Dog containment can be one of the most challenging aspects of dog ownership. Regardless of whether you have a large plot of land or a small one, you want your dog to be able to utilize as much of it as possible without getting into danger. It would also be nice if parts of your lawn were off limits to your dog, for the sake of beauty and property value. Probably the most well-known solution for this is Invisible Fence electric dog fence. They have one of the most well-established options on the market, but figuring out exactly how much it will cost you (including their installation) is opaque until you get a consultation. If you want it done for you, that’s definitely the route to take.
If you want to buy an electric or wireless dog fence right now and know the bottom-line cost, though, you’ll want to look at other options. These will require installing them yourself, or hiring a separate contractor, but you’ll know your investment cost immediately. Typically, these involve burying wire one to three inches under the ground, but there are completely wireless kits available, as well. You’ll also be in control of exactly what happens to your yard at all times and have the ability to custom-design your solution.
For the safety of your dog and others, here are the best electric dog fences for self-installation to maintain boundaries without a visible fence.
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1. Extreme Dog Fence KitPros:
- Hugely expandable up to 25 acres
- Options for one to five dogs
- Light 1.1 ounce receiver
- Can get pretty pricey
- Not the most attractive unit
- Installation instructions are confusing or non-existent
- Wired systems require digging to be buried
For the right combination of expandable and well-reviewed, look no further than this option. This U.S.-made system can be expanded to cover 25 acres of property, which is likely to cover virtually every suburb-dwelling pup and a fair number of their country dog counterparts. Each of the packages is available in a standard and a pro grade option, which determines the gauge of wire you’ll receive: standard uses of 20 gauge boundary wire, while the pro upgrades to 14 gauge boundary wire with 16 gauge twisted wire.
In addition, for each bundled length — available in 500, 1000, 1500, 2000, and 2500 foot reels — you can choose the number of dogs the system will support from one to five. Each of these options are clearly listed, making purchasing your preferred combination a breeze.
No matter which you opt for, you’ll get medium comfort and long steel contacts, waterproof receivers that are lighter than most, and a seven-level feedback setting to dial the system in perfectly for your dog. You can also set the buffer zone around the boundary wire from a couple of inches up to 32 feet depending on how you want to configure your containment space. This system comes with a one year warranty and two years on the wire should you have any issues.
2. SportDOG Brand In-Ground Fence SystemPros:
- Expandable up to 100 acres
- Unlimited receivers can be added
- Receiver battery lasts six to 12 months
- Anti-linger, lightning protector and wire break alarm features
- Only four levels of correction
- Receivers are on the large size
- Some reviews report random correction firings and other quality control issues
- Installation takes a signifiant time investment for larger areas
The most popular of these options comes from SportDOG, which make a variety of related dog-tending products. We included their remote dog training collar on our dog training collars post because their products are durable, offer good range and excellent battery life.
Speaking of good range, this wall-mounted unit is expandable to cover up to 100 acres, which is well beyond the needs of most dog owners. Included in the package is 1000 feet of wire, which they say is good enough for 1 1/3 acres. To increase this, you can pick up one of their wire and flag accessory kits, while additional receivers are available, as well. You can add any number of receivers to this system.
The main module includes a few smart features such as an anti-linger function that prompts your dog to leave the warning zone so that the tone alarm doesn’t drain the battery. It has a wire break alarm, as you’d expect, as well as a built-in lightning protector. (On this last point, reviews seem to disagree. We recommend asking at the point of sale to confirm, but we have no evidence to suggest this isn’t installed in the unit.) Batteries inside the receivers last for up to a year, but are on the larger size despite their claim that they’ll work on any dog over ten pounds.
This is the standard unit, but you can also get an upgraded version which uses the wire from the first option on our list. There’s also the Contain + Train model, which has two modes to get your dog up to speed on the system using tone, vibration and static correction.
3. PetSafe Stay + Play Wireless FencePros:
- Requires no digging or burying wires
- Expandable to an unlimited number of pets
- Rechargeable collar lasts for up to three weeks on a charge
- Range of 105 feet in all directions
- Indistinct barrier is harder to control
- Coverage area can be disrupted by terrain and metal objects
- Expensive for the coverage area
- Some reports of a buzzing noise
If the idea of having to dig a perimeter around your yard sounds like a lot of work, you’re right. First you have to map it out, dig down a few inches for a minimum of about 300 feet and upwards of thousands of feet. It’s a good solution, but a time-intensive and relatively permanent one. Fortunately, PetSafe offers this option which broadcasts a border from a center point, covering up to 3/4 of an acre in ideal conditions.
While this barrier will be less immediately apparent, once you have it set up and do some preliminary tone-only testing and training, you should have a good idea of the area that this will cover. Simply charge up the receiver, plug in the base and you’re covered. Use the flag to mark where the receiver reacts and your installation is complete. This is the larger version, while a half acre version is available for a little less.
That said, this is pretty costly for the area it covers. That’s the trade off for the labor savings. As they say, anything is possible with either time or money. This version is an update to the previous model, which is a little less attractive to plunk down in the middle of your house. Additionally, for much less, PetSafe also make a basic wired version, though it only covers 1/3 of an acre and isn’t as robust as the options we outlined above.
4. Dr. Tiger 2 Receiver Electric Dog FencePros:
- Inexpensive option for smaller yards
- Expandable from 1/3 acre to five acres
- Wire break indicators
- Two dog system
- Only five levels of correction
- Collars are rain resistant, but not waterproof
- Only a 30-day return policy
- Product design not the highlight here
By contrast, if you don’t want to have sink a few hundred dollars into your electric dog fence system — particularly if you only have a small yard and one dog — keeping the price down might the priority for you. This kit works out of the box for an area of 1/3 of an acre and two dogs, though it can be expanded with additional receivers and up to five acres with additional wire.
Like the option above, this allows you to set the boundary threshold width with 100 levels. These collars aren’t submersible, so don’t let your dog go swimming with them, but rain should pose no issue generally speaking.
At the time of this writing, the Sit Boo-Boo Hidden Dog Fence was on sale at the same price and included 955 feet of wire, but isn’t as well reviewed.
5. PetSafe Pawz Away Pet BarriersPros:
- Adjustable barrier from two to 12 feet
- Comes in different form factors for a variety of uses
- Lightweight collar
- Allows you to control access to a specific area of the home
- Not rechargeable unless you use separate rechargeable batteries
- Static correction might not be strong enough for big dogs
- Very small range
- Some quality control issues
Areas outside the home aren’t the only place you might wish to keep your dog away from. Certain rooms, furniture and the trash are all areas inside that you might want to prevent unwanted dog presence. This pet barrier system from PetSafe allows you to create an area of five inches (Mini) to 12 feet (Indoor) or create a barrier extending 31 feet (Threshold) depending on your needs. They also make an Outdoor model with a range of eight feet, which could be useful for cookouts or camping.
To be sure, this is a far simpler system than those above and will work better on smaller dogs and even cats. The static correction is probably not strong enough to dissuade large dogs, though if your particular pup only requires a gentle nudge, this could still be an excellent option.
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