Dog playing outside in an outdoor fence area

Outdoor dog fences are a quick and relatively inexpensive way to keep dogs safe when they are outside. They can be used permanently or semi-permanently around your home (ideal for renters) or temporarily when traveling. 

Our team of veterinarian advisors reviewed a variety of outdoor dog fences to select the products on our list. They chose the FXW Outdoor Dog Playpen for its reliability and ability to expand — both with multiple collars and extension wires. Read how they chose the top 5.

Our Vet's Top Pick
FXW Outdoor Dog Playpen
For an outdoor dog fence that stands out among competitors, look no further than the FXW Outdoor Dog Playpen.

Your dog can’t always be outdoors, no matter how much he’d like that. For the times you want to keep him secure on the inside, consider picking up a crate, too. For additional options for your dog’s outside trips, you may want to invest in an escape-proof harness for taking your dog on walks. If you’re interested in checking out all the different types of fences for your pup, check out our vet-recommended Best Dog Fences.

 Our Vet’s Top 5 Outdoor Dog Fences

Here are the top picks from our veterinarian. Compare the ratings and features of different models.

Editor's PicksBrandRatingMaterialSizeGate?
Best OverallFXW Outdoor Dog Playpen4.6MetalUp to 729 sq ft[No]
Best BudgetAmazon Basics Foldable Metal Exercise Pet Play Pen for Dogs4.6MetalUp to 48" x 48"[yes] [no]
Best for Large DogsGiantex 48 inch Dog Fence with Door4.5MetalUp to 8' x 13'[yes]
Best With GateYaheetech Dog Playpen4.6MetalUp to 447 sq ft[yes]
Best Fence PanelsZippity Outdoor Products No Dig Baskenridge4.1Vinyl36in H x 84in W[no]

*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers

Types of Dog Fences: An Overview

One common area of confusion for pet owners is the difference between electric dog fences, wireless dog fences, in-ground dog fences, GPS dog fences, and invisible dog fences. Some people will use these terms slightly differently, but here’s a brief overview of the different types of dog fences:

Electric Dog Fence

Any fence that conducts electricity is an electric fence. Typically, though, electric fences meant for dogs will be invisible fences that correspond to a collar that your dog will wear. They send a signal to the collar if the dog crosses the perimeter (a wireless signal or a buried wire, most typically) to set off a correction or deterrent. (Beep, vibration, or static shock.) These are most commonly outdoor dog fences, but particularly in the case of wireless dog fences.

Invisible Dog Fences

To no one’s surprise, an invisible dog fence is a fence you can’t see. You can’t see it for a couple of possible reasons, but it will need to be electric to be considered invisible. It can be buried or wireless and must come with a collar corresponding to the fence’s signal.

In-ground Dog Fence

Unless it’s a wireless fence, invisible fences are typically in-ground. The wire is laid in a small ditch, typically between 3 to 20 inches, and covered in dirt, so it is protected by the earth. Very often, you can lie the wire on the ground, but you won’t have the inherent protection of burying it. It will be more portable but expect more issues. In-ground is very likely the most reliable invisible fence you’ll find.

Wireless Dog Fence

A wireless dog fence will offer you a lot more flexibility and with far less difficulty in installation. For the most part, once these fences are set up, they are plug-and-go. You can take them with you, and they should work just as well there. The base unit sends a signal, and your dog’s collar will respond to that signal. Your pup is safe if the collar stays within the range of your system’s hub. You can customize how big the range is, but the “safe zone” shape will always be a circle with the base as the center.

GPS Dog Fences

A GPS dog fence is a type of electric and wireless fence. It’s also the most customizable fence available, and you’ll appreciate how many areas you can program for your dog. You’ll have literally hundreds of acres to play with when creating your dog’s fair play areas, making them perfect for larger areas, like forests and farms. Your dog’s collar will receive a signal from a GPS satellite, so most GPS collars require a small monthly fee for continued access.

Who Should Buy an Outdoor Dog Fence

  • Dog owners with a yard. If you have dogs and a yard, then you’re probably going to consider a fence at some point. Even for a small yard, having a fenced-in area is a spectacular solution for your dog trying to run. For a larger yard, it may be more expensive but well worth your dog’s safety.
  • The owner of multiple dogs. When you have just one dog, you may be able to keep a good eye on him while he’s outside. When you have multiple dogs, though, it gets harder to watch and make sure your dogs don’t run off, and that other animals enter your yard to harm your pet.
  • An invisible fence won’t cut it. If you don’t have the time to train your dog with an invisible fence, or they’re just too stubborn, an outdoor fence may still work for you. There are plenty of scenarios where a traditional fence is the best bet. For example, protecting your dogs from other animals or containing your dogs and your kids.

Who Should Not Buy an Outdoor Dog Fence

  • Well-trained pup is always leashed. If the only time you take your dog outside is leashed, you don’t need a fenced-in yard. However, it’s worth considering the rare occasions and accidental open doors. Will your dog take off if presented the opportunity? If not, then you may well benefit from the fence.
  • Escape artist dogs who behave well with an invisible fence. If your dog has the will and training, you may find that an invisible fence, which can’t be jumped or dug under, suits your needs better.

Research Tips from a Veterinarian

Always spend some time researching the features and reliability of each fencing system. Speaking to someone who has used the system you are considering can be invaluable. You may also want to ask your veterinarian or other pet care professional for recommendations.

  1. Ensure the height is sufficient. Ensure the fence is tall enough to prevent your dog from jumping over. In fact, you’ll want to make sure it’s not even tempting for them to jump. If it’s too tall to clear but not tall enough to discourage, he may harm himself in the process.
  2. Locks need to be secure. Doors make getting dogs in and out easier. Doors with 2 latches may be more secure than those with only one.
  3. Durable and sturdy installation is critical. Outdoor dog fences need to be sturdy and securely affixed to the ground so that dogs can’t simply push them over or breakthrough.
  4. Consider exercise. Larger enclosures will allow dogs to get some exercise and to relieve themselves in one part of the “yard” and rest or play in another.

How Much Do They Cost?

[pricetag]Between $500 and $800[/pricetag]

An outdoor dog fence, just as any fence, will increase in price as the size increases, as well. You could spend anywhere from $60 for a play yard type of fence to between $500 and $800 for a larger fence with a gate. As a rule, you should expect to spend somewhere around $500 for an outdoor dog fence without a permanent installation (like a privacy fence). Considering wood or vinyl fences run thousands of dollars, a metal fence with a far less intense installation may be the most cost-efficient solution to your dog’s fencing needs.

Our Methodology: Why Trust Every Dog’s Dream

We have a team of certified veterinarians who conduct the research and make recommendations based on years of experience and education. – But don’t take our word for it.  Talk to friends and family with outdoor dog fences to learn what types have worked well for them. Your veterinarian or dog trainer can also point to any features that might be ideal based on your dog’s specific needs. Closely read product descriptions to avoid unpleasant surprises. Looking at customer reviews posted on trusted sources can give you an idea of how satisfied pet parents are with their purchase.

The Best Outdoor Dog Fences: Full Reviews

Our Vet's Top Pick
FXW Outdoor Dog Playpen
For an outdoor dog fence that stands out among competitors, look no further than the FXW Outdoor Dog Playpen.

The FXW Outdoor Dog Playpen has the best combination of features and value. It’s customizable, and you can purchase kits with 2, 4, 8, 16, 24, or 32 panels and choose from heights including 24 inches, 32 inches, 40 inches, or 50 inches. You can also add and remove panels to make a suitable enclosure for dogs of all sizes and groups of dogs, in whatever yard you own.

The doors have automatic gravity-action door latch making it easy to open and close but possibly less secure than having 2 latches. The posts on this fence have an easy setup with push-in stakes and comfortable round knobs on top of each.

[pros title=”Pros”]

  • Can purchase floor protectors for use indoors.
  • Powder-coated for extra rust resistance
  • Configure in round, square, or other shapes

[/pros][cons]

  • Not rust-proof
  • Less secure with only 1 latch

[/cons]

Best Budget
Amazon Basics Foldable Metal Exercise Pet Play Pen for Dogs
The Amazon Basics Foldable Metal Exercise Pet Play Pen for Dogs pairs quality and value for an excellent option for an outdoor dog fences.

The Amazon Basics Foldable Metal Exercise Pet Play Pen for Dogs can be ordered with or without the gated door, and if you opt for the gate, it has a double lock for extra security. It’s available in 24-inch, 30-inch, 36-inch, 42-inch, and 48-inch heights and includes 8 panels with ground anchors.

The wire construction is foldable and light but remember that comes with the downside of being less rugged than other options. Of course, the pro side of that coin means you can take this fence with you and keep your dog secure even if you’re traveling. You can use this in or outside, and the metal is classified as rust-proof by the manufacturer.

[pros title=”Pros”]

  • Easy set up – no tools required
  • Folds [nearly] flat
  • Ultra-portable

[/pros][cons]

  • Less durable
  • Too small to exercise large dogs

[/cons]

Best for Large Dogs
Giantex 48-inch Dog Fence with Door
The Giantex 48-inch Dog Fence with Door is tall enough to ensure your large dog stays safe and secure.

When you have a large dog, you must ensure the fence you select offers enough strength to withstand your dog’s roughest treatment. The Giantex 48-inch Dog Fence with Door is the perfect selection for that. At 48 inches tall, these panels should prevent even large dogs from jumping over and escaping. It’s also available in 40 inches if your smaller dogs don’t need that type of height.

This fence is available in kits with 8 panels (with one gated door) or  16 panels (and two doors). You can expand this fence by purchasing additional kits, and they correspond so that you’re unlimited in your possibilities.

[pros title-“Pros”]

  • Heavy-duty, rust-proof design
  • Dual latch locks
  • Foldable and expandable

[/pros][cons]

  • High step with gate
  • Customer service lacks support

[/cons]

Best with Gate
Yaheetech Dog Playpen
If you’re looking for a solid and reliable gate with your outdoor dog fence, check out Yaheetech Dog Playpen.

The Yaheetech Dog Playpen is highly customizable. You can purchase with 2, 4, 8, 16, 24, or 32 panels with heights of 24 inches, 32 inches, or 42 inches. The width of each panel is 32 inches (bigger than many others). You’ll easily be able to create enclosures of different shapes as well as add more panels to expand the fence to fit your space perfectly.  The 8-panel kit has one door while the 16-panel kit has 2 doors.

Because you can easily fold this fence system up, you’ll appreciate its portability of it, too. Whether you take your dog with you to your parent’s or friend’s house or take him with you on the road, this fence will work beautifully as a gated enclosure.

[pros title-“Pros”]

  • Double lock doors
  • Durable, rust resistant
  • Temporary or permanent installation

[/pros][cons]

  • Plastic hinges
  • Questionable customer service

[/cons]

Best Panels
Zippity Outdoor Products No Dig Baskenridge
For quality fence panels that are perfect for your dog, consider Zippity Outdoor Products No Dig Baskenridge.

The Zippity Outdoor Products No Dig Baskenridge is certainly a more decorative option than other outdoor dog fences. In fact, if you’re interested in a rust-proof white fence you’ll appreciate this option. The stakes are solid enough to keep the fence standing independently but easily transported so you can reconfigure or relocate, however (and whenever) you see fit.

By purchasing individual panels rather than a fence system, you’ll have the freedom to create exactly the size and shape of fence you want, with no extras and no compromising. The no-dig installation makes it convenient, but the care instructions (wash with a hose and wipe down with a towel) make this fence so practical you’re sure to love it.

[pros title=”Pros”]

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Includes 2 panels with posts per purchase
  • 10-year warranty

[/pros][cons]

  • Gate sold separately
  • No instructions or hardware included

[/cons]

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make an inexpensive dog fence?

Making your own outdoor dog fence is undeniably the least expensive way to create a barrier for your dog, but bear in mind the time spent, too. You can pick up PVC deer mesh barriers from your local hardware store as well as fence posts to secure the mesh. It may not be as durable, but it will work well as a DIY outdoor dog fence. It is especially useful as a temporary outdoor dog fence. Just remember that outdoor fences for large dogs may need a bit more strength to keep your pup safe. If you’re looking for a temporary outdoor dog fence with gate, you’re probably moving into a more skilled requirement.

How do you fence in a yard for a dog?

The basic rule for installing outdoor dog fences and gates is to make sure there are no obvious gaps from which your dog can escape. Make sure he can’t just walk, wiggle, jump, or crawl through any spot in the fence. You may want to consider the posts being dug into the ground and, if you’re doing a permanent build, you may want to even cement the posts in the ground. If your fog is parge, you’ll want to ensure you have an especially tall outdoor dog fence, but you may be able to save a little with a small outdoor dog fence for small dogs. After all, sometimes a cheap outdoor dog fence is the best outdoor dog fence.

What is the best fence for a small dog?

You may think choosing a fence for a small dog is easier than for a large dog, and in some ways, you’d be right. You won’t need to worry as much about your dog jumping fences or destroying them if your dog is small, but a small dog means small holes will allow your dog to escape. A small fence and ground gap may encourage digging and escape. As long as you’re comfortable with the deterrent of an invisible fence, that could work. You may need more training with a smaller dog before he gets the hang of the invisible fence, though. If you can’t commit to the time working with your dog, then a traditional fence installed without any gaps may be your best bet.

How can I keep my dog in the yard without a fence?

The best and most efficient way to keep your dog to remain in your fard without a fence is boundary training. However, that requires a significant time commitment and an intelligent, cooperative dog. If you can’t commit to that, then you may consider one of the following alternatives: An invisible fence, an exercise pen, a tether, or a line.

Is it okay to tie your dog outside?

Under the right circumstances, yes. The main circumstance is time. You won’t want to leave him tied up outside for extended periods, especially not alone. However, if you’re going to be outside and in the area with him, but don’t want to have him on a leash, then he’ll likely be ok. Make sure you offer him water and keep an eye on him to ensure he’s not hurting himself or others. [efn_note]Chaining and tethering dogs FAQ. The Humane Society of The United States. Accessed 29 Sept 2022.[/efn_note]

Is it animal cruelty to keep a dog outside?

For his entire life? Yeah, very likely. There are circumstances where a dog loves being outside. It could be ok if you live in a temperate climate or you have a dog whose breed was intended for colder weather. You absolutely do not want to leave your dog outside in extreme weather and offering an escape, even if he is meant for the cold, is essential. [efn_note]Living Outside. RSPCA.org.uk. Accessed 29 September 2022.[/efn_note]

If you’re looking for more information on the best fence to buy or set up for your dog, we have a series of in-depth guides on the topic. Check out any of the posts below for more information: