How To Install An Electric Dog Fence System
Did you know that “runaway dogs” or those wandering away from their property are among the top causes of road accidents and injuries?
These dogs pose serious hazards to motorists and pedestrians. They can also get into passing traffic and be hit by a car, resulting in severe injury and even death! Being away from their territory can also invite aggressive encounters with other dogs and wild animals.
If you are looking for a fool-proof way to ensure the safety and freedom of your canine buddy within your property, then you should seriously consider installing an electric dog fence system.
Your furry companion can roam and play within the desired boundaries with a properly installed dog fence. There’s no price for your peace of mind, knowing that your dog is protected from potential dangers.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about installing an electric dog fence system. From choosing the right fence type to training your dog to respect their boundaries, we've got you covered.
Types of Dog Fences
Before installing a dog fence, it’s essential to understand the two main types of dog fences available—traditional fences (physical fences) and electric fences. Each type has advantages and disadvantages, so let's explore them further to help you make a well-informed decision.
Physical fences include wooden or chain-link fences. This type of fence provides a visible barrier that prevents your dog from wandering beyond your property’s boundaries. While the benefits of these fences make them popular for dog owners, they also come with drawbacks.
Pros and Cons: Physical Fences
Traditional dog fences, such as physical barriers made of wood, chain-link, or other materials, have been a popular choice for pet owners seeking to contain their dogs within a designated area. While these fences offer several benefits, they also come with some downsides. Let's comprehensively discuss the pros and cons of traditional dog fences:
- Tangible and visible: Provides a physical barrier that helps dogs understand the boundaries where they’re allowed. Physical fences can be particularly effective for dogs that respond well to visual cues.
- No need to train your dog: With the physical barriers in place, a dog can quickly understand the limits of their space.
- Permanent: Once installed, physical fences offer a permanent solution to keeping your dog within your premises. These fences need little ongoing maintenance.
- Safe and secure: Traditional fences can help deter potential intruders and prevent your dog from wandering into dangerous places like busy streets.
- Durable: Wrought iron, hardwood, or other high-quality materials used in physical fences promotes durability. These materials can also withstand various weather extremes.
- Privacy: A solid wood or vinyl fence can offer privacy and reduced visibility. The fence can also help keep your dog calmer.
- Expensive: Installing physical fences can be expensive, especially if your property is large or requires extensive fencing. The cost of materials and labor can add up significantly.
- Restricts your dog’s view: A solid fence can limit your pet’s view if your dog loves observing their surroundings. This can pave the way for boredom or anxiety.
- Periodic maintenance: While physical fences are generally low-maintenance, periodic maintenance is usually required. This includes painting or repairing damaged sections.
- Not suitable for certain terrains: It may be challenging to install physical dog fences effectively in uneven or rocky landscapes.
- Reduced ventilation: Solid fences obstruct sunlight and the flow of air, leading to reduced ventilation in the designated area.
- Digging or jumping: If your dog is an escape artist or if the fence is not adequately secured, they may attempt to dig under or jump over the fence.
- Fixed: Once a physical fence is installed, it cannot be easily moved or relocated to another site. This can be a problem for some pet owners who need to move or change the dog enclosure in the future. This limited portability makes traditional fences less suitable for renters or those planning to move in the future
Table 1. Summary Of The Pros And Cons Of Physical Dog Fences
Electric Dog Fences
Electric fences are also called invisible or electronic fences. It’s a fence system that utilizes buried wire, a transmitter box, and a collar receiver that emits a tone, vibration and static correction as your dog approaches the “out of bounds” area.
Pros and Cons: Electric Dog Fences
- Cost-effective: If you’re a budget-conscious pet owner, an electric dog fence is a practical choice because it’s generally cheaper than installing traditional wood or wire fences.
- Suitable for any terrain: Electric dog fences are the best choices for areas with diverse landscapes. These fences are not affected by terrain issues like mud, erosion, or shifting ground.
- Convenient to set up: Setting up an electric dog fence is relatively quick and easy. You can avoid the complexities and challenges, as well as the lengthy process of constructing a physical fence.
- Reliable: Electric dog fences have been proven to be reliable in confining dogs to specific areas. These fences can also deter dogs that love to escape by digging under or jumping over the fence.
- Unobstructed views: With no physical structures, electric dog fences allow pet owners to enjoy the surrounding views, like mountain ranges or beaches.
- Decreased human error: Electric dog fences reduce the chance of human error that could lead to a dog’s escape. There are no physical gates that you may accidentally leave open.
- No protection from external threats: While electric dog fences can confine your dog within a certain area, they don't prevent other animals or people from entering the designated zone, potentially causing harm to the dog.
- Limited effectiveness: Electric dog fences might not be effective for all types of dogs. Some dogs may be willing to endure the shock to escape, especially if they are highly motivated by something outside the fence, such as other animals or people.
- Risk of barrier frustration: Dogs contained within an electric fence may experience barrier frustration, which occurs when they can see or hear things outside the boundary but are unable to reach them. This frustration can lead to behavioral problems and stress.
- Training difficulties: Properly training a dog to understand the boundaries of an electric fence requires time, effort, and consistency. Some dogs may have difficulty understanding the association between the shock and the boundary, leading to confusion.
- Unpredictable reactions: The response of different dogs to electric fences can vary widely. Some may become fearful and anxious, while others may become more aggressive or hyperactive due to stress.
- Interference and malfunctions: Electric dog fences can be affected by interference from other electronic devices or physical obstructions. Additionally, malfunctions in the system could lead to unintended shocks or ineffective containment.
- Legal Restrictions: In some regions, there may be certain legal restrictions regarding the installation and use of an electric dog fences. You would need to research and understand the laws for your state.
Table 2. Pros And Cons Of Electrical Dog Fences
Installing An Electric Dog Fence
The importance of planning before installing an electric dog fence cannot be overemphasized. A well-thought-out plan is the foundation for achieving a secure and reliable dog containment system. There are several important factors to consider, and rushing into installation can possibly lead to potential issues and problems down the road. With proper planning, you’ll be able to install an electric dog fence that maximizes safety, comfort, and freedom for your beloved pet.
Planning the installation
Important factors such as the terrain, size of your yard, and your dog’s behavior should be considered in order to determine what type of fence is most suitable.
What is the yard's size and shape?
This is the first step in the planning process. Knowing the yard’s dimensions can help determine the quantity of boundary wire you’ll need. Take note that the presence of obstacles, slopes, or corners can influence the layout of the dog fence. To ensure precise measurements, you’ll need a measuring tape and stakes.
What materials are needed?
Generally the kit comes with everything you need to install an electric dog fence system. However if you need additional coverage you would need to purchase more wire and training flags. Other items we recommend to have on hand (you may not require all items as its dependant on your installation type)
• Tape measure
• Spade shovel or lawn edger
• Wire stripping pliers
• Electrical Tape
• Additional wire nuts and gel-filled splice capsules
• Waterproofing compound (e.g., silicone caulk)
• PVC pipe or water hose
• Circular saw with masonry blade
• Staple gun
• Non-metallic collar and leash
Preparation of the yard
Create a safe environment for your pet by cleaning the yard of any debris or obstacles. This can help ensure a smooth and secure fence line.
Dog's behavior and needs
Does your dog love jumping your fence? Are they accomplished escape artists? Considering your pet’s behavior is crucial in determining the training approach and the intensity of the correction given by the collar.
Define your containment area
When defining the area you want to enclose with the electric fence, make sure to decide if you want to include certain areas, such as the gardens, pergola, or gazebo, within or outside the fence boundary.
Proximity to utilities
Are there any active underground utilities, like gas lines, electrical cables, water pipes, etc., in the area where you plan to install the electric fence? Make sure you are aware of where they are located to avoid interfering with them when installing the fence.
Your dog’s safety is a primary priority. The containment area must be free of potential hazards, such as sharp objects or toxic plants.
Wireless versus In-Ground Options
Electric dog fences include wireless and in-ground options.
Wireless Electric Dog Fences
Wireless systems are easier to install but may have limitations in customisation, range and signal strength. These are a convenient choice for many dog owners because these types of electric dog fences are designed for easy and quick installation. Other key features of wireless dog fences include portability and an adjustable boundary. You can easily carry the system and install it in a new location. This makes it ideal for when traveling with your dog or as a form of temporary containment. Wireless fences give you control over the containment area to match the property layout and your dog’s needs.
However, wireless dog fences have a limited range which makes them less effective for larger areas. You cannot customise the boundary to suit your yard layout; it can only make a circular shaped boundary which isn’t suitable for most yards. Buildings, trees, or uneven terrain can significantly interfere with the signal and, therefore, the effectiveness of the fence. When there’s signal interference, it may deliver false corrections to your dog that may cause confusion.
In-Ground Electric Dog Fences
In-ground systems offer more customization and you can place the wire above or below the ground or mount it to an existing fence as long as the fence isn’t made of solid metal sheeting. These electric dog fence systems may require a bit more effort during installation, but they offer flexibility when it comes to customizing the boundary to match the shape and size of the containment area. These fences can cover larger areas (up to 10 acres of coverage) effectively while maintaining the aesthetics of your property.
Installing an in-ground electric dog fence can be labor-intensive if you decide to bury the wire; it involves digging a trench (it’s recommended wire be buried 10-15 cm below the ground). This means it requires more time and effort to set up compared to wireless fences. This type of dog fence is also less portable and has limited adjustability. While the boundary of the containment area can be customized during installation, if you decide to bury the wire making changes later can be more challenging as it requires digging up and repositioning the wire.
How To Ensure Excellent Signal Transmission In A Dog Fence System
Most electric dog fence systems operate on AM frequency. Interference is a crucial factor to consider when installing the fence. Here are some important sources of interference in signal transmission:
Wires and cables – The boundary wire cannot be placed near any active underground or overhead electrical lines, including overhead telephone wires, because it will interfere with the signal the collar receives.
Solid metal fence – A dog fence system cannot be used with a solid metal fence, i.e., colourbond fence, as the metal will insulate the signal that is being emitted. However, chicken mesh wire, barbed wire, chain-linked fence, etc., can all be used safely and effectively.
Terrain – If you have a slope in your yard on a gradient or a hill, the system won’t function effectively as the slope will block the signal from being emitted.
Trees – If you live in a forested area, the trees can block the transmitter signal.
Laying of the Dog Fence System
Dog fence systems can be installed above and below the ground or mounted to an existing fence. The minimum amount of wire to be used for a dog fence system is 80 meters. This will give you enough space to create a safe area for your dogs to roam freely.
If you choose to have the boundary wire above ground, the wire must be placed inside a conduit for protection i.e. whipper snipper, lawn mower, rodents, etc. You may use a garden hose or polypipe as a conduit for protection. When mounted to a fence, we recommend placing the wire shoulder height to your dog for optimal effectiveness.
When buried, the depth of the trench must be 10-15 cm below the ground. Before burying the wire, don’t forget to lay it above the ground first to test and make certain the system is working correctly.
Dog Fence Installation: The Double Loop
A double loop is a common layout for installing a dog fence underground. There should be two separate trenches at least 1.5m apart to accommodate the wires in a double loop.
Twisting the start and end wire together will cancel the correction(shock) along the boundary wire and allow your dog to cross over or pass through without receiving any ‘shock’ from the collar. In most cases a double loop layout will be required if you want to cancel the correction in certain areas along your boundary layout.
Location of the Transmitter Box
The transmitter box should NOT be near any major electrical appliances, like antennae cables, refrigerators, air conditioning units, etc. As a rule of thumb, the transmitter box should be at least 3 meters away from any major electrical appliances because these appliances can interfere with the signal emitted.
Installing A Wireless Dog Fence Against A Metal Sheet Wall or Fence
There is no problem at all when the transmitter is installed against a wood fence or a metal fence as long as the metal fence isn’t made of solid metal sheeting i.e. colourbond. Solid metal interferes with the signal emitted from the transmitter boxes and causes the system to work ineffectively.
“The Sandwich Effect”
If you choose to place the transmitter box against a solid metal shed, always remember that it should not be in direct contact with the metal fence. You need to mount a wooden block, which is at least 10 centimeters thick, to the wall of the metal shed to act as an insulator. The transmitter box will then be placed on the wooden block, thus the term “sandwich effect”.
Most dog fence systems allow for 10-acres of coverage. If you want to cover a larger area, you can purchase additional rolls of wire to increase your coverage. To ensure optimal function, it’s highly recommended to use the wire that comes with your kit. If you need more wire for more coverage, contact Pet Control HQ.
💡 Always use the same composition and thickness of boundary wire throughout your layout, different wire thickness and composition can render the system ineffective.
How to join 2 or more rolls of wire:
- Splice the ends of each roll of wire together.
- Make sure the join is secure, as this is the weakest point in your loop.
- When splicing the wires together, the copper should not be exposed to the air because it can oxidize. You can prevent this from happening by covering the joint with electrical tape or boundary connectors. We highly recommend using electrical tape for this purpose because it’s cheaper and works exceptionally well because it’s waterproof.
💡 When splicing the wires together:
Tips For Installing Dog Fence System
- When installing the boundary wire, it must form a closed loop. This means that the wire must start and end at the transmitter box or the dog fence system will not work.
- The layout of the boundary wire must have no angles. If you have a square or rectangular layout, the sides must be rounded with a radius at least 2-3 meters wide.
- Slopes, hills, or gradient changes in the terrain can cause signal blockage and interference.
- The dog fence system won’t work in sub-zero conditions.
- The dog fence function will not work in a forest because the trees can block the signal from the transmitter box.
Installing the Transmitter Box
The transmitter box being an electrical item, should not be exposed to the outside elements. The box needs to either be placed indoors or under cover. If you are leaving it outdoors, we recommend placing the transmitter box in a waterproof box for extra protection. However, note that most of these boxes are not really 100% waterproof. Moisture can accumulate inside the box and eventually cause the internal mechanism of the transmitter box to corrode and eventually stop working.
💡 The dial (1-10) on the transmitter box is the range or distance between the collar and the wire. The numbers indicate the distance at which the collar starts to emit a warning tone, vibration and shock from the wire.
💡 The numbers (1-10) DON’T refer to the intensity of the shock emitted by the collar.
The flags serve as a visual aid for your dog/s. These markers help train your dog to recognize, understand and respect what their boundaries are.
We recommend placing the flags at the point the collar starts to activate i.e. the warning zone. Each flag should be placed approximately one meter apart along the warning zone so your dog visually understands what their ‘safe area’ is and what their ‘out of bounds’ area is.
Testing the Collar
The collar that comes with the kit is designed to activate when the dog reaches a certain point within the safe area. The range depends on the level you have set the dial on your transmitter box.
When testing if the collar works, hold it at least 20-50 centimeters above the wire (at the dog’s height), and NOT human height. Make sure to keep the collar's contact points facing up towards the sky with the test light attached over the metal points. While holding the collar in your hand, walk up and down toward the boundary wire. As you approach the boundary the test bulb should emit a flashing light indicating that the collar is shocking and the system is working correctly.
💡 When testing your collar, you need to walk up and down the boundary wire, and NOT along the wire.
Training Your Dog
Training your dog to respect fence boundaries is an essential part of the installation process. Keep training sessions brief and remember more frequent and shorter sessions are better than longer and less frequent sessions. Never continue a session after your dog has lost interest. We recommend the following successful training sessions lasting approximately 10-15 minutes each:
Tone & Flag Training (Day 1) -Teach your dog that their new ‘Safe area’ is defined by the Boundary Flags and warning tone emitted from the Receiver Collar.
The First Correction (Day 2-4) - Teach your dog to stay in the ‘Safe area’ and to respect the boundary.
On Leash proofing (Day 5-8) -Teach your dog to stay in the ‘Safe area’ with distraction outside the Pet Area.
Off Leash proofing (Day 9-14) - Give your dog the freedom to run in their ‘Safe area’ off the leash.
💡 Positive reinforcement is key to successful training. Always be quick to reward good behavior with training treats (Pet Control HQ Training Treats) and praise. Dogs learn like humans through association and with consistency and patience, your dog will learn to stay within their designated area.