What to Know About Electric Dog Fences

Posted by Jackie Ly on

Dog wearing an electric receiver collar

If your dog loves to play and roam around outdoors, installing an electric dog fence is a good idea. There are times that they’re just full of energy and they want to play outside and investigate everything. You can’t help but worry about their safety. Free roaming dogs can be a danger to themselves and others if they congregate in dangerous places such as the street or driveway. 

Electric fencing is one option in keeping your dog in your yard. An electric dog fence is a cost-effective and adaptable barrier intended to keep your dog(s) within your property, and is most effective with proper dog training.

How does an electric dog fence work?

Most electric dog fences include three main tools: A transmitter box, an invisible perimeter boundary, and a receiver collar.

Transmitter box

A transmitter box for an electric dog fence is the central control unit for the fence. It sends a signal to the collar worn by the dog, which in turn delivers the warning beep and the mild static current to the dog if it approaches the boundary of the fence.  

The transmitter box is typically placed in a central location on the property, and it sends the signal to the collar through a series of buried wires that create the perimeter of the fence. The transmitter box is typically equipped with a control panel that allows the user to adjust the strength of the shock and to test the collar to ensure that it is functioning properly.

Fence perimeter

There are two primary boundary types for electric fences:

  • Wired fence - A boundary wire is buried below the ground in either a set shape or a customised one. The transmitter box delivers a frequency to the wire to establish boundary lines.
    • In some wired fences, you can even set up smaller boundaries inside the entire boundary. For example, you could lay a large boundary around your entire house, as well as a smaller boundary around your garden to keep your dog from digging up in your yard.
  • Wireless fence: In this one, you don’t need to set up a wire. The transmitter box creates a wireless circular boundary zone in a set diameter around your house or garage.
    • Wireless dog fence systems are often limited to a single round boundary, but it is portable unlike the wired fence. This option is suitable for renters who aren’t allowed to bury a wire in their yard.

Receiver collar

The receiver collar receives communication from the transmitter and communicates back through proximity to the invisible fence. The collar is usually powered with rechargeable batteries. It’s set to emit a warning beep as soon as the dog approaches the barrier from a specific distance away, followed by a gentle static shock, or correction, if they approach too closely.

Instead of hurting a dog, the warning beep and the shock are meant to steer it. Nevertheless, each dog will respond differently based on breed and temperament. The size and obstinacy of a particular dog is considered when determining the appropriate amount of correction.

Aside from these three, most electric dog fence systems also have training flags, spare probes, wire joiners and test lights. 

Are electric fence systems safe and ethical?

Whether or not an electric dog fence is “good for dogs” is a long-standing debate. Some pet owners swear by them, and some don’t want it for their dogs. Here are some things to consider before deciding whether or not you want them for your pet.

It’s not really “electric” but more of a static shock

The word “electric” is very far from the reality of an invisible electric fence. It delivers more of a tingle or a static shock sensation to the dog if it comes close to the fence boundaries. If you’ve ever had a zap from a balloon and static electricity, you’ll have a rough idea of the feeling. 

Your dog needs proper training to prevent aggression and fear responses

Training is necessary to introduce a dog to the location of an invisible fence and to help them become accustomed to their boundaries. A minimum of one training session is included in some packages of  invisible fences.

Ask the local dog fence installer specific questions about the required training before hiring them to install an invisible fence. Be prepared to complete the necessary training yourself or to hire a competent trainer if you intend to install the fence yourself.

Dogs are intelligent, and when appropriately trained, are very quick to learn which area is restricted to avoid hearing a beep or a noise and a tingling shock. Training helps them avoid aggression and fear responses as they get used to the boundaries.

Never leave your dog unsupervised

Electric fences do set up boundaries, but remember that your dog’s behaviour is not always predictable when they’re outside seeing many interesting things. Keep watch, especially when you use a wireless fence, since they don’t really have physical boundaries and your dog can choose to ignore the corrections.

Benefits of using electric dog fences

When used correctly, electric dog fences can do wonders for your dog. Here are the benefits of installing an electric fence:

Gives your dog freedom and protection

Electric fences give your dog the freedom to play outside. You’re at ease knowing they’re out and about but with boundaries. They are not confined inside the house and can experience other things outside. 

They’re protected from harm too. Electric fences are reliable and durable. They also make up for human error , like someone leaving the door or gate open. They reduce the chance of escape and protect your dog from potential road accidents.

Less expensive than traditional fences

Although less expensive versions of traditional fences exist, area ordinances frequently outline authorised building materials. Wood and iron are two pricey fencing materials, not including labour costs. Even when professionally installed, invisible electric fences are frequently less expensive.


  • Unobstructed view - These barriers do not visually interfere with scenic views or green spaces and enhance the feeling of being outdoors.
  • Maximum use of landscape - With invisible fences, you do not need to put any physical barrier. This means your dog can be enclosed within an area without interfering with the landscape of the area.

Easy to install

In contrast to traditional fences, which are most effective on flat or gently sloping yards, invisible fencing is effective practically anywhere. To create wider areas for dog exercise, electrical fences can be arranged in any pattern to cover acres of ground.

Good tool for dog training

For teaching dogs of all sizes and temperaments, electric dog fences are excellent. Once the dog learns to understand the system's sound warnings and stays inside the boundaries, it also subtly develops the habit of staying within the safety zone.

It also helps in obedience training– when they’re used to commands, it’ll be easier for you to train them how to behave when they see strangers either inside or outside your house.

How to install an electric dog fence

Map out your containment area

Make a map of your property's muddy areas, and decide when you want to keep your dog contained. Remember that the transmitter must be installed in a garage, laundry area, shed, or anywhere out of the weather.

Finding an appropriate location close to the containment boundary is recommended; by doing this, you can use less wire to extend it to the boundary line.

Select the right electric dog fence

Select the appropriate dog fence for your dog. There are also one-size-fits-all dog fences that are easier to use. Use ones with simple settings and efficient features.

Install it!

  • Read the manuals - If you want to install the fence on your own, be sure to follow the instructions given in the manual.
  • Ask for assistance - If you’re busy, or don’t know how to set it up yourself, you can also ask for assistance from where you bought your fence, or even from someone you know.

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