How Close Can a Dog Get to an Invisible Fence? (SOLVED)

If you’re familiar with invisible fences, you’ll know that they’re designed to allow your pet the freedom to roam within a designated area.

As a dog gets close to the boundary, the collar will give a warning.

It isn’t until they pass the boundary that the collar will give a static shock, or whatever correction setting you have set on the collar. The boundary can be marked with included marker flags.

But, how close can a dog get to an invisible fence before receiving a warning?

How Close Can a Dog Get to an Invisible Fence?

But how close can a dog get to an Invisible Fence?
The boundary width is adjustable, so you can make it as wide or narrow as you need to.

You set the boundary width on your invisible fence. It has an adjustment knob or buttons that number from 1 to 10.

1 will beep and correct your dog at virtually the same time as it gets directly over the perimeter line.

10 should give your dog well over 20 feet of approach area where the collar will beep but not correct for several seconds, giving the dog time to get away from the perimeter line.

PetSafe recommends giving your dog 12 to 20 feet of space to turn around before receiving static correction.

The key is to give your dog enough play space inside the perimeter plus enough space to stop before reaching the fence and the static correction.

In small yards, finding the balance can be tricky.

When dogs are properly trained to identify their play area, they will have a good sense of where they’re allowed to go, and where they aren’t. 

Always place the training flags inside the boundary. This will help the dog to understand and live inside the boundary without needing static correction all the time.

When you set the boundary width, walk the collar toward the boundary and place a flag as soon as you hear the warning beep and see the red light.

This will train your dog to stay inside the warning area.

Owners who place the boundary flags at the actual fence line set their dogs up for a lot of static correction which can make the dogs feel fearful and confused.

Use the flags to train the dogs to stay well inside the line.

See our related article, Can a Dog Jump Over an Electric Fence? Your dog may jump over your fence if the boundary is too close to the wire. Learn more!

How Does the Invisible Fence Training Collar Work?

Will it shock your dog if they get too close?
The collar included on an invisible fence is not the same as a training collar with a remote or an anti-bark collar.

While the collars are often referred to as shock collars, they’re different than the ones you may be familiar with that stop a dog from barking or are operated by a remote control for behavioral training.

The collar is paired to the wireless transmitter and it alerts your dog with a beep and/or vibration when the dog is approaching the boundary line.

This beep is enough to deter dogs from approaching the invisible fence once they’re trained.

If your dog continues past the warning, it will receive a little static shock, similar to receiving a shock from a doorknob or car door.

It’s enough to warn the dog off from proceeding but does not cause harm.

The static shock level is adjustable, and we recommend using the lowest level that the dog will pay attention to.

Dogs with thicker coats may need a higher correction level to get through the fur padding.

You can also take comfort in knowing that the static corrections used by well-made dog fence brands won’t cause burns or pain for your pup. 

Our testing showed a few consistent brands that rated high for safety and reliability, including Petsafe & the Invisible Fence Brand.

Check out our picks for the best wireless dog fences!

What Happens if Your Dog Crosses the Invisible Fence?

Yes, your dog may still be able to run through the invisible fence. Stubborn dogs may be difficult to train when it comes to teaching them how the Invisible Fence works.

Certain dogs may also have a hard time grasping where the boundary is, OR will be willing to receive the static correction, and cross the boundary anyway.

Unlike traditional fences, when a dog crosses an Invisible Fence, they can continue as long as they are willing to deal with the discomfort which will stop when they reenter the yard or get fully outside of the yard.

So for those dogs that like to chase, or are otherwise easily distracted, the invisible fence may not always be the most effective option.

It’s important to spend the time to properly train your furry friends, and provide supervision while they’re outside.

Establishing a steady routine for your dog can give them the best chance to learn whether they’re a puppy or an older dog.

However, dogs under 12 weeks should not be trained to an invisible fence.

Read More: How Big Can an Invisible Fence Be? If you have a large yard, you may be concerned that an electric dog fence won’t be able to cover it. Here’s how big wired and wireless fences can get!

Does an Invisible Fence Protect from Wild or Stray Animals?

wild raccoon
Invisible fences are no barrier to wild animals or stray cats and dogs.

No, an invisible fence only protects animals with a collar on. Stray animals and wild animals can still come inside the barrier.

So if your home doesn’t have a physical fence check the property before letting your dog go out, especially if you’re using an invisible fence and you frequently have wild visitors.

There’s always a chance that your dog could run beyond the boundary while chasing another animal.

This is more likely if the other animal has wandered into your dog’s area and then leaves.

If this happens, the collar will stop administering correction after your dog fully leaves the yard so your dog won’t be injured by the collar.

We prefer models that allow correction-free reentry for dogs. This encourages them to come home on their own without fear of being shocked as they reenter the yard.

Would a Physical Fence Be a Better Option?

Dog inside a vinyl fence
A physical fence provides privacy and keeps other animals out of the yard. It is a better option for dogs who can’t resist the chase.

There is no question that a physical wall will do a better job at keeping unwanted visitors out when compared to an invisible fence.

However, physical fencing can be expensive, and difficult to install in many cases. 

Oftentimes, installing or replacing ineffective fencing can also take a long time to complete depending on the size of your property.

However, there are a few DIY backyard dog fencing options out there if you’re determined to get the job done yourself.

Many dog owners who have a physical fence that the dog digs under or jumps over will reinforce the fence with an invisible fence and collar.

Wired invisible fencing is best for this because it can follow and reinforce the existing fence line. This method is best for stopping escape artists in their tracks.

Belgian Malinois dogs for instance are coveted for their intelligence and loyalty, making them ideal police dogs.

However, it’s worth noting that they’re also very capable climbers, jumpers, and all-around escape artists.

There are endless videos up on YouTube showing them running up walls and diving over obstacles.

Needless to say, if they want out badly enough they likely can scale most fences.

This is a perfect scenario where a physical fence barrier can be complemented with a wired invisible fence to keep a determined dog safely inside the yard.

Final Thoughts

The width of invisible fences is highly adjustable.

The key is to find the balance between giving the dog enough free play space while giving it plenty of warning before getting a shock from the collar.

Test the collar for boundary width activation before putting it on your dog so you know exactly how much space your dog has to play.

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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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