How to Train Your Dog to Use a Wireless Fence (STEPS)

A wireless fence is a type of invisible dog fence, but just like the name suggests, they are completely wireless. Like a standard invisible fence, they can act as a practical alternative to a physical fence.

While they can help keep your dog from escaping your property, for a wireless fence to work properly, you must train your dog to understand how to use it, which involves learning the boundaries.

Can You Train Your Dog to Use a Wireless Fence?

In general, there are a few basic steps to train your dog to use an electric dog fence. First, establish boundary awareness. Then begin implementing shock correction. Next, let your dog explore the boundary on a leash.

When your dog is ready, let him play in the yard off-leash, but supervised. Finally, allow your dog to enjoy the yard unsupervised.

How long does it take to train a dog to use a wireless fence? We get into all that and more in this guide.

Read our related article on How to Train Your Dog With an Invisible Fence for more training tips and tricks!

What is a Wireless Fence?

PetSafe wireless Fence Set
PetSafe Wireless Fence is just one of many brands that you can choose.

Before we get into our wireless fence training guide, we’ll explain what a wireless dog fence is and highlight some of the reasons why they are so popular.

Wireless dog fences function as a pet-safe alternative to a physical fence.

If building a traditional fence is not possible or practical due to cost, local build restrictions, or the property owner’s preferences, a wireless fence can be a good alternative.

How Do Wireless Fences Work?

A wireless fence system creates an invisible barrier around a specific containment area using a central transmitter to send a radio signal.

This signal interacts with a collar that the dog wears around its neck. When the dog approaches the boundary, the collar picks up the signal. 

Depending on the specific wireless fence you have purchased, the dog will experience a shock, vibration, or hear an irritating high-pitched noise when it comes too close or crosses the boundary. 

Advantages of Using a Wireless Dog Fence

If you are wondering why you would choose a wireless dog fence, you should know that they can offer numerous advantages. 

A wired electric fence can take a weekend to install because the boundary wires must be buried in shallow trenches. A wireless dog fence can be set up in less than an hour with minimal effort.

A wireless fence simply involves placing the transmitter in an appropriate location, then making sure that your dog is trained properly to understand how the system works.

Wireless dog fences are also very economical. A wireless fence can cost as little as $400!

You also have the option to move the boundary, which can be a real benefit if you plan on moving, as you can simply take the wireless fence with you. 

Wireless fences are even popular with RV enthusiasts and those who own vacation properties, as they are portable enough to bring with you on the road and set up at a campsite or vacation rental yard.

Read our related articles on the Best Portable Wireless Dog Fences for Travel and the Best Portable Dog Fence for Camping! We chose the top products to review and rank.

How Long Does It Take to Train a Dog to a Wireless Fence?

While each dog is different, most dogs can be humanely trained to respect the boundaries of a wireless fence in as little as two weeks.

With that said, the effectiveness of your training efforts will be the major factor that determines how quickly your dog learns how to use a wireless electric fence.

Since there is no visible boundary, the process can take some time and patience, especially if your dog has no prior experience interacting with an invisible dog fence.

If your dog has been trained to a wired invisible dog fence, training will be easier. Still train your dog to the new fence because wireless units have a circular boundary that may confuse the dog at first.

How to Train Your Dog to Use a Wireless Fence Step-by-step

Two dogs running inside a wireless fence installation
Training your dogs to stay in a wireless fence is not easy.

Installing a wireless dog fence is the easy part. Training your dog to stay inside takes time, patience, and practice.

Following these steps, train your dog so you can rely on the convenience and safety that a portable and invisible wireless fence system can provide.

Step 1 – Begin Establishing Boundary Awareness

This first step is all about introducing your dog to the concept of an invisible boundary. For this step, put down some visual markers to establish the boundaries.

Most wireless pet fence systems will come with small boundary flags, so you can simply measure out the boundary and position the flags in appropriate locations.

Get your dog used to wearing the shock collar. The receiver can be a little bit bulky, which might be a new experience for your pup.

With most wireless fences, the collar is programmable and has different modes. If the shock collar has a non-shock mode or training mode, make sure that you select this setting.

In most cases, this mode will produce a vibration or warning sound when the wearer crosses the boundary, rather than a shock, which is what you will want to start with during the first training sessions.

Many dogs can be trained to respect the boundaries without ever experiencing the static shock of the collar, which is ideal.

Carefully and slowly proceed through the following steps:

  • Select the training or non-shock mode and walk your dog on a leash around the enclosed boundary. Slowly walk towards the boundary markers, stop inside the flags, and praise your dog as you stop.
  • As you approach the boundary, the collar begins to vibrate or generate a warning noise. Allow your pooch to stand in this area for a few seconds, then gently pull them away using their leash, praising them as they come away.
  • Once the dog has retreated into the safe area, offer praise and other forms of positive reinforcement, like their favorite treat.
  • Repeat this same process, but move to a different area where different boundary flags are placed. Continue to do this same process until the dog is familiar with all of the boundary flags. 

Remember to offer plenty of positive reinforcement and don’t worry about visiting every marker in a single day.

This first step in the training process can take a few days, so go at a pace that works for you and your pup.

Step 2 – Improving Boundary Awareness and Introducing Shock Correction

Dog roaming freely inside an invisible fence
A trained dog can be safely left inside a wireless fence.

Now that your dog is familiar with the boundaries, you can move on to the next stage.

By this point, your dog should understand where the boundaries are, but they might not be fully aware of the consequences of going beyond them.

This is where the mild static shock the collar provides will come into effect. Program the receiver collar to begin delivering a mild shock.

Wireless fence collars will have different intensity settings, so you will want to go with the mildest option, especially if your dog is a smaller breed.

Remember, the goal here is not to punish your dog with physical pain. It is just to cement the concept of invisible barriers by introducing mild discomfort as a form of negative reinforcement.

Ideally, you will train your dog with a combination of both positive and negative reinforcement, meaning they get plenty of praise for staying within the correct area as well as mild discomfort for leaving it.

Like you did during the first stage of training, you will slowly and carefully proceed through the following steps:

  • With your dog still on a leash, slowly walk toward the boundary flags. As you approach, the collar will produce a warning sound. Pause, then proceed forward.
  • Watch for a reaction, such as raised ears, a turned head, or a step backward. This will tell you that your dog has felt a mild shock.
  • Once you know that your dog has experienced some discomfort from the shock, you can pull the dog back within the bounds of the safe area. Offer praise and plenty of positive reinforcement when the dog is safely back within the boundary.
  • Repeat the previous step and walk back towards the boundary line. The dog should react to the discomfort again. Pull them back within the safe area and once again offer praise.
  • Continue repeating this until your dog resists crossing the boundary line, which should not take too long.
  • If you are consistent in your efforts, your dog should begin to associate crossing the boundary markers with discomfort and staying within the safe area with praise and treats.

These steps require patience, as it may take a while for your dog to understand what is happening.

The discomfort created by crossing the boundary line can be confusing and disorienting, so it may take quite a few attempts for your dog to fully understand what is happening.

If your dog is not reacting to the collar when you cross the boundary, make sure that it fits them properly. The collar should fit snugly around the neck, as it needs to be close to the skin to work. 

Always watch for signs of injury from the shock prongs such as rubbed skin or missing fur which can indicate the collar is fitting too tightly.

If it is fitted properly and the dog still does not react, you can consider increasing the intensity setting but make sure you do so a single level at a time.

You do not want to cause any pain during this step, just discomfort.

If you choose to deliver a harsh shock correction to your dog all at once, you can destroy their trust in you and the collar, making them react by resistance to training and possibly triggering aggression.

Practice this step over a few days. Brief daily sessions will work much more effectively than trying to do everything in a single day.

Step 3 – Explore the Boundaries Without a Leash

During the previous two steps, you taught your dog how to understand the boundaries with the aid of a leash. Now, it is important to teach your dog how to interact with the wireless fence on its own.

You will still supervise the dog and remain with them during every training session in this step, but the dog will now be able to explore the space on its own.

During this step, you will also want to make sure that your dog remains aware of the boundaries, even when distracted.

  • By this point, your dog should be aware of the boundaries and understand that crossing them will result in an uncomfortable shock. However, now they will be allowed to play within the safe area without you pulling them in any direction.
  • Simply allow the dog to play and observe how they react to the boundaries. If the dog respects the boundaries and does not cross them, try to tempt them to do so by tossing a ball over the invisible line.
  • It’s a good sign if your dog does not chase after the ball and stops right before the boundary line.
  • Step up your efforts by crossing the boundary line yourself. Your dog should not cross the line to follow you. If they do, they will receive a shock.
  • If this happens go back towards the dog and praise them when they cross back into the safe area.
  • Continue playing with your dog and offer distractions that would otherwise get them to pursue.
  • Once the dog will not cross the boundaries no matter what you do, you can move on to the final step.

Again, this step should take a few days to complete, so make sure you are practicing regularly. Once you are confident that your dog will not cross the boundary, your dog’s training is almost complete.

Step 4 – “Unsupervised” Play

Dog inside a cage
Kennels and cages are good for sleeping, but dogs need the freedom to play and exercise outdoors.

By this point, your dog understands how the wireless fence system works and fully recognizes and observes the boundaries. Now it is time to test your training efforts.

During this stage, you will allow your dog to play within the boundaries of the wireless fence on its own. If you can, watch from inside the house or at a distance where the dog will not realize you are watching.

The key here is to ensure that the dog will respect the pet containment boundaries even if you are not there to offer praise and instructions. It’s important to watch so you know if your dog escapes.

Continue to watch your dog as they play over a few days. Once you are confident that the dog will not cross the boundary, your training is complete, and your dog will have learned how to use a wireless fence!

Remember, no matter what step you are working through, patience is key as a dog owner. Let your dog learn at its own pace, and always offer positive reinforcement when they do the right things!

Read More: The Most Powerful Wireless Dog Fence. What’s the toughest wireless fence for stubborn dogs? Find out in this complete guide!

Final Thoughts

If you are interested in purchasing a wireless dog fence system, we encourage you to read our straightforward buyer’s guide, the Best Wireless Dog Fences That Actually Work.

We love using wireless dog fences for traveling and camping because they help us keep our dogs safe without keeping them on a leash.

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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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