When Can I Train My Puppy On An Invisible Fence?

One of the biggest causes of concern, when you adopt a new puppy, is that it stays safe and sound. Puppies, like children, don’t have the knowledge and common sense to protect themselves and will often do things that are dangerous and even life-threatening.

One of those thighs is running off or running out into traffic, one of the most significant risk factors to a puppy’s health. Many puppies have been maimed and killed by running out into traffic, and just as many have run off, never to be seen again. Then there’s the problem with them, for example, running into the neighbor’s yard and digging up their flowers or otherwise making a mess.

I hear questions about dog and puppy safety issues from many of my readers, all of whom share the same concern for their precious puppy and their welfare. One of the more popular questions when it comes to puppy security is, “when can I train my puppy on an invisible fence?” 

The answer (which might vary slightly depending on your source of information) is that you can train your puppy on an invisible fence starting at about 8 weeks of age. Earlier than 8 weeks and your pup might not understand what’s happening. Later won’t be a problem for most dogs especially if you’ve already trained them in other ways. (Of course, if they run out into traffic because there’s no electric fence in place, it could be disastrous.) 

Dog experts say that, when using an invisible fence, training is vital. Also, it takes about 5 to 6 weeks to train a puppy to understand how invisible fences work, although some will take longer or shorter, depending on the breed, their maturity, and other factors.

Now that you know when you can start training your puppy on an invisible fence, you might have more questions about them. For example, how invisible fences work, are they safe, and which breeds of dogs do better than others when invisible fence training. If you do, read on. I’ve got the answer to those questions and several more below.

How Does an Invisible Fence Even Work? 

While invisible fences seem like some sort of magic, the fact is that they’re based on sound principles of science, technology, training, and electronics. Generally, they consist of two parts; a transmitter and a receiver. Also, the wiring that makes the ‘fence’ which is sometimes above ground but can also be buried below ground. (New invisible fence systems don’t even use wires!)

The receiver is worn by your puppy, typically on their collar. The ‘fence’, including the transmitter and wiring, sends a signal that prompts the receiver to create a sound that only dogs (and some other animals with excellent hearing) can hear. 

As your puppy approaches the invisible fence, it sends out the sound I just mentioned. As they get very close, a very mild static shock is also sent. This is harmless for puppies and dogs, by the way, and is more akin to a bothersome tingling sensation than a shock.

The training part comes in when you first set up the fence. Most pro trainers will use flags or some other markers to mark the boundary of where the puppy can go. These flags need to be pointed out constantly for the puppy to realize what that boundary is. 

The training also consists of positive reinforcement with treats as your pup learns to respect the boundaries and understand what the sound they hear and bothersome tingling sensation they feel means. 

Today’s Invisible Fences are Wireless

I mentioned earlier that some invisible fences have wires that are above ground and some buried below. Those types of invisible fences are actually older and outdated. Today’s invisible fences are primarily wireless. The transmitter is located in your home, and the receiver is still placed on your puppy’s collar but everything is done wirelessly.

Is an Invisible Fence Safe for Puppies?

Yes, they are. The ‘shock’ they send is very low and, in fact, isn’t a shock but more of an electric tingling, as I mentioned above. That being said, experts agree that a puppy shouldn’t start training with an electric fence until they’re at least 8 weeks old.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, isn’t a big fan of invisible fences. They believe that the shock they give to a puppy or dog can be painful, bewildering, and frightening. 

They also believe that putting up real fences and training your dog well are better alternatives. My opinion is that invisible fences are safe and effective, but I wanted you to have another view of them so that you can choose accordingly. 

How to Train Your Puppy with an Invisible Fence

Depending on your puppy’s breed, it takes 2 to 4 weeks to train them on how an invisible fence works. (Some breeds may take longer, though.)  Experts suggest training for 15 minutes at a time, the same as they recommend for any other kind of training. (I talk about that in my blog, “How Much Time Should I Spend Training My Puppy?”) 

Below are the steps to training a  puppy to use an invisible fence.

  1. Read the manual! You can’t train your puppy until the invisible fence is correctly set up and working.
  2. Use training flags to set boundaries showing where your pup can and can’t go. Typically, they’re placed 10 feet apart.
  3. Place the invisible fence collar on your pup. NITE: If you take them for a walk, use a non-metallic collar. That way, it won’t interfere with the invisible fence’s collar.
  4. Train your puppy for 10 to 15 minutes at a time by bringing them close to the fence so that they can hear the signal.
  5. Turn around and walk away from the boundary immediately when it’s heard.
  6. Praise your pup and give them a treat if you choose to.
  7. Never walk past the invisible fence’s boundaries or the flags with your pup. This will confuse them to no end, which won’t help things along.
  8. Repeat this process until your puppy knows and respects the invisible fence’s boundaries.
  9. Start training without a leash once they seem to know and respect the boundaries. Of course, keep the invisible fence collar on them. 
  10. Let your pup roam by themselves in your yard and observe them from your home or porch.
  11. If they ever try to leave the boundaries, (or do, indeed, go beyond them) go back to training them on a leash.
  12. After 2 to 3 months, you can start thinning out the flags and, eventually, removing them altogether when your puppy is doing well and staying within the fence’s boundaries. 

Dog Breeds that do Well with an Invisible Fence

Below are the types of dog breeds that do exceptionally well with invisible fences. Keep in mind that some individual dogs may do better or worse than others.

  • Great Dane
  • Pitbulls
  • German Shepherd
  • Husky
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Australian Shepherds
  • Labradors
  • Great Pyrenees

Final Thoughts

When can you train your puppy on an invisible fence? Experts recommend starting no earlier than 8 weeks so that they fully understand what’s happening and respond accordingly. However, you can start later if you like, and most dogs won’t have a problem learning how to navigate (and stay within the boundaries of) your invisible-fenced yard.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog about training puppies using invisible fences. If you have more questions about this viable safety product or other questions about puppies in general, please see my other blogs on the subject. You’ll find real-world information that can be very helpful when raising your precious puppy!