How to Train a Dog for an Invisible Fence

Getting Started:

Every underground or invisible fencing system is different; this is intended to be a general outline of how to train a dog for an invisible fence system.  Please consult your individual systems operating instructions.  We do not have a system we recommend, but HERE is a good article to get you started on your search.  Also, especially with a behavior this important, we recommend you consult with a professional before beginning any training program.

To get started it is important that your dog understands some basic commands i.e. sit, stay, come-here.  At a minimum your dog must be comfortable on a leash prior to beginning to train her on the invisible fence.  These behaviors will give us the foundation and relationship we need to teach the dog to respect the boundary.

It is always good to remember that multiple brief sessions, 3-5/day, 10-15 minutes each are the best way to train a new behavior.  This will allow you to keep the mood positive and to keep your pups attention focused on what they are learning.

As with training any new behavior it should be our goal to maintain a positive, fair, and consistent approach throughout the process.  The mood of the sessions should be kept playful and positive.  Remember to end every session on a high note of success.

Overall Goal:

To train your dog for an invisible fence the dog will need to learn to respect the fence boundary.  They will need to understand that moving back into the fenced area, after interacting with the boundary, is reinforcing.  Fear is NEVER the goal!

Signs of distress/fear: 

Tail tucked, ears down, tension in body language, erratic movements, or excess tugging on the leash.  If you are seeing these you need to reevaluate the training plan and potentially seek a professional’s help.  Are you moving too quickly, putting too much pressure on the dog, is the correction setting too high, are we skipping steps?  Remember understanding and respect is the goal not pain or fear.

Step One: Visually training the fences boundaries. (leash and collar are on. Fence is not active. The boundary flags are in place).

Goal:  There are 2 goals of this training step.  The first goal is to condition your pup to the collar.  Dog should be comfortable wearing the collar.

The second goal is to allow your dog to become accustomed to the flags that are now outlining the fence perimeter and to begin to associate them with the yard boundary.

Fitting the collar:

To train your dog for an invisible fence a properly fitting collar is essential for the system to operate effectively.  The fit must be snug enough so that the collar will not move around on the dog’s neck, but not so tight as to cause discomfort.  The ideal fit will result in both contact points making contact with light pressure on the dog’s skin.  The general rule of thumb to check tightness is that you should be able to place two fingers between the material of the collar and the neck of the dog.

Fitting the collar is straight forward, but not necessarily as easy as it sounds.  Take time to ensure proper fit.  Too tight a fit could cause discomfort, stress, and even pressure sores.  Too lose a fit will cause poor contact between the dogs neck and the contact points, and leave you with an ineffective collar.  A loosely fitting collar also allows the collar to move around on the dog’s neck which could lead to skin irritation.

Where should the receiver sit on our dog’s neck?   The receiver should sit on the neck just underneath your dog’s chin.  This will help prevent the weight of the receiver unit from moving the collar around on the neck.  We also recommend readjusting the collar slightly each day when you put it back on to minimize irritation and for the dog’s comfort.

Process:  During this time, your dog should be wearing the collar while supervised, but the collar or fence should not be active.  At this point we only want the dog to become accustomed to wearing the collar.  This will also help to ensure the dog does not associate wearing the collar with the fence.  We do not want them to understand that if the collar comes off the fence will not work.

Once you have a properly fit collar and the dog is getting accustomed to wear it we can move on to the second goal of this step.  While on leash and wearing the fence collar, walk the inside perimeter of the fenced area.  Allow the dog to smell and be near the flags, but do not allow them to cross over the barrier on their own.  When they approach the boundary call them back from perimeter flags.  When they return reinforce even if you needed to coax them to return to you.

Reinforcing the dog for moving towards you and into the fenced area after interacting with the boundary is a very important part of the foundation of this process.  This will help encourage them to move back inside of the fenced area when they do eventually experience the audible and static corrections at the boundary line.

Step Two:  Introduction of the audible correction.  (Leash and collar are on.  Fence is active.  Fence is set for audible or warning correction only. Flags are in place).

Goal:  To introduce your dog to the audible correction at the boundary, reinforcing that the flags and tone represent the yard boundary.  We are also teaching the dog that moving into the fenced area and away from the boundary is reinforcing.  Dog should move away from boundary area when it hears the audible correction.

Process:  If your system has an audible only or vibration only “warning” setting, your system should be placed on that setting for this step.  While on leash walk the inside perimeter of the fenced area.  Allow the dog to smell and be near the flags.  Allow dog into boundary area to expose them to the systems initial warning correction (sound/vibration) for short period of time less than three seconds.  Call them back from warning area and reinforce even if you had to coax with leash.  This is where your earlier work reinforcing your dog for moving back to you becomes very important.  It is important that you do not let the dog cross past the flags and outside of the boundary zone.

Repeat these sessions at different areas of the fence. 3-5 times per day at a maximum of 10-15 minutes each session.

Step Three:  Training the boundary.  (Leash and collar are on. Fence is active, and set for static correction and audible warning. Flags are in place).

Goal:  Introduce static correction and teach dog to respect the boundary.  Dog should move away from boundary when it experiences audible beep or static correction.

Process:  For this step your collar should be set to the appropriate static correction setting.  The proper correction level for your individual dog is the next step to ensuring success with the underground fence system.

Setting the intensity level of the collar:

The goal should be to find the minimum setting that your dog will respond appropriately to.  Each dog is an individual so this step takes some experimenting and observation.

Begin with the lowest static setting your system offers.  When your dog is in the boundary area you will need to watch for signs that your pet is responding to the correction.  These signs include, looking around, head up, and a change in body posture including ears and tail changing position.  These signs as well as reluctance by your dog to be near the boundary will let you know they are reacting to the correction.

If your dog is not reacting while at the boundary, check the collar to ensure it is functioning and is properly fit to the dog’s neck.  If the unit is functioning and the fit is correct increase the setting level of your unit by one.  Do not skip levels and always begin at the lowest setting for your unit.

Continue these steps until your dog appropriately reacts to the static correction.  If you are unsure please consult with a professional trainer to assist with this process.

Even with the collar active you will still want to remain in full control of the dog using a leash.  Repeat the process used in step two; this time allowing dog to enter past area of audible correction and into static correction zone.  Once the dog experiences the static correction recall and reinforce even if it was necessary to coax with the leash.  Again it is important that you do not let the dog cross past the flags and outside of the boundary zone.

Repeat these sessions at different areas of the fence. 3-5 times per day at a maximum of 10-15 minutes each session.

Step Four:  Introducing distractions and stimulus outside boundary. (Leash and collar are on. Fence is active, and set for static correction and audible warning. Flags are in place).

Goal:  Reinforce boundary with the addition of distractions and stimulus outside of boundary.

Process:  Begin this step once your dog is successful in step three; moving away from boundary when audible beep or static correction occurs.  While working the process in step three introduce distractions outside of the fenced zone (Thrown balls, walking neighbors, cars etc.).  You may need a second person to help with this.  Do not call or ask for dog to move outside of boundary, and again do not allow dog to cross boundary.

Repeat these sessions at different areas of the fence. 3-5 times per day at a maximum of 10-15 minutes each session.

Step Five: Remove the Leash (Fence is active, and set for static correction and audible warning. Flags are in place)

Goal:  Allow pet untethered access to area while supervised.

Process:  When dog is excelling at step four it is time to work at removing the leash, and allowing your dog to move around the fenced area on their own.  Watch for signs of how the dog is reacting at the boundary, and as dog does well move around the area appearing to be busy but still watching the dog.  If dog is overly curious of boundary or stays in the correction area recall dog away from the boundary and reinforce.  If dog continues to remain in audible or static correction area and does not appear to react to either correction, you may need to increase the systems correction level by one.  Remember only increase intensity levels one step at a time, and watch for signs of discomfort or fear.  (See setting the collar)

Step Six:  Free Roam (Fence is active, and set for static correction and audible warning. Flags are in place)

Goal:  Allow pet access to area while monitored but not directly supervised.

Process:  When the dog is excelling at step 5 and you are comfortable it is time to let your dog out to roam the fenced area.  Stay in the house, but keep an eye on how your dog is behaving in respect to the boundary.  Follow steps in section five, but from a distance i.e. inside the home.  Always be available to call the dog away from the boundary and reinforce if needed.

Step Seven:  Removing the flags  (Fence is active, and set for static correction and audible warning).

Goal:  Dog respects boundary area with all boundary flags removed.

Process:  Once you have progressed through all of the first six steps and you are satisfied your dog is doing well it is time to begin removing the boundary flags.  We want to gradually remove flags from boundary area.  We do this to insure the dog understands the boundary line without the flags in place.

Remove every other flag at 3-5 day intervals depending on how we are progressing.  Don’t be afraid to replace a set of flags if the dog is struggling to respect the boundary.  Take a step back and move more slowly through the process.

It is important to take your time when you train a dog for the invisible fence.  Do each step well and do not attempt to rush your dog through the process.  The better the initial training the more effective the fencing system will be.  Remember no matter how well trained there is always the possibility that your dog will move through the invisible fence.  If this happens, your pet will most likely  be reluctant to move back through the fence to get into your yard.  Never leave your pet unattended for long periods.  Always be aware that your pet is outside and needs to be regularly monitored.

We hope this will help you have success when you train your dog for an invisible fence.  The most important things when you train your dog for an invisible fence are to be safe and have fun working with your pup!  If you have any questions or we can help you in any way please reach out to us at our Contact Us page.