 levels of static correction are intense enough that they should stop even stubborn dogs from straying. If the fence still doesn’t work with your, you might need to call in the professionals.
US-based customer care is a bonus if anything goes amiss. You’ll find agents are typically responsive and helpful if you run into any snags.
4. Extreme Dog Fence Ultimate Performance Electric Dog Fence System
The Extreme Dog Fence Store has been in business for 25 years helping dog owners like you relax while your canine enjoys roaming outside safely.
Start by carefully assessing your options and determining which of these multi-dog kits makes the best fit for you and your furballs. The one we review here caters for 2 dogs and coverage extends to an impressive 1/3 acre. This should be more than enough for most average yards.
Where much of the competition offer splash-proof equipment, the collar on this model is totally waterproof. It’s also safe to submerge in up to 10 feet of water.
As with any wired dog fence, you’ll need to devote some time when you get started to training your dog. Be sure to use plenty of positive reinforcement and you should have your pooch obeying his new boundaries in no time.
All the wire, flags, and accessories you need to get started come bundled so you can get right down to business instead of scurrying to the pet store.
If you don’t like the idea of digging up your yard and burying the wires, you can also run them above-ground, and you’ll still enjoy the same security and peace of mind.
US-made, the electronics of this kit are guaranteed for 10 years, while the rest of the fence is covered by a limited lifetime warranty. What more can you ask for?
5. PetSafe Elite Little Dog In-Ground Fence
PetSafe has a containment system for all purposes. This set-up is expressly designed to target small dogs. The collar fits furballs from 5 pounds and up. Correction is also proportionate to smaller dogs so you can rest easy every step of the way.
You get enough wire in this bundle to cover areas up to 1/3 acre. This should be more than enough for most reasonable purposes. If it isn’t? Well, you’re in luck. If you purchase additional wire, you’ll be able to demarcate areas in grounds up to 25 acres.
Installation can be tricky and consuming depending on the set-up of your home and garden. As with all fences like this, call in for assistance if you’re not comfortable carrying out work like this.
The waterproof collar comes with a reflective strip to keep your beloved pooch safe after dark.
As you’d fully expect, static correction is commensurate with smaller pups so you can rest easy knowing you won’t give your dog an unnecessary jolt.
Considering the performance and build quality you’re getting, this invisible fence is pretty keenly priced.
6. PetSafe YardMax Rechargeable In-Ground Fence
Last but certainly not least, yet another in-ground offering from PetSafe in the form of the YardMax. What makes this variant stand out, then?
Well, this fence comes with YardMax technology baked in. By initiating correction tight up to the fence, you can make the very most out of the space you have available.
Another nice feature is static-free re-entry. If your dog has already breached the system, a shock on the back home is only likely to discourage him from returning. Instead, he’ll be able to slip back in without a static shock.
Just like the model dedicated to smaller dogs above, this fence is ideal for all dogs from 5 pounds and upward. Neck sizes from 6 through 28 inches are ideal for the collar. As with all the best kits, this comes fully waterproofed and submersible.
The baseline set-up is adequate for gardens up to 1/3 acre while you can pick up more wire and extend things to 10 acres if you invest in additional wire.
Static correction is adjustable through 5 levels so you should find that perfect setting that gives as little shock as necessary to encourage your dog to respect boundaries. As with all in-ground fences, make the training period count. Once properly instructed, your dog should already understand the repercussions of breaching those boundaries.
VI. Guide to Setting Up an Invisible Dog Fence
For an invisible dog fence or underground dog fence to work properly, it must be installed properly.
The first step is to plan the area that you want the electric fence to surround. That way you can calculate if you need extra wiring.
Once you have your transmitter, wiring and e-collar, select an area for the transmitter that is protected from the weather. A garden shed, garage or utility room will do. You will also need a 240 volt electrical socket nearby to power the transmitter.
It’s important to ground the transmitter to prevent damage from outside interference. You should be able to find instructions on how to do this in the manufacturer’s instructions.
Fit the transmitter to a wall. It’s also a good idea to attach a surge protector in case of a power cut.
Next take your wire and lay it along the perimeter of the area that you want fenced off. Try not to twist the wire, and make sure you round off any corners. Twists and sharp corners could interfere with the signal.
Place marker flags along the same line as the wiring.
Next dig a 3 to 12 inch trench along the length of the wiring with a shovel or trowel. Place the wire in the trench and cover with the soil until the wire is completely covered. Keep the flags in place as you’ll need those to train your dog.
When you’ve laid the wire connect it to the transmitter and test that it works by switching the transmitter on. It’s probably not a good idea to test the e-collar by wearing it! You’ll know it works if it beeps when you approach the perimeter fence.
The next step is to train your dog.
Put the e-collar on the dog and connect it to the transmitter. Before you start training, give the dog some time to get used to the collar. He needs to be comfortable for you to train him effectively so try throwing a ball around with him so he is happy and relaxed.
On the first day of training, keep the dog on a tight leash and walk along the fence line marked by the flags. Every time he gets too close to the electric fence, pull him away. Be firm and make it clear on where the boundary is.
Walk him every hour along the fence line. Every time he attempts to cross the line, pull him away. Every time the collar beeps, yank him away from the fence so that he gets the idea.
On the next day, let your dog work out where the boundary is for himself. When he gets close the collar will beep to warn him. When he crosses the fence, he’ll get a shock. He’ll learn pretty quickly where the boundary is. Every time he avoids the boundary, give him a reward.
When he has learned the boundary, you can remove the collar.
1) Which electronic dog fence system is best for an irregularly shaped garden?
If your garden has awkward corners and rockeries they can obstruct the signal from a wireless dog fence. Wireless fences are best for flat gardens that aren’t too irregular. So you’re probably best going with an underground electric dog fence rather than a wireless dog fence. Your dog can enjoy his maximum ability to roam, as long as it is placed at least 10 feet from the garden boundary.
2) Will an electronic dog fence hurt my dog?
This is a very common concern. The answer is no. The correction shock can’t hurt them. It just startles them to grab their attention. If you’re worried, most receiver collars do have different settings so you can adjust the strength of the correction.
3) Do wireless dog fences work?
Yes, they do work as long as everything is correctly set up. But wireless dog fences should be viewed and treated as a training aid rather than a secure fence. There is always the chance of a gap in the signal caused by obstructions. Check that no large metal objects are interfering with the signal. Beware, your dog could ignore the correction if he is sufficiently tempted to chase after that squirrel. Always keep an eye out on him, or you could find yourself on a hunt for him.
4) What’s the maximum coverage area of an in-ground fence?
Anywhere between 1/2 acre and 3/4-acre radius is an average. With an underground electronic fence system, you can extend things as far as you like. But it’ll cost more in wiring and accessories. You’ll need to factor in a great deal of digging so you can bury the wires. If the thought of this seems like it would beyond your comfort zone, don’t hesitate to call in a professional.
5) Can anything affect the signal of a wireless dog fence?
Yes. Heavy metal objects will compromise the signal of a wireless dog fence. Check that you don’t have an AC unit, oven, fridge, electrical junction box in the way. The wireless transmitter must be located at least 3 feet away from any large metal objects. Be aware that thick walls, cars, and trees can also weaken the signal. Signal interference will reduce the precision of the boundary. The consequence of this is that your dog could receive shocks when it isn’t meant to. This is confusing for him and could make him nervous.
6) Will I need to train my dog to use an electronic fence system?
Yes. You’ll definitely need to train your dog. You want your dog to learn the boundaries of the fence. You should be able to train him within a couple of days. Use the first day to get the dog to know where the fence boundary is with flags by walking him along the line of flags. Remember to keep him on a tight leash. Reward him with treats every time he stays away from the flags. By the next day, you can let him find the boundary himself. Once he has received a couple of shocks he should be pretty clear on where he can or can’t go. If you don’t feel up to training your dog, you can hire a professional to train your dog instead. Many professional electric fence installation companies offer training as part of their service.
7) Can I use an electronic fence with a puppy?
You must not use an electric fence with a puppy. They do not have the maturity to be trained yet. Wait at least 6 months minimum. If he can’t be trained, he could end up ignoring the correction shocks and end up in the road or in a neighbor’s garden.
8) How much do electronic fence systems cost?
With wireless systems, you’re looking at around $100 to $350, and they usually come as a complete kit with remote control, flags and one collar. Additional collars can retail for around $75 to $100. To have an underground electric fence system installed professionally and have your dog trained it could cost around $2000 to $3000. But, if you’re happy going it yourself, you can pay around $300 to $400.
9) Can I use it with multiple dogs?
Yes you can use both wireless and underground dog fences with multiple dogs. However, the kits only come with one e-collar. Each additional e-collar costs around $50 to $150. It’s advisable to go for one at the higher end of the price scale. The higher quality collars are more accurate, which guarantees more effective behavior management.
10) How do e-collars work?
E-collars are battery operated with two metal prongs which have contact with the dog’s skin. Collars with prongs of varying lengths are available. Dogs like German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers may need a collar with longer prongs. As the dog approaches the electronic fence, it transmits a signal to the e-collar which emits a warning beep. If the dog crosses the fence, the collar sends an electric shock correction to the dog’s skin. Some e-collars come with a remote control so you can change the type and intensity of installation. It doesn’t take long for a dog to learn the boundaries. After a couple of shocks, he’ll know where he can and can’t go. You can then turn the intensity down. If he starts to cross the line, you can turn it up again. It all depends on how your dog responds.
Well, we trust that today’s bumper guide has left you feeling confident about all aspects of in-ground dog fences.
Before anything else at all, you should be sure you’re comfortable with the idea of using static correction on your dog. This type of electric fence will jolt your pooch with a shock much like the static shocks you experience yourself from time to time.
As long as you’re fine with the idea of this type of correction, you should make certain the fence you’re looking at has a suitable maximum coverage area for the outdoor space you want to secure.
You should also remember that installing these fences can be tricky and requires digging to bury wires. If this is not the type of job you could comfortably carry out yourself, factor in the cost of installation when you’re budgeting.
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