What are the Differences Between Wireless or In-Ground system?

Should I get a wired or wireless dog containment fence?  What are the differences between wireless and in-ground dog fences?

In Ground (wired) dog containment systems work by using a boundary wire that you place in a loop forms a perimeter for the containment area.  The wire transmits a weak radio signal.  The dog wears a collar that picks up the signal when the dog gets too close to the wire.  The dog then gets a warning, and if they keep getting closer a correction.

In ground systems create a nice crisp and consistent boundary and for that reason are the most popular systems available.  They are also much more flexible and can be shaped to suit almost any shaped yard.

We strongly recommend in ground systems versus wireless systems.  It is a little bit more work up front, but you will be much happier with the result.  It is for good reason that nearly all professionals still use wired systems.  To compare in ground dog fences see here.

Wireless dog containment systems create a circular boundary around a central base station.  The boundary is a perfect circle. although you can adjust the radius of that circle.  These systems are much more convenient to set up, but they are not anywhere near as good as inground wired systems.  Wireless systems tend to have imprecise boundaries, that will move from minute to minute and make it harder to train the dog.

Wireless systems also have trouble getting through trees and maintaining a consistent boundary in sloping yards.  They hate being near any large metal objects, particularly refrigerators, water heaters and metal siding which block their signal.  It is unpredictable how these wireless systems will work in any individual house.

Where the wireless systems work best is if you have a large open space without many obstacles and with little slope. They are also useful to take camping or with your RV, where being able to quickly set up a temporary boundary is important.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Rodriguez July 17, 2017 at 1:43 pm


I have two German Shepherds and one English Sheep Dog, they are escape masters! I was wondering if the Stubborn pet safe wire would work? and also if it would work with water, because here it rains a loot!

ADMIN – Hi Laura. The wire that works with the Stubborn system is the same wire that will work with most wired dog fence systems. Water should pose no problems to any of the wired fence systems as far as contact with the wire.

Madi Petersen March 16, 2017 at 10:42 pm

I have a English Mastiff and a Boxmas. We recently bought a house and put up a fence for the dogs. They have found creative ways to get under the fence. I have tried an in ground fence for our mastiff awhile back and it didn’t faze her one bit. I’m doing my research this time on what may be better for these type of dogs. We can’t risk them getting out again. We live in the middle of town and some find our dogs a bit frightening ha. If you could offer any help on what to do that’d be fantastic!
Thank you!

ADMIN – HI Madi. With jumpers, escape artists, or diggers, we usually recommend laying the wire a foot or more inside the fence so that the dogs do not even get to the fence to escape. Then you will want to set a wide boundary width for notification. Also, you will want a traditional style dog fence.
The Boundary Wire should be installed 5-10 feet away from metal and/or electromagnetic interference (e.g., metal siding, aluminum siding, metal roof, metal fencing, HVAC equipment, etc) to avoid amplification problems and unintended corrections to the dog’s collar.
With existing fences, we recommend laying the wire on top of the ground in the location you want and testing the collar to make sure it beeps and corrects at the right location on the perimeter loop. This way, if you need to move the wire closer to or further away from the fence, you can do so easily. Once the correct location has been determined, then you can bury your wire 1″ – 3″ in the ground or tack it to the surface of the ground using lawn staples to hold it in place.
Keep in mind that your dog will not receive a correction until s/he actually crosses the boundary wire.
Please visit our Dog Fence Reviews page to see what options might match best with your dog and your yard.

I would recommend looking at a couple of different systems to get an idea of what your options are based on your dog’s temperament.

Dottie July 29, 2016 at 7:43 am

Our underground fence wire has a breach that we can’t see. Is there any way to locate where the break in the wire is ?

ADMIN – Hi Dottie. There is a Wire Break Locator Kit that you can purchase in our store.

katrina August 13, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Our dogs were trained at our previous home on a buried wire invisible fence system, and it worked quite well. We have just bought a home with 12 wooded acres and a very small front lawn. We now need to install some kind of invisible fence system (mostly for when we are out of town and have people staying at our home, watching the dogs, to ensure that they won’t run off after wildlife). We were going to get the wireless system, hoping that we could set it so that the dogs could play in the lawn as well as the treed areas still. I have been seeing in some comments that the wireless systems do not transmit well through trees. Is it a big enough interference to be concerned about? We were hoping not to have to bury a line in the woods, because it is quite a pain to deal with roots and the under brush, etc. But I would rather have the most reliable system possible. What do you suggest?
Thanks so much for your help, in advance!

ADMIN – Hi Katrina. Congratulations on your new home! You will need between 3,500 – 4,000 feet of Boundary Wire to contain your dogs in a 12 acre perimeter loop. What is the age, weight, breed and temperament of your dogs? Answering these questions will help me match your dogs to the best electric dog fence system.

Beth February 26, 2015 at 5:11 pm

I will be renting a home and it does not have a fence on all sides of the yard. I have two dogs, 8 year old miniature poodle 14 pounds and a 1 year old poodle mix that’s about 13 pounds. Which system would work best, wireless or in ground? The poodle mix is also a climber would either one be beneficial?

ADMIN – Hi Beth. Have you visited our DogFenceDIY Planning, Installation, and Layout page? What is the size of your containment area? Does your yard have a slope, metal, metal fence, metal siding, metal roof, trees, or shed? Wireless dog fence systems do not work well under these conditions. However, the PetSafe YardMax PIG00-11115 underground dog fence would work well for your two dogs. We recommend setting the YardMax to Traditional Mode “B” and adjusting the Boundary Control Dial on the Transmitter to the appropriate Boundary Width setting. For example, if you set the Boundary Width Control Dial to 6 you will have 3 feet of signal on each side of the boundary wire. The boundary wire can be installed in front or along the bottom of the wood fence. This prevents the dog from damaging, digging, or jumping over the fence. The boundary flags are set at the 3 feet warning zone inside of the pet area. Then, test the Collar with the Test Light Tool to make sure the collar is beeping and correcting 3 feet inside of the boundary wire.

Candice January 18, 2015 at 2:58 pm

I’m looking for an in ground system for my dog, he’s a german shepard about 11 months old. He is very stubborn and likes to leave the property a lot. If I were to get a system I need one that is capable of monitoring him 24/7. I have heard that the collars can irritate the skin on the animals, is there a recommended time I should take the collar off and leave it off for a period of time? I’m new to learning about in ground fencing because this is the first dog I’ve had to consider getting one for. Also are they easy to be moved once they are placed?

ADMIN – Hi Candice. Congratulations on your new dog! What is the weight of your German Shepard? What is the size of your property? Are you going to contain your dog in a perimeter loop? We recommend removing the dog collar every 12 hours to ensure collar fit and to check the dogs skin for any signs of irritations. We recommend burying the in-ground dog fence boundary wire 1-3 inches in the ground. Also, it is a good idea to draw a dog fence layout so that you do not have to move the dog fence to another location on your property.

Tricia April 28, 2014 at 10:51 am

Is the “shock” on an underground fence better than a wireless one? We recently got a wireless one, and on the highest setting my dog will still run off, no care in the world 🙁

ADMIN – Hi Tricia, Not necessarily. The key is the collar fit. A dog that leaves with no care in the world is typical of a collar fit problem. Try thinning the fur with scissors where the contact points touch the dog’s neck. If any a small amount of fur is covering the contact points, it will prevent the correction from being delivered.

Pepper Leslie January 29, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Are the collars for the Wireless fence the same as the collars for the in ground wire fence?

ADMIN – Hi Pepper, no, unfortunately, the collars are different.

yasik August 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Using a wireless system with aluminum siding. Is this a problem. What if the system is installed in an attic (ie no siding, just lumber and shingles)

ADMIN – Hi Yasik, the aluminum siding is going to be a problem. Attic installation will not solve the problem. The signal would be out of range of the collar if placed in the attic.

Kristie Smith July 12, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I have a 2yr old Siberian husky who LOVES to dig out from under the fence. Once she gets out she doesn’t listen either. I’ve had her in one traing class and fixing to get in another for the obedience. But I have a huge back yard and can only do so much as to burying cement stepping stones where she digs. That is our solution right now. I did have a regular hot wire fence up but that didn’t last long as in the fence staying in working order! Any suggestion to ease my frustrations:(

Oh and nothing is in the back yard at all because she tears it up. My idea is to contain her to a part of it so I can fix the rest up to enjoy and entertain without falling in holes:) Thanks

ADMIN – Hi Kristie,

Yes, the Huskies are definitely the Houdini’s of the dog world. Fortunately, they do well on electronic dog fences. I would use a PetSafe Ultrasmart. The ultrasmart has long prongs, and a collar detection mode that tells you if you have the collars fitted correctly – something that is otherwise tricky with the thick husky undercoat.

craig pattinson June 11, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I am stuck trying to determine what dog fence to get. I really like the wireless systems due to its ease and flexibility. I have a german shepard (8 months) who is a bit stubborn once she gets out and roams she will not listen to come back. Enjoys her freedom, but I cannot let her do that for her safety. I also like her to run in the lake and open area parks when available.

Do you recommend a electric fence system or is it best to get a shock collar that can be used daily. I have never had either system, but I am getting down to no other choice. Thanks

ADMIN – Hi Craig,

The training collar, and the electric fence are both good tools, but address separate issues.

A dog fence is going to work much better for contain her because it is more consistent – the problem with a training shock collar is that it needs you to be constantly present and inevitably the dog learns that they are only constrained when you are around. If you want to do obedience training (sit, stay, come), a training collar would be a good aide to use with a German Shepherd – they respond well to these collars when used as part of a training regime.

There is one combination system, the Innotek IUC-5100 (wired) Dog Fence. It is a really good dog fence, and also has a built in remote control shock collar. The shock collar is just okay, it is good for close range obedience training but is not good for longer distance off-leash work.

Jena March 31, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I have one side of my back yard that needs an invisible fence for the chain-link fence hat one of the 3 dogs likes to climb. It is approximately 50 feet. What do I need to order from you?

ADMIN – Hi Jena,

I presume you are just trying to block off that one area, and don’t need containment for the rest of the yard. A typical solution to block just that one area would be to run a loop along that chain link, with the wire running along the bottom of the fence, then circling back to complete the loop along the top of the fence.

Happy to make some suggestions, can you tell me more about the dog that likes to climb? (Age, breed, weight, temperament)

Charleen Armstrong June 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm

I have three Nova Scotia duck Toller dogs( ages 4 months, 2 years, 5 years). They weight 20 lbs., 35 lbs., 36 lbs. What would be your recommendation? Only one of the dogs leaves my 20 acres of land. I am looking at a Guardian underground dog fence; do you think this would be good for me or maybe a wireless system? I live 1/4 of a mile off the road and my dogs run when they see someone come in the yard. Can it be set up around trees? I have a wood section and then a lawn in front of the house. Thanks

Admin- Hi Charleen,

Your best option will be a in-ground dog fence. Unfortunately we are not familiar with Guardian dog fence systems and a wireless system will not work since you have a lot of tree cover. My recommendation for your three Nova Scotia will be the PetSafePIG0013619. The system comes with 500 feet of wire and to cover 20 acres, you will need a total of 4500 feet of wire.

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