Which Is Better: Wired or Wireless Dog Fence?


Buying an invisible dog fence is a significant investment both in time and financially and there are lots of options out there for keeping your dog safe in the yard. Buried wire, or traditional “Invisible” fences have been around since the 1970s and have proven to be successful containment solutions for millions of dogs. The first versions relied on a buried wire and an indoor transmitter paired with a radio frequency collar. As fence technology advanced, “wireless” base station versions were introduced, and more recently GPS fences. So which is better, a wired or wireless dog fence? Read on to make that decision for yourself!

How does an invisible dog fence work? These traditional buried wire fences, such as Invisible Fence® use an underground wire and radio frequency base station housed indoors. They rely on the dog wearing a collar and receiving a static correction within proximity to a boundary line. 

  • Wire stays in place under the ground 
  • A customized fence of any shape can be laid 
  • The technology is decades old and has been used by millions of dogs. 
  • They are great if you have an irregularly shaped yard or need to keep the dog out of certain areas (like a driveway or garden).
  • You must dig a trench in the yard (which can be time consuming or expensive) 
  • The wire can be damaged by lawn mowers or frozen ground and must be repaired in order for the entire system to function 
  • Since the system is proximity-based, some dogs can jump over the wire and escape 
  • Repairs can be costly (+/- $600 a year) 
  • The collar’s battery has a short shelf life and will die without warning. Replacing the battery can be costly and inconvenient
Wireless fences like PetSafe's Free to Roam Wireless Fence™ and Stay & Play Wireless Fence® rely on an indoor base station/radio transmitter and allow for a certain radius of movement within them.

  • Since the unit relies only on the base station, you don’t need to worry about wires
  • These systems are often less expensive, you can take it if you move
  • The wireless fence is limited to a fixed circular perimeter
  • It can be difficult to fine-tune and can be tricky to place given the size and shape of the property
  • It can be affected by topography—for instance, the circle can be shifted blocked by hills or tall structures

GPS-based wireless fences, like SpotOn Virtual Fence, are powered by satellites. The most recent upgrade to wireless fence technology, GPS dog fences eliminate the need for buried wires and base stations and can be used anywhere there is a GPS signal (basically anywhere on the planet).

  • You can create a GPS fence anywhere without the need for a power source so you can use it anywhere 
  • You can create fences of any shape and any size 
  • You can create fences over tricky terrain You can store multiple locations at one time 
  • You can create multiple fences in your yard (so your pup can have a large play area in the day and a smaller area for potty breaks in the evening) 
  • If the dog escapes his fence, you can receive an automatic smartphone notification
  • Because the technology all needs to fit into a self-contained unit, the collar tends to be larger than traditional Invisible Fence®  collars
  • Because the battery powers the collar, the fence, and all communications to and from the satellite and cellular networks, the rechargeable battery runs about 24 hours

Though the many wireless fence options vary in capability and price point, there is one constant to all: you must properly train your dog to understand and respect his boundaries. We’ve got plenty of resources to help! Learn more about training your pup to an wireless dog fence with these helpful videos