How to Train Your Dog to Use an Invisible Fence

How to Train Your Dog to Use an Invisible Fence
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-4 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

A rural pet owner with a large unfenced yard has two beautiful, large farm dogs.  The dogs' job is to guard the property, protecting the chickens and goats from predators, and the home from intruders. The quiet gravel road that goes by the property is rarely traveled except by locals, and the dogs are good about staying home with their family. But one day a rabbit in the field across the road catches the eye of the younger dog, who bolts across the road after the rabbit, heedless of the property line, or the road. Unfortunately, a guest looking for a local farm, and unfamiliar with the area is traveling down the road at precisely that time, and strikes the family farm dog with her car, killing him instantly. The driver is distraught, the farm family is devastated, and sadly, a dog is tragically lost due to a preventable accident. An invisible fence that would have given the farm dog a defined barrier and prevented him from bolting out onto the road might have prevented this sad outcome.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Defining Tasks

Some pet owners are unable to have a fenced-in area for their dogs, either due to cost or geographical constraint. This is especially common in rural areas, where large yard sites are often the norm, and there is a requirement for dogs to defend livestock and property. 

An invisible fence can be installed underground, or a transmitter set to allow a certain radius from a central point. The invisible fence can be set at the border of your property or yard site, or wherever you want your dog contained. The dog wears a radio collar that receives transmissions from a radio transmitter that is signaled by the invisible fence. The collar first produces an audible signal to the dog as he approaches the boundary of the invisible fence ,to let the dog know he is at approaching the boundary. If the dog proceeds to the boundary of the invisible fence he will receive a signal stimulus correction as he crosses the invisible fence line. The stimulus correction is usually similar to a static shock, and serves to deter the dog from crossing the invisible fence line, thus giving the dog a boundary and keeping the dog safely in a contained area. 

However, simply turning your dog out to learn how the invisible fence works by trial and error will result in many incidences of negative reinforcement, which can be frightening and confusing to your dog, and may take several unnecessary incidents in order for your dog to learn the boundaries of their invisible fence and stay contained within it. Responsible use of an invisible fence includes teaching your dog what the boundaries of the invisible fence are, and how to understand radio signals warning of impending corrective stimulus so they can react appropriately to avoid triggering the fence.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Getting Started

You should always choose an invisible fence system that has a  signal prior to the corrective stimulus, so your dog can learn to avoid being corrected. Most invisible fencing systems come with flags that can be used to mark the boundaries of the invisible fence to assist training by visually marking the boundary of the fence, allowing your dog to see and define the area he is to stay within. Use of a long leash to help your dog explore his yard, but allow controlled recall and guidance as your dog approaches boundaries, may be employed. You will also need a second non-metallic collar to use with the leash, as using the transmitter collar for leading is not appropriate and metal collars can interfere with radio signal transmission. 

Have lots of treats and toys to reward and reinforce appropriate containment behaviors.  Do not leave your dog unattended in an invisible fence during training, so as not to result in unnecessary negative stimuli corrections that can confuse your dog or allow successful attempts at evading the invisible fence.

arrow-up-icon

Top

The Response to Signal Method

Most Recommended

1 Vote

Ribbon icon

Most Recommended

1 Vote

Ribbon icon
1

Set to signal only

Set your invisible fence radio collar to signal only, so that only a signal is provided to the dog when they approach the invisible fence line and no corrective stimulus.

2

Approach fenceline

Take your dog on a walk with a leash and a separate non-metal collar, within but near the perimeter of the invisible fence line.

3

Move away when signalled

When the collar signals your dog with an audio signal that he is too close to the boundary, correct your dog by moving him away from the invisible fence line. Provide treats as a reward for moving away from the fence line when signaled.

4

Turn on correction

Once your dog is familiar with the signal and has learned to move away from the invisible fence line, turn on the lowest level of static correction.

5

Practice responding to signal

Continue to walk around the perimeter of the fence line. If your dog ignores the audio signal and goes past the boundary, he will receive a mild corrective stimulus.

6

Create distractions

Provide distractions, such as another dog or something your dog will be motivated to gravitate towards, on the other side of the fence.

7

Allow corrective stimulus

If your dog moves across the invisible fence line he will receive a corrective stimulus. If he ignores the correction, you may need to turn up the volume of the corrective stimulus as necessary, until you dog responds by staying within the boundary in spite of distractions. Reward your dog for retreating when signaled.

8

Practice off-leash

Move to off leash training. Continue supervision. When your dog retreats from the fence in response to the audible signal, give him a treat. When he approaches the fence line too closely he will receive corrective stimulation. Make adjustments to stimulation as necessary.

The Recall and Flags Method

Effective

1 Vote

Ribbon icon

Effective

1 Vote

Ribbon icon
1

Teach recall

Teach your dog to come when called using a long leash.

2

Set up flags

Install the invisible fence and set up flags at the invisible fence line.

3

Approach perimeter

Take your dog on a walk with a long leash and a separate non metal collar, within but near the perimeter of the invisible fence line. Walk a good distance away from your dog inside the fence line.

4

Recall when signal alerts

When the collar signals your dog with an audio signal that he is close to the boundary, call your dog. Reward him for coming to you and leaving the perimeter of the fence line.

5

Provide distractions

Once your dog is familiar with the signal and has learned to move away from the invisible fence line, provide distractions, such as another dog, on the other side of the fence.

6

Allow corrections

When your dog goes to move across the invisible fence line and receives the signal, call him. If he ignores you and proceeds across the fence line he will receive a corrective stimulus. If he ignores the correction you may need to turn up the strength of the corrective stimulus as necessary, until you dog responds by staying within the boundary in spite of distractions.

7

Remove leash

Allow your dog off leash. Continue supervision. When your dog retreats from the fence in response to the audible signal, give him a treat. When he approaches the fence line too closely he will receive correction. Make adjustments to stimulation as necessary.

8

Remove flags

Once your dog has a good idea of where the fence line is and responds to approaching it by retreating once he hears the audible signal, you can remove the flags from the perimeter. Continue to monitor until you are confident your dog knows where the perimeter is and responds appropriately to the signal to retreat back within the perimeter.

The Positive Reinforcement Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Mark fence line

Install an invisible fence and set up flags at the invisible fence line.

2

Initiate play

Take your dog out in the yard with his favorite toy. Play within the yard with your dog and the toy.

3

Direct away from signal

If your dog ventures to where the collar signals your dog with an audio cue that he is too close to the boundary, call your dog and reward him for coming to you with play.

4

Allow correction

If your dog ignores you and proceeds across the fence line, he will receive a corrective stimulus. If he ignores the correction you may need to turn up the level of the corrective stimulus as necessary.

5

Allow distractions

Continue to play with your dog as he stays within the yard. Allow distractions on the other side of the fence. Call your dog and encourage him to come play. When he hears the signal warning him he is approaching the fence line, allow him to be corrected if he transgresses the fence.

6

Practice, play, remove flags

Once your dog has a good idea of where the fence line is and responds to approaching it by retreating once he hears the audible signal, you can remove the flags from the perimeter. Continue to monitor until you are confident your dog knows where the perimeter is and responds appropriately to the signal to retreat back within the perimeter.

By Laurie Haggart

Published: 11/17/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Jax

Dog breed icon

American Staffordshire Terrier

Dog age icon

9 Years

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Hi There, I just had Dog Watch installed at my new house. Training was going well until my 9 year old got corrected a couple times. Now he is scared to go outside. Any tips? I am trying to use treats as a reward just to get him out in the yard. Not pushing the boundaries.

June 4, 2020

Jax's Owner

Expert avatar

Darlene Stott - Dog Trainer and Groomer

Recommendation ribbon

104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, sorry to hear that Jax is now afraid and associates the correction with the outdoors. I am not familiar with the use of these fences so cannot give the best answer, especially if treats are not doing the trick. Try calling the company to see if they have a trainer associated with them who can help. I am assuming the device can be turned off? Perhaps get Jax comfortable in the yard again and start over with the advice of the Dog Watch company. As well, take a look at Robert Cabral's website - he has a lot of videos on all kinds of issues. This video is on e-collars but may be a start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEg6lp9Oqd8 Here is his excellent site:https://robertcabral.com/. Good luck!

June 5, 2020

Dog nametag icon

Buster

Dog breed icon

Hound

Dog age icon

3 Years

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Hi! We installed an invisible fence and began training; however, our dog snuck out into the yard without us seeing and walked straight to the boundary receiving the static shock multiple times. Now we are having issues with him getting comfortable with going into the yard at all. How can we re-train him out of the negative experience he had? We've tried bringing him out on a leash and walking him around the safe zone giving him lots of treats and positive reinforcement but he is still uneasy.

Dec. 19, 2019

Buster's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Aimee, Continue what you are doing, adding in any other fun activities pup will do with you in the yard - such as play games or practice fast paced, high energy obedience or tricks with positive reinforcement. I would also suggest simply spending calm time in the yard with pup - go sit out there for an hour and read a book and give pup pets and treats whenever he relaxes a bit. Honestly, this will just take time for pup to re-acclimate to the yard through positive time out there. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Dec. 19, 2019


Training assistant
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.