How Much Is an Invisible Fence Worth?

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you might be familiar with Addie, our new-to-us, 2 1/2 year old Labrador. Despite my disapproval of rescuing Addie, my hubby vetoed me and she became a resident of our household a couple of months ago.

Miss Addie aka Sweet Trouble - TheMagicFarmHouse.com

Addie vs The Magic Mama

We’ve had a love-hate relationship. She’s given me a run for my money, literally a run (or 20+). Like runs which extend up to 2 miles. There are a few stories which come to mind but I’d like to share the most recent adventure. I was just preparing for a conference call when I let her out. She had been doing a great job staying in our yard so I let my guard down and poof she was gone. As the meeting began, I jumped into my vehicle and began searching for her. About a mile away, I became stuck in mud while turning around on a dead end road. With no other solution before me, I began walking towards home…keep in mind, I’m still on the phone during the meeting. Without a vehicle, I resorted to Facebook, asking for help from neighbors and nearby towns. After an hour and a half, she showed up on the front porch covered in mud. I’ve never worked so hard to clean my bath tub!

My responsibility 

This is frustrating on a couple of levels. I’ve actually become fond of her and would feel horrible if something happened to her. We also have neighbors with horses and she’s caused a horse to buck a rider off (fortunately, no serious injuries). Not to mention the potential of her breaking into the pasture and killing our chickens.

As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your beloved pups safe at all times. When you run a farm or homestead, there are more potential dangers to your dogs in your yard than usual. It’s often wise to designate one area of your yard as the “dog zone,” so your dogs remain in a section of your farm that’s free of machinery, farming supplies, and livestock. This also works well for protecting things like chicken coops, gardens, and flower beds from your dogs, who can cause serious damage even when they’re just trying to play.

This clearly can not keep happening. So, there are different options we’ve been exploring.

My Options

Creating a special zone for your dogs is possible with traditional fencing, but there are some potential downsides to this method. Erecting a fence in the middle of your property means your own movement is limited, and you’ll be required to open (and close, and lock) a gate every time you pass through. As small as it sounds, this can be a time waster. If you have particularly stubborn dogs, or dogs who love to dig (thankfully, we haven’t noticed any digging issues), they may be able to easily jump over, climb under, or with the energy Addie brings to the plate, she could easily break through the fence.

We’ve been trying a training collar which provides a beep or shock from a remote. Generally, we only need to use the beep. The downfall is that some of her escapes have occurred because we didn’t could not find the remote. And, it also only provides coverage up to a mile and she loves to make her runs at least two miles. Even at a mile, the situation is dangerous.

Miss Addie sitting on our front porch - themagicfarmhouse.com

You’ll see that Addie is wearing two necklaces…one is the training collar (black) and the other is a bright orange reflecting collar. Why? She has escaped during the early morning & she’s nearly impossible to see. The reflector helps motorists see her if she would have gotten down to the road.

If you want to avoid the hassles of a traditional fence or training collars, an electronic dog fence is an excellent alternative we are considering. An invisible fence won’t block your own movement or line of sight, and even the most determined dogs won’t be able to get past it. A mild corrective shock from their e-collars will prevent them from getting close enough to the boundaries to attempt to cross them. With all the potential advantages of an invisible fence for your farm, you’d think the cost would be too high to make it worthwhile. However, electric dog fences can actually save you money.

Ironically, shortly before Addie went on her hour and a half tour, I was contacted by PetSafe to write this blog post. It has made us think long and hard about changing our strategy and possibly purchasing a system.

Purchasing a System

Most dog owners are surprised to find out how much an electric dog fence system actually costs. The entire system usually costs around just $300 and sometimes even less (the vet bill would be much higher if she gets hurt). For example, the highly rated PetSafe YardMax system costs $299. If you’d like a wireless system, which are easier to install but have smaller range capacities, you’ll pay an average of $330 up to $800. The type of system you buy will depend on the desired size of your dog zone and the size of your dogs, because smaller or more aggressive dogs will require different size e-collars. Extra e-collars can cost $60-$100 (our current training collar was $185). A careful examination of online reviews, such as the Innotek dog fence review, and electronic dog fence comparison charts will help you select the right system for your situation. In general, electric dog fences cost at least 80% less than traditional fences, which often cost thousands of dollars.

Installation

If you hire a company to put in your invisible fence system, you should expect to pay about $1,500-$2,500…just for installation. Fortunately, hiring an installer is not necessary. As long as you can read the instructions, you can install an underground dog fence on your own, no matter your DIY skill level. If you need to rent a trencher, you can expect to pay about $50. It can take as little as a few hours over the course of one weekend to install your DIY electric dog fence, and you’ll save thousands of dollars on installation fees. If you need extra wire for larger areas, it will cost $22-$150 for every 500 feet, depending on the type of wire. 

Maintenance

Fence maintenance is certainly another important cost we are considering. Because electric dog fences are underground, they rarely incur any damage. Traditional fences, on the other hand, are exposed to the elements and therefore more likely to need costly repairs. At some point it’s possible you’ll get a break in your electric dog fence wire, and it will cost at least $100 to have a company come out to fix it. It’s easy, however, to fix the break yourself, and it won’t cost anything. Dog fence companies also charge at least $70 per year for e-collar batteries. DIY electric dog fence systems, however, generally use rechargeable batteries (SCORE!).

Powering the Fence

I may have mentioned that I live with the power bill nazi. Electric dog fences do not use a lot of electricity. In fact, you will not see a large difference in your monthly electric bill after installing an invisible fence. The cost of electricity to run your electronic dog fence can be as little as $1 per month. You need a nearby power source to run your fence, so if you don’t have an outlet available, you may need to purchase extension cords, or you can get a solar panel for about $100-$200. As you can see, the cost of powering an electric dog fence does not at all amount to a significant increase in total cost.

What I’m learning is that if you’re looking to purchase a fence in order to contain your dogs, a small budget does not mean you have to purchase a lower quality fence. After all, the safety of our doggie household members is a primary concern. Fortunately, DIY electronic dog fences are both extremely reliable and inexpensive. The total electric fence cost is more than reasonable, and installing your own electric dog fence will give you the peace of mind that your dogs are safe on your farm. The downfall…I’ll have to up my time at the gym since I won’t be chasing Addie for miles. 😉

As I mentioned above, this blog post is published in partnership with www.dogfencediy.com. I would encourage you to share your experiences with a variety of dog containment systems in the comments section – tell me what has worked for you, not worked, advantages or even your own lost dog stories.

Commenters and those who share the post in social media qualify for a drawing of a $50 Amazon gift card!

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Comments

  1. I love knowing this is so affordable. Right now my beagle and I live in an apartment, but man does her nose get her into trouble when we are home on the ranch. I will be saving this for future reference!

    • Thanks, Hannah! I’m seriously at my wits end. I ended up tying her up using three different leashes this afternoon.

  2. Glad to hear your little one is safe! My chihuahua runs away frequently perhaps this is something to consider:)

    • Thanks, Lauren! We had a little rat terrier who was tiny (5 lbs or less)…when he would run off, it would be so much harder to find him due to his size. I love little dogs!

  3. Interesting to learn more about invisible fences. Our dog has a high prey drive and we can’t trust him outside. It would be nice to have a set up where he could enjoy running around our yard. We either take him outside on walks or sit outside with him and attach him to a metal thing in the yard with a long leash.

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