Planning

Marking Utilities and Obstacles

The first thing we need to do is have your underground utility lines marked so you know where to be careful when digging.  811 is a free service that alerts water, sewer, electricity, cable and gas suppliers to mark your property with the route of any underground utility lines.  Simply call 811 and the utility companies will mark their underground utility lines with either flags or spray paint.  It can take up to  a week so you will want to call now.  If you have privately installed any utilities like a septic system or lines for gas cylinders you will want to mark these as well.  Most utilities are deeply buried (over a foot deep) and you will only be burying the cables a few inches deep so usually underground utilities are not an issue, but it is better to be safe than sorry and dig carefully in areas where utilities are located.

If possible mark the location of any sprinkler system lines or low voltage power lines for any outdoor lighting system you have had installed.  If you can’t determine the location of these lines, make your best guess.  Damaging a sprinkler line or a low voltage power line is not a big deal, both are easy to fix.  Just be sure to shut off the water and power before you start digging.


Diagram Your Yard

On grid paper, sketch a rough map of your property showing any buildings, paths, driveways, garden beds,  underground utilities and other obstacles.  Figure out which parts of the garden you want to give your dog access to and which parts you want to block access to.

Decide where you will locate the transmitter box.  The transmitter should be located near a power outlet and protected from the elements.  Inside a garage or electrified shed is ideal.

Now determine where you will run your fence.  The fence needs to make a complete loop starting and ending at the transmitter box.  You will use a pair of wires twisted together in places where you want the dog to be able to cross the wire safely. For more details on twisted wire, see here.


Design Principles

Some things to keep in mind when deciding on the placement of wires:

  1. Cross utility lines at right angles – you want to avoid running wire close to a utility line for an extended stretch because, in some rare instances a boundary wires running close to a utility wire can induce a signal in the utility wire making part of your home wiring trigger the collar receivers.
  2. Round corners –  boundary wires should turn corners gradually, avoiding sharp 90 degree turns.
  3. Separate parallel boundary wires – Boundary wires emit signals that will cancel each other out, so you want any boundary wires that are parallel to each other to be at least six feet apart.  Similarly, if your neighbors have a dog fence, keep your wires about six feet from theirs.

Sample Layouts

Perimeter Dog Fence Layout

Dog Fence Basic LayoutThe most popular layout runs along your yard’s perimeter.  This layout allows your dog access to the entire property.

The twisted wire joins the house transmitter box to the boundary wire.  This enables the dog to safely walk over the twisted wire path.

Where possible lay the boundary wire two yards back from the road to give a good safety buffer for you dog and to allow a space for pedestrians.  Also try to allow three yards between the boundary wire and the house on at least one side to allow the dog room to pass between the front and back yard.


Backyard Dog Fence Layout

The challenge in doing a backyard only installation is that you want the house side of boundary to be inactive so your dog can freely enter and exit your home without getting the correction. However, for the system to work, you still need a full loop of single (untwisted wire). There are a number of approaches you can take:

Backyard Dog Fence LayoutThe easiest way to make a complete loop, while only giving the dog access to the backyard is to make a loop that goes tight around the front of the house too. This completes the loop, but there is not enough space around the front of the house for the dog to have access to the front yard. When you do this type of layout, it is important to do a quick check with the collar inside the house to make sure that the signal is not inadvertently spilling into the house in rooms where you dog will stay. If there is a problem, just decrease the boundary width, or move the wire a little further from the front of your house.

Dog Fence Gutter LayoutAnother popular method is go high over the back of your house. Run the wire up a downspout on one side of the house, across the gutter, and down the downspout on the other side of the house. This vertical height over the ground gives your dog enough space to get in and out of the back door without triggering the correction. As always, you want to test with the collar at the back door to make sure there is no signal accidentally reaching down where the dog will walk. Also test rooms near the gutter line to make sure there is no signal spilling into those rooms. If there is unwanted spill, turn down the boundary width setting on the control box until you are getting no spill.

Dog Fence Layout Double LoopThe final method is to go around the three sides of the yard, then double back on yourself to make a U-shaped loop. The two opposite wires need to be separated by at least six feet to avoid the signals from one loop from interfering with the other.  If they are too close you will not get a nice strong signal along the boundary, and you may have dead spots where there is no correction at all. If you already have a tall fence in place, on way to achieve this without digging is to run one leg of the wire along the top of the fence, and the return leg along the bottom of the fence, so you get the necessary separation.


Exclusion Zones

You can also add small exclusion zones to keep your dog out of small areas within your property. For example you may want your dog to have full access to your yard except a small garden bed.

To do this you loop some boundary wire around the area you want to protect and join the loop to the main loop with some twisted wire.


Figure 8/Hourglass Layout

The hourglass layout contains the dog in both the front and back yard, but does not allow the dog to cross between the front and back yard. This is great if you want the dog with you in the front or back yard but do not want them crossing between them.
Note that the two loops are connected to each other on the left hand side of this diagram and that they both connect to the transmitter box on the right hand side.

Single-sided Boundary Layout

With a bit of inventiveness, you can create a single sided boundary. The only stipulation is that the twisted wire section can only be half the length of the looped boundary wire. For example, if your loop is 100 feet in a circle, you can only run 50 feet of twisted wire back. This install is very popular with people who live in a rural setting and they want to protect their dog from running out onto the freeway. You simply run a long length of twisted wire from the wall transmitter out to the road. Create a long, skinny loop of boundary wire, remembering to keep the parallel sections a minimum of 6 feet separated to avoid the wires interfering with each other. The key for success of this installation method is run your loop far enough along the road so that your dog doesn’t run around it.


Lake Front Layout

On a lake front property, if you’d like to incorporate the lake into your fence you have several options.  Do note that there is no danger for your dog to receive a correction when swimming.  The correction level will not change or pose any sort of safety threat.  When incorporating the lake, it’s useful to know if your lake front gradually gets deeper or simply drops off.  Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish will determine how you go about incorporating the lake.  It’s recommended when sinking wire into a lake to run it into a water hose or irrigation hose and sink it to the bottom.  This will protect the wire from critters and fishing hooks.

Lakefront Option One is to simply submerge extra boundary wire out into the lake at your desired distance. Do you want your dog to just be able to walk into the lake a few feet so she can get a drink or lay down in the water to cool off? Or do you want to sink the wire over 10 feet so that she can go for a deeper swim or freely jump into the boat when the family goes out? You’re goal will determine how much wire you plan to sink. Dog Fence Lake Installation Option 1
Lakefront Option Two if you have enough yard space, you can use a double back approach to create a three-sided boundary. Simply set an extra length into the lake when doubling back so that your dog will not be able to easily run around the fence. Dog Fence Lake Installation Option 2
Lakefront Option Three is a modification of the first where you incorporate the dock and boat house, but the lake is otherwise not incorporated into the fence plan. Dog Fence Lake Installation Option 2

Gate on the Boundary

Dog Boundary Gate LayoutThe Boundary Gate allows you to create a “gate” along the boundary where there is no correction. This is useful where you have a physical gate that you want to use in this section instead of the electronic fence. For this layout to work, you will need to use the double back layout and keep the parallel wires separated by at least six feet. Where you get to the non-correction gate area, you will bring the two wires together and twist them.

Since this requires a lot of extra wiring, many people find it easier to use a non-layout solution. Instead when they create a virtual gate, training the dog that when they you take off their collar and give them permission, they can walk through the gate without fear of correction. This is covered in more detail in the Dog Fence Training section of the website where we look at walking your dog through the boundary.


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