The best invisible dog fences

Keep your pooch in-place without a costly fence or a cable.

Best overall

Pet Safe Yard Max rechargeable in-ground dog fence

PetSafe YardMax

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Best indoor

PetSafe Pawz Away indoor pet barrier

PetSafe Pawz Away Pet Barrier

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Best wireless

Wiez GPS wireless dog fence

WIEZ GPS Wireless Collar

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An invisible dog fence, when properly used, can allow your dog to run safely around your property without a costly construction project. These devices don’t require a leash or wire that could get caught around trees, mailboxes, and anything else you keep in your yard. Your pooch also won’t be able to dig its way out through an invisible fence, no matter how tempting those squirrels in your neighbor’s yard may look. At the same time, if you wind up with a bad invisible dog fence, your dog could end up lost or worse. Here, we go through all of the types, pitfalls, and training required associated with the best invisible dog fences so you and your dog can enjoy the benefits.

How we chose the best invisible dog fences

Dogs have different needs, and there are invisible fences to fit most of them. A setup that works for a 150-pound St. Bernard may not work for a pack of 20 tiny terriers. It’s crucial to understand your specific needs.

In light of this, we found the best invisible dog fences that met the criteria for some of the overall most important categories. Still, high-quality, wired products such as the PetSafe YardMax should cover the needs of a general audience quite well. Those models do typically require some hands-on installation. Others, such as the PetSafe Pawz Away Indoor Pet Barrier, are winners in relatively niche scenes. With these two products, in particular, we were also happy to find great synergy; the YardMax’s collar works with the indoor barrier, as well.

One issue that is very important in all of this is dog health and safety. Rest assured that each product in the following list has had 100s, if not 1,000s, of live customers. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay attention to your dog’s needs or follow training protocol carefully, of course. Each dog’s unique personality and body must be taken into account in a way that only an owner knows. Still, though, through these selections, you should be able to find something that rests well with your dog.

The best invisible dog fences: Reviews & Recommendations

The following invisible dog fences represent the best in their respective classes. We have chosen each based on a wide variety of characteristics. We recommend starting with our best overall pick, but if, for some reason, it doesn’t completely suit your needs, check the other categories for a product that will give you what you need. In any event, the vast majority of customers will find something that fits their needs in the following picks.

Best overall: PetSafe YardMax

Best overall

PetSafe YardMax

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Why it made the cut: Define your dogs’ boundaries precisely.

Specs

  • Coverage area: ⅓ acre, expandable to 10
  • Correction method: Tone, five static levels
  • Number of dogs: 1 per collar
  • Dog size: 5 lbs.+, 6-28 inch neck
  • Wired or wireless: Wired

Pros

  • Precision control of dog’s boundary
  • Allows approach directly to wire
  • Static-free reentry
  • Lengthy battery life

Cons

  • Receiver wears down over the years

One of the first places to start with invisible dog fences is a kit like PetSafe’s YardMax kit. It’s a wired kit that lets you carefully define a yard perimeter for your dog—from 0.33 of an acre to 10 acres if you grab additional wiring. It is the precision that this wired system has that differs it from others. If you’re going to have to do a bit of digging, you may as well get perfection, right?

Traditional wired fence systems utilize warning systems when the collar is within so many feet of the wire. In effect, this creates a sort of “belt” of dog-repelling wire. If a dog does push through, the system will try to correct the dog as it re-enters the yard, which is bad. This buffer zone also reduces the overall amount of yard to which the dog has free access. The YardMax system does away with this altogether by having its wire act more as a literal barrier. The collar has two states: in and out of the yard. The correction lasts as long as the dog remains in an area it’s not meant to go to. As a result, the dog wanders all the way up to the laid wire, which extends its roaming range.

The only downside of this level of control over your dog’s boundaries is that you have to place physical wires. But burying cables is just a part of a wired system. PetSafe calls the process a “weekend project.”

In any event, when you get the line laid out just right, simply put the system’s collar on your dog (or dogs) that will go into it. After a few weeks of training, most dogs will respond to the tone or static response modes. Some customers complain that the collar’s hard plastic sensor unit will begin to break down over the years, though this will naturally depend on your dogs’ activity types and intensities.

Best indoor: PetSafe Pawz Away Indoor Pet Barrier

Best indoor

PetSafe Pawz Away Indoor Pet Barrier

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Why it made the cut: As GPS and wiring are the typical “laying” methods for invisible fences, indoor variations are a niche breed.

Specs

  • Coverage area: Indoor
  • Correction method: Tone and Static
  • Number of dogs: 1 per collar
  • Dog size: 5 lbs.+, 6-28 inch neck
  • Wired or wireless: Wireless

Pros

  • Keeps dogs out of unwanted areas of the home
  • Quick setup
  • Compatible with PetSafe YardMax collar

Cons

  • Training in the home can be difficult

Even the best invisible dog fences won’t work well inside the home. GPS signals decay when you get indoors. It isn’t feasible to lay wire under the floor. Problems abound.

PetSafe’s indoor pet barrier creates a small pocket of reinforced “no” in problem areas of the home using a smoke detector-like sensor. What’s more, it works directly with the PetSafe collar from our best overall product, making a seamless transition from outdoors to indoors with a product your dog already knows and understands. In other words, your dog should be able to go from exercising outdoors to resting on one of the best dog beds without changing collars.

Still, the indoor environment—your dog’s home where they likely feel free to roam—isn’t necessarily the easiest training environment. But if there are places that your dog knows they shouldn’t be (for example, the cat’s litter box), this could be all the reinforcement they need to avoid it.

Best wireless: WIEZ GPS Wireless Collar

Best indoor

WIEZ GPS Wireless Collar

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Why it made the cut: This is the option to choose if you’re averse to any installation process at all.

Specs

  • Coverage area: 65-3,281 foot radius
  • Correction method: Beep, three vibration levels, 10 shock levels
  • Number of dogs: 1 per collar
  • Dog size: One size fits most
  • Wired or wireless: Wireless

Pros

  • Quick setup
  • Easy automatic shutoff feature
  • Variety of correction levels and methods
  • Highly affordable

Cons

  • Cannot be submerged in water

If you don’t want to fool with wires, the WIEZ is an affordable GPS solution that can keep your dog in a safe radius around a set point. By connecting the collar to GPS satellites, you can quickly define an area with a radius as small as 65 feet or as large as 3,281 feet for your dog to roam in. It takes minutes, not an entire weekend of digging.

The WIEZ offers a surprising number of training mode combinations (the manual claims 32) for its price. These modes offer varying tone, vibe, and shock levels for the corrections. They all work similarly, with 16-second periods of activity followed by 30 seconds of rest. After three 16-second activity periods, the correction is shut off to preserve the safety of your dog.

Best for large dogs: Pet Control HQ Dog Fence System

Best for large dogs

Pet Control HQ Dog Fence System

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Why it made the cut: It specifically supports XL dogs and has enough degrees of correction to support them carefully.

Specs

  • Coverage area: ¾ mile remote, up to 10 acres wired
  • Correction method: 1-10 correction levels of vibration or shock
  • Number of dogs: 1 per collar (up to 3)
  • Dog size: S, M, L, or XL (11-154 pounds, 8-27 inch neck)
  • Wired or wireless: Wired border / wireless remote

Pros

  • Wired portion has three levels of increasing shock to meet your dog’s needs
  • 10 levels of correction with a remote for up to three dogs
  • 8-second safety shutdown
  • Customer service

Cons

  • Short battery life

Large dogs can often push through weaker stimuli to escape a typical invisible fence. It just comes with the territory of being bigger. At the same time, you don’t want to subject your pooch to overzealous corrections.

The Pet Control HQ system acknowledges this issue in a couple of ways. The wired system it comes with has three levels of correction that increase as your dog nears the barrier. There’s an 8-second safety shutdown, so if they truly don’t “get it,” they won’t be hurt. The other way the Pet Control HQ system helps the needs of bigger dogs is the 10 levels of training that come via its remote control system, varying all the way from a spooky tone to shocks.

One thing to note is how people rave about Pet Control HQ’s customer service. While our call to technical support was unanswered due to a lack of technician availability, we received both a call and personalized text without even needing to leave a message. The company’s intensive index of tutorials, plus FAQs and troubleshooting videos, should give some insight into the company’s support philosophy.

Best for small dogs: PetSafe Elite Little Dog In-Ground Pet Fence

Best for small dogs

PetSafe Elite Little Dog In-Ground Pet Fence

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Why it made the cut: This system is made with the little ones in mind.

Specs

  • Coverage area: ⅓ acre (can be expanded to 25 acres)
  • Correction method: Tone and four static levels
  • Number of dogs: 1 per collar
  • Dog size: 5+ pounds, 6-16 inch neck
  • Wired or wireless: Wired

Pros

  • Specifically designed for small dogs
  • Reflective strap on collar helps you quickly find your dog
  • Lightweight collar

Cons

  • Some extremely tiny dogs may still come in under the weight requirement

While most systems can accommodate dogs as low as 5 pounds, few are made with their needs in mind. When you’re that tiny, everything is intense. Special options need to be made for you.

The PetSafe Elite Little Dog makes these adjustments in order to support particularly small breeds like Yorkies. While this collar and its corrective capabilities work on a smaller scale, there are limits to how far the company can tone them down. So, if your dog comes in under 5 pounds, it’s still too small and you’ll risk the collar coming off. They might also find the corrections too intense.

Otherwise, the system works very similarly to other PetSafe wired underground systems, just attenuated to smaller dogs. One notably nice bonus, though, is a reflective strap on the collars that help you find your small dogs, even at night.

Best budget: BHCEY GPS Wireless Dog Fence

Best budget

BHCEY GPS Wireless Dog Fence

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Why it made the cut: A simple GPS wireless fence on a budget.

Specs

  • Coverage area: 98-3,280 foot radius
  • Correction method: Tone, vibrate, and shock
  • Number of dogs: 1 per collar
  • Dog size: 6-28 inch neck
  • Wired or wireless: Wireless

Pros

  • Very reasonable pricing, especially when on sale
  • Overcorrection protection
  • Slim design

Cons

  • Large minimum radius size

The BHCEY is another wireless, GPS-based invisible dog fence that works by setting up a radius from the device. Without overstating details, it works in a very similar manner to the WIEZ, our choice for best wireless model. It even has a max of three activation periods for safety.

The differences lie in cost and size. The BHCEY runs a bit cheaper and can regularly hit the two-digit price mark when on sale. It also has the issue of having a large minimum size for the radius, making it not suitable for smaller play areas. If it suits your needs, however, it is a steal and a great way to start training your dog with invisible fences.

What to consider before buying invisible dog fences

While invisible dog fences have plenty of benefits, such as letting your dog run freely without a rope and not forcing you into having a physical fence, they do present some difficulties as well. Picking out a correction method that will suit your dog’s needs and safety is paramount. Then, you have to consider installation. Should you go with a wired or wireless system? Finally, each fence comes with a learning curve that you and your pup need to navigate.

Here’s an overview of each major factor so you can get a handle on what you need to know to get the most out of your invisible dog fence.

Correction method

The most important aspect to get right and be comfortable with in the whole process is the correction method. Typically, we find three correction methods in the best invisible dog fences:

  • Tone: This gives a noise that alerts your dog. It might work with training to remind the dog to stop or even startle the dog.
  • Vibe: A vibration. This method works better than a tone for dogs that are hard of hearing.
  • Shock: Also referred to as “static” correction. This gives the dog a zap to alert their attention and signify danger.

While tones and vibration are meek enough, the words “shock” and “static” evoke different feelings. The World Animal Foundation acknowledges the controversy associated with this type of collar but asserts that shocking collars can be humane. It’s all about proper usage and good training. The most salient advice? Once the dog can feel the shock, don’t raise the level anymore; focus on training instead.

Be sure to look at how many levels of shock or static the invisible dog fence provides. Another thing to look for is how the collar responds to continued misbehavior. Some collars will automatically shut off, for instance.

At the end of the day, invisible dog fences are not for every dog. All correction methods from the device should be delivered with empathy and combined with consistent, correct training.

Wired vs. wireless

Invisible dog fences come in two main styles: with wires that you bury under the ground to specify an exact place for dogs to go and with more circular area control methods. Technically, it makes it a selection of wired vs. wireless, like so many other things in today’s world, but here it is completely different.

For wired (or “underground”) invisible dog fences, the wire doesn’t actually connect to your dog. That would defeat the entire point of these freedom-loving devices, after all. Instead, wired means a bit of busy work for you—having to lay it out around the yard and possibly do some digging—in exchange for precision control. The underground wire represents the barrier around the space.

Wireless devices, on the other hand, are simpler to use, but typically result in circular areas. Most either use a GPS marker (similar to what is found in pet GPS trackers) or a centrally-located beacon, around which dogs can stray for a user-determined distance before being corrected. With these systems, you save a lot of work, but the typically circular areas they enclose can be frustrating in the square, boxy world we live in.

There’s no perfect choice here. The wireless GPS devices are great for large yards and renters, while wired systems are good for suburban homeowners. Remember, once you’ve installed the wiring, the system should be good for several years.

Training

Even the best invisible dog fences are going to require some training for your dog to get used to the system. Imagine if you got beeps and static shocks, seemingly at random, when you moved … it’d be scary and confusing. Dogs need to be helped to know where their borders are.

In other words, invisible dog fences are NOT Plug’n’Play.

This instruction manual contains a 31+ day training regimen that includes protocols for when you take the dog outside of the given area. Note that days 15 thru 30 are considered the “Pet Monitoring” stage, as the training process becomes increasingly hands-off over the course of the program. This training regimen comes from a PetSafe product (specifically the PetSafe Elite Little Dog In-Ground Pet Fence), but it is safe to assume other products have similar training times. Grab some great dog treats to make the process more enjoyable for everyone.

FAQs

Q: How much does an invisible dog fence cost?

Invisible dog fence costs typically start at around $100 for cheaper kits that only support one dog. Mid-tier kits will run around $200 to $300 but are often modular, meaning you can get a price that suits your needs exactly. Then, products such as the SpotOn GPS collar for dogs, which allows you to fine-tune what GPS coordinates your dog can roam in, can cost north of $1,000.

Q: Can a dog escape an invisible fence?

As with physical fences, a dog can escape an invisible fence. To do so, however, would require the animal to ignore correction signals they are trained to avoid prior to usage. Even with training, some dogs will ignore the warnings of an invisible fence. Much like with people, every dog is different.

Q: Can I install an invisible fence myself?

You can install an invisible fence yourself. The most tricky part of the process is running the dog fence wire if you’re using a wired model. To do this properly, it may require digging a shallow runway to bury the wire under. For average yards, this should be completable within the span of a weekend, weather permitting. Alternatively, grab a wireless model that “throws” a radius around a central point for your dog to roam through.

Final thoughts on the best invisible dog fences

Invisible dog fences are dog products, things that are meant for some of the most defenseless and selfless members of our family. As a result, we must take care to choose the very best invisible dog fences, match them up to our dogs’ needs, and be prepared to adjust as necessary.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

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John Alexander

Contributor

John Alexander is a contributor at Popular Science, with a specialty in Buyer’s Guides. He was formerly a biologist, working as an assistant in laboratories before moving onto education and, finally, writing. In addition to Popular Science, his work has appeared in WIRED, DigitalTrends, and HeadPhonesty.