When we moved into our house in Baton Rouge about eight years ago the property did not have a fence in either the front or the back yard. At the time we had two of the sweetest female Golden Retrievers in the world, Pip and Cindy, and we had to decide how to keep them contained when they were outside.
We looked at a couple of different options and went with the Wireless Invisible Fence from Petsafe. There are some drawbacks to the wireless invisible fence but overall I liked the benefits so much that I bought a second one. After a few years though, we turned the units off and put up a traditional metal fence.
Keep reading and I will share everything that I loved about the wireless fence and why we eventually turned it off.
What Is The Invisible Wireless Fence?
A wireless invisible fence has a central control unit that sends out a radio signal. Your dog wears a battery powered collar that has a radio receiver.
- As long as the collar receives the radio signal nothing happens.
- When the radio signal starts getting weak the dog has reached the boundary of the system and the collar makes warning beep sounds.
- When the collar no longer receives the radio signal it knows the dog has left the boundary and sends a corrective shock to the dog.
Here is the promotional sales video for the unit that I bought.
And here is a little more information on how to set up and use the fence.
The wireless fence is affordable and can be set up in minutes with no digging. Those were big selling points for me.
What I Loved About the Wireless Fence
I am a frugal guy (most of the time) and cost was a major consideration for me. The invisible fence setup I eventually went with cost me a few hundred dollars instead of several thousand for a traditional metal fence.
I LOVED how my backyard looked and did not want to spoil the view with a regular fence.
Our yard backs up to a very large unused wooded lot. I ended up buying a second control unit and setting it up in the back of the house. I was able to use the controller in the front of the house to dial in the perfect front yard boundary while using the unit in the back of the house to open up a massive boundary in the back yard.
It Worked Great
Pip and Cindy learned the boundaries and the meaning of a beeping collar pretty fast. We never had to move the shock correction up past the second setting. All in all I was really pleased with how the fence worked.
What I Didn’t Like About the PetSafe Wireless Fence
The receiver on the collar always need to be getting a signal from the controller unit. If the receiver doesn’t get a signal then it thinks the dog has left the boundary and will start shocking the dog. However, the dog leaving the boundary is not the only way that the receiver can stop receiving the signal. The receiver can also lose the signal if the controller is accidentally turned off.
We found several ways of screwing up and powering off the controller and it scared and confused our dogs.
- Accidentally bumped the plug out of the wall outlet while cleaning.
- Had the unit plugged into an outlet that was on a GFCI that tripped due to an event somewhere else on the circuit.
- Lost power during a storm.
The solution was to plug the controller into an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). A UPS is essentially a power strip with a built in battery backup that will provide power to your devices for an hour or so in case the electricity goes out. A decent UPS is going to set you back at least $100 and I consider it to be essential equipment if you want to use a wireless invisible fence.
People could not see the Invisible Fence.
It did not occur to me that one of the biggest advantages of the system was also a drawback. There were many times when the mail man and other delivery folks refused to drop off packages, etc because they were terrified of dogs and thought ours were running loose in the neighborhood.
It never helped to explain the fence to them. If they couldn’t see it then it didn’t exist.
Batteries for the collars.
Finding replacement batteries for the collars was a pain in the butt. Sometimes they would have them at Lowes and sometimes they wouldn’t. Sometimes they would have them at Petsmart and sometimes they wouldn’t.
Once or twice we ended up buying them off of Amazon which was an okay solution if you were planning in advance. However, we didn’t plan well and only bought batteries once we realized that the ones in the collars were dead.
Why We Installed a Metal Fence.
Our two female Golden Retrievers, Pip and Cindy, eventually died. We are dog people at heart though and soon brought a new pack into our home. Our current cast of characters is as follows:
Zen: A female Goldendoodle. She is one of the sweetest animals that you will ever meet although she might possibly be the dumbest dog that I have ever owned.
Rex: A male Golden Retriever. Rex is an AWESOME dog but is very spirited and determined to chase the neighbor’s cats. Rex is the World’s Best Ear Licker and he takes great pride in the title.
Millie: A female Wheaten Terrier. Millie is incredibly smart, very sweet, obsessed with squirrels and will do ANYTHING to protect our house.
Millie decided that our neighbor is a clear danger to our house.
Millie is determined that she will make him get out of his yard.
Millie does NOT mess around and she is NOT joking.
This was a serious problem.
We tried upping the shock level on the collar and, for a while, that worked. But Millie was smart and patient. Millie kept testing the boundaries. Eventually the battery in the collar would die, it would stop beeping and she knew she was free.
And then she would do her job the best way she knew how and terrorize anyone who got within 50 yards of our house.
If they didn’t leave she would give them a nip to let them know she was serious.
The danger of Millie getting out was too great for me to accept. All it would take would be one nip on the ankle of Little Precious riding her bike down my street and things would have gotten nasty really fast.
I didn’t want the lawsuit and I didn’t want to risk losing my house insurance.
I also didn’t want to risk the possibility that Millie might actually hurt someone.
It was time to turn off the Invisible Fence and put up something that would contain our ambitious Wheaten.
In the end I am glad that we put up the metal fence.
I think it looks okay and adds to the property value of our house. More importantly, I feel better knowing that my neighbors are safe from Millie and that Millie is safe from the consequences that would come from nipping a stranger’s child in the street.
Our dogs have less territory to roam now but there are still plenty of squirrels to chase in the yard. I keep a couple of squirrel feeders up to make sure there are always a few squirrels chattering in the trees and running through the yard.