Why should a dog owner put up a fence? Well, there are a few good reasons, even if you don’t have nearby neighbors. However, anyone who has ever lived in a place where most yards seem to overlap understands that it’s common courtesy to keep your pets on your property (you wouldn’t want your neighbor to have to clean up after your pet, right?). Yet, there are other reasons to keep your dog on your property, even if the fence isn’t a physical, above-ground fence.
Your dog could become injured if allowed to roam the neighborhood freely. He could be hit by a car, or he could end up in a dispute with other dogs in the neighborhood. Plus, a dog in its own yard isn’t nearly as vulnerable to pet thieves as free-roaming dogs.
However, pet parents become discouraged by trying to purchase and install a physical fence. Today’s lumber prices are astronomical, and building a fence that will stop your dog from digging or climb over to escape takes planning. For this reason, you might consider an “invisible” or in-ground dog fence.
The Best In-Ground Dog Fences Of 2021
If you’re looking for an in-ground fence that is reliable, offers training capability, and is made with safety in mind, look no further than the SportDOG Rechargeable In-Ground Dog Fence System. It’s our favorite, and wins the title “Best In-Ground Dog Fence.”
Our Favorite: SportDOG Rechargeable In-Ground Dog Fence System
- Waterproof collar
- Added safety with built-in lightning protection and a wire break alarm
- Can provide coverage up to 1 1/3 acres of property
- Great price
- For adult dogs only
- Intended for larger dogs at least ten pounds and over
If you have at least an acre of land available and your adult dog is at least a medium-sized breed, the SportDOG Rechargeable In-Ground Fence will keep your fur baby contained and protected. A waterproof collar carries a receiver that corrects your dog with either tone or can be set to use seven different static correction levels. What we really like about this fence is that it has everything you need to train your dog before putting the collar on your canine companion and turning her loose in the containment area. It comes with 100 flags (see our training section on why flags are important to mark the boundaries of the in-ground fence), and it offers a choice of using either a tonal correction or electronic correction if your dog gets too close to the fence’s boundary. In fact, you can choose the level of electronic correction you wish to use if your dog needs training with the shock collar.
The fence is plugged into an electrical outlet, but the waterproof collar/receiver is powered by a lithium-ion battery that uses a two-hour charge to run for up to two months. To top that off, the fence transmitter offers lightning strike protection, and, in the event, the in-ground fence is broken for some reason, you’ll get an alarm notifying you something is amiss.
The collar is set to fit a dog with a neck size of at least five inches up to twenty-two inches, so you should not purchase this for a puppy or a dog under ten pounds. For this fence to work properly, you’ll need to commit time to train your dog before you fully utilize this product.
Best Offering of Available Yard Size: PetSafe YardMax Rechargeable In-Ground Pet Fence System
- Offers up to thirty percent more yard and play area
- Fits dogs five pounds and up
- Five levels of electronic correction
- Waterproof collar
- Not for large areas of land
- The collar cannot be worn over twelve hours per day
If you live in a neighborhood and have a fairly large backyard area for Fido to play, the PetSafe YardMax Rechargeable In-Ground Pet Fence System could just be the one for you! Like the SportDOG Rechargeable In-Ground Fence, the PetSafe YardMax system offers all the tools you need to train your dog for electronic containment. The PetSafe YardMax system offers the ability to use tonal correction for Fido, and you have the ability to choose the level of electronic correction you wish to use. In fact, there are five levels to choose from. For easily trained dogs, you may never need to use electronic stimulation at all!
Speaking of training your dog to be aware of his boundaries, you get fifty flags to start the training process with Fido. You will have to bury the wired fence, but you will get a surge protector that protects the product in the event of a lightning strike. The product is available for puppies over five pounds, but the collar is meant to fit necks sized between six inches and twenty-two inches. You’ll get not only an operating guide but also a training guide with extra tips and tricks for getting Fido to stay inside the containment system.
Six Acres of Coverage: Extreme Dog Fence Standard Grade
- Great for pet parents with large tracts of property
- The collar is both waterproof and submersible
- For dogs eight pounds and up
- Can also contain any feline family members
- Must purchase additional wire to enclose six acres (as packaged, only contains 1/2 acre)
- Uses batteries that must be replaced; you’ll have to check to see if batteries are working before letting Fido out
The greatest selling point of the Extreme Dog Fence is that it can contain your pet is up to six acres of land; however, you’ll have to purchase additional wire in order to get this benefit. The original packaging will only cover 1/3 of an acre. Unfortunately, we do not have pricing on the additional wire; this could get costly.
The Extreme Dog Fence allows for seven levels of electronic correction; however, there is no mention of tonal correction. The collar and the receiver are waterproof; you’ll also get 20 gauge highly tensile boundary wire. The wire has a “heavy protective jacket.” This is intended to protect the wire from inclement weather.
If you have a lot of property and want to purchase the extra wire, the Extreme Dog Fence is quite reliable, and that’s why it makes our recommended list.
Easy to Install: StayFence In-Ground Pet Containment System
- Easy to install
- Covers approximately a 1/2 acre
- Offers a life-long battery
- Great for smaller yards
- Not for large tracts of land
- Uses static correction exclusively (no tonal correction)
To be honest, it’s hard to find anything negative to say about the StayFence Pet Containment System. If you are not keen on using electronic correction on your dog, perhaps that is the only detraction we can find in the product. Even customer reviews are glowing considering the product!
The StayFence Pet Containment System claims it is easy to install and “hassle-free,” which is another great selling point. The wire is of 18 gauge boundary wire; however, there are no lightning safety protections included in the product. However, you will get boundary flags for training your dog on the containment barriers. The receiver is powered by a battery (not specified of type) but it is supposed to last for the life of the product, so you won’t have to worry about replacing it, according to the manufacturer.
For Dogs that Need Extra Motivation: PetSafe Stubborn Dog In-Ground Fence System
- Uses tonal, electronic, and static correction for stubborn pups
- Automatic Run Through Prevention-Correction if Fido still tries to cross the fence boundary
- Low battery indicator
- Works for both canine and feline pets (you’ll need to purchase additional collars)
- Additional Collars and additional wire (to cover up to 25 acres) can get expensive
- For pets eight pounds and up
This is a great all-around pet containment system, and the initial system itself is actually well priced. However, if you have multiple dogs (or you wish to add collars for feline family members), purchasing the extra collars at just over $80 can get expensive.
However, this kit has everything you could ask for and a few features that no other in-ground fence system offers. First, you get a receiver collar that is equipped with a PetSafe nine-volt battery (you WILL have to replace this eventually, and it’s not clear whether this can be replaced with a conventional nine-volt or only the PetSafe brand). We love that this has a low battery indicator; many of the more expensive in-ground pet containment systems do not offer this feature.
The system in its original state offers containment for up to one-third of an acre; however, you can purchase additional wire that will cover up to twenty-five acres of land. We also love there is Run Through Prevention that will increase the tonal and vibration correction if your pooch gets too close to the boundary. Speaking of, you’ll get not only an operating guide on the fence but also tips and tricks for training Fido to stay within the fence.
Best Dual Purpose Dog Containment System: KoolKani Remote Training
- Remote training and dog containment
- The training collar is fully waterproof
- Can train multiple dogs
- Great for all breeds
- Collars cannot be worn at all times due to “prongs” that need to be checked
- Uses a shock collar for containment purposes
The KoolKani Remote Dog Training Shock Collar and In-Ground Electronic Dog Boundary Combo are meant to give you lots of products for your money, and, if you have dogs you need to train remotely, such as competition or sporting dogs , this might be a good two for one product.
However, it’s a little cause for concern that one of the precautions of the product mentions collars may need to be checked for “prongs” operating correctly. This will definitely not be a collar that you want Fido to wear continuously. It is meant for training purposes and for pet containment strictly.
You’ll have to bury the wired system between three and six inches in the ground on your property, and it only covers about 1/3 of an acre. However, the manufacturers do offer the ability to add “five wires” to increase the perimeter for your pup to roam. At the same time, we do not get the exact dimensions of this addition.
The training collar offers up to 1,200 feet of range for training purposes. We think this would be best for sporting dogs that you’d need to train remotely. There’s no mention of how the training for the containment system works, however. The manufacturer states that you’ll get everything you need in the initial purchase, but nothing specifically states whether you’ll get training flags or anything of that nature.
Great for Multiple Furry Pals: GroovyPets Remote Training
- The training collar is fully waterproof
- The collar is meant for rugged outdoor play
- Can contain multiple pets
- Best for medium and large dogs
- Contains a shock collar
- No details on what exactly is included in the initial purchase
If you have multiple dogs that you wish to keep in a boundary of about one-third of an acre, the GroovyPets Remote Dog Training Shock Collar and In-Ground Fence might just be the product for you.
This product includes a waterproof collar that does deliver an electronic correction, but it does offer tonal correction and the ability to use vibration as a method of correction. There are ten levels of static correction.
You won’t want to let Fido get out and wear this collar for very long. The correction will become stronger the closer your dog gets to the fence’s boundary. However, once the collar is in correction mode, after eight seconds, the correction will stop.
This is another training collar and pet containment system. You can purchase multiple collars in order to train multiple sporting dogs.
Best Price for the Product: Free Spirit In-Ground Fence
- Contains your pet is up to one-third of an acre
- Only shocks your dog if he gets outside the containment barrier
- Uses tonal and vibration correction
- Under $100 to get started
- Best for medium and large breed dogs
- Not for very stubborn dogs
This pet containment system offers so much for an initial investment of $100. We really like that this system uses more tonal and vibration correction than shocking our pups. In fact, the only time Fido will get shocked is if he completely leaves the containment area.
It will be easy to train your pet to learn where his boundaries are when you have flags to mark your boundary, and they’re included with the purchase of the product. You can purchase additional wire to expand the boundary of this product. We also like that the Free Spirit product offers five increasing levels of shock in the event he does leave the containment area.
This is a great system for dogs who learn quickly, but a very stubborn dog might dismiss the shock of the collar and head out for a further adventure. Also, unlike some other collars, there is no tracking available should Fido decide to take matters into his own hands.
Suitable for Stubborn Dogs: Dogtra EF3500
- Simple and secure
- Covers up to forty acres
- Offers a vibration only correction system
- Waterproof receiver
- Could be complicated to install
- Not for young pups or dogs under ten pounds
The Dogtra EF3500 is intended to be simple and secure, but a little research shows that the installation of the fence could be rather complicated. Pet parents are encouraged to first contact the utility company before digging, then to draw up a diagram of where the fence should be installed. Yes, it requires in-ground installation.
The Dogtra EF3500 is meant to work on dogs that are “mildly stubborn” to highly stubborn dogs. You can use a vibration mode for correction, but you can turn on the electronic correction mode for those pups that just don’t want to stay within the boundary.
Best Remote Training Collar: Educator By E-Collar Technologies
- Offers a nighttime tracking mode
- Suitable for dogs over five pounds
- Waterproof transmitter
- For one or two dogs only
- Trains using electronic correction
- Cut to fit collar may be costly to replace if you don’t properly measure the dog’s neck
This product can be used as a containment system, but it is chiefly a remote training collar that would work well if you are training sporting dogs. You can choose from 100 different levels of stimulation to correct your dog. Most of them are tonal and vibration but you can set the collar to use electric correction if necessary.
The only drawback to the product is also one of its best features. The collar is made from BioThane, which can be cut to fit your dog’s neck. However, mess up on measurements and you will find that you have to purchase a replacement collar, which could be pricey.
Great for Rainy or Humid Environments: OKPET Electronic Pet Wired Dog Fence System
- Offers the choice of a tonal, vibration, or electrical correction
- Electronic correction builds in intensity
- Rechargeable batteries
- Very low user ratings
- Currently unavailable on Amazon
This is probably one of the more traditional in-ground fences. However, it does allow for the correction to grow in intensity once your dog approaches the boundary. It is currently unavailable on Amazon at this time, but OKTEK does offer other in-ground fences for your pup’s needs.
Ideal for any Dog: Earlyhights Underground Electric Outdoor Dog Containment Fence System
- Fits dogs of all sizes
- Offers pet containment for an unlimited number of dogs
- 500 feet of copper wire
- Training collar and pet containment system in one
- The collar cannot be worn longer than twelve hours per day
- The receiver should be turned off when the dog is indoors
The Earlyhights Underground Dog Collar and Fence work as both a training collar and a pet containment system. The product does work as a shock collar, but you can modify the correction level to work more diligently on more stubborn pups while tonal and vibration correction is likely to work on easily trainable dogs.
You only need two hours to charge the collar and it offers five hundred standby hours of service.
No matter if your dog is old or young, five pounds in weight or 180 pounds, this pet containment system offers advanced training for your dog.
How does an in-ground dog fence work?
Let’s start by saying many readers have probably always thought in-ground fences worked by using a shock collar. This product tends to have a negative connotation, but it shouldn’t. In-ground fences work best if you have taken time to train your dog. You’ll get the fence (some newer fences don’t even require you to dig and bury the fence; like the wireless dog fences and the GPS dog fences which work using GPS markings that you input) as well as the collar. You begin by training your dog to stay within the parameters you set by using tones to warn the dog he is about to cross out of his boundary. With training, your dog will learn to heed this initial warning. However, if the dog continues, then the collar will emit an electronic vibration.
You see, the collar is equipped with a transmitter that warns Fido of his proximity to the fence by using a tone. If you’ve purchased a more traditional underground fence, then you will have buried the wire in a place you desire, and the transmitter sticks out of the ground so that it can be plugged into an electrical outlet. The collar is battery-powered, and you will have to replace the battery periodically.
However, if you don’t wish to have a cable buried in your yard, you may take advantage of GPS wireless fences that basically follow the same principle. The key to making either of these fences work is properly training your dog. Dog GPS tracker collars are also available which can either be bought separately or as part of the pet containment system.
Many experts use flags as a training tool when putting an in-ground fence in place. You’ll place these flags along the boundary of your yard, and, when he gets too close to these flags, you’ll allow the collar to emit the warning tone. Your dog will be on a leash at this time, and, when he stays within the boundaries, not getting too close to the flags, you’ll reward him with treats and praise— this will go easier if you leash train your dog first. As your dog begins to test the boundaries, and eventually he will, you will let the tone and possible electronic correction teach him where he can and can’t go. There ARE levels at which you can set the electronic correction, and this will only produce mild discomfort for your pup. Most dogs do learn, through the use of both tones and intermittent mild electronic correction, to stay within the boundaries of the in-ground fence.
Advantages of invisible dog fences
First, invisible dog fences are cheap— much cheaper than a physical fence! However, this is only one of the advantages of an invisible dog fence. Invisible dog fences do not have to meet certain regulations that a Homeowners Association or city ordinances may require when someone looks to put in a physical fence. In fact, an invisible dog fence does absolutely nothing to change the looks of your property, which gives it an advantage even over the in-ground dog fence. Invisible dog fences do not change any beautiful views you may have over a pond or lake in the rear of your property.
Invisible fences – those that are GPS dog fences, that is – are portable. That means you can use a handheld device or even your smartphone to set up parameters for Fido. You can take an invisible fence on vacation, set up parameters around your cabin or campsite, and allow Fido some freedom to roam.
An invisible fence is typically highly effective, especially if you train your dog properly. Fido won’t try to escape through an open door, and because an invisible fence can be set up to surround an entire property, Fido can roam both the front and back yard freely (most people won’t put a physical fence around their entire property).
Factors to consider when looking for the best underground dog fence
First, consider how much area the underground fence will cover. You may need a small area for a small or medium-sized breed, or you may need a fence that covers a good-sized area if you have a large dog or an energetic dog of any size. TIP: With an underground dog fence, you can set up a perimeter that keeps your dog out of flower beds or your garden. Next, underground dog fences take time to install. While they’re not nearly as expensive as a physical fence, you are still going to have to take time to physically install the underground fence. Some experts lament that it may take up to two days to install an underground fence. Plus, you WILL have to dig up an area in your yard to install the underground fence.
You’ll also want to look at the receiver unit of the underground fence. If you have a smaller dog, you won’t want to choose a receiver unit that is large and bulky. The good news is there are lots of collars available on the market, and they fit dogs from five pounds up to over two hundred pounds. Experts vigilantly state that the manufacturer’s information is often notoriously wrong; you’ll need to possibly take Fido to a pet-friendly store and let him try on the receiver collar for size in person.
You’ll want to look for receiver collars that are waterproof. While you’ll never purposely leave Fido outdoors during a downpour, there are going to be times when you let Fido out to enjoy the yard while you run a quick errand. Unfortunately, during that time, it may briefly rain, and you don’t want the receiver to stop working or you risk Fido leaving the boundaries of the underground fence. Next, you want a collar that is durable. Most collars are replaceable, but the receivers are not. You want a product that is tough enough to take a licking and keep on working.
You’ll also want to consider the type of batteries in the product. Most products on our review list offer a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Others may be powered by an alkaline battery that could be proprietary or non-proprietary. Non-proprietary batteries are cheaper and easier to find, but they do not last as long as proprietary batteries. Another issue with disposable batteries – you have to remind yourself to check them before blindly letting Fido in the yard. If the batteries are dead, Fido could escape the boundaries of the underground fence.
Training your dog to use an underground dog fence
You want to make sure that the underground fence you choose offers some type of correction the dog can recognize that takes place prior to the electronic correction. This helps your dog learn “hey, I’m getting close to the shock, so I don’t want to go any further.” Many pet parents also utilize the flags included with the underground fence kit as a means of teaching their dogs where the boundary of the fence is located.
Now to start the training. Set up those flags. Put your dog on a leash, but don’t place the receiver collar on him just yet. Take your dog around this flagged perimeter, letting him visually take in the boundary. Now, you’ll want to add the receiver collar as well as a longer leash. You will walk further inside the boundary, allowing Fido to walk the perimeter. Now that the receiver collar is on, Fido is probably getting some tonal correction.
Now, you’ll want to have some treats on hand so when Fido walks away from the boundary, you have a reward for this behavior.
The key here is to set the signal so that only a tonal correction is used. When you first introduce your pup to the boundary of the underground fence, you really don’t want the electronic correction at first. Let Fido explore the flagged boundary, and when the tonal correction sounds, move him away from the flags. He’ll soon learn that he shouldn’t be near that area. Reward him with a treat.
Once your dog will willingly move away from the boundary line at the tonal signal, now you can turn on the electronic correction. In the unlikely event Fido DOES try to cross the boundary, he will get a stimulation that will remind him he isn’t supposed to cross the boundary. TIP: You want to start on the lowest correction level.
When you feel that Fido will stay within the boundary off the leash, ask a friend to bring their dog over for part of the instructional process. Let Fido try to leave the boundary to investigate the other dog. This will show your dog that he is, under no circumstances, to try to leave his boundaries. NOTE: If your dog continues to try to cross the boundary under lower levels of electronic correction, you may have to increase (in increments) the electronic correction. Reward your dog if he comes back without crossing the boundary.
You’ll want to leave those flags up for some time just as a visual reminder to Fido of his boundaries. After a couple of weeks, you can remove these.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do in-ground dog fences work?
Yes, in-ground dog fences do work effectively. However, there will always be an exception to any rule, and there are very stubborn dogs who will ignore electronic stimulation even at the highest level.
Most dogs learn quickly that they will receive electronic correction should they leave the boundary. You can also make your yard a place that is appealing to your dog so that he won’t want to stray. Add a sandpit or even a kiddie pool for the warmer months. You can also set up a tug of war toy for Fido to enjoy.
Yes, in-ground fences work in keeping dogs safe and contained within an appropriate boundary.
What is the top-rated invisible dog fence?
Our favorite in-ground dog or invisible dog fence is the SportDOG Rechargeable In-Ground Dog Fence System.
What type of fence is best for dogs?
This really depends on the type of dog you have. Most dogs are safe with an invisible fence that is set up to respond to GPS tracking. Some dogs do better with an in-ground wired dog fence. Unfortunately, a few will need a physical fence if they do not respond to training that goes along with an invisible fence.
What is the best above-ground electric dog fence?
For our money, the best above-ground electronic dog fence is considered an invisible fence. It is a collar, a training tool, and a wireless dog fence all in one. The Halo Collar was specially designed by canine behavior expert Cesar Milan to help dog owners provide a containment system for their pups as well as a GPS locator and a tracking device.
The Halo Collar can pinpoint your dog’s location no matter where he goes (have an escape artist for a pup? the Halo Collar was built with this personality in mind). Plus, if you have a dog that doesn’t seem to pay attention to even the most potent electronic correction, the Halo Collar will still let you know where your dog is at all times. The Halo Collar requires the purchase of a subscription, but it is relatively low cost, and you get access to an app that lets you know your pet’s location, tracks the dog’s activity and tells you what direction your dog is traveling.