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Looking to buy an electric dog fence to contain your four legged friend?
Both wireless and in-ground fences are an effective solution to keeping dogs safe and secure in the yard but the differences between the two might help you determine which one’s right for you.
It’s not a case of value or price — both types of electric fences offer some excellent value at very affordable prices, especially when compared to more traditional wood or chain link fences which can cost thousands of dollars to install.
But there are a number of factors you might want to consider in order to make the best purchase possible for both you and your canine companion. With that in mind let’s dig into the 5 major differences between wireless and in-ground fences…
1) Size And Landscape Of Your Property:
The size of area a system can cover is pretty straightforward: How powerful your transmitter is will determine the size of containment area you can have. Generally a wireless fence can cover up to a maximum of 25 acres whereas an in-ground fence can cover 100+ acres.
How the landscape of your property affects the function of electric dog fences brings up a very important fact: The way a wireless fence contains your dog is completely opposite to the way an in-ground fence does.
When I first started researching electric dog fences this really confused me but it’s an important factor to consider when trying to figure out which system is right for you so let’s talk about it for a minute…
With a wireless dog fence, your dog will get a static correction any time their receiver collar loses the signal from the transmitter. To prevent this loss of signal, your transmitter basically needs a ‘direct line of site’ to your furry friend. For this reason, wireless systems do best in wide open spaces that are relatively flat and free of obstructions.
Another thing that interferes with the signal from a wireless fence is any type of metal so if your yard has metal sheds or any type of metal structure, your wireless system might run into problems transmitting a consistent signal.
But no matter whether it’s a huge hill or metal siding, anything that interrupts the wireless signal will cause your dog’s receiver collar to activate.
And that means they might get a static correction even though they’re still within the boundaries of their containment area.
Compare that with an in-ground dog fence where your pet’s receiver collar is activated any time it picks up a signal from the boundary wire.
For this reason, this type of electric dog fence has absolutely no problem with signal interference no matter what type of landscape or obstructions your property has.
So as you can see, the type of terrain and obstructions you have in your yard or on your property are definitely important things to consider when choosing between a wireless or in-ground fence.
2) Shape Of The Area You Want To Cover:
If there’s one thing that stops people from buying a wireless fence, this is it. Here’s why:
Wireless fences are limited to a circular shaped boundary.
This might be a deal breaker for you if you have an odd or rectangular shaped yard or if you live in an urban setting where your neighbors are very close.
In those instances keeping the boundary limits inside your property lines simply might not leave your dog as much room to play as you’d like.
If that describes your situation an in-ground fence may be the better choice because it can be completely customized to fit any shape of yard.
And not only can you keep your dog within your yard, you can also make ‘off limits’ areas by burying wire around things like a garden or pool, effectively keeping your canine buddy out of those areas.
3) How Difficult Is It To Install?
Without a doubt one of the main reasons people love wireless fences is because they’re quick and easy to set up.
Not only can you have one up and running in less than an hour, you can also throw it in your car and set it up wherever you go.
As long as you have a power source for your transmitter, you can set your wireless system up anywhere, anytime.
Because you have to plan your layout and then bury your boundary wire, installing an in-ground fence will definitely take more time and effort.
But most everyone agrees that it’s a small price to pay to end up with a containment area that’s a perfect fit for your yard.
A lot of people made it a weekend project but that will depend on the area you want to cover and the equipment you use.
To be on the safe side you can plan on setting aside 1-2 days to get your in-ground fence up and running.
4) How Much Ongoing Maintenance Will There Be?
With only 2 components — the transmitter and the receiver collar — wireless fences are virtually maintenance free.
About the only routine upkeep you’ll have to do will be on the collar: replacing or recharging the battery (depending on if your dog’s collar uses disposable batteries or is rechargeable), as well as replacing the metal contact points and washers from time to time.
But the same can’t be said for an in-ground system.
In addition to the routine collar maintenance I just mentioned, with an in-ground fence you’ll also have to deal with one of the most time consuming and frustrating ongoing maintenance issues…repairing a break in the boundary wire.
And although you can buy a wire break locator which is designed specially to help you find the break, it gets very mixed reviews; some people love it, others think it’s a total waste of money.
So all in all, in-ground fences will definitely be more of a chore (and expense) when it comes to ongoing maintenance.
5) How Reliable Is The Signal:
No matter how you slice it — people love the clear, well defined boundary provided by the buried wire of an in-ground fence.
As for wireless systems — the fact of the matter is that they’re…well…wireless. And just like any other wireless device such as your cell phone, sometimes you get great reception and sometimes you don’t.
The inconsistent reception means the boundary line of your dog’s containment area will fluctuate and although that’s a drawback, it’s by no means the end of the world.
In fact, by taking this fluctuating boundary into account when you set up your system you can join the throngs of people who are completely satisfied with the containment area provided by their wireless system.
So there you have it — the 5 major differences between wireless and in-ground electric dog fences.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on one more really important thing: training your dog.
Despite all their differences, one thing both these types of electric fences have in common is the training regime.
And whether you go with a wireless or in-ground fence the training process is exactly the same.
Because it’s so important I’ve devoted an entire article to the training process for an electric dog fence.
Improper training is the #1 cause of failure with electric dog fences.
So if you’re seriously considering either type of fence it’s a good idea to know what’s involved before you make your decision.
So what’s the bottom line?
If you like the idea of no wires to bury and being able to use your fence anywhere, anytime, a wireless system will work better for you.
If that appeals to you, have a look at my wireless dog fence comparison table for more information on wireless dog fences.
But if you want to customize the layout of your containment area or if you live on a really large acreage, an in-ground fence is definitely the way to go.
If that sounds like what you need, check out my in-ground dog fence comparison table for more information on in-ground dog fences.
Both types of electric dog fences provide a safe and secure way to contain your dog and each system has their strengths and weaknesses.
By considering how they differ from one another, you’ll be able to choose the best fence for both you and your furry friend.
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