How Does a Wireless Dog Fence Work? Components & Usage

As dog owners, we all have the fear of our four-legged friend wandering off and getting lost, or worse, hit by a car. Wireless dog fences train our dogs to stay home.

If you count a dog as a member of your family and you’re struggling to keep it inside a regular fence, then you should know more about how wireless fences work so you can decide if one is right for you.  

So, how does a wireless dog fence work? Read on to discover how wireless dog fences work plus what it takes to train your dogs to stay willingly inside the invisible boundary.

How Does a Wireless Dog Fence Work?

2 dogs inside a wireless fence boundary
Once dogs are trained to understand where the boundary is, they won’t cross it even if the flags are removed.

How do invisible dog fences work?

Wireless dog fences work in much the same way as wired fences.

The only differences are that you no longer have to dig up your yard, and wireless fences are far more humane.

A wireless dog fence works by plugging a radio transmitter into an electrical outlet on the property and the dog’s collar is the receiver.

A 360-degree circular boundary is transmitted that can be size adjusted, usually between 15 and 90 feet depending on your yard.

The only installation requirements for a wireless fence are an electrical outlet in a protected place for the transmitter and batteries for the receiver collar.

The kit will also come with flags to mark the boundary so your dog has a clear visual cue of where the “safe zone” is.

The hardest part of the installation is training your dog(s) to understand the invisible fence and learn where the boundary is.

This always takes several weeks of consistent training.

The collar will give your dog a warning beep when it approaches the boundary.

If the dog does not turn around, the collar will follow up with a static shock to reinforce the dog’s training and keep it home.

Read more: Do invisible fences work in winter? Here’s how invisible fences perform in ice and snow!

Wireless Dog Fences: The Two Components

Wireless Dog Fences
The system creates a safe dog perimeter “fence” as well as a “danger” or “no-go” zone for your pet.

To understand how wireless dog fences work you first need to understand these two components:

  • Collar
  • Transmitter

The transmitter and collar receiver are the two pieces of equipment that make wireless fences possible.

Receiver Dog Collar

Invisible fence receiver collar
The receiver collar is an integral part of the fence. A regular collar won’t work with the fence.

The invisible fence will not work without the receiver collar.

This receives the radio signals from the fence and gives feedback to the dog regarding its proximity to the fence.

You may be reluctant to implement this system because you are afraid that it will hurt your dog, but rest assured, it is only meant to startle them.

The shock is a static zap that is like getting shocked on a doorknob.

Some dog owners have even tested it on themselves first to make sure their dog will not be in pain.

We all agree it is not an experiment we like to repeat, but it also didn’t cause any injuries.

There are multiple shock levels to choose from, so you can choose the level that is most appropriate for your pooch.

If you don’t want to use the static shock at all, you can always opt to use the beep-only setting instead, but this is only recommended for very well-trained and obedient dogs.

Most collars also have GPS so your dog can be located in case they escape and get lost.

However, if a dog goes far enough outside of the boundary the collar will lose signal and stop sending corrections.

All of this information is useless, however, if you have the wrong dog collar. Check to see which collar is compatible with your containment system

Radio Transmitter

The central piece of equipment you need for your wireless fence to work is the transmitter.

Install the transmitter where it can be plugged into an electrical outlet and protected from the weather.

The transmitter will always be the very center of your dog’s invisible fence. 

It’s recommended that you put the transmitter 2 to 5 feet off the ground, but as close to the same plane as the ground as possible for consistent coverage.

Do not block the ventilation holes or put the transmitter on a metal surface.

Metal objects like refrigerators, cars, metal sheds, and cabinets can obstruct the radio signal leaving dead zones in the perimeter fence.

The transmitter must be paired with the collar, after putting batteries in the collar.

Most transmitters are protected from power surges, but keep in mind that when the power is out, your fence is off.

If this is a frequent problem and you know you won’t be home to secure your dog, you may want an alternate power source for your invisible fence.

See our related article, Does Invisible Fence Work When Power Goes Out? for tips on how to keep your fence running even when the electricity goes out.

Benefits of Using a Wireless Fence

How Deep Is an Invisible Fence Buried?
Wireless fences keep your dog at home without having to erect a costly fence.

There are many benefits of using an invisible fence, which is why they’re so popular with many dog owners.

  • You can keep the dog home without having an ugly fence
  • You can put any number of dogs in the same fence – each with their own receiver collar
  • You can set the correction level for each dog separately
  • The perimeter is big enough to cover most urban and suburban yards

The main advantage of a wireless invisible fence is that setup is a breeze.

Read more: Can a dog run through an invisible fence? Yes, and it will take quite a bit of time to train any dog to use the fence, especially stubborn dogs.

Disadvantages of Using a Wireless Fence

So while there are many benefits of these wireless fences, there are also some disadvantages.

  • The perimeter can only be circular, with no square-shaped or customized perimeters
  • The yard must be big enough or the dog will be too restricted in its movement
  • Large obstacles, such as sheds, may interfere with the radio transmissions
  • Not well-suited for uneven terrain
  • Doesn’t work when the power is out
  • Not effective in every climate

Make sure first that a wireless fence is suitable for your property, and you will be able to experience the full benefit of this technology.

We tested and reviewed wireless dog fences, and came up with 3 that we felt worked really well.

If your yard has hilly terrain, take note of our second pick because it worked best in irregular and sloped yards.

If you are curious, there is also a more extensive list of disadvantages.

Check out our reviews and top picks of the best invisible fence options that actually work.

Training Your Dog to a Wireless Fence

Training Your Dog
Any dog can be trained to stay in a wireless fence, but some may take longer than others.

Besides the fact that a wireless dog fence will keep your dog safe and probably save you money, it is an excellent way to train your dog.

A few weeks after purchasing this fence your dog will be more disciplined and better behaved, inside and out. 

If you’re wondering, “how do I train my dog to use a dog fence?” make sure to go over our comprehensive guide on the most effective way of training your dog with a wireless fence.

Wireless dog fences come with flags to put around the invisible boundary to help your dog understand where they are and are not allowed to go.

These are the basic steps to training your dog to get used to its new wireless fence.

  • Start off using beep-only instead of the static shock correction.
  • Introduce your dog to the boundary flags.
  • Give them a little time to get used to the boundary, using positive reinforcement every time it comes back inside the boundary.
  • Start using the static shock setting, and adjust it appropriately

How easy or difficult your dog is to be trained may rely somewhat on the type of dog you have.

Do invisible fences work for your dog? We did some breed comparisons here so you can get an idea of how hard it will be to train your dog to the fence.

Check out this video to help you understand the basics of training your dog to stay inside an invisible fence.

How Much Does a Wireless Dog Fence Cost?

Inevitably, one of the primary considerations for many people when thinking about getting a wireless dog fence is the cost.

It’s not cheap, but it is still much cheaper than a traditional dog fence.

The prices of products fluctuate rapidly, so we’re putting rough estimates here based on the time of publishing.

Invisible Fence and PetSafe are the two most common brands that we recommend because we know their products work reliably and last a really long time.

  • Full kit for one dog: $250 to $350
  • Collars: From $125 to about $175 for extra or replacement collars
  • Transmitters: About $200 to replace one
  • Training flags: $10-$20 for a replacement set

The price varies depending on who you buy it from, and the features you need.

It costs a little more to get an invisible fence that covers 3/4 of an acre or has higher static shock levels for a stubborn dog.

See our related article, Are PetSafe and Invisible Fence the Same Thing? We explore these two brands to see if their products are interchangeable.

Choosing the Right Company

Now that you understand how wireless dog fences work, you must start looking at which company you want to buy from and which one is within your budget.

You also have to consider the needs of your dog and which company’s offer makes sense for your family.

We tested the best electric fences and reviewed our favorites to help you make up your mind.

After you have done an assessment of these companies, take the plunge and get it ready so your favorite pets can roam and play safely outside.

Final Thoughts

Every pet parent would like for their furry friend to be able to play outside safely without worrying about them escaping through a loose board, or digging beneath the fence while you are not looking. 

Thankfully, wireless fences cover 360 degrees without you ever needing to dig a giant trench around your property or pay a hefty installation fee.

A wireless fence is easy to install as all you need is a transmitter and receiver, but dog training is key.

A well-trained dog will stay inside the wireless fence giving you the peace of mind you want.

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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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