Do Invisible Dog Fences Work | Pros and Cons

An invisible dog fence is a product that is used to help contain dogs in a specific area in your yard.   This is why we also call it a containment system.

do invisible dog fences work
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Saying that this type of fence is invisible comes from the fact that it is a border created by underground wires that you don’t see.  You select the area that you want to keep your dog in and use the underground wires to create your border area.

There are many versions, companies and brands when it comes to choosing which fence is right for you.

The question that everyone wants the answers to when we think about this product is do invisible dog fences work?

History of invisible fences

Invisible dog fences have been around for 45 years.  One of the first versions was brought to the market by a fellow by the name of Richard Peck a traveling salesmen.   Richard was a huge dog lover that was also great at tinkering with electronics.

His inspiration in coming up with this product in the first place came from seeing so many pets roaming around free. He realized that the dogs are at risk of being hit by a car as the were wandering on the streets.

He then decided to partner with University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and Battelle Laboratories.  Together they developed and patented the very first electronic dog fencing system.

He created and was the owner of the Invisible Fence Company before he sold in the 1980’s.  This fence was first created to help contain livestock and keep them safe.   A group of Pennsylvania investors purchased the rights and the modern version of Invisible Fence came to life.

dog fence

What does the product consist of

In the beginning when they created the very first collar it was about the size of a deck of playing cards.  Over time and through different versions of this fencing system the collar became more compact.

An invisible dog fence consists of an 3 things.  An underground wire that gets installed which makes your border area.  A transmitter box is mounted somewhere indoors and a receiver that is put into a dog collar that your pet wears.

A coded signal is sent from the transmitter box to the underground wire in the perimeter area that you have put the wire in.   The receiver collar that the dog wears receives the signal every time the dog steps outside of the boundary area that you have set up.

The audible signal that is sent, actually sends the collar a small electric shock.  This shock is how your dog learns not to go past the boundary area that you have set up.  You can adjust the strength of the electric shock up and down based on your dogs responsiveness.

The collar itself is operated by a battery that is situated in the collar.   There are prongs on the receiver box that is on the collar.  These prongs sit around your dog’s throat and are what receives the audible signal that is sent to them from the transmitter.


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Owning a dog and wanting the ability to contain them in your yard with a fence can be an expensive thing.

A traditional wood fence or even a chain link fence can be very expensive to buy.   The cost of wood is high, plus you still have to pay for all the labor that is required to install it.

Even if you opt to buy a chain link fence, it too can be almost as expensive as wood and in some cases more expensive.  For this reason, an invisible fence is often less money even if you have it professionally installed.

dog on the fence

The ground or terrain, can also be a real challenge to try to adapt a traditional fence too.   Typically these only work on flat ground with mild slopes.  If your ground is uneven, hilly or even perhaps a very wooded area an invisible fence is easily adaptable to these conditions.

Aesthetics is something that is often extremely important when we are considering designing a fenced off area for your dog.   A wood fence line can block a beautiful view and even completely inconvenience us with the opening and closing of the gates.  This is another great reason for choosing an invisible fencing system.

Installing an invisible fence is very quick to do.   Trenching your wire into the ground is much faster than digging in your posts and laying out wire or building with traditional fence boards.

We have seen or heard of dogs digging out underneath a fence, or finding a way to hop over a fence.   You won’t have that problem with the invisible fencing.

The last pro is an important one, it is the human error element.  What I mean by that is with a traditional style of fence leaving the gate open is something we have all done at some point.   Of course usually when that happens your dog ends up escaping the yard and then you are stuck with chasing down your dog to bring them home.


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There are many positives things when it comes to purchasing an invisible fence.   In the same token, there are also some negatives to using invisible fencing.

  • The first one is a pretty big con and it is that no matter how high you turn up the receiver shock strength, your dog still runs through the invisible barrier.  They are unaffected by the shock.
  • A highly motivated dog doesn’t care that they are being shocked.  Chasing that rabbit they see or perhaps chasing another dog that is walking by.   For some dogs the reward they get escaping far out weights that little bit of pain they encounter when going beyond the boundary area.
  • Dogs need to be trained to use an invisible fence to determine what the boundary area actually is.  Generally the best way to do this is to install flags in the ground that mark off the edge of the boundary area you want.  You then walk your dog around the flagged off area making sure to point out the flags to them.  This does requires a fair bit of time to train your dog properly on how to use the fence.
  • The collar operates with a battery which some dogs are capable of outsmarting.   They wait at the boundary line till the battery goes dead and then they are able to escape.

dog escaping fence
  • Having your dog wear the receiver collar with its prongs, could also potentially harm your dog.   The prongs can cause burns on your dogs skin and it is recommended that it is removed regularly to avoid harming their skin.   There are cases that have been reported by owners that say their dogs skin got a nasty wound and even got an infection from the collar if they don’t remove it occasionally.
  • The shock that your dog receives from the collar could also potentially cause your dog to become anxious, fearful and even aggressive in their behavior.  They associate the shock from the collar as an aggression and try to fight back.
  • The power supply or transmitter is plugged in indoors and if the power goes out or if the power is cut the fence your dog could potentially escape.

Do they actually work

When we look at the statistics on the effectiveness of an invisible dog fence, the research shows that they work 70% of the time.   So if we say 70% of the time the fence actually works, that means that 30% of the time the don’t. So you decide if that is a percent that in your mind means the work or don’t.

The way I look at it, nothing is completely fool proof and weighing out the pros and cons of whether or not an invisible fence works, always comes back to us as dog owners.   What kind of risk are we willing to accept when it comes to our dog.

dog on the street

Dog owners have such a huge job when it comes to deciding what products, training or things we are going to include in our dogs life.

I like to think that every situation is different and what works for one dog and owner may not work for the next.

I personally have never used an invisible dog fencing system.  I have always been lucky enough to have a completely fenced yard at all of my homes.  But also I have also always lived in a town or city.

I however do know many people that live on acreages and out in the country, that use invisible fencing with great success and swear by it.

The overall conclusion is yes they do work, but they aren’t for everyone.  Fit the fencing system that best works for your dog.


10 thoughts on “Do Invisible Dog Fences Work | Pros and Cons”

  1. My dogs continually run past our house and chase after cars. I have always wanted to get an invisible fence but I still wonder if they actually work. Thank you for this article because now I know its probably just something that I will have to try out with my dogs to see if it works on them or not. Great article!

    • Hi Desiray,

      Yes I totally agree with you, that trying it out to see if it will work for your dogs, is really the only way to be sure if it will work or not.

      I think that in the right situation with the right dogs,  it does work.  The problem is not knowing for sure if your dogs will respond to it.  Sometimes just thinking about how your dog behaves on a leash, or cable, will give you an idea about whether or not it is going to work.

      Thank you so much for your comments on my post.


  2. Wow, I didn’t even know there was such a thing; its name! The name really caught my eye as I navigated and read  the tittle of this article. It never occurred to me that a product would actually be called “invisible”. This is so interesting. I assume it does work if it’s been around for so long.

    • Hi Linda,

      Yes it sure is hard to believe that invisible fencing has been around so long.  Clearly in the right situation and with the right dog it does work.  I am always amazed at the technology that is out there for things especially things for dogs. 

      I really appreciate your comments on my post. Thank you.


  3. Thanks for this great post.  I had no idea the invisible fence was 45 years old.  Wow.

    My biggest concern is I have 2 head-strong dogs and, when determined, I don’t think they’ll care if their collar catches fire as long as they reach their goal, whatever that might be.

    I would consider using an electric fence in areas where the dogs are smart enough to figure out how to get past something (like the fence around my garden) or for those times when I forget to close a gate, etc. but I don’t think I’d rely on them.  I’d hate to lose my fur baby because they simply ignored or outsmarted the fence.

    Thanks again.  This answered a lot of my questions and confirmed some concerns,


    • Hi Scott,

      Thank you so much for your engaging comments on my post.  I absolutely hear you when you talk about head-strong dogs and how no matter what happens to their collar they are going. LOL!

      I love your idea of using it around a garden area, that would be a great area that one could try to see how your dogs react to it.

      Dogs are certainly capable of outsmarting a fence, gate and so much more.  I know my boy FINN sure was a sneaky guy. Sometimes I would be like what are you doing and how did you do that? I guess that is why we love them so much.

      Thanks Scott.


  4. Thank you very much for this post, though I am a huge lover of pets I mean dog to be precise but I have never tried the invisible fence because I do believe no amount of invisible fence can stop my dog from chasing rabbit in the garden. But I do believe if well placed the invisible fence can also play a role in restricting dogs. 

    • Hi Charles,

      I am so glad that you enjoyed reading my post, and thank you for commenting on it.  I know what you mean about your dog chasing rabbits, my dog FINN would have been exactly the same with squirrels.  He would sit just waiting for them to rundown the tree, then he would bounce and try to catch it. He never succeeded, but he sure thought he could.

      Invisible fencing isn’t for every dog, that is for sure.  In certain situations, I think it is an amazing option for protecting your dog.

      Thanks again.


  5. Great-looking site and nice and informative article! I would say this invisible fence system could be a great choice for a dog owner who has no time or cant educate their dogs to stay within areas the owner of the dog has set up. On the other hand, if my dog (or any other well-trained dog) would go out of the borderline, it would not try to get the “reward” of escaping.

    But the bright side of this dog fence, regarding its manufacturer’s info given, its operating max. frequency and/or voltage is not set on too high level like some famous “dog whisper” tv persons uses to use. Not maybe all of them but however. I will check some other articles within your nice site now. By the way, do you have anything relating cane corsos and rottweilers (my current and ex dogs) ? 🙂

    • Hi Jesse,

      I really appreciate your wonderful comments on my post and site. I have not yet done any posts on cane corsos or rotty’s, but I may look at doing something since you mentioned it.

      Keeping my posts relevant for all dog owners is my goal with my site.  There is so much dog owners don’t know about things that dogs can encounter, need or even fun ideas for their dogs they may not have known about.

      Thank you.


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