Wired Vs. Wireless Dog Fences

Here is a basic comparison of wireless fences to wireless pet containment system, covering several of the different aspects.

Cost

Wireless Fence: If you choose a quality model such as the PetSafe® Stay & Play, you can expect to spend around $250 to $300. If your system doesn’t come with replaceable batteries, over a year’s time it can cost you around an additional $25.

Wired Fence: Depending on the model, the price of a wired fence is around the same as a wireless fence. The difference in price comes in if you decide to pay someone to bury the wire for you. You may choose to plant the wire on the ground instead of burying it, but you will just need to use a thick wire so that it is strong enough to withstand the elements.

Ease of Installation

Wireless Fence: A wireless fence is as simple and quick as it gets. It is as easy as plugging in the wireless transmitter, putting a battery into the receiver and putting the collar on your dog. You can expect it to take 10 or 15 minutes at the most.

Wired Fence: There is no argument that installing a wireless fence requires some work. Burying the wire takes some elbow grease and a day of labor. However, if you rent a trench digging machine, it won’t take you as long. You can also choose to take the easy route and pay someone to install it for you.

Containment Area

Wireless Fence: The signal that is cast by a wireless dog fence can only form the shape of a circle. In most cases, the radius cannot be larger than 250 feet. The circle can be made larger by purchasing additional wireless transmitters. In some cases, doing this will make it possible to cover an area such as a rectangular yard.

Wired Fence: This is one clear advantage that wired systems have over wireless. You can create any type of border that you want. No matter what the shape of your yard is, you are able to wind the wire around just like you need it. In addition to this, wired dog fences are able to cover a larger amount of ground than wireless dog fences can. In fact, SportDOG makes a system that is designed for rural properties, covering up to 100 acres of land. No wireless system has the ability to even come close to this, no matter how many transmitters are used.

Signal Reliability

Wireless Fence: The boundary signal on a wireless dog fence can vary greatly, at times. There are certain aspects that can cause a disturbance in the signal, which need to be avoided. If your home has aluminum or stucco siding, this can be a problem. If you have heavy trees or landscaping on your property this can disrupt the signal. The same thing can happen if there are any large metal buildings or vehicles existing within the containment area. Even if none of these situations apply to you, be aware that the boundary will still fluctuate by a few feet at random times.

Wired Fence: The boundaries on a wired fence are solid. You also will not have to worry about any signal interference with a wired fence. Nothing will get in the way of the signal being transmitted like it needs to be.

Maintenance

Wireless Fence: Should the wireless transmitter or receiver malfunction, you will need to send them in for a repair.

Wired Fence: If you have a problem with your wired fence, it is generally going to be with the wire. This is especially true if you install a thin, cheaper wire. If a break happens in your wire, your transmitter will sound an alarm to let you know. Now you will need to use a wire break testing kit to locate the exact spot where your wire is broken. Then, the wire will need to be dug up and respliced. If you pay someone to take care of a wire break for you, it won’t necessarily be inexpensive.

Collar

Wireless Fence: Collars for electronic dog doors are generally 1 ounce heavier than wired fence collars are. They usually come with short and long correction probes. There are usually 5 different correction level settings on wireless fence collars.

Wired Fence: Wired fence collars are a bit more lightweight than wireless fence collars. Sometimes they only come with short contact probes and don’t always have up to 5 levels of correction.

Wireless Pet Fences: How to Reduce Signal Interference

There are several advantages over using a wireless dog fence over a buried underground fence:

  • It is very quick and simple to install a wireless pet fence. It only takes about 10 minutes to set up after open the box. This is because there are no measurements to take and no wires to bury in the ground.
  • Although the cost of a wireless fence and a wired fence are very comparable, if you plan on paying someone to bury the wire for you, this will cost you a lot more. Paying someone to do this for you can cost around $1,000, and even more if a groove needs to be cut in the driveway.
  • It is much easier to service a wireless system. If you have a wired system and the wire breaks, it is difficult to find out where the break is. Then you have to dig up the wire and splice them back together.

With that being said, there are also certain problems you can run into with a wireless dog fence. They all have to do with wireless signal instabilities.

Signal Interference

Unless you have purchased a very expensive GPS-based wireless fence, you should be aware that signal interference is always possible. The more objects that exist between the transmitter and the containment boundaries, the more likely that there will be a signal disturbance. Here are a few things you need to be aware of:

Large Metal Appliances

There are several things that can interfere with the wireless signal, which result in an unstable boundary and unreliable perimeter. Refrigerators, stoves and large metal cabinets are examples of these. An unstable boundary is not a good thing because it can cause your dog to be corrected in an area that should be safe. Frequent random corrections could cause your dog to become overstressed.

To help avoid this problem, make sure that all of these items are kept a minimum of 3 feet away from the transmitter. If you can keep them even further away than this, it is recommended.

Thick Concrete Walls

The strength of your wireless signal can be reduced by thick concrete walls. There are a couple of things that can be done to help this situation.

  1. The transmitter should always be mounted to the outer wall of your house so that there are as few walls as possible between the transmitter and the yard.
  2. If possible, put the transmitter right in front of a window, or if mounting strips are provided, you can use those to keep it in place.

The fewer walls that the signal has to penetrate, the more consistent the signal will be.

Heavy Landscaping

If you have thick trees or heavy landscaping on your property, this can become a problem. The more trees and bushes there are between the transmitter and the boundary, the weaker the signal becomes. A tree or a bush here or there won’t be a problem but lots of them can be. When you have many trees and it becomes damp outside, this makes it even worse.

Sloping

If there is a downward slope in your yard, there will be heavy signal interference. The best way to find out if this is a potential problem is to look out from where the transmitter is located towards your boundary. If you can see where the boundary is, then everything should be fine. However, if you can’t see where your boundary should be located, your transmitter will also have trouble finding it.

Other Obstructions

Check for any other large obstacles within your containment area. This includes vehicles, metal buildings and concrete structures. For any area located behind the object, the perimeter will be less stable.

The Ideal Set Up for Minimum Interference

To make sure you have the least amount of interference as possible, there are several things you should make sure of.

  • Your transmitter should be installed as far away from metal appliances as you can.
  • There should be as few walls between the transmitter and the outdoors as possible.
  • There should be as few trees, cars, garages and other structures between the transmitter and the perimeter.
  • No downward sloping existing within the yard

How Does a Wireless Dog Fence Work?

The concept behind a wireless dog fence is simple. Its two basic components are a wireless transmitter and a receiver collar.

After the transmitter, which is known as the main unit or control unit is installed, it is time to set the strength of the signal. Keep in mind that there are different maximum strength settings on different wireless models. Remember that the signal is always cast in a circle, with the transmitter existing in the exact middle of the circle. The stronger you set the signal, the larger the circle is.

The Collar

There is a receiver attached to the collar, with a battery installed in it. Depending on the system, the battery can be either disposable or rechargeable. There are two protruding probes on the collar, and when it is fitted correctly it will be coming into direct contact with the skin on your dog’s neck.

The receiver that is on the collar is always intercepting a radio signal that the receiver is emitting. As long as the receiver collar stays within the containment area, your dog will not receive a correction. However, if your dog approaches the border, the following will happen:

  1. Once your dog approaches the boundary, the receiver collar will emit a warning beep.
  2. If your dog continues on and comes closer to the edge, the probes on the collar will deliver a mild, static correction to encourage your dog to go back into the safe area.

And that is the basic concept. You may be concerned if the static shock will hurt your dog. It is mildly irritating but not painful. If you are curious about what it feels like, run across the carpet in your sock feet and then touch a doorknob. It can be described as more surprising than painful.

Dog Training Is Very Important

You can’t expect to just open up your door and let your dog out, expecting him to know what to do and what not to do. No wireless dog fence will work for your dog without some direction from you. In order for your dog to be contained properly, you will need to teach him to respect the boundaries, by retreating whenever there is a beep or a correction. It may take up to 2 months to get him trained, although it is a simple process. Sensitive dogs will learn quickly, whereas strong-willed dogs will take a bit longer. To properly train your dog, be sure to read our step by step dog training guide.

Be Sure to Minimize Signal Interference

Depending on several factors, there are many things that can interfere with the signal emitted by your transmitter. Should this happen:

  • The circular shape of your zone can be lost as the boundary of the containment zone becomes unstable.
  • Your dog could receive a correction when he seemingly isn’t supposed to, which can be confusing to him.

To avoid this from happening, refer to our guide on reducing signal interference.

Part One: Troubleshooting Problems With Your Wireless Dog Fence

Here are a list of problems that are most commonly faced by those who have a wireless dog fence. If your problem has more to do with your dog being trained properly, please refer to our Dog Training Guide for help.

If Your Dog Isn’t Reacting to the Static Correction

There are several reasons for this:

The collar was not put on correctly. The receiver probes must make contact with your dog’s skin. If this doesn’t happen, the static correction cannot be delivered. With that being said, make sure the collar doesn’t fit too tight as you don’t want the probes digging in to the dog’s neck.

There is an interference in the signal. To learn about what could be blocking the signal, please refer to our guide, Reducing Signal Interference.

The correction level is set too low. On most receiver collars, if the collar is set at 1, only a beep is heard and no correction is delivered. Be sure that the collar is set on a two, at least.

The batteries have run out. Batteries can lose their charge before you know it. This is why it is important to have extras on hand.

The transmitter has come unplugged. If your transmitter isn’t plugged in and operating, there is no way for your dog to receive a correction.

If the Collar Isn’t Emitting a Beep

There are a few reasons this might be happening:

  • The battery is missing or is depleted.
  • The collar receiver has been turned off.
  • The transmitter isn’t plugged in.
  • The boundary’s location may have changed because of interference in the signal.

In addition to this, remember that the signal emitted by the collar is not particularly loud. It is just supposed to be loud enough for the dog wearing it to hear it beeping. You might not even hear it if you are walking next to the dog, or especially if there is noise around you. There are several ways you can check if you just aren’t hearing it beep:

  • Turn the collar upside down on your dog’s neck, to let the receiver face upwards towards the sky. Then you will be able to see the collar’s LED light flash when the receiver begins to beep. This will let you know the collar is working properly.
  • Remove the collar from your dog’s neck. Hold it in your hand, approaching the containment boundary, holding it around the same height as your dog’s neck. Keep your ear close to the receiver. Now you will be able to hear the beep when it goes off.
  • Some wireless dog fences come with a tester. You can use it to make sure the collar is working correctly.

If you have done all of the above and there is still no beep, your collar may be broken. In this case, you will need to contact the manufacturer for assistance.

If Your Dog Is Deaf

Of course, if your dog is deaf, hearing the beep isn’t an option. In this case, you would need to get a wireless dog fence that features a vibrating collar, taking the place of an audible beep.

Part Two: Troubleshooting a Wireless Dog Fence

The Collar Is Beeping Inside of the House

On most models, the minimum size of the containment circle needs to be 10 feet in diameter or more. This means that if the dog gets closer to the transmitter than 10 feet, the collar could behave unexpectedly. This is why it is a good idea to remove the receiver collar from your dog and turn it off when your dog comes inside.

If you have a very big house and the radius is set to be small, chances are that a part of the boundary exists somewhere inside of your house. This can cause the collar to beep whenever your dog crosses that line. In this case, you can try expanding the radius of the circle or putting the transmitter in another place. But again, the best solution is to just remove the collar from your dog when he comes indoors.

Lastly, if you are putting the transmitter in another location, be certain to switch off the collar, only reactivating it after the transmitter has been repositioned.

The Boundary of the Wireless Fence Is Unstable

Unfortunately, with wireless dog fences this is something you can expect to happen. However, it depends on the model of dog fence as to how much the boundary fluctuates. It could be as low as 6 inches and as large as 10 feet.

Keep in mind that boundary instabilities can get much worse if there are a lot of objects between the transmitter and the containment boundary. To learn more about this, read our article on Reducing Signal Interference.

My Dog Is Receiving a Correction in the Middle of the Yard

To put it simply, anything that causes the collar to lose the signal emitted by the transmitter will cause the collar to correct the dog. Keeping that in mind, the following are a few reasons why a correction may be given in the middle of the yard:

  • Perhaps a large metal object is blocking the signal from the transmitter
  • Something such as a car moving within the containment area may have blocked the signal momentarily
  • Maybe your dog is standing with his backside past the boundary but his neck is still within the safety zone. Your dog then turns 90 degrees and suddenly it is located outside of the safety zone. This will cause it to deliver a correction.

My Dog Will Not Leave the House

Some dogs may become overstressed during the training process, if the correction was set too high on the collar, for example. Here is how you can solve this problem:

  • Lowering the correction level by 1 or 2 levels may help.
  • If this is happening while you are training your dog, make your training sessions shorter and reduce the number of daily sessions. It may also help to increase the amount of playtime before and after each training session.
  • Take some extra time to play and have fun with your pet in the yard

PetSafe® Wireless Dog Fence Guide

Owned and operated by Radio Systems, PetSafe® is a company that has a great reputation in the pet industry. PetSafe® is constantly developing and testing new systems, but very few pass their stringent requirements and make it out on the market.

What PetSafe® Wireless Dog Fences Have in Common

The following features are a few things that their two wireless models have in common. Be sure to compare the specifications of each system in order to determine the strengths of each particular one.

Superior Signal Stability

As far as wireless technology goes, PetSafe® systems allow an exceptionally stable boundary signal. Even with it set on the largest containment area setting, you can expect the boundary to not waiver more than 1 ½ feet. This is close to as good as you will get with a wired underground fence.

Unlimited Number of Dogs

One great aspect about PetSafe® wireless fences are that they are able to support an unlimited number of dogs. Since each wireless fence only comes with one collar, you would simply need to purchase additional collars for the extra dogs.

Excellent Coverage

While the coverage area is not the largest in the industry, PetSafe® wireless fences have the ability to cover a maximum circular area that is between ½ and ¾ acres. For most people, this is more than enough to cover a containment area. Should you need to contain a larger area than this, you can always purchase additional transmitters. Doing this will create overlapping circles that extend the containment area.

Batteries

The type of batteries used will depend on the PetSafe® system that you purchase. For example, the PIF-300 comes with replaceable 6-volt batteries. Each battery change will last you for about 3 months. On the other hand, the Stay & Play system features rechargeable batteries.

Collar Neck Size

Each of the PetSafe® wireless dog fences will fit dogs that have a neck size between 6 and 23 inches.

Mounting the Transmitter

For mounting the transmitter to the wall, you will need to use screws. This is because there are no adhesive strips that come with it. Even if you purchase your own adhesive strips, they are unlikely to work because the transmitter would be too heavy. However, there is no rule that says you have to mount the transmitter. You can simply place it on a desk or table, wherever it isn’t likely to be disturbed.

Minimum Dog Age

Each of the PetSafe® systems are made for dogs that are 6 months or older. Actually this applies to any dog fence you choose. Dogs that are younger than this are too young to train and the static correction may be too much for the dog.

Training Flags

50 boundary training flags are included with your package, no matter which system you choose. This should be about right to contain an area with a radius of about 70 yards. However, if your yard is larger than this, you should go ahead and purchase another set of flags.

Collar Receiver

Each PetSafe® wireless dog fence will come with one set of both short and long probes. Contact probes are the two metal points that are protruding from the receiver, that deliver the static correction. The long set of points is intended for dogs with longer and thicker hair, while the short set will work fine for other breeds.

Waterproof Collars

All of the PetSafe® systems come with collars that are rated as waterproof. This allows them to be able to withstand rain, snow, and even being submerged in water. With that being said, this doesn’t mean that your dog can go swimming with his collar on. If it is submerged for too long, it will cause the collar to malfunction.

Correction Levels

There are a total of 6 different correction settings on all PetSafe® wireless dog fences. In addition to 5 beep and static correction settings, there is one setting for a beep only. The correction level is changed on the collar itself. If you aren’t sure which setting to choose for your dog, refer to the dog training guide to determine this.

Product Warranty

PetSafe® offers a limited lifetime warranty on each of their wireless dog fences. This means that during the first year, the fence and all of its components are covered under a full warranty. After this time has been completed, you will be responsible for paying for any of the repairs on your system. However, the repair costs that you have to pay are significantly less.

Additional Transmitters

Should you need to contain an area that is unusually shaped, or if you need to make the area covered by your wireless fence larger, there is something you can do. Purchasing additional wireless transmitters will help you out with both of these concerns.

Light Testers

Each of the PetSafe® wireless fences comes with a tester light that is used to see whether the collar is working properly or not.

Conclusion

Buying a PetSafe® wireless dog fence means that you are purchasing a quality system. If you are on a budget, the PIF-300 is a great choice for you. To learn more about each wireless system, be sure to check out our reviews.

Havahart Wireless Dog Fence Guide

Produced by Woodstream Corporation, Havahart wireless dog fences have been around since 2010. The Havahart Radial was the best-selling model until they released an upgraded version, which is the Havahart Radial-Shape Select Fence.

The Havahart Radial Shape Fence is the better-rated fence of the two. Why is this? The idea of being able to choose your own boundary shape sounds nice, but the reality is that the boundaries of the Radial Custom Shape are very unstable. There is no point in buying a wireless dog fence if you can’t depend on it to contain your dog. It also costs considerably more. On the other hand, the Havahart Radial-Shape offers stable boundaries and covers a reasonably large area of land.

Nevertheless, there are several aspects which both Havahart wireless dog fences have in common.

Contains up to 2 Dogs

While the control unit doesn’t have the ability to contain an unlimited number of dogs, it is able to control up to 2. If you have more dogs than this, you would need to order a PetSafe® model. Because your package only comes with one collar, if you have more than one dog you will need to order an extra collar.

Control Units

The Havahart control units allow you to directly control everything related to your wireless fence. It allows you to:

  • Add and remove new collars
  • Check the battery status of each collar
  • The correction setting of the probes can be changed
  • See how far the collar is located from the transmitter

It just takes a few presses of a button on the main control unit to control these aspects.

Large Coverage Area

The wireless dog fences offered by Havahart offer a much larger coverage area than other systems within a similar price range. For example, the PetSafe® Stay and Play can only contain a circle that is 210 feet across, whereas the Havahart Radial 2 is able to contain up to 500 feet.

Signal Stability

Where some may argue that Havahart fences have a stable boundary, customer reviews don’t tend to agree with this. Specifically the fence with the custom boundary is particularly unstable. This means that where the border is supposed to be and where the border actually ends is not necessarily the same.

Adhesive Mounting Strips

Because the Havahart transmitter is compact and lightweight, it is able to be mounted to a wall with adhesive strips, without having to use any screws. Each Havahart wireless fence that you order includes these adhesive strips, along with a detailed instruction booklet telling you how to use them.

Includes Testers

Each Havahart system includes a tester that is used to see if the collar is working properly and to see when the exact moment is that it is activated. Most other manufacturers do not give you a tester. Testers that come with some models require a few minutes for them to become properly attached to the receiver probes before you can use the tester. There is no installation required with Havahart testers.

Battery Life

The battery life of the Havahart system is less than desirable. The Radius systems have rechargeable batteries. The charge on these will only last 2 or 3 days before they need to be recharged. The good thing is that Havahart gives you two rechargeable batteries with their fence so that you are always able to have a battery that is fully charged when the other one loses its charge.

One great thing about Havahart’s collars is that they have motion detectors installed in them. They automatically turn off the receiver whenever your dog stops moving. This is helpful as it extends the life of the batteries. If it didn’t have this feature, you would have to recharge your batteries every day. Whenever your dog begins to move, the motion sensor recognizes it and automatically reactivates the collar.

Notification of a Boundary Challenge

Whenever your dog approaches the containment boundary and is close enough to it for a correction to be administered, the transmitter will sound an audible Boundary Challenge alarm. You are also able to manually configure the volume levels of the alarm by using the main unit settings.

Product Warranty

All Havahart wireless dog fences come complete with a specific product warranty:

  1. The main control unit comes with a 10 year warranty.
  2. The collar and other fence parts come with a one-year warranty.

Pet Retreat Reaction

The pet retreat reaction refers to how far away from the boundary line that the dog wearing the collar needs to be before he stops receiving a correction. For example, as soon as the correction is delivered, the dog has to retreat a certain distance in order for the correction to stop. It is not enough for the dog to just go back to where he was right before the correction.

The retreat distance of Havahart systems are considerably better than others in the industry, which is around 7 feet.