As dog owners, many of us have dealt with the fear of our beloved friend leaving the yard and wandering away. Movies like “Homeward Bound” might make it seem as if dogs are always destined to find their way home, but unfortunately, that is not always the case in the real world.
Some statistics claim that roughly 10 million pets are lost each year in the United States and only a small percentage of those are ever reunited with their families .
Electric fence products are a great way of ensuring your pet stays close to home if you do not have a physical boundary around the property. Some, like the Invisible Fence brand, utilizes wires buried around the border to create a precise boundary.
Other brands, like SpotOn, use GPS technology to pinpoint the dog’s location within a virtual outline. Both of these brands have their strengths and weaknesses and either one could be used to keep your dog safe and at home where they belong.
Feature Compare: What SpotOn and Invisible Fence Have To Offer
Let’s start with the major similarities that these two products share. Both are designed to provide an invisible boundary around a specified property. When a dog approaches that boundary perimeter they receive a mild static shock that encourages them to turn around. Both brands have also implemented a feature that prevents the collar from shocking the pet a second time when they return back across the boundary line. With that in mind, there are some major differences in how these two electric fence products work.
1. SpotOn Collar Key Features and Benefits
The SpotOn True Location feature uses a combination of GPS technology and motion sensors to provide real-time tracking. Unlike similar GPS collars, SpotOn pulls information from three different satellite systems with a total of 24 different satellites. These are some of the same satellites used by the United States military. This allows you to pinpoint the animal’s location with an accuracy of three feet. It also ensures that poor weather or environmental conditions do not impact the accuracy of the collar.
One of the best features available with SpotOn is its ability to create customized fence boundaries on the go. You can store several of the fences and adjust the dog’s boundaries based on location. For example, if you take your pet with you on vacation or to a family member’s you can create and save a virtual fence at that location. SpotOn automatically places virtual fence posts when creating a new post and allows for up to 1000 posts per fence. By comparison, other leading brands only allow for 20 virtual posts per fence.
SpotOn is also capable of fully tracking your pet even when they travel outside of the designated boundary. If your dog ever does wander away from the property you will be able to safely and reliably track them down. This feature does require an additional monthly service charge after the first year, but we believe it is worth every penny to know where your dog is at all times.
Here are a few more impressive SpotOn features:
- Forest Mode: Increases the GPS sensitivity when in close proximity to heavy tree coverage.
- Long Battery Life: A Fully charged battery has a lifespan between 18 and 24 hours.
- Noise-Resistant Antenna: Their antenna boasts the highest degree of noise immunity in the market.
- Correction Options: You can choose to use the static correction or an alternative audible-only correction.
2. Invisible Fence Key Features and Benefits
The Invisible Fence brand doesn’t rely on GPS technology at all, but rather short-range radio signals. The signal is sent from a transmitter along a wire that is buried in the yard. The pet wears a collar that will emit a warning sound as they get closer to the wire. If they reach the wire, then they will receive a static shock. With a bit of training, they will eventually learn where the boundaries are and will turn around when they hear the audible warning.
The utilization of the wire does come with some advantages. Most notably, there is no discrepancy in the distance. That allows the collar to only activate when the dog is physically at the boundary. However, the SpotOn collar activates several feet prior to the boundary line to allow for slight errors in GPS location. With the Invisible Fence, your pet will actually have more room and more freedom.
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Another useful feature of the Invisible Fence brand is that they have collars designed specifically for cats. These small, lightweight collars make it possible to train cats to stay within designated boundaries in the same way that you would train a dog. The SpotOn collar is designed solely for use with dogs.
Other notable brands features include:
- Perfect Start Plus Training Program: A training program that is customized for each pet and comes recommended by veterinarians and professional trainers.
- SmartShields Solution: A virtual fence variation that can be used to keep your pets indoors and even within specific rooms.
- Smart Fence App: A single powerful app that allows you to manage your collars, virtual fences, and other training options like SmartShields Solution.
- Doorman Electronic Pet Door: The Invisible Fence brand has been around for a while and released a handful of different electronic training and safety products. The automatic electronic pet door is only one example of this.
- Equipment Comparison: What’s Needed To Make SpotOn and Invisible Fence Work?
In terms of equipment required to function, SpotOn comes out ahead by a long shot. The only equipment that SpotOn requires to work is the GPS collar itself. There is a companion app designed to work with the collar and provide real-time tracking information, but it is not required to use the collar.
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To set up a new virtual fence with SpotOn you simply need to activate the collar, connect to the GPS system, and select “create new map”. You will slowly walk along the intended boundary line and the collar will collect data along the way. You can pause the collar if you need to move around physical boundaries along the way. The collar also comes with physical flag markers that you can use to easily outline your intended fence.
Invisible Fence requires significantly more equipment. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it does provide some additional accuracy with the correction limit. As we mentioned earlier, there is no buffer zone required with Invisible Fence because it activates when the collar is in physical proximity of the buried wire. There is also a required transmitter that is usually stored in a basement or garage and needs to be powered to operate.
The complexity involved with installing the Invisible Fence requires a professional team of installers. The professionals at Invisible Fence are very informative and can help you outline the ideal fence boundaries for your property. They are also required if you need to adjust the static correction level of the collar itself.
Equipment Comparison: What’s Needed for Invisible Fence and SpotOn
Here’s a quick breakdown of the equipment needed for both products:
- SpotOn: Collar and optional companion app.
- Invisible Fence: Collar, a physical wire buried on property, transmitter, and optional companion app.
There is also the matter of the battery. The Invisible Fence uses a proprietary batter that requires professional installation. Most users report needing to replace the battery once every 12-to-18 months. SpotOn uses fairly standard rechargeable batteries that can be replaced without professional assistance. You can purchase your batteries directly from SpotOn or from aftermarket sources.
GPS Dog Fence vs Wired: Does SpotOn or Invisible Fence Work Better?
First, it’s important to point out that both fences work exceptionally well. You can rest assured that the fence can safely contain your pet regardless of which fence you choose. But each fence does have its own strengths and weaknesses. Which you ultimately choose will depend on your unique situation.
Invisible Fence may require significantly more equipment and installation time, but the added freedom and accuracy are noticeable. If you live somewhere with very limited lawn space, then the five feet you would lose with SpotOn may simply be too much. Invisible Fence also has options for indoor containment with additional equipment.
The SpotOn fence has the advantage of providing real-time tracking even if your dog leaves the boundary. While very uncommon, there may be a situation where the dog leaves the virtual fence boundary. This typically occurs if the animal has not been properly trained to understand the fence and is instead immediately left outdoors after installation. Regardless of the reason for escape, you can use the SpotOn GPS technology to track down your pup immediately and return him home.
Price Comparison: Which Option is Cheaper?
Both fences are similar in upfront costs but differ over the long term. The cost of installing the Invisible Fence brand is going to vary based on the size and layout of your property. It may also differ depending on which model of collar you choose. SpotOn requires a flat fee regardless and includes an optional monthly subscription.
- Invisible Fence Cost: $950 – $1500
- SpotOn Fence Cost: $1495
- SpotOn Cellular Tracking Service: $6.95/month after one year free
- *Prices current at the time of publication – see current SpotOn prices at their website.
You Should Pick SpotOn If…
- You do not want to install any equipment.
- You want to have multiple virtual fences for different properties.
- You want to be able to track your dog’s location in real-time.
- You want to easily swap between audio and static correction options.
- You want the best GPS collar on the market.
You Should Pick Invisible Fence If…
- You want to give your pet more space to roam inside of the fence.
- You want your electric fence to work with both cats and dogs.
- You want the option to install virtual boundaries inside the home with added equipment.
- You want a lower upfront cost (depending on the size of your property).
- You want a professional training program recommended by veterinarians.