Invisible fences are known by a variety of names – virtual fences, electric fence or e-fences, or in-ground dog fences. All invisible fences work basically the same way. Your dog wears a collar that has a transmitter attached. The virtual dog fence sends a signal to the transmitter on the collar. Most collars offer the ability to choose between tonal correction or electronic correction should your dog venture too close to the barrier of the fence. Often, your dog will stay within the boundaries of the invisible fence, but training your dog to use this containment system is important— and they have to understand the consequences if they cross the boundary.
Why Should You Choose a Virtual Fence for Your Dog?
There are many good reasons. First, purchasing lumber and other necessary building items for putting up a traditional fence can be expensive! This is especially true if you have a great deal of property to close in for Fido. However, recent lumber prices as well as other construction supply costs have made fencing in even the smallest of backyards an expensive endeavor. However, this is only one reason to choose a virtual fence.
Even those pet parents that live on rural, rarely traveled roads may need a virtual fence to keep their dog safe. Most dogs will stay close to home, but even the best-trained dogs will run across the road if they see other, unfamiliar dogs or perhaps a rabbit or squirrel. It’s simply what instinct tells a dog to do. In this case, a virtual fence would send tonal correction when Fido gets close to the boundary. If Fido chooses to ignore the harmless tonal correction, then there may be an electronic correction. For the majority of dogs, this shock keeps them within the boundaries of the fence. It saves the dog’s life while making sure she remains on your property.
There are also some instances where it is not geographically possible to build a traditional fence. Perhaps a pond borders a great deal of the property, or maybe one has the constraints of a Homeowner’s Association agreement that will not allow for tall wooden fences or chain-link fences that could physically contain your dog.
Whatever reason you are unable to build a traditional fence, you will find that the purchase of the best wireless dog fence is often done at quite a savings to you. Also, you no longer have to purchase a wired fence that must be buried underground. You can now also purchase a GPS dog fence, a type of invisible fence that uses GPS or cellular data along with the transmitter on your dog GPS tracker collar to keep him within a boundary set up by you.
How Does the Invisible Fence Work?
If you go with a wireless fence, you can set up a transmitter at a central point in your yard (otherwise, if you choose a fenced that is wired, you’ll have to bury it). You’ll place the collar on your dog. This collar works with the signal transmitted from the beacon or the buried wire. Either way, when your dog gets too near the boundary, your dog will first be warned with a tone from the collar. This tone is harmless, and, if your dog has been properly trained, this tonal correction is the only deterrent your dog will need to stay away from the boundary. However, sometimes more independent dogs may need extra reinforcement, and this is where the electronic correction may come in. Yes, this means the collar will send a shock to your dog. Now, keep in mind that you can set the level of correction so that it does not hurt your dog. However, you must provide adequate fence training for your dog in order to show him where the boundaries exist – otherwise, this would be cruel for Fido to find out the boundaries of the yard merely through trial and error shocks to his neck.
Most invisible fences will supply you with flags for the boundary of the fence, and you should utilize them to properly train your dog. Also, you must make sure you purchase a fence system with a collar that provides both tonal and electronic correction (NOTE: some collars also offer vibration  prior to electronic correction if the idea of a shock collar just goes against your preferences). Keep in mind that most dogs will learn the tonal correction means a boundary is near, and they won’t try to cross it – even if there’s an unfamiliar dog around or a squirrel to chase. This makes the invisible fence much more humane for Fido – and it keeps him safe!
Training Your Dog To Use The Invisible Fence
Now, the first thing you’re going to do once you have purchased and set up the invisible fence is put up the flags around the boundary. At this time, do not place the correction collar on your dog. Put her on a long leash and let her explore the flags as the first part of the training process. Be careful not to praise her during this time – the flags will soon become associated with some type of correction, and you don’t want to confuse your dog.
Once you allow her to walk along the boundary and take in the fact that flags are now around her yard, it’s time to put the correction collar on your dog. However, leave the correction level on tones only. Let your dog walk around as she chooses, and let the tonal correction do what it does. This will begin to introduce to your dog the idea that she is approaching the boundary set up by the fence.
It’s also a good idea to attach the long leash to a second collar, not the correctional collar. This collar needs to be nylon or leather. If you use a metal collar with the leash, it could interfere with the transmitter signal.
Okay, you’ve got the tonal correction on. You should also have some treats ready to reward good behavior. Now you’re ready to approach the fence. When you walk along the fence and your dog’s collar sends out a tonal correction, then guide your dog away from the fence. Look for your dog to start moving away from the fence on his own due to hearing the tonal correction. When he moves away on his own, then praise him and reward him with a treat. You may need to repeat this behavior several times or even over the course of several days before you notice your dog moving away from the fence on his own repeatedly.
After your dog appears to understand he needs to move away from the flags when he hears the tonal correction, it is time to turn off the tonal correction and turn on an electronic correction. Turn this on at the lowest level. You’ll go through the act of walking him on a long leash. When the dog gets near the boundary this time, however, he will receive the electronic or static correction. This typically persuades the dog to stay away from the boundary.
Once your dog learns to stay away from the boundary with both tonal and static correction, it is time to throw in a distraction. You may want to enlist a friend with a dog to help in this part of the training. You can also provide other types of distractions, such as a toy your dog enjoys. You really want to ramp up this part of the training because this is what will prevent your dog from leaving the boundary no matter how tempted he may be.
Allow your dog to respond to the distraction, but make sure both the tonal and the electronic correction are turned on. Let Fido see that he’ll get a “nice” warning before he gets a more stern one in the static correction. For most dogs, the lower levels of electronic correction will be enough to dissuade them from venturing out of the boundary. However, during this part of the training, you may have to turn up the electronic training. Increase it slowly until your dog will not leave the boundary regardless of the distraction provided.
Once your dog knows where the boundary of the fence is located, and once he has learned to stay within those boundaries, you can feel free to let him play off the leash while you supervise. Dogs should never be left alone wearing the collar more than twelve hours per day. You may also want to leave the flags up for a bit after the initial training has been completed. Eventually, your dog will learn to respond to the tonal correction of the boundary, and he will happily remain in the (invisible) fenced-in area.
What to Do with Stubborn Dogs
What should you do with a dog that is very stubborn or does not seem phased by the electronic correction? Good question! Most invisible fence kits will feature a collar that has both tonal and electronic correction. You should always begin training on the lowest setting of electronic correction regardless of your dog’s propensity for acquiescing to the correction. For more stubborn dogs, you may have to gradually increase the correction until one setting gets the dog’s attention and makes him back away from the boundary.
However, before moving through the settings, try to use other means of motivating your dog to bow to the correction. Try to employ both the use of treats and lower settings of electronic correction before simply turning the correction levels up.
If your dog happens to be one of the rare pups that are just simply very stubborn and won’t respond to tonal or electronic correction at any level, you may need to consider obedience classes or consulting a professional trainer to help you. However, this is highly unlikely. You will likely be able to successfully train your dog to remain within his boundaries yourself.
1. How long does it take to train a dog with an Invisible Fence?
This truly depends on the dog in question! Some dogs are trained within a few weeks; others may take a few months to complete training. The key to shortening the time of training is to be consistent. Most dogs will learn how to avoid static or electric correction rather quickly. It is likely that training your dog to avoid distractions and stay inside the boundary is the most challenging part of learning how to stay within the virtual fence.
2. Can a dog run through an invisible fence?
Yes, they can. However, most dogs will learn to avoid electronic correction by staying within the boundaries of the fence. Most dogs will respond to the tonal correction because they learn that the next correction will be stronger and more unpleasant. Yes, there are instances where some dogs will ignore correction, but this is rare. Properly training your dog will ensure that he learns to stay inside the boundaries and avoid the electronic correction.