How to Install Electric Dog Fence – Easy Steps

Installing an electric dog fence is one of the techniques dog owners adopt to keep their dogs from digging under a fence and getting away from their yards.

how to install electric dog fence
Image Credit: meandcolors, Pixabay.com

An electric dog fence is very effective in making your yard appear open without double fences or any other obstruction. It also keeps your dog and other pets from digging under fences and escaping.

Most people hire professionals to help them install electric dog fence in their yards. On the other hand, more people are looking at how they can install electric dog fences by themselves instead of hiring professional hands. 

Electric dog fences require some level of dedication to install. As soon as they are set up, you won’t have the need for traditional fences to keep your dog confined in your space. 

It ensures that your dog stays within boundaries and you won’t have to bother about your dog burrowing and escaping.

If you are one of those people looking to learn how to install electric dog fence, you are in luck. This article has been meticulously written after thorough research to help you through with the installation of an electric dog fence.  

What Is an Electric Dog Fence?

Electric dog fence is also known as invisible or hidden dog fence.  An electric dog fence is an underground dog fencing pet system. 

It uses radio signals to keep dogs safe and well behaved in a selected containment area, like a yard. It could also keep them away from an area, like a swimming pool, garden, nursery or patio.

These electric fences use underground wires to transmit shock to a dog through its collar anytime it steps outside the boundaries of the fencing system.

Electric fences are also used in creating indoor boundaries. They are used to keep dogs and other pets away from the couch or from entering a room. 

They are also used to keep them out of kitchen counters and just wherever you don’t need pets around.

Planning the Installation of Electric Dog Fences

Step 1

Map out the precise area you would want your dog to be confined to. This will enable you to purchase the precise quantity of invisible wire needed. 

Using planted marker flags, mark areas around your yard where the electric fence will be buried, when you eventually get them.

An underground electric dog fence is mostly used because they are flexible. They allow users to mark even oddly-shaped yards. Meanwhile, above ground, electric dog fences do not allow for such flexibility. 

Above-ground electric fences are compulsorily laid and build in straight lines. People with odd formed yard features do not go for such electric fences.

Underground electric fences are used mostly to deter dogs from burrowing away. They are also used to keep dogs from getting into areas you do not want them to get into. 

Step 2

Calculate the width and length of the space you wish to use as your dog confinement area. To do this, use a large measuring tape, measure out the immensity of the confinement area for the electric fence dog installation. 

Do not measure the length and width of your house, there is no need for that. Your dog will be unable to break into the wall of your house. 

All you need to know is the exact length and width of wire that would properly fit the confinement area being prepared for the dog. 

Obtaining the exact measurement of your confinement area will ensure that you purchase the exact length of electric fence wire needed. 

Purchase the shock collar, transmitter, and wire from a local hardware store or pets store. Most electric underground fence packs come with a full set of wire and transmitter. 

They are usually effective in yards that measure from twenty-five to five hundred acres or extra, depending on the strength. 

If you are buying an underground dog fence, ensure that you buy the pack that has an adequate quantity of wire. This will help to enclose the area that would contain the dog.

Step 3

Properly store the transmitter. Find a secure spot in your home to store the transmitter until you are ready to install the electric dog fence. Ensure you place the transmitter in a spot that is not close to a breaker, utensils, and other supplies of electrical impedance.

To ensure it is securely kept in a safe space, it is best you store the transmitter in the garage. Store the system away from any appliance that could interfere with its system. 

Alternatively, you can ground the transmitter to avoid any major damage. Grounding separates the transmitter from other possible supplies of electrical impedance. 

Grounding should be carried out strictly following the instructions on the owner’s manual that your transmitter was bought with.

Surge protectors are best used to ensure that the electric dog fence stays in contact amid electrical interference. Supposing there is a power outage, you have to take the dog back into your house until the electric underground electric fence is reconnected. 

How to Install Electric Dog Fence

As you must have deduced already, there are two types of electric or invisible dog fences:

i. Underground electric dog fence

ii. Above-ground electric dog fence

Both fences require different styles of installation. 

We will be discussing firstly, how to install above-ground electric dog fences. 

How to Install Above-ground Electric Dog Fence

Installing an above-ground electric fence has steps as basic and similar to the steps taken in installing underground electric dog fence. But instead of concealing the wire underground, it will be fastened to the ground or to an already installed fence in your yard.

Materials You Will Need

i. Above-ground electric fence kit

ii. Sod staples

iii. Staple gun and heavy-duty staples

iv. Screws

v. Drill

Step 1

Place the electric fence transmitter in a safe place such as the garage. It should have a power supply and be close to the yard you want to fence. 

If your garage is busy, you might consider using a shed or an enclosed porch. They work well in safeguarding electric fence transmitters. 

Wherever the transmitter is placed should have electric supply and an outlet because the transmitter must be plugged into a power outlet. 

Some electric fence kits come with hardware for hanging the transmitter whereas some others do not. If yours does not contain a hanger, you can get screws for yourself.

Step 2

Fasten the electric fence wire to the earth using a sod staple. You can also fasten the wire to a pre-installed wooden fence using a staple gun or heavy-duty carpenter staples. If you don’t have an existing wooden fence, you can fasten the wire to a metal fence using twist ties. 

Supposing you want to attach your wire to a pre-installed fence, but do not own one, you can attach your wire to any kind of heavy-duty zip ties. You can also secure the wire to the ground using lawn staples. They are really the best option. 

To do this, secure it at every 6 – 10 feet, keeping it flat on the ground or fence. 

Heavy-duty zip ties and lawn staples can be gotten from home improvement stores and hardware stores in your locality. 

Supposing you prefer shopping online, you can get them from Amazon at various competitive prices. 

Check out various dog staples here (Amazon link and photo)

Step 3

Test the wire and transmitter. Connect the wire to the transmitter and turn on the transmitter system. Confirm whether the system is functional or not by firmly holding the dog collar in either of your hands and then waving it close to the wire.

For peculiarity, read through the user guide. Some electric wire fences come with a test light that the owner attaches to the collar to ensure whether the system works or not. If the system is properly working, the light blinks, otherwise, it won’t respond.

Should there be any error or malfunction, effect necessary adjustments to both the system and the boundary. This should be done before fixing the wire in place with the staples.

Video: Clear Explanation of How to Install this Fence

From this video, you can follow the steps laid out to get your own dog fence installed. It is detailed and easy to understand.

How to Install Underground Electric Dog Fence

Step 1

To install underground electric dog fence, place the boundary wire above the ground along those marker flags that had been earlier placed. The wires should be laid to lie straight across the borders of the confinement area that was earlier marked out. 

Ensure that your wire is long enough to come right back to meet the initial point you started off from. Also, ensure that any ninety-degree angle is rounded off as most transmitters do not recognize any sharp bend or turn correctly.

If possible, try not to twist the boundary wire as much as possible. Twisting the wire can create transmitter signal issues. When such an issue occurs, the transmitter and wire signal would not be very potent in patches across the defined boundary.

Step 2

Attach the wire onto the transmitter to test the transmitter and collar. The wire does not yet need to be laid underground to undergo testing with the system. All you need to do is to plug in the two end tips of the boundary wire into the system transmitter and switch it on. 

To test the collar’s receiver, attach the receiver onto the collar. With the collar in your hand, walk above the boundary wire in several different directions. You ought to pick up a beep sound whenever the collar gets near to the border. 

Common sense might urge you to put on the collar in order to test for the shock. But that is risky, and you shouldn’t attempt it. 

Also, do not hold the metal piece to sense a shock. Although the shock from the collar is mild, yet uncomfortable. The sound from the collar is enough to inform you that it is properly functioning.  

Step 3

Dredge a hole that is about 3 – 12 inches, that is, 7.6 – 30.5 centimetres deep along the tracks where the marker flags are positioned. Use a nursery trowel or a shovel to dredge slightly under the yard’s surface to form a light trench that will cover the wire. 

When you have covered the wire, do not move the marker flag. They would be used during training to teach your dog about the newly set boundaries. They would help it know where to go and where not to go. 

While making the hole, do not dredge too deep. Deep trenches make it hard for the transmitter to pick up signals emitted by the boundary wire when the dog trespasses across the borders.

To avoid erroneously burying the wire too deep, place it on the yard grass. Doing this will not compromise its output. 

As a precaution, it is best to bury it slightly underneath the ground. This will prevent you from falling over the boundary wire or unknowingly using a land mower to cut it. 

Step 4

Lay the wire under the ground, use dirt to cover it, and re-test it for a shock and the beep sound. Walk around your garden stepping over the dirt you had earlier excavated. This is to make sure that the wire is completely covered. 

Do not abandon any wire lying above the ground. You and your family members may be at risk of falling over the wire or cutting it with your lawnmower. 

Still re-test the effectiveness of the wire and transmitter system. Walk across your yard in various directions checking for shock and sound.

Once you have ascertained its effectiveness, prepare to take your dog through at least two days of training.

Video: Easy-Peasy Installation of the Fence

Watch this video to see the step-by-step installation of an underground dog fence.

Extra Tip

Supposing you are installing an above ground electric dog fence, you will need to go for thicker wire. This is necessary if your lawn is regularly run over by a mower or it is an area with high traffic. 

An important factor to consider when buying boundary wires is that wires with larger gauge are usually thinner. Whereas wires with smaller gauge are usually bigger in size.

For instance, a 22- gauge boundary wire is thinner than a 16-gauge boundary wire.

Most electric dog fences that are installed by homeowners as part of DIY projects use 500 ft of 20-gauge wires that are usually enough to run across about 1/3 of an acre. 

The setback usually accosted with 20-gauge wires lies in their extreme thinness and fragility. It’s such an obvious setback that expert installers nicknamed them ‘dental floss.’

Supposing you want to cover a large yard, if you can, it is best to purchase 1000 ft rolls of boundary wire. A common complaint among consumers is that wires in rolls easily get tangled as they come off the bundled roll. This is a common occurrence for wires of thinner gauges.

Whatever decision you make about the gauge of wire you wish to purchase, the following chart shows approximately the quantity of wire you will need, which is dependent on the confined area’s size. 

Note that the chart provides information for the basic perimeter, which is just outside your yard. If you plan on having more restricted areas in other parts of your home, you will need extra wires. 

ACRES QUANTITY OF WIRE NEEDED
1/3  500 ft
½ 700 ft
1 1000 ft
2 1400 ft
3 1700 ft
4 2000 ft
5 2200 ft
6 2400 ft
7 2600 ft
8 2800 ft
9 3000 ft
10 3200 ft
15 4000 ft
20 4500 ft
25 5000 ft

Teaching Your Dog

After installing your electric dog fence, you need to teach your dog to ensure that it understands and keeps off all bound areas. Good teaching is essential to successful confinement and contented dogs. Importance of this cannot be overemphasized.

Before buying an electric dog fence, ensure that the kit contains an easy to comprehend training manual. It should also have an adequate number of sturdy marker flag. 

The sturdy marker flags are used to track the spots where boundary wires are buried. They also form a visual barrier for your dog which plays an important role in their early stage of training.

It is important to note that some dogs pick up instructions faster than others. While some learn right away, others take a longer time to adapt to the training given. 

Prepare to dedicate an ample amount of time for training your dog about the new adjustments made.

Steps Involved in Training Dogs for Electric Dog Fences

Installing electric dog fence
Image Credit: Pikrepo.com (under licence)

Step 1

Allow your dog to get accustomed to its new shock collar by attaching the receiver to its shock collar. For some dogs, the shock collar and receiver are relatively heavy but for some other dogs, it just fits perfectly and comfortably. 

Ensure to get your dog a shock collar and receiver that fits your dog. The objective isn’t to hurt it but to nudge it towards the right path, through guidance and slight shocks. 

Your dog ought to stay comfortable while wearing its shock collar before training commences.

If the dog doesn’t react to its shock collar, you consider getting a sturdier collar or a collar that comes with alterable strength settings.

If after changing the shock collar and your dog doesn’t respond to the shocks, you can get citronella collars. Citronella collars spray citronella whenever a dog wearing it crosses a restricted boundary. 

This citronella spray is as mild as the shock produced by shock collars and works effectively on hefty dogs.

Step 2

On an hourly basis, if possible, accompany the dog to its new set boundary while he is being held on a tight leash. While out in your yard, take it to various spots to show it the unrestricted areas that are open for it to roam about in. 

When you are not training your dog, it should be kept on a tight leash outside the yard or kept indoors. Under normal circumstances, it takes about 48 hours and above of constant practice for dogs to learn where the boundary wires are buried or laid. 

Make sure your dog does not go beyond the restricted area, while on training and after training. Else, you will start the training afresh. 

Step 3

Be on alert for shocks and beep sounds. When the dog’s shock collar emits the beep sound for the first time on the initial training day, ensure to quickly pull back the dog’s leash. 

If your dog gets closer to the wire, pull it back and do not let it get anywhere further. Doing this teaches your dog about limits. It lets him know where to stop and to do so whenever the shock collar beeps.

The marker flags on the ground also assist in letting your dog recognize its boundaries. This is done by visual reinforcement instead of shock and beep sound. 

Leave the marker flags in their positions until a couple of days after it has undergone full training and has learned his boundaries. This would reinforce its understanding of its boundaries.

Step 4

On the second day of training, leave the dog to discover its boundary on its own. Applying the same principle as the previous day. Take it to various parts of the electric fence on an hourly basis, with its leash very tight as usual. 

Unlike the previous day, do not sharply pull back the leash. Allow your dog to determine where the electric fence is by itself. If it gets closer to the boundary, its collar will emit off a beep sound with a slight shock that should deter him.

If your dog crosses the line, quickly draw it back. However, the slight shock and beep sound should enable it to figure out its limits.

Step 5

Encourage your dog whenever it steps away from the boundary on its own accord. Rewarding it comes in phases. Initially, you can encourage your dog when you sharply pull it from getting close to the electric fence and it obeys. On the next training day, encourage it when it keeps its distance from the electric wire on its own.

Supposing your dog understands basic commands like “sit”, for more reinforcement, instruct it to go to the boundary edge and sit. When it obeys and sits put, make sure to reward it with treats and praises. 

Step 6

When you feel that your dog has learned and understood its limits, let it roam loosely in your yard. After some days of constant teaching, your dog ought to have understood where it can get to and not get to. 

Allow it to go out without a leash on, while you make sure that you supervise it to know for sure that it doesn’t go beyond the boundary wires. 

Supposing your dog has not picked up after several days of training, you will have to train it all over again. Do so until it understands his limits. 

But what if the dog does not understand its limit because it does not respond to the mild shock from the collar?

In this case, you may have to increase the collar’s strength or use a citronella spray collar. That might fix it. 

Remember to change the shock collar batteries for at least every 3 – 6 months. 

How to Install Electric Dog Fence – Conclusion

Electric dog fences when compared to other dog-proof fences, are more affordable and requires less time to install. They are very flexible in application, as they can be used both inside and outside of a home. They also do not alter the aesthetics of a home or yard. These are common reasons dog owners prefer them.

Underground electric dog fences take more time and effort to install. But they offer complete customization to confinement areas. They can be turned into twisted wire to take any shape you want, to provide restriction to your pet.

 Above-ground electric dog fences are easier to install and require lesser installation time but are more difficult to maintain. They require constant checks to ensure that they are still intact and haven’t been cut by a lawnmower or isn’t pulled up to cause tripping to passersby.

Above all, with proper training for your dogs and other pets, electric dog fence provides adequate proof for pets. It is worth installing.