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Offers audible warning tones for owners when dog approaches boundary. Has a vibration-only mode. Low battery indicator. Can work with multiple pets, although you'd need separate receivers for each pet.
Occasional reports of faulty units.
Very reliable with five levels of correction. Initial kit features 1/3-acre coverage for one dog, but can expand to work across one acre with many dogs. Works with pets of any size and age. Easy to set up. Decent price.
Expanding the system will up the price tag.
Updated version with a 1/3-acre range that can be expanded to cover as much as six acres. Great for dogs that swim, thanks to the submersible receiver. Easy to add multiple dogs.
A bit challenging to install. Some reports of faulty receivers and "dead" spots in the fence.
Portable model that doesn't require a buried wire for operation. Offers a circular range of 3/4-acre coverage. Waterproof receiver adjusts easily to fit dogs of various sizes.
Signal isn't always consistent, which can result in a dog leaving the designated area.
Comprehensive, programmable model that caters to your yard and needs. Correction is consistent. Includes modes for highly sensitive dogs. Owners rave about the attentive customer service.
Higher priced option. Requires time and effort to set up.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Are you looking for a way to contain your dog within the boundaries of your yard? While some people prefer a physical fence made of wood, plastic, or chain link, others gravitate toward an “invisible” fence with a mild electric charge.
Most states do not require dog owners to leash their dogs. However, many cities and other municipalities will impound “at large” dogs that are found wandering alone. As a dog owner, you want your furry friend to stay safe and close to home. You don’t want him interacting with strangers who pass by your yard, and you most certainly don’t want him to get snatched up by animal control.
Two types of electric fences exist on today’s market: wired and wireless. Both types work to keep your dog secure in his space, and both have their pros and cons.
These fences include an actual wire that works above and/or below the ground.
Pros of wired fences:
Cons of wired fences:
These fences employ a sensor grid to determine when the dog goes near (or crosses) the line of sight.
Pros of wireless fences:
Cons of wireless fences:
Ultimately, though, it’s an aesthetic choice.
The basic goal of an electric fence is to keep your pet or animal in an enclosed area without setting up walls. First, you take the wire line (or sensors, depending on which system you get) and set up a perimeter. Then you mark that perimeter with small flags that both you and the dog can see.
After the perimeter is set up, you hook the dog to a collar that sends a small static electric charge or auditory response that only he can feel or hear. Over time, the dog learns where he can and cannot go.
When your dog approaches the invisible fence, the product senses the device you’ve hooked to his collar and sends a signal. If the signal persists, the system will continue sending shocks until the signal goes away.
When you’re training your dog to stay within his boundaries, this is a great feature. But if he’s a naturally fast dog who visits the fence line frequently — or if he happens to chase something that goes outside the boundary — this could pose a hazard for him.
Keep this in mind when setting up your fence. You want to keep your dog in, but you certainly don’t want to put him in a situation where he could shock himself repeatedly.
How big is your yard? The dimensions of your property can help you determine which electric fence is best for you.
The PetSafe model covers about three quarters of an acre. This would be enough for most urban backyards. The Friendly Pet Products and SportDOG can cover 25 acres and 100 acres respectively. This type of product would probably be better for a dog owner with a massive yard or farm land.
You needn’t be a handyman or electrician to install your electric fence. Thankfully, most amateurs have an easy time setting up their system.
Simply unpack the wire, run it the length of where you want it to go, and place the flags or markers around the line so you and the animal know exactly where they are. Then put the collar on the dog and turn the system on. Depending on the type of fence you purchase, there may be a few other technicalities to your setup. However, most systems work the same way.
Most fences employs a collar system. It will likely become an everyday task for you to switch the system off when you take your dog beyond the fenceline.
Some systems, such as the Perimeter Technologies and PetSafe products, include cloth-based collars with a snap. Owners tell us these are quite easy to remove. Other products use a notched belt system that may be harder to take off and put back on again.
While the fence itself plugs into an outlet and never needs charging, the collar is another story. At some point, you’ll need to remove the collar and charge it overnight. People whose pets live outside year-round must keep this in mind before investing in a collar system that requires periodic charging.
There’s no such thing as a cheap system. Some electric fences cost less than others, but you’re simply not going to get a quality fence for under $50.
We strongly advocate against cheap, poorly made systems. The welfare of your dog is at stake. You don’t want a system that shocks him unnecessarily, nor do you want a system that fails to contain him safely in his own yard.
An electric fence is no easy purchase.
Q. Will the shock provided by an electric fence hurt my animal?
A. The best electric fences provide a shock that deters unwanted behavior but isn’t painful. The shock is meant to be irritating, but it should never cause injury or pain. That said, there are some consumers that view the use of an electric fence as a moral dilemma. And there are definitely some poorly made products out there that do more harm than good.
Q. I’m interested in an electric fence for my dog, but I want to use the least amount of shock possible. Any advice?
A. First of all, opt for a quality-made fence with a reliable shocking system. Cheap invisible fences have been known to deliver too much shock or even shock at the wrong times.
Second, investigate options that let you customize the amount of shock your dog will receive. For example, the SportDOG offers four levels of shock, and the PetSafe Wireless offers five levels.
Q. Is an electric fence the right choice for me?
A. This is a question that only you can answer. If you’re struggling with this decision, think about the pros and cons of installing an electric fence.