How Close Can a Dog Get to an Invisible Fence? (Solved!)

Dogs can approach six to ten feet up to an in-ground invisible fence, and will get a warning upon approaching the boundary. This warning would only be beeps or gentle vibrations from the collar, not static charges. 

However, here’s also a deeper zone past the warning boundary for static charges. As of today’s technology, it’s unknown exactly how close the dog could approach the invisible fence before triggering the static charge. We can assume it would be about halfway through the warning zone, like three to five feet away from the invisible fence.

As for wireless invisible fences, there’s no visible boundary, so the warning zone would start in a circle radiating outward from the in-house transmitter. There is also no common technological option to adjust the distance upon which the dog would start receiving static charges. 

You can visualize the wireless system’s circular boundary at first by planting flags upon the lawn. From that point onwards, after the flags are removed, your memory can command forth the unseen warning boundary. 

First, Make Sure Your Dog’s Old Enough to Handle an Invisible Fence

If you have a puppy, that’s great, but generally you shouldn’t get (or yet activate) an invisible fence until your dog is at least six months old. Dogs younger than six months just won’t yet have the maturity to learn the training that comes with an invisible fence. 

Will the Invisible Fence Shock Your Dog?

No. It’s similar to the experience you feel when walking across a rug in dry weather and then touching a doorknob. It may startle you, but won’t harm you.

For long-haired dogs, there’s an option to get a receiver collar that has longer contact points (the smooth round-tipped prongs that protrude from the collar to deliver the static charge onto the dog’s skin). 

For short-haired dogs, the other type of receiver collar will have shorter prongs. 

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How to Program the Collar to Adjust the Static Charge Level

The bigger the breed, the higher you may have to program the static charge to alert your dog it’s too close to the boundary. For example, one brand may have a range from 1 to 5, with 5 being the maximum (but still gentle) charge. 

Some products will automatically have the level of static charge escalate the closer your dog gets to the invisible fence, once past the warning zone. In other words, the closer your dog approaches the invisible fence within a narrow sensitive distance, the more forceful the charges, up to a very firm but harmless alert. 

In fact, for some well-trained dogs, the minimum setting for the static charge level doesn’t deliver a charge; it just emits a warning beep. (In addition to the beeping that occurs in the warning zone, which takes place first). 

The Two Different Types of Buffer Zones Adjoining the Invisible Fence

There are two buffer zones, the warning zone and the static correction zone. 

The buffer zone that is closer to the transmitter (and farther from the invisible fence) is called the warning zone (the outer zone). That’s when your dog gets a bit closer to the invisible fence, but there’s no static charge yet. 

Ideally, upon hearing the beeping (some products add warning vibrations, as optional) your well-trained dog will retreat and stay clear of the invisible fence, before it receives a static charge. In fact, many dogs learn their limits and rarely approach the boundary, content within their play area.

The other zone that directly adjoins the fence and is past the warning zone is called the static correction zone (the deeper zone). That’s when the receiver collar will deliver a charge to your dog, reminding it that it’s too much close to the invisible fence. 

It seems the invisible dog fence systems of today do not have the option of setting the warning zone and the static correction zone separately. For the in-ground system, we may assume that both zones expand (or narrow, as you wish) proportionally when you set the boundary width on the transmitter. 

However, when you test the boundary width with the tester that comes with the product, this tester will beep once you set up the tester and approach the warning zone, so let’s focus on this outer zone first.

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So, What Range Should I Set the Warning Zone? (In-Ground Option Only)

You’ll need to determine a good warning distance from the boundary for your dog. This range allows your dog to maximize its play area, yet at the same time give it adequate warning that it is approaching the static correction zone, which the dog definitely does not want.

In-ground systems allow you to set a boundary width of twelve to twenty feet. Since this is the entire width straddling the boundary line on both sides, you’d only be concerned with the side upon which your dog plays—the inside of the yard.

That means you have a range of six to ten feet to set the warning zone (which is half of the range covered by the twelve-to-twenty-foot boundary width). It’s up to you if you want six feet or ten feet, or in between. 

Usually, the bigger the dog, or the more aggressive and playful it is, the more you’d want to widen the warning zone set back from the boundary.

How to Set the Warning Boundary—In-Ground Systems

This is a process of trial and error, which can be done by yourself alone, or yourself and one helper like your spouse or your friend. You would adjust the boundary width of the combined buffer of the side-by-side warning zone and static charge zone by adjusting the dial on your in-house transmitter.

At the time of purchase of a new in-ground invisible fence, the wires would be laid upon the ground but not yet buried, so you’ll get a visual reminder of the boundary. (If the wires already have been dug in, you’ll need a schematic of the boundary that was drawn up at the time of installation).

Then, you would use the tester that came with the product, and see how far the warning boundary is from the wires. You can adjust it to be wider or narrower, within the range of six to ten feet from the actual limit of the yard defined by the wires.  

How to Set the Warning Boundary—Wireless Systems

For the other type of fence, a wireless fence, it can only be in a circle with the transmitter as the center, so plant flags in the lawn to visualize the warning boundary. You would later take the flags down when you’re satisfied that you’ve programmed the warning boundary.

Unfortunately, for the wireless system, you won’t be able to determine exactly the point where the static charge alerts would start after the dog passes through the warning boundary, since there are no wires and hence no physical embodiment of the perimeter.

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However, the ability to easily set the warning boundary (through the use of beeps or flashing lights on the tester you use) should be sufficient to know how far your dog can approach the invisible fence. Since your dog is the one receiving the static charges, it will know when it’s gone too far.