Review of PetSafe Wireless Fences

Good dogs sitting with SpotOn collars

When searching for a DIY containment solution to keep your pet safe, you have many options, including buried wire fences, wireless fences, and now satellite-powered fences.

One popular brand of DIY containment solutions is PetSafe®. PetSafe offers several varieties of both in-ground fences (such as YardMax® Cordless In-Ground Fence™ and Stubborn Dog In-Ground Fence™) and wireless fences (such as the Free to Roam Wireless Fence™ and the Stay & Play™ Wireless Fence).

Buried Wire Fences

PetSafe’s in-ground fences typically take a weekend to install. You’ll need to house a transmitter that plugs in somewhere safe from the elements, like in your house or garage. Depending on which fence you choose, you can create a containment area of as little as .25 acres or as much as 25 acres, though customers report it does not work well for 2+ acre containment areas. Be sure to check the box of your PetSafe wireless fence to see how much wire it includes and the maximum size for the transmitter. There are transmitter models that only work up to 5 acres. Most kits will only cover 1/3 an acre, but you can buy extra wire to extend the coverage area. You need ~1000’ of wire for an acre.

The first step is to install the buried wire by digging a narrow trench about three inches deep and placing the wire in it. Many people choose to rent a trencher from Home Depot or Lowes to help with the job. If you have a rocky area or body of water, a buried wire fence may not work and you will need to avoid that area. Be sure to bury it deep so that the wire does not push to the surface and get run over by a lawn mower or cut by a garden tool. In some colder climates, frozen ground can also push the wire up or crack it. If your wire is broken, you will need to buy more wire and reinstall it. This can be challenging to do in winter if the ground is frozen.

You can have an unlimited number of dogs on this system if you buy additional collars for $100-$150 each. However, all animals will be limited to the same boundary, so you couldn’t elect to give one more freedom than the other.

If this installation seems difficult, you can always opt for the Invisible Fence®  product which can be installed by a professional. While it’s more expensive (around $2,000-$2,500 for an acre), it can be worth avoiding the hassle of a DIY wireless fence.

Wireless Fences

Petsafe’s Wireless Fences work with a base station which creates a circular boundary. Typically these work for only ¾ of an acre or less. To use, you need to place the base station in an area that is protected from the elements and next to a power plug. The containment area will be established based on the location of the base station, so make sure the circle does not extend into a neighbor’s yard or the road. These base stations also communicate with a dog collar that will correct your dog if he tries to leave the containment area. You can buy extra dog collars for around $150 each.

Some people do find that large structures in the yard like a barn or old growth trees can interfere with the radio signals, so be sure to proof your boundaries.

One upside to wireless fences is that you can take them with you when you move and use them when you travel, provided you have a power source at the location. So a new home or vacation home usually works well. They aren’t as useful at campgrounds, beaches, or parks.

Satellite-Powered Fences

Woman setting up her invisible fence perimeterThe SpotOn GPS Fence is the latest in wireless fence technology. It uses GPS and satellites to establish the boundary and therefore doesn’t require installation and eliminates the need for buried wires and base stations. You just take the collar hardware and walk the perimeter of any containment area and set it. The collar communicates with satellites to determine where the dog is and issues warning tones and optional static correction if your pup tries to escape.

No longer will you need to spend your Saturday burying wires (which can break in the event of extreme weather, or be damaged by lawnmowers) worry about finding a power source, tinker with the circular radius, or pay for costly maintenance so your dog can stay safely contained on your property.

In addition, the SpotOn System can set up containment areas in any size (.5-infinite acres) or shape and be modified in minutes. With its point-to-point snap feature, you can even use it over bodies of water or areas that you can’t walk due to uneven terrain.

It’s totally portable, too. You can create up to 10 wireless fences of almost any size and shape and take them with you when you travel or move – you can even set different containment areas for each dog. It’s great both at a vacation home and in public areas like parks, campgrounds, and beaches.

The SpotOn system also offers notifications if your dog breaches the boundary as well as tracking to retrieve your dog if he escapes.

To learn more about how SpotOn GPS Fence compares to the PetSafe system, check out the comparison chart here.