Wireless Dog Fence: Do They Work, Are They Safe, and Should You Get One?

wireless electronic dog fence questions

Are you looking for fence options for your yard to protect your pet and set boundaries? Wireless, invisible, and electronic fences are often touted as inexpensive and effective containment systems. Before you invest your time and money, learn more about wireless dog fences and how they work. 

How Do Electronic Dog Fences Work?

Electronic dog fences are invisible fencing systems that have three components: electronic wiring, a transmitter, and a receiver.

Although these fences are “wireless” above the ground, they require electricity, which is delivered to the sensors through wires. 

Wait, did we just say the wireless dog fence uses wires? Yes. The wires are buried underground.

Two other necessary parts for an electronic fence are the transmitter and the receiver. The receiver is in the collar that your dog wears. Once the containment system is activated and your pet is wearing the receiver, when he approaches the boundary, he will hear a warning tone followed by a correction (vibration or electric shock).

Although there’s a variety of invisible or electronic fences on the market, they work in the same manner. The vibration/shock strength is adjustable to meet a dog’s size/weight and responsiveness. Although you hear people profess the electric charge is similar to that of a shock you get after walking across carpet, that’s up for debate. Read our blog article on #stoptheshock, a campaign initiated by a well-known pet store brand.

Training Problems With Electric Dog Fences

For pet owners who live in areas where traditional fences are not permitted, an invisible fence can be an appealing way to let their dogs enjoy the outdoors yet remain protected in their yards. While an electronic or invisible fence works in theory, there are situations where they can be an epic fail. 

My dog runs through the invisible fence

Even the receiver’s highest settings may not be enough to deter a highly motivated dog from crossing the invisible boundary. Your dog may find that playing with the dog across the street or chasing squirrels from your neighbor’s tree so rewarding that your electronic fence proves useless. 

Electric shocks induce fear (and sometimes aggression)

The idea behind an invisible fence is that your dog will learn to link discomfort to approaching the wired boundary. Unfortunately, some dogs are unsuccessful at associating the two. It’s possible these dogs instead relate the pain with something else that occurs at the same time like seeing a dog or person walk by. Your pet can show anxiety, fear, or aggression toward passersby. In addition, it’s possible your pet can develop generalized anxiety if he perceives the shocks as random events.

The invisible fencing can malfunction

Because the receiver/collar is battery operated, they will need to be replaced. Unless you check on the batteries often, you run the risk of dead batteries while your pet is outside, leaving him to cross the boundary without receiving any vibration or shock. And that can confound your dog-training efforts.

The receiver/collar can also activate inconsistently as a result of interferences such as:

  • Neighbor’s invisible fence
  • Large metal objects or appliances
  • Television or antenna cables
  • Satellite dishes

Smart dogs can learn how to outsmart the wireless fence

Some dogs are so intelligent they can find a way to beat the electronic fencing system. If the fencing system has thick concrete walls in the home or garage, downward slopes in your yard, trees, and thick bushes between the transmitter and boundary these can weaken the signal. A significant amount of interference could cause gaps in your fence. If your dog learns where these gaps lie, he or she can pass the boundary without getting a beep or a shock.  

The receiver can injure the dog’s neck

The receiver has a set of prongs that rest against the skin of your dog’s neck. It’s through these prongs that the vibration or electric charge is emitted. Although it’s essential you remove the receiver regularly to help prevent injury to the skin, some dogs, like longhair breeds, can quickly develop wounds and infections.

Bark Collar vs Electric Dog Fence

You can find a variety of bark collars these days, including spray, ultrasonic, and vibration. The type most closely related to a wireless dog fence is a static bark collar or shock collar. While bark collars are intended to help reduce unnecessary barking by emitting a stimulus such as a citronella mist, sound, vibration, or shock, some people use bark collars for other training needs.

This scenario requires a remote-controlled bark collar that you control through a handheld remote. You have to be careful not to harm your dog if you use this method. Human control of the device can cause the collar to deliver repeated corrections or harmful and prolonged shocks and vibrations. 

Using Ultrasonic Trainers with Your Electronic Fence

An ultrasonic trainer is a handheld device that works without harmful or uncomfortable collars. You can use the ultrasonic trainer alongside the electric fence, especially if there are times when your dog is outside without supervision.

So, if you’re outside with your dog and it starts heading toward your property edge, you press and release the ultrasonic trainer. This gets your dog’s attention. You can give the “come” or “stay” command to let the dog know that’s as far as he or she can go. The tool works through ultrasonic sound, not through potentially harmful vibrations or shocks. Then you can reward your dog with a tasty treat and praise.

When you’re not around, the electronic wireless dog fence takes over and emits the vibration or shocks when your dog approaches or crosses the boundary.

Because the ultrasonic trainer is a handheld device, nothing comes into contact with your dog. It is all done through sound and works best within 40-60 feet of your pet.