Does A GPS Dog Fence Work?

When it comes to pet containment you might be considering a GPS electronic pet fence for your dog or cat. With that comes some questions like how do these wireless GPS pet fences work compared to wired, in-ground pet fences? And, are they safe and effective for your pet?

For most electronic pet fence systems, such as the DogWatch hidden dog fence, a wire is buried several inches underground in a customized loop around your entire property. This loop is then connected to a transmitter installed in your home (garage, office, etc.), which sends out a coded radio signal over the wire. Your pet wears a receiver-collar which is designed to detect the coded signal.

When your pet gets close to the boundary set by the underground wire, the receiver-collar is triggered to first emit a “beeping” noise. This serves as an alert for your dog (or cat) to move away from the boundary. There is a flag training system to go with this alert technology that helps your pet learn where they can and can’t go in the yard. If they choose to disregard the alert when too close to the boundary wire, the collar emits a static pulse-correction. Your pet will find this uncomfortable, and learn to avoid it. When the training is performed correctly your pet will learn the “safe” area within your property and no longer wander outside of it.

With a GPS dog fence there is no wire buried in the ground that defines the yard boundary. Instead, satellites are used to map out the containment space you intend for your pet. Often this is based on cellular technology, and the programmed collar uses a GPS system that controls the alerts and corrections. While both the GPS and the hidden-wired dog fence have similar purposes, the GPS system presents some challenges to be considered.

Boundaries Can Be Inconsistent

A big risk in using a GPS dog fence is the ongoing inconsistency in the defined yard boundary you have set up. It is common for GPS coordinates to regularly “shift” in position due to a number of variables that can interfere with the precision and accuracy of the system. This can lead to a GPS hidden fence boundary that oftentimes moves significantly, depending on which of these variables are randomly at play. In contrast, an in-ground, wired hidden pet fence will always be consistent since the wire is permanent and does not move.

Successful, consistent training is what makes a hidden pet containment system effective. If the boundary is not consistent, the training won’t be either. A regularly moving yard boundary will lead to your pet getting confused throughout the training and the fence becoming much less effective. Additionally, some GPS fence systems advertise their product as being portable, meaning you can take them with you on a camping trip or to visit a friend’s home. This also raises concerns about their overall effectiveness of GPS fences since temporarily moving an entire containment space does not reinforce consistent boundary training for your pet.

Uses Are Limited

If you happen to live on a small(er), compact property it will be problematic to use a GPS dog fence. Due to the inconsistent boundary of a GPS fence, you will end up sacrificing yard space in order to accommodate the presence of certain hazards that may be present in and around your property.  Busy roads, sharp drop offs and other “areas” adjacent to your property that you want to keep your pet away from will require you to set a GPS boundary that is farther away from these things than you would prefer. This will ultimately lead to a significantly smaller containment space for your pet to enjoy and remain safe at the same time.

There is also the potential problem of tall structures and other obstacles interfering with the collar’s GPS signal reception. Because of this, these fences are not ideal for properties that are small and obstructed.

Battery Life Is Short

For an electronic pet fence collar battery life is vital to effective, ongoing pet containment. A dead battery means your dog won’t be alerted or corrected when they get too close to the boundary, and this will result in them running off once they realize it. Most hidden dog fence systems use replaceable batteries that last from 3 months to two years, while GPS dog fences use rechargeable batteries that have to be recharged every day. 

The first issue with rechargeable batteries is having to remember to remove them from your pet(s) each day, and go through the exercise of the recharging process. Over time this can become an inconvenient chore that eventually leads to inconsistent use of the collar. This in turn can create a containment vulnerability for a pet that figures it out.

The larger problem with rechargeable batteries is that the more they’re charged, the weaker they become and more frequently they have to be charged. This leads to the GPS collar battery eventually dying, which makes your pet vulnerable to running off. A reliable, replaceable battery with a longer lifespan will provide much improved safety for your pet in the long run.

Higher Cost of Ownership

Using a GPS dog fence for pet containment can be costly over the full lifecycle of use, even more than an in-ground, wired pet fence. Along with the previously mentioned issues with these products, some manufacturers require a monthly fee for the GPS network to function with the collar. Over time, the initial product investment plus the maintenance and subscription costs of these systems can be greater than the price of an in-ground, wired system.

Choose Atlanta DogWatch’s Trusted Hidden Dog Fence

When it comes to your pet’s safety, Atlanta DogWatch is dedicated to providing the safest and most functional hidden pet fence available. We are committed to setting you up for ongoing success, and providing the maintenance and training tips you need for effective, long term pet containment. Contact us today for more information and a free in-yard estimate!