How Does Invisible Fences Work? (Explained for Beginners)

Last Updated on July, 2024

It’s maddening when our dogs keep wandering outside the yard, right?

So, an invisible fence is an excellent option if you are considering containing your pup inside the yard without obstructing the view.

Invisible fences do not involve any physical barrier. It’s like something magical.

So, how does an invisible fence work?

Keep reading this article to learn how invisible fences work, their components, pros and cons, and more.

Let’s dive right in!

Quick Summary

Invisible fences work by using a transmitter to emit a radio signal that creates a boundary around the yard. This boundary is connected to a receiver collar worn by the dog, which uses different correction options such as a mild electric stimulation to train the pet to stay within the perimeter.

The correction is a mild electric stimulation that gets the dog’s attention and interrupts their behavior.

Training is necessary for the invisible fence to be effective, and it comes with three main components: the transmitter, the fence perimeter, and the receiver collar.

Quick Summary

An invisible fence is an electronic fence that uses a radio signal to create a boundary that a dog cannot cross without receiving a correction.

The correction is a mild electric stimulation that gets the dog’s attention and interrupts their behavior.

Invisible fences require training to be effective.

How Does Invisible Dog Fence Work?

a dog wearing invisible fence collar and standing near the invisible fence boundary flag

An invisible dog fence creates a wired or wireless boundary that prevents your pooch from running away.

It seems like there’s a fence around your yard but you cannot see it.

So, how is this possible?

The boundary is linked to the other components of the invisible fence. Together, they create an invisible perimeter by transmitting energy.

When your pup comes near the boundary, a tone or vibration will prevent them from escaping from the perimeter.

And there are two boundary types of invisible fences, wired and wireless.

A wired fence uses an underground wire to establish a barrier. On the other hand, a wireless fence creates a wireless circular boundary in a specific diameter.

Dog owners can create a boundary in custom shapes using a wired fence. However, some wireless fences only allow you to create a circular-shaped border while some let you create custom shapes. 

Now, let’s take a closer look at how exactly the components of the invisible fence work. Shall we?

What are the Components of an Invisible Fence?

Most invisible dog fences consist of three main components. They are the transmitter, the fence perimeter, and the receiver collar worn by your pet.


Invisible fence systems come with a standard or deluxe transmitter.

The main difference between these transmitters is the area each can cover and the correction options. 

We’ll talk about the correction options in an upcoming section of the article.

So, you must keep the transmitter in a dry, well-ventilated, easy-to-reach, and protected area. And you have to plug it into a standard electrical outlet.

Transmitter box

In wired fences, the transmitter emits a radio signal to the buried wire to create a boundary line.

And in wireless fences, the transmitter establishes a circular boundary zone around itself.

In addition, most transmitters do not use a lot of power. Therefore, the signal range around the wire is small, which is approximately 10 or 15 feet.

But, some systems use both low and high-power signals. So, these systems can recognize different distances and provide different correction levels.

Invisible Fence Perimeter

Before installing a wired fence, you should lay out the boundary with spray paint or a garden hose before installing the wire.

This will make it easier for you to understand where the fencing system will be.

Moreover, you need to bury the wire 1 to 3 inches below the surface of your yard. 

By the way, the system will work just fine even if you do not bury the wire.

a human burying the fence wire

But, burying will ensure the wire is secure from cuts and someone tripping over it.

Most invisible fences come with a 500-foot roll of 18 gauge multi-stranded wire, wire fastener, and wire nuts.

And a 500-foot roll is adequate for about ½ acre of land. So, if your yard is larger than ½ acre, you will have to buy an extra wire package.

Moreover, when installing the wire, you can enclose swimming pools, gardens, or any other area where you do not want your dog to roam freely.

You can do this by twisting the wire between the pool or garden and your yard. Twisting two wires together cancels the signal. As a result, it enables your pooch to roam freely between the borders of each enclosure.

It is also important to note that wired invisible fences are more permanent than the wireless counterpart because they use underground wires.

And wired fences are AWESOME if you want to customize the perimeter size and shape.

Wireless fences are portable, so they are a GREAT choice if you move often. Also, you do not need much effort to set them up. 

But KEEP IN MIND! The obstacles in your yard may reduce the signal strength of the fence system.

Receiver Collar

Most wired and wireless invisible fence systems include a waterproof and lightweight receiver collar.

The dog connects with the invisible fence via the collar worn around the neck.

So, your pet MUST WEAR the collar to stay within the fence perimeter. 

This collar is rechargeable and battery-powered (6-volt battery). 

Moreover, there is a tiny radio receiver inside the collar.

a human holding invisible fence receiver collar

When the receiver comes close enough to the boundary, it receives a signal that the wire emits. 

So, once your dog wears the collar and comes near the boundary, it will give a static correction. As a result, your pet will learn not to go beyond the barrier.

And any pet or animal that does not wear a collar can roam freely through the barrier.

The Correction

A correction is a mild, harmless electric stimulation that gets the dog’s attention. 

Pets will experience a little tingling sensation on their skin that interrupts their behavior, which is roaming beyond the boundary. Think of it as a light tap on your shoulder.

Also, some fence systems have tone-only correction mode. This option gives a beep sound to control dogs’ behavior.

Some invisible fences offer vibration, tone, and shock together. And some dog collars like Halo use return whistles to guide dogs’ behaviors.

The correction is there to REMIND your pup that they cannot go past the boundary.

And the collar uses different levels of corrections to keep them inside the barrier. But you are the one to decide how the fence system will correct your dog.

Moreover, you can adjust the intensity level of the correction.

The correction options differ according to the system you have. 

a dog lying on the ground and wearing invisible fence collar

A basic transmitter can cover about 20 acres of land. And it may offer only a “warning and correction” option.

However, an advanced transmitter can cover about 100 acres of land. And it offers three correction options, “warning”, “warning and correction”, and “correction only”.

When the pet gets close to the perimeter, the receiver will beep, and this is the “warning”.

The closer your pup gets to the boundary, the slower the beep gets.

If your pet ignores the warning and goes toward the border, the receiver will send out the correction you selected, such as static electricity or citronella spray.

How Do You Train Your Dog to Stay in an Invisible Fence?

Now that you know how an invisible fence works, it is time to learn the next step, training your dog to stay inside the fence.

Pet owners MUST train their dogs before letting them inside an invisible fence. Therefore, safely introducing the invisible fence to your pet is essential.

Training with an invisible fence teaches dogs to stop when they receive a correction after approaching the boundary.

Professionally-installed invisible fence packages include at least one training session. 

If you plan to hire a local dog fence installer to set up the fence, ask them about the training that comes with it. 

And if you wish to set up the fence by yourself, do the training yourself or hire a reputable dog trainer.

Moreover, the training age differs according to the breed. But, you can start training your pooch when they are between five to six months old.

Most fence systems recommend that you let your pup wear a deactivated collar for a week prior to training. This allows your pet to get used to the extra weight of the collar.

First, train your dog with the leash. If you do not usually use a leash, train your furry friend by slowly walking them on it in gradual increments of 15 minutes.

Do not force them. Remember to BE PATIENT with your pup!

Pets may be hesitant to learn about this new thing.

Training with the wired fence includes boundary flags, correction training, consistent training, and the Dummy Collar Effect.

So let’s check these out!

  • Boundary flags: This is a visual training aid for you and your pet. You should keep the flags in place for at least two weeks. Your pup will associate the things inside the boundary as the safe zone. And they will learn that they can roam freely inside it without receiving a correction.
  • The correction training: Your pet has to be on a leash when they receive the correction for the first time. This allows pet owners to guide their pets’ behavior if they get confused.
  • Consistent training: Stubborn pets need more time inside the fence to learn how it works.
  • The Dummy Collar Effect: This method eliminates the activated collar for three to seven days. This enables the pet to avoid the boundary altogether.

Do You Need an Invisible Fence?

halo and spoton invisible fence

Installing an invisible fence is mainly about your pet’s safety.

So, you should carefully consider the product you are going to use. Therefore, you will have to research the products you consider and read reviews.

More importantly, you have to consult your dog’s veterinarian before using an invisible fence. 

And don’t forget to discuss your pup’s effects on the fence.

Also, consider the product’s cost, advantages, and disadvantages when selecting the best invisible fence for your dog.

The invisible fences we recommend are the Halo collar and SpotOn, probably two of the best in the market. So, check them out! 

How Much Does an Invisible Fence Cost?

The price of an invisible fence is about $957 – $1444. And the price depends on the technology and materials used.

However, this price is lower than that of a dog fence that uses traditional materials, ranging from $1500 to $8000.

Pros and Cons of Invisible Fences for Dogs


Ensures your pet’s safety while giving them freedom. Dogs cannot escape by digging under, chewing, or jumping over the invisible fence.
Does not require physical maintenance.
Pet owners do not have to change their landscaping to use an invisible fence.
Dog parents can install the fence by themselves.
Cheaper than regular dog fences.
Facilitates training dogs.
Does not obstruct the view like traditional fences.
Can be easily moved and adjusted according to the preference.
Unlike conventional fences, invisible fences do not need a permit to set up.


It only provides one-way protection. Animals or people on the outside can enter the perimeter.
It requires training to use an invisible fence.
Not suitable for dogs with certain medical conditions.
It will not work if there is an electrical outage or depleted batteries.

Read more pros and cons of the invisible fence here.


It typically takes two weeks for a dog to become familiarized with an invisible fence.

An invisible fence should be buried 1-3 inches below the ground surface.


An invisible fence is a safe, easy, and affordable way of keeping dogs safe inside your yard. However, training your dog before letting them inside the fence is essential.

And the correction given by the receiver collar plays a vital role in guiding your pet toward the safe zone.

To sum up, if you are on the fence and haven’t yet decided which invisible fence to go with, I recommend you to check out the best invisible fence article.

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Stefano Giachetti
Stefano Giachetti is always excited to share his knowledge and love of animals with you through our blog, IPetGuides. And he has always loved animals and has been blessed to have many pets throughout his life. Currently has a Pomeranian Dog Breed.

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