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What brand of dog fence should I buy?
There are so many different brands of dog fences available online and home improvement and pet stores — shoppers are often left shaking their heads, wondering, "Why should I buy this brand instead of that one? Should I just get whatever brand is cheapest?"
It's a shame, really, because buying a dog fence doesn't need to be so confusing! In fact, you can likely decide which brand is dog fence brand is best for you rather quickly, once you understand what features you (and your dog) actually need.
As a former pro installer, I've installed every major brand of dog fence on the market — from PetSafe to Innotek to Invisible Fence — and I can tell you honestly that they all have their pros and cons. After you finish reading this article, take a look at my individual product reviews to help make your final buying decision.
What's the best dog fence brand?
You're probably not surprised to hear the answer to this question is: It depends! But, that answer isn't really as vague as it first seems.
The first thing you should know is that all of the major brands of do-it-yourself invisible dog fences are manufactured by one company — Radio Systems Corp. That includes the PetSafe, SportDog, Innotek, and Guardian lines. In fact, Radio Systems Corp. also owns Invisible Fence, which is the best-known of the pro-installed brands. So, unless you're considering buying a small-name brand, in the end you're going to be dealing with Radio Systems Corp. for any warranty issues you encounter.
Interestingly, while Radio Systems Corp. is the single manufacturer for most major pet fence brands, not all of the brands it manufactures are created equal; they each have different product features and warranties to consider as you make your buying decision. So, the real question you should be asking is not, "What brand should I buy," but "What features do I need?"
What features do I need in a dog fence?
This is where things get pretty simple: No matter what brand of invisible dog fence you buy, you should purchase it with the following considerations in mind.
PetSafe Deluxe Fence
1) Does the dog fence include a receiver with multiple correction levels? The receiver is the device your dog wears around his neck that corrects him if he decides to venture out of his containment area. Some dog fences include single-level receivers that deliver only ONE level of correction, regardless of your dog's size, age, and temperament. In my experience those single-level receivers just aren't worth the money you'll pay for them. In fact, if you take only one thing away from reading this article, let it be this: Only buy a dog fence that includes a multi-level receiver! This holds true regardless of brand.
Think of it this way: Like people, every dog has a unique temperament. Some dogs are pretty sensitive, and it just doesn't take much correction to convince them to respect their invisible dog fence. In fact, if you DO use more correction than a sensitive dog requires, you'll likely scare that dog so that he no longer enjoys his yard. Not only is that unfair (I'd even go so far as to say mean), but it can also provoke a variety of training problems that are no fun to fix — for example, peeing on the patio instead of in the yard. So, if your dog has a "soft" personality, you'll need to use only the lowest levels on the dog fence receiver.
On the other hand, if your dog is stubborn or stoic, the correction of a single-level receiver probably isn't going to be enough to keep him in the yard. Then, you'll end up dealing with a completely different set of no-fun-to-fix problems, like finding your dog when he breaks through his invisible barrier.
Lastly, as you'll learn in our Training Guide, the right way to train any dog to understand an invisible dog fence is to start with very low correction levels. As your dog begins to learn what you expect from him, you'll gradually increase the correction until you discover the level that your dog finds aversive. This approach serves two purposes: 1) It gives your dog a chance to understand how the invisible dog fence works before he gets a significant correction and 2) It allows you to dial in the correction that is appropriate for your dog's unique personality. You simply can't use this training method with a single-level receiver.
2) How big is your dog? Another issue to consider when choosing an invisible dog fence is your dog's size. Some receivers are much larger than others, so if your dog is very small (I'm thinking Chihuahua/Yorkie-sized here) you should choose the smallest, lightest multi-level receiver that you can find.
3) How big is your yard? This may surprise you, but not every brand of invisible dog fence covers the same amount of space. If you have a regular, suburban-sized yard, it's likely that any brand of dog fence you choose will get the job done. If you have acreage, however, you should make sure the brand you're considering is able to power the entire area you intend to contain.
4) What is your dog's temperament? If your dog is particularly stoic or stubborn and you think that training him to respect an invisible boundary might be a challenge, then you need a product that offers the option to upgrade to a more powerful receiver — like PetSafe's Stubborn Dog receiver.
Note that you shouldn't START training your dog with a Stubborn Dog receiver — you should only upgrade if you realize it's necessary after following a well-tested training program like the one outlined on this site.
5) What does the warranty include? At the very least, purchase a product that includes a one-year warranty with full hardware replacement. If your dog fence hardware is defective, it will likely fail within that window of time.