Install an Invisible Electric Fence for Dogs

Invisible Dog Fencing Still Keeps Your Pet Contained

Dog in the yard

Installing an invisible electric dog fence is not, nor should it be, a complicated task. It does take some planning and a little creativity to come up with the best situation. Your neighbors will appreciate that you are keeping your dog in your yard, and an invisible electric fence is perfect for keeping the look of a wide-open yard.

The average invisible electric dog fence can be purchased for $100-$400 depending on the features, amount of wire, tools needed, etc. In order to have a professional installation performed, it can easily cost in excess of $700. This is why you should spend time researching the best (and most cost-effective) electric fence for dogs. A little bit of planning and sweat will lead to substantial savings.

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Here's how to install an electric invisible dog fence.

  1. How it works. Before you install an invisible electric dog fence, you should understand how it works. A small wire is buried along the areas you do not want the dog to cross, such as the boundaries of your yard or garden. From the wire, a radio signal is transmitted to a receiver on the animal's collar. As it nears the buried wire, he will hear a sound and if he keeps going closer to the fence, he will receive a mild correction similar to a static shock. This correction, or shock, is just strong enough to get the dog's attention and make him turn back. It is not painful in any way. 
  2. Determine which area you want contained. Do you want your front yard included? Do you need to keep your dogs out of the new garden you planted, as well as keep them in the backyard? Do you want your dog in your front or back yard? Do you want them in your front and back yard? Do you want to contain them inside a 25-acre lot? All of these containment are available.
  3. Contact your utility companies. You do not want to dig into anything that might be underground when you install your invisible dog fence. You also do not want to lay your
    fence wire parallel to any underground wire. Doing so may cancel out the signal, or cause interference. Passing over any underground wires should be done perpendicularly. You will need to know the layout of utility wires prior to installation and layout. Some areas will fine you if you dig into anything, even if it was an accident, so it pays to check what wires may be under your invisible dog fence.
  4. Configure your layout. Once you have defined what is "in-bounds" and what is "out-of-bounds", draw your layout for the fencing on paper, including your house. A simple figure is listed below. The dashed lines are fence perimeter, a single strand of wire. The "circle" lines connecting the house to the fence perimeter and the garden to the fence perimeter are twisted wires. Twisted wires, generally 10-12 twists per foot, cancel out the signal. Your dog will still be able to walk over the twisted wire section of the invisible fence. The design above creates an in-bound area within the yard perimeter. It also creates an "out-of-bound" area, which is the garden.
    Fence Perimeter
  5. Determine the amount of wire needed.
    • In the above image, the perimeter of the yard and the garden would be measured. Add these two numbers together and determine the minimum amount of single strand wire you will need to install the fence. Add approximately 10% of additional wire to give yourself some room for error, loss through connections, etc. Generally, these sections are sold in 500-foot increments.
    • In the above image, measure the distanceinstalling invisible fence from the front of the house to the yard perimeter and from the yard perimeter to the garden. Add these two amounts together to determine the minimum amount of twisted wire you will need. Again, an additional 10% should be added for good measure. These sections are generally sold in 100-foot increments.
  6. Purchase your fence and any additional wiring that you will need.
  7. Follow additional instructions that come with your fence package. The balance of the steps listed here are general installation guidelines to give you an understanding of the installation process. Please consult your fence's manual for specific instructions.
  8. Lay out your wires as planned. Do not bury them at this point. A good way to make sure the wires are laid out where you need them is to mark the fence location with flags. These are the same small, brightly colored flags you see used by surveyors and work crews who are laying underground cable. They can be found at many home improvement stores. The flags will help you see where the wire should lay and can come in handy later during the training stage.
  9. Connect your system. Most of the invisible dog fence will be a single piece of wire but you may find that you need to make splices. If you are unfamiliar and/or uncomfortable with electricity, have an electrician splice the wires together and connect the system. If you've worked with electricity before, you can splice the wires together yourself (carefully). Splicing the wires is not complicated. You simply take the ends of the wires and strip around three-quarters of an inch off of the jacket, exposing the wires. Use a wire nut to make a hard connection and prevent the wires from being pulled out of the connector. The splice unit that you use with an invisible electric dog fence has an environmentally-friendly, synthetic base gel. This gel does not harden. Simply take the wires connected with the wire nut and push them to the bottom of the splice unit. The gel will be displaced by the nut and fill to the top. Then you will bury the splice unit along with the rest of the fence.
  10. Install the transmitter. The transmitter is what emits the radio signal that travels along the wire and keeps your dog from crossing the boundaries you have set up. It needs to be installed near a power outlet in a protected area, such as a garage or a workshop. Bore a hole at the base of the wall of the area you are installing the transmitter and put the ends of the wires through the hole. Now install the transmitter by screwing the mounts to the walls and attaching the ends of the wire loops to the terminals. Use an arched staple and staple the wires against the wall. Make sure you use staples that are made for cable tacking so that you do not accidentally damage the wires. Plug the AC adaptor in the outlet and the transmitter. Two indicator lights located on the transmitter unit will tell you that power is connected and the loop is continuous.
  11. Test the system. If all systems are functioning, disconnect the power. If there are problems, try the troubleshooting guidelines given by the company.
  12. Bury the wires to the given depth. Depending on your make/model, this depth needs to be 1-6" underground. Note: When digging corners, create a gentle curve, not a 90 degree angle. This will prevent damage to the wire and ensure a continuous flow of power. After digging your trenches, gently place the wire in the trench to prevent breaking the wire or disrupting the splices. Allow some slack in the wire to minimize the risk of damage due to contraction or expansion. Test the system once more before burying the line with dirt. You may find that you have obstacles such as a driveway or pathway. In this case, you may need a special saw that will allow you to cut through the driveway or other obstacle so that you can bury the wire. These saws can be rented at home improvement stores or local rental yards. If you explain what you are doing, the people who work there will be able to help you select the proper equipment and blades. Once you have the right saw, just draw a chalk line where you need to make the cut and follow that with the saw. Stretch the wire over the cut and pack it in. Use sealer and overfill the crack so that a little caulk comes over the top. 
  13. Training your dog. Of course, any invisible fence is reinforced with good training. Put the training collar on the dog and then lead the dog just close enough to the boundary flags to hear the tone. Then lead the dog away and reward them. The correction that the fence and collar gives is mild at first, nearly unnoticeable, but it will get stronger the closer the dog gets to the fence. The majority of dogs will turn away once they feel the correction after the warning tone. As soon as they do they should be rewarded. Until the dog understands that the flags marking the fence boundary are a correction, training should be done frequently. When they understand the flags are a correction, they will avoid them. When they understand the tone and correction, the flags can be removed. Every dog will be different to train, but if you have patience and are consistent, they will successfully learn.

As you can see, it is possible for the average homeowner to install invisible electric dog fences, saving $300-500.


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The twisted wire addresses the previous author's questions. The fence must be kept in a continuous loop, but having 2 "live" wires twisted 10-12 times per foot will cancel the signal. Burying the wire deep or threading it through a pipe is NOT a reliable way to cancel the signal.

By Edward Susmilch

Article was pretty basic. I wanted to find out if there is any way to disable the signal in a portion of the loop (like along a back fence wall close to the house). Can I bury the wire extra deep? Lay another wire or some shielding material over the loop wire?

By herbert thieme