Many dog owners want their pets to have the pleasure and freedom to enjoy the outdoors without having them tied down to a leash. An invisible fence for dogs can be a big help as it is developed to give pets the freedom to roam untethered in their yards without getting into any dangerous situations.
These fences use an electric current to gently remind dogs when they attempt to step outside of their boundary. If you use one of these systems and find that your dog keeps running through the fence and out of your yard, a decent number of issues could be at fault. The most straightforward problems to resolve include simple equipment malfunctions and placement of the boundary. Another consideration is the quality of the equipment, and third, the amount of preparation and training you’ve implemented to make sure that you set up both the system and your pet for success.
Fortunately, many of these common issues have some simple resolutions so that your furry friend can continue to enjoy quality time outdoors in your yard safely.
What Are Invisible Dog Fences?
For anyone reading this who’s not familiar, an invisible fence works to provide a safe area for your pup without the cost and physical upkeep of a solid wall. Why use an invisible fence when you could install a physical one? Because some areas don’t allow visible fencing, or they have restrictive rules, so electric or invisible fencing offers you an alternative way to safeguard your pet.
Some systems work by having you bury a wire around the perimeter of your yard, while other systems establish a yard perimeter using a wireless or radio signal. Both types of invisible fence systems come with a special collar that your dog wears, outfitted with a receiver. The system also includes a base unit that generates a signal and communicates with the receiver on your dog’s collar.
As your dog approaches the perimeter you’ve defined, these systems typically deliver a warning in the form of a vibration or a sound that only your dog can hear. If Fido continues approaching the border, his collar gives a mild, static correction in the form of an electric current or shock. This surprise interrupts the dog’s pattern of approaching the boundary and keeps it from straying outside the yard. The correction your pup feels is a harmless, mild tingling sensation from an electric stimulation.
Troubleshooting Tip: Check the Collar Batteries
Try these troubleshooting tips to figure out why your invisible fence system lets your pup wander outside of the yard. If your dog keeps running out of the bounds of your containment system, check that the batteries in its receiver collar are in good working order. Like any electronics that run on batteries, it’s a good idea to check them regularly and know how long the batteries can go before needing replacement. Check the manual for your product to see how to replace the collar’s batteries, and take note of any specific kind of batteries the unit requires.
Your canine might get into some situations while playing rough or exploring that cause the batteries to unseat from their connections. If you have a pool or lake on your property, check whether Fido went for a swim and water leaked into the battery compartment and caused corrosion or other issues that have hindered the collar. Waterproof collars such as the SpotOn virtual fence brand are best for dogs that like to play in the mud or any body of water.
One dog owner said that their border collie (these dogs are known for being exceptionally smart!) would sit within the warning zone of their electric fence, tolerating the warning tone until the collar batteries wore out. Once the collar stopped working, the dog would then step outside the boundary and go on his merry way through the neighborhood.
Troubleshooting Tip: Check the Base Station
After giving your dog’s receiver collar the once-over, check your product’s base station for any issues or malfunctions. Verify that the unit has a proper connection to a working power source and that it’s plugged in completely. Your system’s base station might also have its own internal battery. If this is the case, check with the owner’s manual to see how you can check or replace this battery or figure out if the system needs this battery for regular operation or just for backup.
The owner’s manual usually includes a checklist of additional ways to check various system functions and run troubleshooting tests to see if your system is working correctly.
Troubleshooting Tip: Check for Any System Damage
For in-ground dog fences, walk around the entire distance and verify that the wire has not been dug up, cut, moved, or otherwise affected. For wired systems, you can test your system to find the location of a break. You may hire a professional to help you repair an invisible fence wire or do it yourself.
If your electric fence relies on a radio signal for wireless operation, keep in mind that certain things can interfere with the signal. The usual suspects include thick trees or bushes, thicker concrete walls, downward sloping yards, or large metal appliances. Do a walk around your yard to see what types of blockages could cause interference, and consider redefining the wireless boundaries to avoid this problem.
Assess the Fence Quality
The good news is that when an electric fence is set up correctly and is in good working order, dogs cannot jump over the invisible fence line, nor can they dig underneath it unless they happen to get to the wire and destroy it.
However, like many products, all invisible fences are not created equally. Consider the quality and reliability of your invisible fence if your dog runs outside of its bounds. Other wireless versions might not emit a strong enough signal if your dog gets too far from the base. Performance could suffer if the batteries get low, even though they may show that they still have power. Systems come with different defined ranges, and the overall range for your system might not be large enough for your needs. So when choosing a containment system, be sure to get the best wireless dog fence for your pooch!
Review Your Upfront Planning
Before installing your invisible fence, it pays to do some planning so that your puppy stays put in your yard. Believe it or not, if your neighbor also has an electric fence, it can interfere with yours. For example, if the two boundary wires run too close, they can effectively cancel out each others’ signal. This means that your pooch and your neighbor’s pup can now run back and forth into each others’ yards. Additionally, uneven ground is known to cause problems for these systems, so you might need to change the location of your fence perimeter to more even ground.
One of the reasons dogs run outside of invisible fences is that they see something they can’t resist and decide that the slight shock feeling is worth the trade-off of chasing that squirrel. Set up your fence, if possible, in an area of your yard that minimizes your pet’s exposure to distractions such as passing people, other dogs, or cars.
Also, keep in mind that Invisible fences don’t keep other critters out of your yard. If rabbits, squirrels, or other animals venture within the bounds of your yard, your dog might leave the boundary as it’s chasing the animals out of its territory.
Training Dogs for Invisible Fences
One of the easiest methods to learn how to train a dog on an invisible fence involves creating a visible boundary line for them by using either a string or boundary flags. Keep these in place and walk the perimeter of the boundary with your dog often so that it becomes very familiar with the boundary line.
You may also want to carry high-value treats and reward your dog for making it all around the yard without crossing into the “warning” or stimulation area of the fence. Expect it to take up to six months of regular reinforcement before your pooch understands and remembers the bounds of the invisible fence.
One way to test your pet’s understanding of the fence boundary is to step outside of the area and see if your pet follows. Practice this several times and reward your pet for staying inside the fence line. You can also throw balls outside the perimeter and reward your dog for not chasing outside the line.
While you might not have expected that using an invisible fence requires any training, it’s worth the time investment for both you and your pet. Having no training or not enough training creates a situation where dogs can develop crippling anxiety if they haven’t made any connection between the boundary and the electric reminder shock . They will think the shocks are random, which can cause dogs to feel anxious and stay frozen in one place because they don’t understand why or when the shocks come. Sadly, this would defeat the whole purpose of having the fence to allow your dog to spend time outdoors to enjoy roaming the yard freely.
Different dog breeds have varying temperaments, and some may learn differently or at faster or slower speeds. Take care to give your dog enough training and positive reinforcement. If your pup keeps running through the fence, the range could be too large for it to remember, and perhaps using a range with a smaller perimeter will help your dog understand where exactly the boundaries lie.
Some owners also have daredevils or stubborn dogs on their hands! In some cases, a pooch might not feel bothered enough by the stimulant or shock feeling to stay within the fence, especially when tempting animals or objects lie just out of reach. Systems like the PetSafe Stay & Play Wireless Fence for Stubborn Dogs can be the solution you need.
If you still find that your dog escapes out of the invisible fence after working through all of the above, you might want to consider that perhaps an invisible fence isn’t the right choice for your furry friend.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do I do if my dog runs through an invisible fence?
If your pup runs through the invisible fence you’ve set up, first check that the pup’s collar has working batteries and that the base unit is properly plugged in. For systems using a buried wire, make sure that the wire has no cuts or other issues that can cause a disconnection in the system’s signal. If using a radio-frequency system, ensure that your boundary perimeter is not impeded by any thick shrubbery, trees, walls, or metal equipment. Consider whether your dog is faced with too many distractions on the outside of the fence line or whether your pup has learned to tolerate the shock. You might need to increase the level of the shock.
Why does my dog keep running through the invisible fence?
The invisible fence might have a weak signal or could not be in working order. Additionally, your pet might be giving into its drive to pursue other dogs, people, squirrels, or bunnies, even if faced with the prospect of a shock from its collar.
Can a dog get through an invisible fence?
Yes, because of animals, people, or other distractions, dead batteries, system malfunctions, or a dog that has learned to tolerate the weak shock of the collar. However, a properly set-up system and a dog trained to work within it do a pretty good job keeping the pup in the yard. Dogs cannot jump over or dig under a fence that is in good working condition.
How do you train a dog to stay on an invisible fence?
After installing your invisible fence system, do several perimeters walks with your dog. For the first few months of use, set up boundary flags or a line of string to teach your dog where the boundary line sits. Use treats to reinforce good behavior when your dog walks the perimeter with you and doesn’t step over the line to follow you, for example.