How to Train Your Dog with Invisible Fencing

June 25, 2010

By Suzanne Alicie

Invisible fencing is a method of containing your pet that, while it may seem quick and easy, actually requires quite a bit of training in order to make your pet understand. Essentially the fencing is laid underground and your pet will wear a transmitter collar. As your pet nears the fencing area the collar will beep; this is your pet’s signal to turn back. If your pet continues he will approach the fencing and receive (typically) a shock. Another method some company’s use is to spray citronella in the dog’s face. Either of these methods are a repellent to the dog, and he will want to avoid them. However, it is up to you as a responsible pet owner to work with your pet and teach him what the beeping and the fencing response means. Otherwise you may have a very confused dog who continually tries to bolt over or cross the fencing area.

Before attempting to train your dog with an invisible fencing system, it is essential that he knows the basic commands. It’s also important to keep in mind that the fence training is not something which can be fully accomplished in a few short weeks. Dogs continue to learn what is expected of them as they grow and encounter new situations.

To begin training your dog to understand invisible fencing, you must first mark the boundaries. Use flags or cones to outline the path of the invisible fencing. Place your dog on the leash with the fencing de-activated and walk him around the perimeter. Allow him to smell and become accustomed to these additions to his yard.

After the first few trips around the yard, activate the fencing and allow him to only go to where the warning beep sounds. Continue this daily for about a week. Next, place your dog on the leash or a run and affix it so that he can’t go past the beep trigger area. Allow him to wander and roam within this area only. Continue this practice for a few days.

Lengthen the leash so that your dog can reach just past the perimeter of the fencing. As he wanders the yard, and you see him approaching the warning beep area call him back. Be sure to praise him and reward him for his effort. If he continues after you call him he will either be shocked or sprayed. At that time, walk him around the perimeter allowing him to recognize the warning beeps and if necessary get sprayed or shocked as he examines the perimeter. This will help reinforce the boundaries and teach your dog the consequences if he attempts to leave the boundaries.

Each day, remove a few of the perimeter markings and continue to let your dog explore while leashed until he knows the boundaries. It takes approximately 6 weeks for a dog to learn the boundaries and be allowed to play in the yard while off the leash.

As a responsible pet owner, it is important that you never leave your unleashed dog unattended in an invisibly fenced yard. Some dogs are smarter than you think, and will realize that if they get over the perimeter the shock will stop. A black lab owned by a neighbor of mine had it figured out that if he could just get past the fencing he was in the clear. It was dangerous for the dog, but also amusing to watch him race across the yard, jump the boundary with a little yelp and then run down the street. Despite the owner’s expense, and the training, that dog was simply destined to spend his outdoor time on the leash. Another neighbor has a dog that no matter what will not cross the warning beep. As soon as he hears it he high tails it back toward the house.

Invisible fencing is not right for every dog. Each dog is different, and each person must make the right choice for his pet. Evaluating the pros and cons of invisible fencing is an important part of making this decision.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Pet Foods.

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  1. Elise says:

    I agree with this. But feel that an important part is left out. I was taught to train the dog to retreat from the beep indicator to the inside perimeter with enthusiasm and praise. When the retreat response training is completed, begin to remove flags/cones……

  2. Dorothy Dobbins says:

    I have a new dog one year old and have an invisible fence. On the first day of training my dog got shocked and now she won’t go near the fence. How can I teach her the boundries?

    1. Pennie Young says:

      I have the exact same problem with my 7 month old pup. He will play in the middle of the yard, but will NOT go anywhere near the flags when I try to train him…..and he doesn’t understand the consequences, so he has bolted through the fence a couple of times into the neighbors yard.
      Would be nice to get an answer here, please ???

      1. Elise says:

        The shock part of the collar should be blocked with the rubber cover until training to respond to the beep is complete. How did that part go? At this point, I would start over. Take down the flags and remove the collar. The whole point of a dog and a yard is fun and safety.

  3. Ken Givens says:

    I have a 1 year old german shepherd that we were given. She is fairly trained, and listens most of the time and I am just starting to train her.

    The deal is when we both leave home, she jumps fence around the back yard. We want to know if we can take the wire and go around the back yard fence, but

    1. not cross the door/doggy door area so she can go out on the porch and back yard when we are gone. Tried putting her in garage with water food toys and she hurt her pauws trying to eat the door jam to get out.

    2. and just want turn it on when we are gone, a few hours generally. So she can go out but not jump the fence or the gate. If we set this up and just use when we are not home, and leave it off while at home… can we still go thru the area back yard gates with her.. or will she be freaked out and not pass the boundary, even though not on.

    Please give me your experience on this. We can always move the wire out past the fence (we have 3 acres) but the goal is to just to keep her from jumping fence.

    Thank you!

    Ken Givens

    1. Mark says:

      No expert here, but I would imagine the idea is that the dog NEVER crosses the fence. If the fence is enforced sometimes and not enforced other times, that would confuse the dog. We have not yet trained our dog (too young), but were told the first step is to “lift him over the fence” as if it were there, even though he’s not yet wearing the collar. The dog should come to believe the fence is always there, even when it’s not.

  4. wendy salmon says:

    I used underground fencing with my black lab, and after some serious training she will not pass her vicinity even without the collar on now. You must be very serious with training. I just got a new puppy and am going to do the same training.

  5. Sarah says:

    Awesome advice…we just got a dog a few weeks ago and are thinking about getting a wireless fence. I’ve heard a ton of great things about the radial shape wireless dog fence by Havahart Wireless. It covers the most area out of all the ones I’ve seen and set up looks like a breeze. Here is the one I’m thinking about getting for us.