Is an Electric Fence CHEAPER Than a Regular Dog Fence?

When considering an electric dog fence or a regular fence to keep your pets safe in your yard, it’s important to have as much information as possible before making a decision. 

You may wonder if an electric fence is cheaper than a regular dog fence, and how do they compare in keeping your dog safe at home?

So, is an electric fence cheaper than a regular dog fence?

This article will compare the two options, and break down how they stack up against each other to help you choose the right fence for you and your pet.

Is an Electric Fence Cheaper Than a Regular Dog Fence?

Dog inside a wire fence
Electric dog fences cost a fraction of the price of physical fences and they don’t create an eyesore or physical barrier in your yard.

In general, electric fences are cheaper and easier to install than regular dog fences or any type of fencing.

Wireless fences can range greatly in cost depending on a list of factors, but will almost always be cheaper than installing a new fence in your yard in nearly every circumstance.

On average, fencing a typical suburban yard in 2022 with a physical fence can range between $3,000 and $7,000 depending on the materials used and if you install it yourself.

An invisible fence can cost less than $300 if you are willing to install it yourself, and companies that install electric dog fences can go up to $3,000.

Read our related article, What is the Cost of Invisible Fence Per Acre of Land? Learn more about the cost of installing an invisible fence in this complete guide!

Do Invisible Fences and Privacy Fences Work The Same Way?

Wood plank fences allow for more privacy from nosy neighbors. Based on that, it might feel like a sure decision to install a fence and be done with it, right? 

Not exactly. While physical fences are great for those purposes, they may not suit your needs as a pet parent in the same way.

When living close to your neighbors, it might be important for you to separate your outdoor space from theirs with a physical boundary of some sort to clearly define where your property is.

If your dog is happy to stay inside a privacy fence and you need one anyway, then no problem.

However, some dogs can tunnel under, jump over, or push through privacy fencing to get out of the yard.

An electric invisible fence creates a barrier that physically and mentally deters your dog from leaving the yard, but it doesn’t stop your nosy neighbors from looking in.

Many pet owners choose to add an invisible fence as a backup to existing fencing to keep dogs from escaping through the physical barrier.

How Do Physical Fences and Invisible Fences Compare?

Jack Russell Terriers playing inside an invisible fence
Training is required for invisible fences to teach the dog where the wire is and what happens if they get too close.

Dog owners will understand the importance of having a yard for their pets.

Having a space that is uniquely their own allows pets to feel comfortable and allows them to play freely.

  • Both fencing alternatives create a space that will help contain pets within a designated area.
  • Both types of fence help mitigate the fears of running away or escaping for most dogs, but still require a reasonable amount of supervision.
  • Both types of fence have varying levels of effectiveness based on materials, though not in the same way because the invisible fence is more reliable for keeping dogs home.

In either instance, a fence benefits the homeowner as well as the pets.

The physical fence offers some privacy or space division which may be needed for neighbors, children, or other pets.

For those who want to keep the dog home, the invisible fence offers a space division that is only applicable to the animals wearing the receiver collar.

This makes virtual “clean” areas of the yard without the need for physical barriers.

How Do Physical Fences and Invisible Fences Contrast?

The differences are far more tangible.

You cannot keep other people or animals out with an invisible fence. The fence will not keep other dogs from harassing yours or wild animals out of your yard.

You also cannot create a homely aesthetic with a fence that isn’t there, unless your aesthetic is that of an open area of land that is bisected by an invisible fence.

However, if you want the aesthetic of a small, attractive fence you can go ahead and install it because the invisible fence will keep your dog at home so the physical fence can be purely aesthetic.

  • Physical fences that are robust and tall enough to keep dogs in are expensive to buy and very laborious to install. Invisible fences, even wired ones, are much cheaper and very fast to install.
  • You can’t get a physical fence to keep a cat in your yard, but you can use an invisible fence to keep it home.
  • Some dogs will dig under any fence, even if you bury it. An invisible fence won’t let the dog get close enough to try.
  • A physical fence is a set-it-and-forget-it plan. An invisible fence requires training for all animals inside the fence and monthly maintenance.
  • An invisible fence has batteries in the collar that must be replaced or recharged to keep working.

However, dogs and cats that live in homes with invisible fences will need thorough training to use the collars safely.

They should be able to know where they’re allowed and where they aren’t.

Also, understand that while invisible fences are wonderful for keeping notorious escape artists in the yard, some dogs will still run through it.

If you want to understand why dogs run through invisible fences and what you an do to stop this from happening, read our in-depth article that discusses dogs running through invisible fences and real-world solutions.

Things to Consider with the Cost of Electric Fences

Golden Retriever smiling
No matter which fence you choose, the key to canine happiness is loads of love, attention, toys, and cuddles.

Electric dog fences (invisible fences) are particularly popular with people who cannot build fences or those who need additional security for their pets.

Unlike traditional fences, electric fences are invisible boundaries that are designed to keep your pets inside a set area.

They also aren’t as cumbersome when it comes to materials or maintenance.

Though you have to change batteries a few times a year, it’s much less hassle than staining a wood fence or replacing broken vinyl panels.

Electric dog fences have receiver collars that give a warning beep prior to the dog reaching the boundary line.

They give a static shock correction if the dog doesn’t turn around and return to the yard.

They provide a reasonable and safe alternative to physical dog fences for renters and homeowners.

When considering which may be the better choice for you, here are a few things to consider.


Unlike a traditional fence that is able to keep other animals and people out of your property, invisible pet fences are designed to contain pets, and will not provide the same function as a physical barrier.

They’re designed to maintain freedom for your pets while enforcing a strict boundary that they’re not permitted to cross.

They also provide flexibility that’s not available in physical fencing (more on that later).

Invisible fences make it possible to keep your dog in your front yard without putting up a physical fence.


There are two types of electric dog fences: In-ground dog fences and wireless dog fences.

An in-ground dog fence has a buried wire (1 to 3 inches deep) that can be run along a property line.

It makes a completely customizable boundary line that can cover up to 5 acres of land.

Wireless electric dog fences use a radio transmitter that is placed in the center of a property that casts a circular boundary outward.

They can cover a typical suburban backyard or up to 3/4 acre.

Both types of fences use a receiver collar though the collars aren’t interchangeable because the technology between the two fences is different.


Setting up an electric fence is fairly simple, and can be done by just about any pet owner without the need for a professional installer.

If you opt for the in-ground boundary, you’ll need to dig around the designated area to bury a wire that will outline the boundary.

It does require you to get your hands dirty, but once it’s done, you’re good to go.

Alternatively, you can opt to purchase the wireless version that casts a circular boundary, and requires no digging.

Simply plug it in the centermost area, and dial in where you would like the boundary to be.

It’ll require some trial and error, but like its counterpart, you can set it and forget it aside from changing batteries in the collar.

Read More: Can you put an electric fence charger outside? Know where to place your fence charger for the greatest effectiveness!

Boundary Area

Electric dog fence boundary area illustration
The electric fence boundary area is unseen by you, but tracked by the collar which gives instant feedback to the dog when it gets too close.

The in-ground electric dog fence will allow you to set any boundary area that you choose but will require extra wire if you have a particularly large area that you would like to enclose.

On the other hand, the wireless containment system casts a perfectly circular-dome boundary that emanates from the transmitter.

This shape can be perfect or incredibly awkward depending on your space.

One thing to keep in mind, however, if you’re someone who travels and takes your pets with you, is that the wireless dog fence will allow you to plug it in at any location of your choosing.

Read More: How Big Can an Invisible Fence Be? If you have a large yard, will an electric dog fence be able to cover it? Here’s how far wired and wireless fences can expand.

Pets & collars

If you’re someone with multiple pets, you can still enjoy the functionality of the electric fence.

Many units will permit you to purchase different collars that will fit whichever sized pets you have and connect them to the unit easily.

This is especially useful for homes with different-sized pets, including cats, and homes with stubborn dogs.

So if you have a pet that can jump and climb to absurd heights, utilizing an electric pet fence could save you quite the headache.

Overall cost

Depending on your needs, you can expect to pay for the unit, any additional collars, additional wire you may need, and optional professional installation. 

Those factors could mean the difference between paying a couple hundred or a couple thousand dollars. But you could easily find all-in-one units for less than $300. 

The best electric dog fences don’t have to break the bank however, they just have to work.

And you’ll have the freedom to customize them to fit your needs, even if you already have a fence.

Things To Consider With the Cost of Physical Dog Fences

Dog peering over a wood fence
Physical fences offer privacy, but they’re much more expensive to purchase and install with no guarantee they’ll keep your dog in.

You’ve likely seen homes in publications like Better Homes & Gardens that depict beautiful homes with idyllic fencing that just seems to fit the space in the most aesthetic way possible.

What they forget to tell you is how expensive that fence was to install.

So if you’re thinking of installing a physical fence, do your research and get material and labor estimates for your home. 

Here are a few specifics to keep in mind when considering the necessary costs for installing a physical fence for your dog:


If you’re someone with a large property that would like to be able to see exactly where your property ends and your neighbor’s begin, that will likely have an effect on which type of fence you choose to build.

A series of posts and wire may suffice to mark your boundary, but it won’t keep the dog home.

A tall privacy fence on a large parcel has an associated cost that’s out of reach for most homeowners.

In terms of pet ownership, the benefit of a physical fence is that it can generally keep your pet in while keeping other animals out.

Type of Fence

decorative white fence
A decorative fence may be allowed in your city, but it may not keep your dog home.

Your purpose for building will inspire your type of fence.

If you’re looking for options for a back and front yard, perhaps the purpose for the front is different than the purpose for the fence in the back.

You may decide that you would like composite fencing in the backyard to match the deck that you installed, but want the front fence to be a short picket like other fences in the neighborhood.

Many cities have ordinances that prevent homeowners from installing fences in the front yard.

In this case, the only option is to keep the dog in the backyard only or install an invisible fence in the front.


Depending on your budget, different fence materials can be one of the most important items to consider when building a fence.

Unfortunately, there have been massive material and labor shortages in the fence industry, just like every other industry in the US.

So even if you have the cash, you may discover that it takes months to get the materials and people out to install your fence.

In addition, the material chosen will affect the strength of the fence itself.

And where wooden fences may warp or dry out, metal fences could rust, so consider your climate when choosing a material.


Homes on hills mean that neighbors may be able to look into your yard just by standing on their front porch. 

This could make drinking your morning coffee outside a bit uncomfortable, and might make you want the max height fence that your neighborhood will allow.

This is also a great point of consideration for pet owners with springy pups.


Most often, fences will span the perimeter of a property from one end to the other.

This means that you should consider exactly how long that would make the fence to gain a better understanding of the total cost of materials needed.

Total Cost

You can go to your local hardware store and get an estimate on materials, but they probably won’t tell you that you’re likely to run into unexpected expenses along the way.

If you’re taking it on as a DIY project thinking that it will save you a lot of money down the road, maybe you’re right, maybe not.

Experts will have all of the tools necessary and do it much faster than you can.

You may also need to get permits to dig or make additions to your property in some areas which can cost a bundle and add weeks or months to your wait time depending on where you live.

In addition, think about the cost of paint, cement, tools, labor (if applicable), and hardware, and estimate a little high even still, just to be safe.

Here’s a quick video explaining how to measure your yard to understand the cost in materials to fence your yard.

The cost of materials fluctuates wildly, but you can get a rough idea.

Timeframe for Completion of a Regular Fence

If you’re DIYing the fence in your free time, it will likely take a lot longer than if you hire a contractor and their team to do it.

Still, it could take weeks or months to get all of the necessary materials in to begin.

If your neighborhood has to approve your plans or you make arrangements with a neighbor who will share the fence, it takes time to decide what type of fence and when to begin construction.

Once ground is broken, it could be a few days work, or several weeks.

Walls made of stone or masonry will be heavy and take more time than digging post holes to cement and install a chain-link fence. 

Longevity & Maintenance

How long will your fence withstand the elements, your family, and your pets before needing to be fixed or replaced?

That can be tough to say and there are no guarantees. Some fence companies offer a nice warranty on workmanship.

Ask about materials warranties if you’ve purchased the materials through them.

Even so, they won’t cover materials replacement if your dog has chewed the planks, or your son’s football team ran through the fence into the neighbor’s yard.

Those repairs will be out of your wallet.

Will the Fence Work for Your Dogs?

Will your fence keep your pets safe within your defined area, or will they still be able to escape?

Certain dog breeds have the ability to leap or climb over high fences, and others may be able to dig escape tunnels underneath them.

Ornery dogs may be strong enough to destroy fencing when left unsupervised, as well.

Electric fencing has some similar struggles with keeping especially stubborn dogs inside. Dogs with a rebellious streak and high pain tolerance are just plain hard to keep home.

The electric fence has the advantage of adjustability. You can increase the boundary width to make a 25-foot wide fence (incredibly hard to jump over) and increase the level of collar correction.

These measures keep most dogs inside the fence, even ones determined to run away.


Choosing which, if not both, options will be best for your applications can be a daunting task.

But is an electric fence cheaper than a regular dog fence? Without a doubt, an electric dog fence is a cheaper option that will take far less time and work to install.

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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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