An Expert Comparison of Pet Fences
Invisible fences contain your pet by using radio signals to send an electronic shock when the animal gets too close to the established boundary. The animal wears a collar that transmits the shock and discourages it from straying.
Invisible fences may sound cruel, but they’re not. The top brands are endorsed by veterinarians and animal rights organizations. And the best systems give pets an audible warning before the shock, then use a very mild shock that is not painful.
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When you buy an invisible fence, plan to spend some time training your pet on how it works. In most cases, pets are trained to stay 8 feet from the boundary wire; however, the signal can be adjusted to make the limits closer or further away.
How Much Does an Invisible Pet Fence Cost?
Do-it-yourself invisible fence kits cost about $150 to $400. That includes enough wire and flags for a quarter acre (unless the system is wireless), one transmitter and one collar. Expansion kits for larger yards of up to one acre in size cost about $30 to $50. Extra collars cost about $100.
The cost of professional installation varies based on the company you hire, your geographic location and the size of your yard. Generally, budget about $1,000 to $1,500 for materials and installation. However, the price for vary small yards can be closer to $500 and the price for very large yards can top $2,000. (These prices are for wired systems; wireless versions rarely require professional installation.)
Replacement batteries will run you about $50 to $100 per year. The batteries will need to be replaced about every three to four months – otherwise your pet may discover that the signal is weak and wander off.
Invisible Fencing Pros
- Less expensive than fencing – Invisible fencing is a less expensive method of containing your pets than regular fencing. It’s far cheaper than building a traditional wooden or chain link fence.
- No obstructions – Invisible fencing won’t obstruct your view, which is important if you have a view worth preserving, such as a water view. Invisible fences are also a great solution in areas where fences are not allowed.
- Low maintenance – You never have to sand, paint or stain an invisible fence. It requires far less upkeep and maintenance than a traditional fence, particularly a wooden one. Invisible fences are also quicker and easier to install.
Invisible Fencing Cons
- Won’t keep creatures out – Invisible fences may keep your pet in the yard, but they won’t keep out neighborhood pets or wildlife. And unlike traditional fencing, they won’t keep children in and strangers out.
- No privacy – Invisible fences offer none of the privacy of traditional fences.
- Doesn’t always work – Some pets simply won’t be contained by invisible fencing. Some are bold enough to leave the property, despite the resulting shock. However, most invisible fencing companies offer money-back guarantees.
Choosing an Invisible Fence
One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is: wired or wireless? Wireless systems are much easier to install, but they don’t work as well. The transmitter creates an arbitrary circular boundary that cannot be adapted to the shape of your yard. With wired systems, you can control the size and shape of the boundary, and you can block off specific areas such as gardens and flower beds.
Next, consider the size of your dog and the size of your yard. If you have a Chihuahua, chances are you can get by with a weaker transmitter than the owner of an English Mastiff. If you have a small yard, just about any transmitter will do. If you have lots of acreage, you’ll need to buy a more powerful transmitter. Pay attention to the transmitter’s distance limits.
Finally, always buy a system with multiple levels of correction, not just one, so that you can adjust the level of shock. Some dogs are more sensitive and react to low levels of shock, while other dogs are more stubborn and require a higher level.