PetSafe YardMax Review
In-Ground Electric Dog Fences
Average Price: $249 – $358
Pros: maximizes yard space, small & lightweight collar, indoor/outdoor pet barrier compatible, rechargeable
Cons: 10-acre capacity, comes with cheap wire
Best Uses: single and multi-dog households, installations under 10-acres, small yards
The PetSafe YardMax Rechargeable In-Ground Fence is a top pick for in-ground dog fencing. Launched in September 2013, this is the first DIY dog fence to utilize the infinite correction zone technology that professional systems like Invisible Fence® have been using for years. This technology paired with the compact and rechargeable receiver collar, helpful features like collar fit test, and pet barrier compatibility make this a 5-star system.
The YardMax outshines most other in-ground dog fences in virtually every aspect. The main benefit and namesake of the system is the space maximizing YardMax feature. Whereas most dog fences transmit the signal out in a radius around the perimeter wire, the YardMax fence sends the signal out away from the wire in one direction only. This means that the correction zone (the zone in which your dog’s collar will issue a correction) starts right at the wire and continues out infinitely from there. When in YardMax mode (the fence can also be used in traditional mode) the usable space inside wire is maximized because you don’t lose any space to the correction zone. At the same time, the correction zone is infinite on the outside of the wire making it impossible for your dog to run completely through the correction zone to the other side where correction will stop but will correct again if he tries to re-enter the yard, confusing the dog. In YardMax mode there is no penalty for coming back home which promotes rather than hinders your dog’s ability to understand his boundaries. For safety, the correction will timeout after 15 seconds.
Small, Easy to Use YardMax Transmitter
The YardMax fence system transmitter is small and unobtrusive – it looks a lot like an oldschool thermostat – and doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb if you choose to install it inside your home. The transmitter can be set to YardMax mode or traditional mode depending on your layout and preference. Traditional mode is generally a better choice for properties installing an electric dog fence in addition to a physical fence and those using the double loop method for a single-sided barrier installation.
Small, Lightweight YardMax Collar
The YardMax collar is tiny and lightweight, but don’t let the size fool you, the collar has an impressive range of correction strength settings and is strong enough for all but the largest or most low-sensitivity dogs. At the same time it’s suitable for small dogs too. Although PetSafe says it’s safe for dogs right down to 5 lbs., we find it’s too big for most dogs that small and prefer the dedicated small dog system (PetSafe Elite Little Dog) for toy breeds. The collar has an adjustable and replaceable nylon strap with quick release plastic buckle. The YardMax collar strap runs around the outside of the receiver box so it’s easy to change out the strap for a different one. The collar strap can be adjusted to fit necks between 6” and 28”. The kit comes with two sets of collar contact points as well. The shorter set for dogs with shorter coats and the longer set for dogs with longer coats. The YardMax collar is also completely waterproof and even submersible
FitTest & ReadyTest on the YardMax Collar
The YardMax collar takes two great features from the retired PetSafe UltraSmart system collar. The collar Fit Test is an automatic self-diagnostic that beeps to let you know you’ve got the collar fitted properly to your dog. The number one reason for electric fence failure (or break-outs) is poor collar fit. This feature eliminates that question mark and is particularly useful for people whose dogs have long, thick coats that make it difficult to tell if the collar is properly fitted.
ReadyTest is another nice little add-on self-diagnostic feature. The collar will automatically check itself for proper function when unplugged from the charger. Definitely not a necessary feature but an added convenience nonetheless.
Rechargeable YardMax Collar
We tend to prefer rechargeable collars, not just for the money-savings, but also for the eco-friendly factor. With rechargeable dog fence collars, there’s just one less thing to remember to buy. It’s easy to get into the habit of charging the collar each time you take it off your dog so you never get stuck with a dead collar, unable to let the dog out.
The YardMax collar uses a lithium-ion battery and quick-charge technology. The collar fully charges in just two hours so even if you forgot you’ve still got a good chance you can power it up before you need to let your dog out! The charge lasts about 2 months under normal use but could go up to 3 months, depending on how often your dog challenges the boundary. The charging adaptor is included with the YardMax fence system kit and additional chargers are available separately should you lose yours.
5 Correction Levels + Tone-Only
The YardMax collar has 5 static correction levels settings to choose from for each collar you are using on the fence system. The individual correction levels for each collar give you the ability to use the system with multiple dogs even if they’re different sizes or have very different temperaments. We recommend using custom collar straps like these to differentiate between your dogs so you can adjust the setting and size for each YardMax collar once and then use the same collar for the same dog every time. The correction level is set using a button between the contact points on the collar. The YardMax collar correction level strength ranges from from medium to high with level 1 being a medium and level 5 being pretty high – just a notch below PetSafe’s dedicated extra large breed system the Stubborn Dog. The tone-only mode is generally used for training, but some people do continue to use tone-only once they feel their dog is completely trained and no longer challenges the boundary.
Compatible With Pawz Away Pet Barriers
Picking up where the discontinued PetSafe UltraSmart left off, the PetSafe YardMax system is compatible with PetSafe Pawz Away Indoor & Outdoor Pet Barriers. These small invisible barriers act like a baby gate without the baby gate, working with the collar in the same way as the fence perimeter, the wireless pet barriers project an invisible barrier zone that triggers the warning and correction if your dog gets too close. The Pawz Away Barriers are available for inside and outside and are most frequently used to keep dogs away from furniture, in or out of certain rooms of the house, or out of the garden or pool area of the yard.
YardMax Installation Supplies
Like most DIY electric dog fences, the YardMax comes with a 500’ spool of thin, flimsy, poorly coated, manufacturer grade wire. Making a living installing electric dog fences of all kinds has given us plenty of experience with dog fence wire of all kinds. Having installed everything from the simplest DIY system to the most complicated professional system, we’ve seen and used all the wire there is to see. Across the board, the wire that comes with the DIY dog fence kits is unreliable at best. The thin, 20-gauge wire is so flimsy we can snap it with our bare hands. The coating on this wire is cheap vinyl and decomposes rapidly when exposed to the elements, leaving the copper open to corrosion, and rust which will eventually cause a wire break. Rodent chewing and lawn equipment are two other frequent perpetrators of wire damage. Upgrading to a thicker, better coated wire is the best way to ensure you don’t have to deal with the hassle of future wire breaks. The best wire out there is the eXtreme Dog Fence brand wire, but even upgrading to a heavy duty 14-gauge wire is better than using the wire that comes in your YardMax kit.
The YardMax Fence does not come with any twisted wire. Twisted wire is neutral wire – it does not trigger the receiver collar. Almost all installations require twisted wire to connect the transmitter to the perimeter loop. If you’re using the thin 20-gauge wire that comes with the kit, you can easily twist the wire yourself. But, if you choose to upgrade to a more durable, thicker dog fence wire, you’ll appreciate the pre-twisted wire. The thicker the wire and better the coating, the harder it is to twist the wire yourself.
Includes External Surge Protection
The YardMax Fence System comes with an external surge protector. Surge protection is not absolutely necessary for a dog fence installation but for very little cost it does give you that added insurance that your transmitter won’t be damaged by a lightning strike or rogue surge on the electrical main. The surge protector plugs into a standard wall outlet and the transmitter power adapter as well as the perimeter wire plug into the surge protector.
The YardMax fence transmitter is only capable of powering up to 10-acres (roughly 3200 linear feet of perimeter wire). While this is sufficient for most installations, there are fence kits that are capable of powering much larger spaces. The SportDOG Containment fence, for example, can do up to 100 acres.
The YardMax Rechargeable Fence Kit offers great value for the price. The YardMax is more expensive than most other DIY fence systems but it also offers so much more than the other fences. Swapping out the cheap wire for heavy duty wire can become quite expensive for larger installations.
The PetSafe YardMax is the new leader on the block. This system has all the best features from previous PetSafe systems plus a tiny collar and the YardMax mode. The YardMax Fence is highly recommended for both single and multi-dog households with installations under 10-acres and is the best choice for small yards hands down.