If you are looking for a pet containment system, you have plenty of options among the wireless fences mentioned on http://shihtzuexpert.com/wireless-dog-fence/. Of course there is also the more well-known option of an invisible fence that uses a wire placed around the perimeter of your yard. And now there is a third option in wireless dog containment that you might not know about: the GPS-based pet containment system they are called GPS dog fences.
Let’s start with the main idea, and then we’ll take a look at the two types of GPS-based perimeters
on the market. GPS technology has been around for a while, of course, with the earliest applications being handheld devices that helped you see your coordinates (latitude and longitude), and a bit later, navigation systems for cars. GPS technology has migrated seamlessly into “smart” technology, with phone navigation systems, watches that can monitor the distance and the exact path of your run, monitoring your kids’ whereabouts by tracking their phone’s location, and the list goes on. And now, you can monitor and control your pet’s whereabouts.
Satellite-to-Collar Signal. A GPS-based pet containment system has, similar to other wireless pet fences, a “controller” and the collar. The collar receives a signal when the pet leaves the pre-set area, and gives the dog a gentle electric correction. But the difference between this system and other wireless systems is that the controller doesn’t talk directly to the collar. Instead, the collar receives its signals from up to four satellites at a time. The satellites tell the collar its exact location. Then the collar will react and correct the dog if the dog is outside a preset boundary. Each of the systems below uses a different way to set the boundary, so I’ll get into the question of how the boundary is set when we talk about the systems individually.
Easy Install by Technician.
The first kind of GPS fence system we will look at is proprietary to the Invisible Fence brand. This technology, unlike most wireless fences, involves an installation expert coming to your property. After you explain to them where you would like the boundary to be – which areas you would like to enclose to keep the dog in, and which you would like to keep the dog out of (pools, garden beds, etc.), the installer will program the collar
with the latitude and longitude coordinates of the area you want your dog to stay within. If your dog is outside the programmed coordinates, the dog will get a low-level “static correction.” A plug-in base unit sits in a high point in your house and communicates with the collar, which improves the accuracy of the collar’s GPS positioning.
Works Across Varied Terrain, Including Water. The amazing part about this use of GPS technology is that it doesn’t matter how big your yard is; you will be able to enclose as many acres as you have without purchasing all the extra boundary wire you’d need for a wired system. This boundary can also be programmed straight through a pond or stream. If you want to let your dog splash on a pond that you share with your neighbor, just set the boundary straight down your property line; you won’t have to worry about wires corroding in the water. And unlike other wireless systems, if you have a strangely shaped yard (say, a very long rectangle, or a trapezoid corner lot), you can include all the strange nooks in the property’s per. And of course, you can enclose and keep your dog out of delicate areas like gardens and pools.
Failsafe Signal. One clear benefit of a system that doesn’t rely on a transmitter to set and maintain the boundary is that the signal can’t get hung up by any objects in the way – a heavily sloped yard is fine, as is a wooded lot – so your dog won’t get accidentally shocked like they would with a wireless system. Additionally, the signal can’t get lost by the transmitter losing power in a power outage, which would also result in your dog getting a correction in error. The GPS signal can pierce through the average tree canopy, though it might get hung up on a very thick one, but even then the collar won’t correct your dog when it loses signal.
Cost. This unit does require a good amount of setup, so the cost ranges into the thousands – well over $3000, on average.
Portable Circular Boundary
Handheld Transmitter in Training Mode.
The other kind of GPS-based fence has a handheld controller/transmitter with two completely different modes. The Dog Expedition TC1 is the first (and currently the only) model with this technology. In training mode, like the Garmin Astro 320 and the Roameo Pet Monitor, the TC1 uses GPS technology to track a dog’s (or dogs’) location on a small screen, telling their distance and direction from you. The controller can then be used to correct the dog – or up to 5 dogs – for going too far or not listening to a command.
Customizable Correction. In addition to the 50 levels of correction, the training mode of the TC1 also enables you to use “nick” – a succession of quick corrections – “rise” – a slowly rising level of correction if the dog isn’t responding – and “jump” – a short burst of more intense correction while you are already correcting them using a less intense setting. Additionally, for those of us who get turned around in the woods, this system also has up to four waypoints that you can mark along your route, to help you find yourself back.
Adjustable Signal Field. This system also has an amazing GPS-based fence mode! In this mode, the handheld remote works a bit like the transmitter in other wireless models. You start by setting the radius you want, and the system will set a perfect circle around the transmitter – from 15 to 800 feet in every direction. BUT, because this uses GPS from satellites instead of wifi from the remote, the circle’s center point gets saved by the dog’s collar. Even if you turn off the controller, the circle you set will stay in place. You can’t get more portable than this system, because even if your controller runs out of battery life (or if you turn it off to save the batteries), the collar can operate independently for up to 12 hours, until it needs a charge.
Flexible Correction Area. This system has 50 levels of correction, and also has an optional warning area. When you set the range of the circular boundary, you get to choose if there should be a warning zone inside the correction zone – and whether the warning should be a beep, a vibration, or both.
100% Portable. The benefit of using this kind of model in training mode is that, unlike the radial fence mode, the training mode can adjust to your location. The center point of the “radial fence” gets set to a center point that you choose, saves the coordinates of that point, and can’t move until you change the center point. This would be time consuming on the go, and it would probably result in your dog finding himself on the outside of the boundary perimeter without having gotten a warning.
Zero Accidental Yard Lockouts. The TC1 has special programming that makes sure the dog does not get locked out of the containment area. While your dog is crossing through the circular bands of the warning area and into the correction area, he will experience the mild shock level that you have chosen. But once he has passed outside the correction area, he won’t feel the shock anymore. But when he decides to return to the safe area that you have programmed, he will need to cross back through the correction and warning areas. However, because of its proprietary “Welcome Home” programming, the TC1 will never shock the dog on the way back into the safety area. Your dog will never get “locked out.”
Works with Sloped Yards and Tree Coverage. Since the signal is coming from satellites above, you’re not limited by slope or dense tree coverage. Feel free to put a swath of mountainside inside your boundary. Additionally, because there is no wire, you don’t have to worry about putting a boundary across a pond or stream.
Cost. This is a fairly “simple” controller / collar system, but because of all the bells and whistles, it will cost you more than the usual wifi-based wireless fence – around $600, and more if you want to add another 1-4 dogs.
Downsides of GPS Pet Boundary Technology
Inaccurate . A downside of these GPS fence systems is that these fences can be wildly inaccurate – up to 30 feet! GPS technology can waver in accuracy from minute-to-minute, similar to other wireless dog fences, but to a much larger degree. It requires four satellites for optimal operation, so if only three are in view, the tracking becomes even less accurate. If you are on a very small lot, say, a ½ acre, and have a wavering line of 30 feet of error, you are going to be having a dog getting corrected in error quite often when the boundary bends inward. And when it bends outward, it could be even worse potentially, if you have a busy road to protect your pet from. However, this 30 feet of error would be much less of a factor on a large, rural property – say 5 acres that are on a low-traffic road.
Are GPS Dog Fences for You? Comparison with Wifi Transmitters and Wired Systems
These GPS fences have benefits that outrank both wired and wireless models. I’ve put each GPS model head-to-head with a similar wired or wifi fence to see which would be the best for you.
Wired vs. Invisible Fence GPS? The Invisible Fence GPS system has all the benefits that a wired system has – an infinitely flexible shape and size – without the wires. Both require a professional to come install them for best results, and both cost around the same amount of money. The GPS system, though, has a leg up: it is able to cross bodies of water very easily to allow your dog some swimming in the pond or stream that borders your property. If you have a yard that is large enough to offset the 30-foot drift of the GPS signal, that has a unique shape (and a maybe a body of water in it), and that also happens to not be near any busy roads, the Invisible Fence brand GPS system is for you.
Caveat? The only time a wired system is a better choice is if your large, uniquely shaped yard is near a busy road. Then the variability of the GPS system would leave your pooch in danger.
Wireless vs. Handheld Remote / Circular Boundary GPS? The TC1 and its circular boundary have a leg up on the wifi system in many respects. THough they both cast circular shapes from a chosen center point, the TC1 lets you pick your point and turn off the transmitter. And of course, the TC1 is alone in being usable as a remote training tool or to keep your dogs close on a hike. Caveat? A wireless system like Petsafe actually may be a better pick if you live near a busy road or if your yard is quite small, due to the variability of the GPS reading.
To Sum Up… Now that you know how each of these GPS Dog Containment fences work, and how they compare with wifi-based and wired invisible fences, you can make a decision based on what is best for your yard. Whether it is most important to you to be able to take your fence perimeter camping with you or on a long hike, or whether you need a customizable boundary over a vast tract of land, or whether you have a stream you’d love your dog to have the freedom to explore – you know what is best for you and your dog.