Keeping our pets safe is a major responsibility for pet parents. We provide the best in dog food, freshwater, comfortable dog beds, and tasty treats, and—as modern pet parents—the best wireless dog fence. However, with all its benefits, many still often wonder, how does a wireless dog fence work anyway?
Why use a wireless dog fence?
As a big part of taking care of our pets, we make a point to provide our dogs with the exercise they need each day to be happy and healthy. If you’ve ever heard the old adage “A tired dog is a happy dog,” then you understand that exercise is truly a part of keeping our dogs happy. Of course, dogs do love to be outdoors for exercise. However, it may be difficult to always devote an hour or more each day to walking our pups up and down the block or let a dog run free without worrying for its safety. Rather, those of us with a fairly large backyard may choose to let Fido out for a break and for exercise.
If everyone lived in a rural area with ample acreage for Fido to run and play, this would be the best way for us to allow our dogs to exercise. However, many pet parents live in neighborhoods where our property is relatively close to our neighbors. Some pet parents live on busy streets and we don’t want to risk our dogs getting hit by a car should they wander into the road.
Plus, if our pets could run and play on ten acres of land each day, they might get lost or injured with no way for pet parents to know exactly where they are.
In recent years, pet parents have found that a wireless fence is a great way to let Fido out to play in the backyard (no matter if one lives in the city or the country). Plus, we don’t have to worry that our dogs will be lost or run onto someone else’s property. A wireless fence frees the pet parent from having to stay in the yard to watch after the dogs which means more time indoors to catch up on chores or make dinner while our dogs are safe to play leashless.
So, how does a wireless fence work?
First, let’s talk about a wireless dog fence. When invisible fences for dogs first became available, pet parents had to trench up a place around the perimeter of the yard and bury an underground wire as well as the central transmitter. The dog would then wear a “shock” collar. The collar contained a device that captured a radio signal from the buried transmitter, and it would begin alerting the dog (via the intensity of the shocks or static correction)—this is how the best in-ground dog fence works.
The wireless fence works on pretty much the same principle as the wired fences.
The pet parent will take the transmitter and put it in a central location, plug it in, and it communicates with the same type of collar as a wired dog fence system.
The transmitter can be adjusted to create a circular area—most often between fifteen feet and ninety feet, depending upon the size of your yard. The receiver on the collar is constantly in search of the signal. As long as Fido stays in the proscribed area, the collar will never alert and send some type of correction .
It’s also important to remember that the receiver collar of today can be set up to offer both tonal and electronic correction. If you simply can’t stomach the idea of using a shock collar on your dog, then you have the option of using tonal alerts. However, keep in mind that if you do use solely tonal alerts, a more persistent dog may simply ignore the alerts and leave the designated area.
Most wireless dog fences are portable, and many offer the ability to program the coordinates of multiple places in the memory of the device—like the PetSafe Wireless Containment System. This is great if you love to travel with your dog. It’s especially useful for those who love to camp or hike as you can program new coordinates into the device and be confident that Fido will safely stay near camp.
Most wireless dog fences offer a flag system. This is a great method for training your dog to be able to identify the boundary. You’ll set up the flags around the boundary you set up for the dog in the transmitter. You’ll place the receiver collar on your dog, and begin by walking in the yard. You’ll allow him to get close to the flags, so close that the tonal correction will sound. Gently pull the dog back to you and continue walking. You’ll also want to allow him to get slightly outside the boundary so that he can experience the electronic correction as well.
Now, it is important to keep in mind that if your dog DOES go far enough outside the boundary, the receiver collar WILL lose signal and it will eventually stop sending corrections of any kind.
The point of training is to ensure that your dog learns where the “safe zone” is, and that he will get some form of correction should he choose to go outside the boundary.
Keep in mind that pet parents are able to create customized zones with some wireless fences. Smart collars are available today that will connect to an app on your smartphone. These collars will keep a location on your dog as well as provide correction when one leaves or attempts to leave the boundaries of the wireless fence.
Some wireless fences also offer multiple transmitters you can set up around your yard. If you purchase a wireless fence system with the flags, then place them around this parameter of the yard and begin by simply taking the dog around and letting him “see” the physical boundary you’ve set up. Do not turn the correction on the collar at this point.
As your dog observes the flags and you take him for a few daily walks around this parameter, then you can begin by slowly introducing the collar and the varying levels of correction. Again, you’ll want to do this by introducing tonal correction first.
Tonal correction is typical of all a pet parent needs on puppies. To be certain, a wireless fence is probably best for dogs six months and older—still trainable, but not too young for electronic correction if necessary.
After several days of walking along the boundary, then you begin allowing him to walk on a longer leash. Your dog will need to be allowed to get near the flags so the tonal correction will sound. Your dog may need to be gently guided back to your side so that he understands you want him to back away from the boundary.
Most dogs will learn within a few weeks exactly what the boundaries of your yard are, and simply tonal correction will keep them from wandering.
There are some things to consider about an invisible fence. Keep in mind that dogs can still enter your property even though your dog cannot leave. However, if you live in a place where there are few dogs in the neighborhood (particularly ones that roam), this may never be an issue for you. Also, it’s important to remember that some dogs will ignore both tonal and electronic correction and simply leave the yard. If this is the case, you may want to consider a smart collar that keeps up with your dog’s location should he leave the safety of your yard.
When considering a wireless fence, keep in mind that the boundaries programmed into the collar’s receiver may be somewhat inconsistent. This can be confusing for your dog, particularly if you have trained him to the boundaries of the yard using the warning flags. A wired fence (one that has been trenched into the property) will not possess this feature.
Many of the invisible fences work using the best dog GPS tracker collars. GPS is highly accurate, except when it’s not! GPS uses satellite technology to send signals to the receiving collar. However, GPS can be affected by a number of issues, including the weather, tall trees, tall buildings, and other obstructions between the collar and the transmitter. There are wireless fences that utilize a combination of both GPS and cellular signals for the best accuracy. Keep in mind, however, that these wireless GPS dog fences are chiefly on smart collars – for example, the Wagz Freedom Collar. Pet parents will need a subscription to the cellular service (it may simply be the price of the app itself, which is normally under $10 per month). This does provide a bit of a cushion for accuracy since if GPS fails, the cellular tower should pick up the receiver collar’s signals.
Another concern regarding the wireless fence is the battery life of the collar. Now, it must be said that dogs should NOT be permitted to wear the receiver collar 24/7. Most collars are designed for use of fewer than four hours per day, and then pet parents must charge the battery on the collar in the meantime.
Batteries for the collar also often need replacement after two years of use.
1. Do wireless dog fences really work?
For the most part, yes. Wireless fences do work, provided one puts in the time to train the dog to the boundaries of the yard. One should keep in mind that some dogs will ignore the alerts on their collar—even the “shock” or electronic correction.
2. Do you need WiFi for a wireless dog fence?
No. Some wireless fences work on GPS satellite signals.
3. How do wireless pet containment systems work?
The dog wears a receiver collar that communicates with one or more transmitters in the yard. They will send a signal if the dog is approaching the boundaries of the parameters set into the transmitter.
4. Is wireless or in-ground dog fence better?
This depends on your preferences as well as your dog’s temperament. Some dogs do well with a smart collar so they can be located should they leave the boundaries of the yard while others will do just fine with a wireless fence that sends alerts. An in-ground fence has its benefits, but it also has disadvantages as well.