Can a Dog Run Through an Invisible Fence? (The TRUTH)

If you’re looking for a physical fence alternative that will keep your dog contained within the yard, an invisible dog fence might be your answer.

Can a dog run through an invisible fence? Read on to see if an invisible fence is right for your dog or if they can easily escape.

Can a Dog Run Through an Invisible Fence?

We’re often asked, “will my dog jump over my fence?”

And the answer is, if your dog is tempted by factors outside the yard, or if they can withstand the shocks delivered by the collar, your dog may be able to run through the invisible dog fence

While it’s rare, some dogs decide to jump the invisible line and take the shock rather than stay in the yard all day.

Stubborn dog collars can help, but especially stubborn dogs must have a regular fence or run.

Read our related article, What Do I Do if My Dog Runs Through My Invisible Fence? If your dog manages to run away, here’s what you can do to prevent future escapes!

How Do Invisible Fences Work? 

An invisible dog fence keeps dogs safely in the yard
Dogs must be trained to stay inside the boundary of an invisible fence.

Before we discuss the odds of your dog escaping an invisible fence, we first need to understand how they work. 

The goal of an invisible fence is to keep your dog within the yard without having a physical barrier fence in place. 

The fence is coupled with a special collar, which will deliver a small shock whenever your dog goes outside the designated yard. 

Although every invisible fence works a little differently, the basics are the same.

The fence uses a transmitter base, which you can place in your house, garage, or outdoor shed (anywhere you can plug it in). 

Your dog will wear a receiver collar that is electronically connected to the base. It is usually battery-operated, and some are rechargeable.

Although many brands of invisible fences are wireless, with some kinds you also may need to bury a wire around the perimeter of where you want the yard to be larger or you want a non-circular boundary.

You can set the fence perimeter for a variety of distances based on your yard size or how much space you want your dog to have. 

If your dog goes past the perimeter line, the fence base will send an electronic message to your dog’s collar, which will then beep, buzz, or deliver a small electric shock, based on the setting you choose.

Why Might My Dog Run Through the Invisible Fence?

A number of factors could lead to your dog running through an invisible fence. 

These are the 4 most common reasons why dogs escape from an invisible fence.

Your Dog Wasn’t Properly Trained

If your dog hasn’t received proper training on the invisible fence, they may not understand how or why the fence works. 

This can especially happen if your dog is older, or was already used to your yard before there was an invisible fence. 

Before you turn your dog loose in their new yard, take the time to properly train your dog. 

We recommend using positive reinforcement training to help your dog associate the inside of the perimeter with praise, love, and all good things.

Read our related article on How to Train Your Dog With an Invisible Fence for an in-depth training guide!

Your Dog Is Stubborn

If your dog is particularly stubborn, he may not do well on an invisible fence. 

He might resist the new fence line, and he may not pay attention to the warning sounds, vibrations, or small shocks that the collar will deliver.

A stubborn dog that decides to escape from an invisible fence will do so regardless of the amount of shock correction it receives.

Your Dog Is Easily Distractible

If your dog becomes easily scared or excited, it might get frustrated with the perimeter or forget it’s there.

If your dog is too easily tempted by outside factors, such as people or animals outside the fence line, they may ignore the warning sounds, vibrations, or shocks in favor of chasing down whatever is outside the yard. 

We suggest training your dog to stay within the perimeter by presenting the dog with distractions in the last step of training so it learns to ignore them rather than jump the fence.

Read our related article, Do Invisible Fences Work for Your Dog? for a helpful chart and guide that covers breeds that are best – and worst – for invisible fences.

Your Fence Isn’t Functioning Properly

Since invisible fences depend on a transmitter being plugged in, and on a battery-operated collar, they will fail when the batteries die.

Many collars have a battery indicator light so you know when it’s dead.

If the power goes out, or if your fence isn’t in a closed loop, your invisible dog fence will become inoperable.

Even though the collar batteries will still work, they will not receive radio signals from the transmitter base, allowing the dog to run.

Wired invisible dog fences may get a loose connection or a broken wire which fails to transmit the signal, allowing the dog to cross without consequences.

Test your dog’s collar weekly to make sure the batteries are working. Most wired fences will sound a beep or alarm if the connection is broken or the wire is cut.

If your fence isn’t working properly, and can’t deliver the proper signals to your dog, your dog will be able to easily run through the fence. 

Most of the time an invisible fence fails the dog won’t realize it for a long time because they’ve been trained to stay away from the boundary.

However, if the problem isn’t fixed, the dog will eventually discover its freedom.

Read More: Do Other Collars Work With Invisible Fence? If you’ve had a different electric fence brand, you may wonder if your dog’s old collar will work with the new system. Here’s what to know.

What Are the Benefits of an Invisible Fence?

Dog looking through a fence
There are times you can’t put up a physical fence, so a wireless fence allows your dog to safely exercise in the yard.

There are many benefits to choosing an invisible fence system.

You may not have an alternative because you can’t install a regular fence, so an invisible fence is the only way to give your dog a little freedom.

Invisible fences are much easier to install, and they can be moved easily, especially if they are wireless. 

Additionally, invisible fence systems can be altered in perimeter and yard size if necessary. 

Invisible fences also don’t obstruct views, and they eliminate the need for an extra structure in your backyard that could get in the way. 

Although they can be an expensive investment upfront, invisible fences are usually cheaper than physical fences, and they’re generally not subject to the same laws and regulations as physical fences. 

That said, we cover why invisible fences may be prohibited locally, and alternatives you can try in our guide: Are Electric Dog Fences Legal? Be sure to check it out!

For some dogs who are prone to digging or who may be able to jump over a physical fence, an invisible fence system may be the best option to help keep your dog contained in the yard. 

For dogs that dig out of the yard under a regular fence or jump over the fence, an invisible fence can be a solution to keep the dog from escaping through the existing barrier.

What Are the Negatives of an Invisible Fence?

Unlike putting up a physical barrier, you have to be willing to put in the time and energy to train your dog on the fence. 

If your dog is stubborn or hard to train, this can take weeks to fully accomplish.

Additionally, invisible fences obviously can’t stop outside factors like other animals or people from entering your yard, the way a physical fence can. 

Your dog will also be able to see distractions outside the yard, which may prove too big a temptation and cause them to run through the fence despite the shock. 

Finally, invisible fences can unexpectedly stop working, especially in cases of a power outage or if the batteries go out in your dog’s collar. 

That means your dog will be able to escape the yard with no shock if they test the boundaries while the fence is down. 

Read our related article, Are Wireless Dog Fences Safe? Here’s what you need to know about the safety of electric fences for dogs!

What Dog Breeds Do Well With Invisible Fences?

Nearly all dogs can be trained to stay inside an invisible fence.
Breeds famous for trainability do best with invisible fences, though nearly all dogs can be trained to stay inside the boundaries.

Invisible fences may work better for some dog breeds than others.  

Intelligent, trainable dog breeds such as Great Danes, Labradors, Poodles, or Golden Retrievers can typically be very easily trained on invisible fences. 

Some dog breeds, like hounds or Huskies, are more prone to escaping physical barriers by digging under, jumping over, or climbing over fences. 

Terriers can be easily trained to stay inside invisible fences, though the urge to chase rodents and vermin can prove to be too much temptation.

A wired invisible fence works best for these dogs.

Aside from obvious temperament struggles with obedience, most dogs can be trained to stay inside an invisible fence, but some breeds or individual dogs may take a little longer to get with the program.

Read our related article, Do Electric Dog Fences Work On Huskies? YES and here’s what you can expect from your fence and Husky.

What Dogs May Struggle With an Invisible Fence?

For other dog breeds, an invisible fence may not be as effective. 

Especially hyper dogs like Spaniels may have trouble with it during puppyhood, though they usually are easier to train as they mature.

If your dog is difficult to train, is particularly stubborn, or is frequently tempted to chase down other animals or people outside the yard, an invisible fence system may not be your best option. 

Your dog may struggle with learning how the boundary system works, and he could be too tempted by factors outside the yard to make the invisible fence effective. 

Additionally, if your dog has shown signs of aggression in the past around other people or animals, an invisible fence could make the problem worse. 

Receiving shocks could lead to increased aggressive behavior in your dog. Dog breeds with naturally aggressive temperaments should not be trained to an invisible fence.

An aggressive dog will not resist the temptation to jump the barrier, no matter the pain, and settle the dispute with the other dog, person, or animal.

Younger dogs or dogs that are new to your home may pick up on this new invisible fence system quickly, while older or well-established dogs may need a little more training. 

While an invisible fence may be the perfect solution for some dogs, they’re not escape-proof, and it may not work for all dogs. 

Is an Invisible Fence Worth the Cost?

An invisible fence lets a dog run and play
An invisible fence allows your dog to run and play without getting into a busy street or a neighbor’s yard.

Depending on what type of fence you want, what brand you choose, how many acres it covers, and whether or not you install it yourself, invisible fences can range from around $150 to $1,500

While that sounds like a hefty price tag, the cost of a physical barrier fence could be much higher, depending on what type of fence, and what kind of materials you choose. 

Even though there is a high initial cost to this fence, they last a long time and need virtually no upkeep, other than changing the batteries in your dog’s receiver collar. 

If you think your dog may work well with an invisible fence, it might be a good investment for you to consider. 

Final Thoughts

The purpose of an invisible fence is to keep your dog safe while it plays and gets exercise in the yard. If your dog can escape, then the fence is no longer safe for your dog.

Thoroughly train your dog to accept and stay inside the boundaries of the fence and don’t leave your dog unsupervised in the area until you’re confident that training is complete.

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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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