Choosing The Right Wire Gauge for Electronic Dog Fences

14 Gauge Dog Fence Wire vs. 16 Gauge Wire vs. 18 Gauge Wire vs. 20 Gauge Wire (thick vs. thin)

Most DIY Dog Fence Systems include a reel of 20 gauge wire. But, most professionally installed systems use a thicker 14 gauge wire. Why the difference?

Fewer Wire Breaks

The thicker the wire the more resilient and the less likely you are to get a wire break. For example, the thickest wire (14 gauge) is around 6 times stronger than the standard 20 gauge wire. This thicker wire also contains a thicker jacket, making it impervious to all but the strongest impacts.

When a dog fence is being professionally installed, we will usually use an industrial trencher, that is very tough on the wire. This makes using the thicker gauge of wire almost mandatory.

There are however disadvantages. Firstly, thicker wire is harder to work with. Thinner wire is is more flexible and easier to get into place. Second, the thicker wire is more expensive. The thicker wire uses 4 times more copper and has a thicker jacket, making it more expensive to make and transport. While a 500 foot role of 20 gauge wire costs around $20, 14 gauge wire costs around $80.

Similar Transmission

Almost any dog fence will work with any almost gauge of wire. But, thicker wire has lower resistance makes it a little easier for the signal to get around. (Just like it is easier to drive down a wider road than a narrower road) The difference is modest, but in extreme cases you can get a little extra range using the thicker gauge of wire. For example if you are running a system near the limit of it’s rated capacity then using thicker wire will allow you to have a slightly larger range. Thus if you had a system rated to 20 acres and were trying to do 22 acres, then having thicker wire would help.

Twisted Wire

You need to use twisted wire to run between the transmitter box and the boundary, and for any other place where you do not want the wire to trigger the receiver collar.  By twisting two wires together, the radio wave cancel each other out and thus the dog can walk over the twisted wire without getting a correction.

The easiest way to get twisted wire is to buy it.  You can usually buy twisted wire from the people that sold you your system.  It will cost you around $25.

You can also make your own twisted wire.  First decide how much you will need and cut two single pieces of wire double that length (twisting the wire makes it shorter).  Tape the two pieces of wire together at both ends using some masking or electrical tape.  Now tape one of those ends to an electric drill and hold the other end in your hand.  Turn on the drill and let it twist the wires together until you have about four twists per inch.  This is harder on the thicker gauges of wire, with 16 gauge wire it is very difficult so use a thinner gauge for the twisted section.

For more details on twisted wire, take a look at the following tutorial video:

Our Most Popular Pages

dog fence review ~ best dog fence ~ pig00 10773 review ~ sdf 100 ~ wire trencher ~ pig00 10777 ~ dog electric fences ~ wifi dog fence review ~ petsafe prf 3004w ~ dog fence twisted wire ~ wireless containment fence reviews ~ petsafe wireless fence reviews ~ dogtek ~ dog containment fence ~ bury dog fence wire ~ hc 8000 ~ sd 2000 ~ stapling dog fence wire ~ ht-023 ~ electric dog fence installation ~ innotek ultrasmart contain n train ~ perimeter dog fence ~ dog training fence ~ prf 304w ~ sd 3000 ~ ef3000 gold ~ innotek ultrasmart ~ sd 2100 ~ driveways and pathways

{ 159 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad May 9, 2011 at 11:12 pm

I Have a new Invisible Fence and accidentally sliced it in one spot. Can I splice it at both ends with 16 gauge wire and wrap it with electrical tape? Thanks for your help!

ADMIN – Hi Brad,

To repair a break in the wire, you can indeed splice in a small section of extra wire. I would however use a waterproof splice instead of electrical tape. A gel filled splice capsule, or a waterproof wire nut would work well. Splices protected only with electrical tape tend to get water infiltration and rust out.

If it is just a small section of wire, the gauge is not particularly important and 16 gauge will work fine.

Lisa May 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I installed an invisible fence around the edges of the garden, at least 6 meters away from the house. Near the house patio door, where the dog usually lies- it sets of a signal of shocks. There is a tv near the door, is this interfering? And is there anyway this can be resolved? I can’t understand as there is no way the area is connected to the transmitter. I hope you can help!

ADMIN – Hi Lisa

The first step is to turn off the dog fence and see if the collar is still set off in the house. That would tell us if it is something else in the house or the fence itself.

Most likely the collar is not triggered when the system is on. This would tell us that the base station is somehow causing signals in the house. Start by checking to see how wide you have your boundary set, (i.e. how close can you walk to the wire without triggering the collar) if it is wider than five feet then turn it down so the signal only projects five feet from the wire.

If the collar is triggered, even when the fence is off, it means something in the house is triggering it. I would start switching things off one-by-one.

Interference would usually reduce the boundary, not increase it. So I am pretty sure it is not an interference issue. It is definitely nothing to do with your TV, but if you wanted to test the hypothesis you could move the TV and see if the issue persists.

PS – is the house or door metal?

kent May 3, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Would it be possible to use electric horse fence wire in one of these systems? It comes in very long lengths and would not break as easy. I plan on attaching it to an existing barbed wire fence at the second strand up.

ADMIN – Hi Kent,

Unfortunately you cannot use electric horse fencing. The wire used in electric fencing is uninsulated, because it works by shocking the animal when they actually touch the fence. The dog fence wiring needs to be insulated, because it works a little differently sending out a radio signal that is picked up by the dog’s receiver collar. You can however still attach the dog fence wire to a barbed wire fence.

Jason May 2, 2011 at 9:22 pm

What would occur with dog fence wire running parallel or even contacting satellite cable. Thanks

ADMIN – Hi Jason,

When you run the dog fence boundary wire too close and parallel to another wire, the dog fence signal can get induced in the other wire. This means that wherever the other wire runs acts like it is the dog fence boundary too. This can result in weird boundaries in the house along walls that contain the wire.

This is not common, but if you are going to run the dog fence wire parallel or in contact with satellite dish wiring, you want to test it before doing the permanent installation. Tape or otherwise temporarily secure the dog fence wire in place and plug it into the system and turn it on. Taking the receiver collar, walk around inside the house and test the collar particularly along the path that the satellite wiring takes and near the outlets for the satellite wiring and make sure the collar is not triggering in those spots.

FYI – Twisted wire does not have this problem, so if you are just running the twisted link from the boundary loop back into the control box you are in the clear.

Jeff Sullivan April 26, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I have a black aluminum fence for my 75lb dog, thinking that would do the trick. Unfortunately she is pushing right through the fence slats, bending them. So I installed an underground fence, and was wanting to run it just barely outside the fence, so she can still roam the perimeter of the yard.

The question is…can I run the wires along side one another without canceling? How close is too close, or as long as they are not braided, am I ok? I was hoping that the wires could be buried in the same slot in the ground, but just not braided. What do you think?

ADMIN – Hi Jeff,

The wires have to be separate by around six feet (depending on how wide you set the boundary). If you put them together, even without twisting them together, they will cancel each other out. Also note, that a aluminum sheet fence will often amplify the signal so it will intrude further into you yard. Could you run the wire along the fence, one leg along the bottom of the fence and the return leg along the top of the fence?

You could set the signal low, so the dog could still get within about three feet of the fence.

Michael April 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm

I am getting my new puppy tomorrow and i have yet to complete my electric fence. I plan to lay the transmitter beside the switch box in my house (uk) and run the twisted wire down the wall and across my concrete yard alongside my house’s main power cables. This wire will be twisted and thus not required for the boundary. Would this affect my actual boundary for my pup?

Thanks in advance = ]

ADMIN – Hi Michael,

You’ll need to install the wall transmitter at least 5 feet away from any utility breakers or switch boxes. This can create the signal to be amplified. You also want to make sure the boundary wires are separated from the the power cables at least 6 to 10 feet away to avoid the same issue.

PS – I would avoid teaching a new puppy until they are six months old. Prior to that they typically don’t have the attention span to effectively receive the training. Also, with any new dog, I would spend a few weeks bonding with the dog before doing any kind of correction based training.

Steve March 29, 2011 at 1:50 pm

What is the easiest way to bury the boundary wire? I have used the shovel method (not fun) and I have attempted to us a lawn edger with mixed results. Best idea?

Admin- Hi Steve,

We strongly recommend renting a trencher. Trenchers can be found at most tool rental locations. It really can make burying the wire a much easier task.

Andrew March 29, 2011 at 11:26 am

I am looking two buy the sport dog fence for two Chesapeake bay,AKA hardheads! I want to install a fence for 10ac of land to allow access to our pond. The question I have is on the transmitter. I want to install it in the back of or metal pole barn,need to run 20 feet of twisted to complete boundary, the question is will the METAL building effect the signal, that building is our only option. Thanks in Advance Andy Esham (AAoutdoors/Hardcore Waterfowling)

ADMIN – Hi Andy,

The metal barn will affect the signal around the barn itself if you run any boundary line within six feet and parallel to the barn. You would notice that the signal that wire transmits would be amplified in the barn area. This could cause your Chesapeake bays to receive warning or corrections anytime they are relatively close to the barn and not just the wire.

You can solve this by running the boundary loop a little further away from the metal shed and running the twisted wire from the transmitter (inside the barn) to the loop.

Greg March 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm

We are getting ready to buy a underground fence system. I have electric fence running around my property for our horses. Can I have the dog fence wire on the same T post as the electric fence ? I not, how far away do I need to be ?

Admin- Hi Greg,

We recommend that when you purchase a fence, set up a small section next to the electric fence and test it out. The interferences are hit or miss, so you might have issues or it might work perfectly. If you have any interference like an amplified signal, you will need to separate the two fences by 12 feet.

john March 25, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Hi, I have a circle driveway and have the fence installed all the way around. My problem is where I crossed the driveway for 20 feet I buried the wire in PVC about 4-6 inches deep. It has worked for 3 years and now there is 10 feet of the wire that is not beeping or shocking. The rest of the fence (600 feet) works perfectly, the only thing I can think of is the PVC might have ice in part of it and blocking signal. Only half of the driveway is not working so really confused any help would be appreciated.

Admin-Hi John,

Typically ice does not completely block the signal. I would first try and turn the field width on the transmitter to a higher level. Test the collar at the driveway again to see if you get a signal back.

Cory March 8, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Hi… I have buried power and cable which both cross my desired containment loop at different points. Is this a problem? Thanks.

ADMIN – Hi Cory,

Crossing utility line like cable and electricity is fine. Just, try and cross the utility lines at right angles where possible and avoid running the dog fence wire close and parallel to these wire.

Garrett February 17, 2011 at 1:02 am

looking at sportdog system for 3 1/2 Irish wolfhound 1/2 rotweiller puppies, would the standard collar provide a strong enough shock? as rotweillers are known for pain resistance and they will be very large dogs, also with HEAVY deer traffic and virtually no human traffic would it be possible to lay, insulated wiring intended for house wiring? im not sure if laying something like 6 gage wire would interfere with the system or not but would definitely be strong enough that when anchored wouldn’t get hurt by animals running on it

ADMIN – Hi Garrett,

The SportDog fence will offer the higher correction levels. It has the same correction strength as the PetSafe Stubborn. As for the wire, the systems can take up to 14 gauge wire. The wire we sell is 20 gauge solid copper wire insulated. The jacket is made of a high density polyethylene so it holds up well in the ground. The wire is also rated 600v. We highly recommend burying the wire to provide the greatest amount of protection to the wire.

Ron February 15, 2011 at 10:32 am

I will need to bury in the front but have rough forest in back yard. I would like the dog to have the freedom. Can the wire be set directly on rough ground winding amongst the trees and rocks. We do have deer occasionally. People traffic seldom. Burying is impossible. Above ground fence is impossible. Is this possible? What would be the best wire?


Admin – Hi Ron

As far as working, laying the wire on the ground is fine. The concern might be the deer. There is always the possibility of damage with the wire exposed.
You may want to consider the upgrade to 18 gauge wire for this reason.
I hope this is of some help to you.

gene January 11, 2011 at 10:52 pm

you have talked about two wires twisted for a dead zone. what would happen if you ran one of the twisted wires parallel to the two twisted wire to run the loop in a different direction, or would you have to twist the wire with the other two , would either work ?

ADMIN – Hi Gene,

I fear that we are not very good at explaining the twisted wire. The twisted wire is two regular wires twisted together. You can never have a single twisted wire, it is always two wires twisted together. (check out the diagrams and video on the twisted wire page) If you add a third wire to the two twisted wires it would act like a single live wire and it would be an active boundary.

I presume you are trying to create a dead zone in the loop. Essentially, there is no way to create a non-active (dead) section in the boundary loop using twisted wire. The twisted wire is really only to get you from wherever the transmitter is located to the start of your boundary loop. To create a dead zone in the loop, we have to be a little creative with out layout, either doubling back on yourself to create a U-shaped loop; or elevating the wire so that the signal does not reach ground level. For more details check out the dog fence layouts page.

Not sure that I understood your question, let me know if I added confusion rather than clarity and I will try again. A diagram of what you are trying to do would be awesome.

Mike December 26, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Do you have any experience with the Rock Pet Barrier? I have several fence acres and only need a signal to stop the dog from leaving two entrances. Instead of going through the hassle of setting up an underground wired fence I was thinking about using a Rock Pet Barrier by each entrance. Any pros or cons about this system?

ADMIN – Hi Mike,

The Pawz Away Outdoor Rocks are great if you just need to block off a few small areas. The systems can either work in wireless mode and create a circular field up to 12 feet in diameter that stops the dogs entering the circle. Or you can switch the dog to wired mode and run up to 150 feet of wire off the rock.

The Pawz Away set that comes with the rock and collars is a great fast and inexpensive way to block off small areas. The rock is battery powered so you can just drop it in place and be up and running in a few minutes. The disadvantages are that they can only do very small areas. And, the collar that comes bundles with the rock is not very good. It should be fine if you are just blocking a small area, but it is not suitable for large containment areas.

Rick December 22, 2010 at 11:17 am

We have five acres with horses. The outer perimeter fence also has an electric fence for the horses. Since I have extra wire for this system can I use this for the innotek system for the dogs? I know it cannot be connected to the system for the horses, but running a separate line for the dogs. It would be very convenient since I have several spools in the barn. It is available in aluminum or steel but it is not coated but very durable.

ADMIN – Hi Rick,

Unfortunately you can’t use electric fence wiring from a cattle fence or a horse fence. The wire used in livestock electric fencing is typically not insulated (there is no plastic cover over the wire), because the horse gets the correction when they touch the fence wire itself. With a dog fence, the wire needs to be insulated because all the wire is doing is sending out a radio signal – the animal does not actually need to touch the wire to get the correction.

Rodney December 19, 2010 at 2:36 pm

I am planning on installing my invisible fence from my old house to my new house, new house is 1.5 acres and the old was only 1/3 , would the old system work on the larger yard and i would be burying new cable, was planning on 16 gauge wire.

ADMIN – Hi Rodney,

Your invisible fence system will work fine in the new house. As you say, it will just need new boundary wire. Those invisible fence systems can easily do anything under 5 acres, some will do even more (it depends on what model you have). You will of course need to turn up the boundary width dial to compensate for all that extra wire you will be laying.

16 gauge wire will do the trick, you can also use something much thinner for such a small area.

Meralee November 28, 2010 at 11:13 pm

My wire will start at one side of the house, go around the back yard and end at the other end of the house. I’ve seen your suggestions to others with this set up, but there’s a problem with each one. If I go up through the gutters, the corner of the house where the dogs sleep (in my master bedroom) will be within the shock zone. I can’t go along the top of the fence then back along the bottom because I have 4 foot chain link. I can’t go into the front yard because if I forgot to take the collar off the dog and took them somewhere in the car, it would shock them. Any other ideas?

ADMIN – Hi Meralee,

That is tough! There are four basic options for doing a backyard layout: (1) Around the Front; (2) Up and Over; (3) Doubling Back on Yourself, and (4) Going Under.

#1 – Seems like we have rules out this possibility, although it still may be worth considering – you would just have to remove the collars before taking the dogs out. This is a good habit even if you don’t have a fence in front, because you don’t want those collars getting triggered by a neighbor’s fence when you are out with the dogs.

#2 – Instead of running the wire up the corner of the house, can you could run it up a wall midway along the side of the house or even at the front of the house?

#3 – You could go along the top of the chain link fence, then double back on yourself about three feet out from the bottom of the fence.

#4 – Do you have a basement or a sub-floor. If so you could run the wire under the house to complete the loop.

Duane November 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm

This is for a PetSafe system. Because of space constraints, I have 60 feet of fence wire running parallel to and six feet away from a TV cable. The part of the TV cable is now acting like the dog fence. Moving the TV cable is an option, but A LOT of work. The problematic portion of the cable runs under an exterior doorway. No problems inside the house. To eliminate the problem, can I either (1) ground the TV cable’s shield prior to the doorway, or (2) add a ferrite choke (available at radio shack) to the TV cable, prior to the doorway?

ADMIN – When you run the dog fence wire parallel and close to another wire for a long distance, the signal can sometimes leak into that second wire as has happened here.

You can fix the problem by moving the two wires further apart, or by creating more of an angle between the two wires so they are not parallel (even zip-zags will work).

You can try grounding or a choke to try and eliminate the signal in the TV cable, but our experience has been that this fixes do not work consistently and that you inevitably still get a little signal in the TV cable. I always find that with signal leakage issues, it is easier to try fix the underlying problem than to try and filter out the signal after the event.

kingsrex November 22, 2010 at 11:42 am

Can I add a second boundary with the same system maybe 2 to 3 feet away from the first. In other words can I have 2 layers one after the other, so it will cover more of the area and will not let him pass. My dog knows were the wire is but he still passes that one so I want to add one more layer to see if that helps

ADMIN – Hi Kingsrex,

The you can add a second layer, but you will need to keep the second wire at least 6 feet away from the first otherwise they will cancel each other out. But, it is much easier to increase the boundary width by turning up the boundary adjuster dial on the control box. I am not sure what system you have, but all modern systems have this option.

Also note, that usually when a dog passes through the boundary it is usually a collar fit, or a training issue. The collar must be fitted properly so that the dog gets the correction and the dog needs to be trained to turn and retreat at the sound of the beep. Without the training and the collar being properly fitted, adding additional boundary width will not help. You rarely need a boundary wider than 5 feet on either side of the boundary wire.

Steven McJuary November 10, 2010 at 2:22 am

Your advise when it comes to Dog Fence Wire is the wrong message to send to dog owners looking for their first Dog Fence kit. Without a doubt 18 Gauge Polyethylene wire is buy far the best wire for transmitting signal and avoiding constant problems with wire breakage. This size and type is primarily used by the pro installation people for a reason. They want a strong wire they can install with a machine. Wire they can depend on so they can minimize trouble calls due to wire breaks. Sure 20 Gauge will transmit signal but that’s about it. It won’t hold up to and type of disturbance or abuse. Tree and plant root growth, moles, critters digging for bugs to eat, these are just a few reasons why the heavier the wire the better.
Also stay away from the budget sizes and there PVC jacket. It will crack and rot, stretch and split from the cold or the heat.
Polyethylene jacketed wire with a triple jacketed coating .45 mil. thick will last for years. The bigger the better in Dog Fence Wire. How often do you want to be burying wire? More than once would be to often when it comes to the work in burying the wire. We have great tips on installing your dog wire without breaking your back.
“16 Gauge wire is to hard to use ” Twisting the wire? Not even necessary.
Just tape it or ty-rap it together. Or simply lay it in the trench next to each other. It will work just as well. The biggest reason for the tight twist is so that the wire will slide through a trenching machine. If you don’t have a trencher you don’t have to be so critical about the twist. Use the proper DBY connectors to make your connections. Tie a square knot in the 2 wires to be spliced and make your splice . The knot will give you the same strength as if there was no splice at all.
Heavier wire is the only way to go. The secret to a good fence is the strength of the wire and also always have a good battery in the receiver. If you look on the net you can seek out the good stuff. If your forced to buy a hardware brand fence throw the wire away and find some real good heavy dog wire. You can always upgrade the equipment later if necessary.

ADMIN – Hi Steve,

Appreciate the different perspective.

Our experience has been that the thinner wire does as well as the thick in terms of breakages. Soil disturbances and roots don’t tend to cause breakages because the wire is so flexible. What causes nearly all breaks is some kind of mechanical activity such as a lawnmower, aerator, or edger. Those devices will slice through even the thickest cable – so there is not a lot of advantage to using the thick over the thin.

The one place where thicker wire seems to help is when you are doing very large installation (read 5,000+ feet of wire) and are operating close to the limits of the dog fence system. Thicker wire transmits the signal better and lets you have wide boundaries widths in these large installations.

Chuck Seighman October 24, 2010 at 1:32 pm

My neighbor and I shared a system that covered about 7 Ac with for our three dogs. Because of a variety of reasons, we have decided to split the systems and go with two separate, but identical systems (Ultrasmart from Innotek). We have a path between our property in the woods that the dogs have used for 3 years and we would like to create a twisted line there that uses his line and my line twisted together to create an opening in the fence. If we get the polarity plugged in correctly at the boxes, would the signals cancel each other out over that twisted section? How wide should we make that twisted section to get about a 6 foot wide path for the dogs to travel back and forth without correction?

ADMIN – Hi Chuck,

That would work. Note, that you may need to tweak your boundary width and your neighbor’s so that each wire is putting out a signal of approximately the same strength.

The width that is needed would depend on how wide you set your boundary width – for a typical five foot boundary width, you would need a twisted section about 16 feet wide (6+5+5).

Joe September 14, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I have a question in regards to an Invisable Fence System that we have. It was intsalled before we bought the home and we were told it was working. Turns out that only one collar worked and the system was fried. I had someone come and check to see if the wire was good and he said that I didnt have connectivity and that there was a break in the line. Is there any way to figure out were the break is.

ADMIN – Hi Joe,

The chances of locating the break or breaks is slim to none. It’s not easy troubleshooting the wire for customers and it’s near impossible to do so on an installed boundary wire you did not install. You can install new boundary wire in half a Saturday which saves you tons of time and money. It could take days or weeks trying to repair a broken line that may never work at all.

Ron September 9, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I’ve got two golden labs that have had free run of our 40 acre farm for the first two years of their lives. Last year they began wandering by digging under our deer fence and have been seen chasing neighbors’ livestock and horses. We installed an 18 ga high tensile wire along the perimeter of the fence and hooked it to a fence charger. That solved the problem for a while, but we are unable to keep up with weed maintenance on the hot wire which becomes ineffective during our dry season. Are there any dog collar systems that could work using our existing above ground wire containing about 40 acres? If not, is it possible to use multiple transmitters to power that large of an area?

ADMIN – Hi Ron,

You want to use insulated wire for dog fences. You can make do with uninsulated wire, but they tend to be problematic in the medium term because of weed growth, corrosion, etc.

If you already have a perimeter wire in place, it is pretty easy just to string the dog fence wire along that same wire and ziptie it in place.

A good system for 40 acres is the SportDog SDF-100, it is rated for 100 acres.

chris hardy September 6, 2010 at 11:30 am

I just got a 9 week old bernese mountain dog, and am putting him through potty training and basic behavior skills (sit, stay, come, etc.). I have about an acre already chain link fenced in (4′ tall).
1) I am interested in an in ground electric fence with the wire loop laid near the fence on the ground or tied mid way up or just on top – Recommendations? Any limitations?
2) At what age would it be best to install the system with him? He is 11 lbs now and will grow to about 120 -150 lbs. I am concerned about shocking a puppy etc.

ADMIN – Hi Chris,

1) Installing in the ground or on the fence is both okay. You want to make sure you round the corners of the yard though. If you attach the wire to the fence this means you’ll need to suspend the wire at the corners to avoid creating a hard 90 degree angle. A 90 degree angle can create a dead area where there would not be any boundary.

2) You can install the system at any time, but we recommend waiting till your pup is around 6 months old to begin training. It’s not a safety issue, it’s just that most pups are preoccupied with playing and usually won’t pay attention to training before that time. However, if your dog responds well in obedience school now, feel free to install and begin training.

bob h July 27, 2010 at 12:05 am

I ran my wire around my back yard then came to the house and up the wall 4ft to the left of the patio door. I then continued 4ft over the door then down the wall 4ft to the right of the door. A strange thing is happening. When the patio door is slid open 10″ or less, the collar gives a correction at any height within the opening. If the door is open 10″ or more the collar does not give correction as you pass through. What could be causing this?

ADMIN – Hi Bob,

If the patio door is metal, it could be helping propagate the radio signal. If the boundary wire is run parallel to something metal, sometimes the signal will jump into that metal object. If you want to eliminate the problem, you can move the wires on either side of th door further out, or run them at an angle instead of parallel ot the door.

james h July 14, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I am getting ready to put my fence in. I live on a pine tree farm and my trees run beside 2 sides of my house. On those 2 sides i am wanting to run my #14 wire through the plastic water line you see in houses today called (peck) I think that is how you spell it? Is there a problem running the wire underground then through the pipe and then back in the ground? I just dont want to trench through the trees

ADMIN – Hi James,

As long as the pipe is not metal, I don’t see a problem with that at all.

Chris Lavergne July 9, 2010 at 4:20 pm

HI, I live on 10 acres and I just got a Petsafe stubborn dog electric fence and im looking at wiring prices and gauges and such to in-circle my property.
My first question is, can I use basic wire that I can get from Lowes? Or does it have to be the special ‘Petsafe’ wire?
Whats the lowest gauge I can use with my system? I dont want it to go bad in a few years and I dont mind spending the extra money now to save me alot of time and money down the road trying to find the break in the wire.

Also, I have about 10,000ft of non-insulated galvanized steel wire 14 gauge that we used to fence in horses with, can I use this?

Thanks, this website has been EXTREMELY helpful!

ADMIN – Hi Chris,

You can use pretty much any single insulated wire – you don’t need PetSafe wire or any other brand. Where possible use wire that is direct burial rated. Wire intended for outdoor use has insulation that will no degrade in the soil like regular house wire. This means that the wire has a much longer lifespan. Anything 20 gauge or thicker is fine – we don’t see a lot of benefit from thicker wire from a break perspective. Anything that is going to cut through the thinner wires, such as a lawnmower of edger will just as easily slice through the thicker wire). The wire is available in some Lowes, Home Depot, and Ace. An even better source is your local electrical supply store.

Mundy July 7, 2010 at 2:08 pm

We have recently moved and reinstalled the fence around a new house, double loop to keep the dogs in the back yard but allow them access out the front door and side door. I recently purchased more wire, which I think is 16 g. We connected this with the smaller 20 g wire and was told that it would work fine by the salesman. I’m not sure if the 16 g wire is just old (abt 5 yrs) or if connecting these wires together has caused the problem. The fence works intermittently and will beep a few times a minute indicating a break in the line, but not a continual beep. Should I just start with new wire and toss the old stuff out. We do live in the mountains in Colorado, the wire is somewhat warn because it was not burried.

Thanks in advance!


ADMIN – Hi Mundy,

The issues you’re having are directly attributed to the difference in wire gauge. It’s highly recommended to splice together the same gauge and type of wire. If the 20 gauge is solid copper, you’ll want to buy 20 gauge solid copper. You can possibly get away with a gauge that’s one off, like 18 gauge, but you definitely will confuse the transmitter and receive inconsistent operation when splicing something as different as 16 to 20.

Lindsey July 6, 2010 at 4:01 pm

I have a Innotek underground system and it worked well for about 2 years and then it stopped working. When i tried to find the break in the 20g wire and repair it, i was unable to repair the area due to the wire being so brittle it just kept breaking everywhere. My dog now realizes that it is not working and is running away so I need to find a solution ASAP. I live in PA, so it gets really cold here in the winter. Would you suggest purchasing 18g or 16g wire and relaying the entire yard? Do you think the brittleness/breaking would occur again despite the thicker wire. Thanks!

ADMIN – Hi Lindsey,

The wire getting brittle is more to do with the insulation failing. You want to be sure when you pick out wire that it is rated for direct burial. Rregular housing wire tends to degrade in the soil. Using a thicker gauge won’t hurt either … but the most important thing is getting that direct burial wire.

If the wire is breaking down, I would not bother repairing it … I would just replace it all.

Myra June 20, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Can the terminal begin and end with the braided, non active wire? I need a square containment area with a break in it to allow access to the deck .It is at the same corner of the house where the transmitter will be located.. Can I use the braided wire at the beginning to get to my start area( just a few feet) and then end with it for about 30 ft to leave a gap for access? I was considering the idea of running it up the downspout as suggested, but the deck and my bedroom are higher and that downspout is right outside my bedroom window, I was afraid they would get corrected in my bedroom and possibly on the deck if they were wresting and jumping around. My Dane stands a couple feet high, so I wasn’t sure. Thanks so much for any help you can offer. As a single mom of two, I have become very

ADMIN – Hi Myra,

You can use the twisted (braided) wire to connect the system from the terminal block to the start of your square containment loop. That is the most common use for twisted wire, it gets you from wherever you put the control box, to where you want the active containment loop to start.

chris June 3, 2010 at 10:04 am

I have a petsafe unit with 18g wire underground. i had a break in the back from some construction that was going on. the easiest way to fix was simply run all new wire along hte back of the yard. the local stores don’t have the petsafe 18g wire only the 20g which is what petsafe recommended. can i splice the current 18g wire with 20g for the 100ft section i need?

ADMIN – Hi Chris,

You can mix together different gauges of wire, but the sections with the 20 gauge wire will have a slightly narrower boundary width.

Scott May 30, 2010 at 8:59 am

We just moved into a house w/ an existing Invisible Fence system and the collars we bought from Invisible Fence aren’t working and Invisible Fence of WNY won’t return phone calls. We made sure the frequency was correct and that we have a green light in the transmitter but the new collars still don’t work. I’d like to purchase the Innotek system and replace the existing transmitters and receivers. Will the existing wire from Invisible Fence work w/ the Innotek system?

ADMIN – Hi Scott,

The existing Invisible Fence wire will work with any inground system, such as an Innotek. If you already have the Invisible Fence, it may be worth calling the Invisible Fence national number (1-866-804-1250). There is some regional variation in franchisee quality – but they are generally of a very high standard. I would be very surprised if they could not help you out. The price is high, but the service is usually very good.

Dave May 27, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Great website. I’m doing a DIY buried install, and recently a professional installer advised me to buy his 16g wire rather than the Lowe’s/HD 16g wire, because his wire is designed for underground use and will last longer. Is there anything to this claim, as the installer’s wire is about twice the cost of big box wire? Specifically, how long would Cerro from Lowe’s/HD last versus a product with (presumably) more sheathing. If it helps, I’m not really concerned about having wire that will last and not corrode for 15 years, more like 5 to 10. Thanks in advance for any help.

ADMIN – Hi Dave,

No, he’s correct. The wire we sell is solid copper core insulated wire that’s rated for direct burial. The wire you’re using may work fine, but you may need to re-install new wire after 3 to 5 years. This is dependent on how acidic your soil is. You can buy direct burial wire from any local electrical supply store. Most Lowes and Home Depot stores don’t carry direct burial wire. However, some do.

Larry May 11, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I currently have Invisible fence Brand system in place with 10g wire. i run the wire into the lake for access but need to extend it because the signal seems to be stronger instead of weaker and i would like to give her access to the whole dock. i dont want to splice it in the water but hate to buy 300′ + of 10g. I had the guy at lowes tell me i needed outdoor wire…is thyere a different coating i should look for? also they have stranded but not solid (which is what i will be splicing to). can i mix the types and whateffects doess a smaller guage have?

ADMIN – Hi Larry,

Outdoor wire (It will say rated for direct burial or something similar) is better because the coating will be more resistant to water, soil acid, etc. Outdoor wire is usually some PET mix, rather than being PVC which is used in cheaper wire that is more suitable for indoor use. There is no difference between solid and stranded from a performance perspective. But, if possible when doing it underwater get solid – if the insulation fails and water gets in, solid will hold up better to corossion than stranded.

Try to use similar gauges in your installtion. When you mix wire gauges, the thicker gauge sections will have wider boundaries width than sections with thinner wire.

Erik May 7, 2010 at 12:12 am

30 gauge wire….A followup question about the thin 30 gauge wire. Like other people may have found…30 gauge wire is sold rather cheaply. The question is…does the thin gauge affect signal strength/transmission?? I’ve used it but I can’t tell if the system is affected or not! Thanks

ADMIN – Hi Erik,

30 gauge wire results in having a weaker signal, reducing the capacity of a system (so a system rated for say 25 acres, could only do say 5 acres) and maximum boundary width (so a system that would have a maximum boundary width of 10 feet with regular 20 gauge may only have a boundary width of 3 feet) of a system.

But, the biggest problem with this ultra thin wire is not so much the diminution of signal strength but that it is extremely weak. It snaps very easily, and so does not hold up well during installation. Almost always. the wire is intended for use in electronics, not for outdoor burial – so the insulation is not the right kind for outdoor burial and degrades very quickly.

We are not wire fetishists, and don’t advocate spending big on ultra thick wire. But, 30 gauge is not intended for outdoor use, and is a bad idea. It leads to much more work, due to the need for frequent wire repair and replacement for a relatively minor savings.

Anthony Moody April 28, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Wire vs. Cable:

I posted this because my back is a shambles. I have no discs at L3-S1. I have, however, dug up the dog wire (Radio systems RFA-1) that was not producing signal to the collar because it ran parallel, next to the newly laid Cable wire.(my hypothosis). I also have a power line buried under the same spot I ran the dog fence & cable (variable). I moved the dog wire 3 feet away from the cable & the collar works. Even where the dog wire is not over the power line & is next to the cable line, the collar did not work (I forget what this is called in scientific terms, but the light bulb went off over my head. I saw it!). Cable Kills the Dog Wire! Problem solved, please let everyone know because this has been both a very frustrating ordeal, & a painful one.

Jerry April 26, 2010 at 4:55 pm

we bought 2000′ of 30 guage wire for our 2.5 acres… it is awefully thin guaged. We rolled it out, and it does work, but I’m concerned about its reliability once I bury it. Any experiences with 30 guage wire?

ADMIN – Hi Jerry,

30 gauge is very thin, almost like thread. If you get it installed you may be ok, since once the wire is buried the earth tends to protect it. But installation will be difficult, because even pulling hard on the wire will break it. I suggest you go up to something thicker, or put the wire in something protective like an irrigation pipe.

Larry April 25, 2010 at 3:04 pm

I am laying a 1000′ boundary loop, which includes about 200′ along a lake. My unit is a PetSafe Deluxe, model RF-304W-11. I would like the dogs to be able to go out to the dock, which has an access ramp which is about 1-1/2 ‘ above the ground. I understand that burying the wire may provide some signal shielding. What would happen if, under the ramp to the dock, I were to run a short section of the wire out into the lake (into about 3′ of water)? This would lengthen the distance between the wire and where the dogs would be. Would this work? Would the system performance be affected by the submerged wire? Are there any other consequences?

ADMIN – Hi Larry,

You would be fine running the wire throught the water, but we would want the wire to be about six feet below the dock level depending on how wide we set the boundary width. Remember you always want to have a bit of safety space when you are going under or over the dog. The water does provide a bit of shielding but the effect is far from dramatic and remember if you have a tidal waterway, you want to test during low tide.

Monique April 10, 2010 at 6:04 pm

1.) We live heavily forested area full of wildlife. Our 6 foot chainlink fence does not contain our dogs because raccoons and mountain beaver are constantly tunneling under our fence, and bears climb the fence when the apples are ripe. I’m worried that the tunneling animals will break the wire. Can the wire be woven through a chainlink fence, or will the metal fence interfere?

2) Our home has a metal roof, and I want enclose several acres in a backyard only instalation. To complete the loop, can I take the wire up along the roof line, or will the roof amplify the signal?


ADMIN – Hi Monique,

(1) You are fine running it along a chain link fence. In fact, I think if there is a fence in place, running it along the fence is a little better because it makes installation a lot easier, you get breaks a little less often, and finding and repairing breaks is easier. Just keep the wire above the ground so it does not get hit by an errant weed whacker. Chain link fences aren’t a concern with the signal jumping into the fence. That is really more of a concern with sheet metal.

What happens when you have long parallel stretches of sheet metal and the wire is that sometimes the signal gets induced in the sheet metal and then the metal acts like it is part of the fence. This is fine for most people, but sometimes it will cause prbolems if the sheet metal fence goes somewhere you do want the dogs to have access.

(2) A sheet metal roof is a bit more of a concern. The whole roof could become active, although even if that happens, the signal should not go down far enough to reach the dogs at ground level. I would be comfortable running the wire along the roof line, but as always I want to check with the collar that the signal is not going anywhere unwanted before I put the collar on the dogs. If anything like that happens, then I would instead run the wire tight around the front of the house.

Let us know if you need any further assistance!

Rick April 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I was thinking of running the wire in the basement, at the base of the wall, along the back of my house so that I can continue the loop and allow my dog to enter through the rear doors. Will it be a problem to run the wire behind appliances or will that cause interference?

ADMIN – Hi Rick,

When running wire through the basement, just be sure you aren’t getting any signal up on the floor above. Walk around with the collar at floor level and make sure it is not inadvertently going up through the floor. When you run the wire near and parallel to large metal appliances like a washer, or a dryer sometimes the signal will jump into the sheet metal and it will be as if this metal was part of the boundary, meanign the dog cannot approach the appliance.

Deanne Kennedy March 25, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Hi, I have just bought an underground electric fence for my dogs, but I wanted to buy more wire so i can make the boundary bigger. Can I just connect the wire together to make it bigger or how would that work??

ADMIN – Hi Deanne,

You can add more wire to the system to make the boundary bigger. (just make sure you don’t go over the limit for your system, for example the PetSafe Stubborn has a limit of 10 acres and the Innotek IUC-4100 has a limit of 25 acres). You connect the wire together using a waterproof wire splice that is included in our boundary kits, or that you can get at any hardware store.

Waylon Priester March 24, 2010 at 1:39 pm

I have an Invisible Fence Brand system that I am going to move to another house. I wanted to just move the unit and leave the wire and put down new wire at the new house. Can I use any wire with the invisible fence brand system or do I need to go through the dealer to get more wire?

Also I am getting another dog, is there a different brand collar I can buy, or do I have to purchase an Invisible Fence Brand collar from a dealer?

ADMIN – Hi Waylon,

For an Invisible Fence Brand system, you don’t need to get any particular brand of wire. But try and match the gauge of wire to your old system for best results (12 gauge or 14 gauge), but if it is expensive or hard to find you can also use the standard 20 gauge for smaller installations. You can get this wire at a hardware store (get wire rated for direct burial if possible) or your local invisible fence dealer.

You can get extra collars through your Invisible Fence dealer, we also sell an Invisible Fence compatible collar for $150.

Pat Hooper March 6, 2010 at 6:08 pm

My basic plan is to have an irregular 3.5 acre loop, on one end I would like to have a dead zone of approx 15 ft in order to allow access to a creek. I seem to be getting that the only way to do this is to bury the cable more than 1ft or elevate the wire more than 6 feet?

Is this correct, I can not just splice in twisted wire for this section?

Also, If I order from you, can I pre measure all footage and get an excact quote with 2 collars and all needed wire?

ADMIN – Hi Pat,

Correct, you have to either go down deep (depending on your boundary width settings you will probably need to go down (2+ feet), or up very high. Most people go high, and string the wire up a tree and across to another tree,

As you rightly surmised you cannot splice in a twisted wire section.

We would be happy to give you a quote. Wire is only sold in 500ft increments and my best guess is that with 3.5 acres you will need a total of 2,000 feet.

Ken Williams February 7, 2010 at 11:25 pm

can a “Dead Zone” be created by running wire through a section of metal pipe ( ? if copper better shield than galvanized iron) ,or within a section of 2 pipes with one inside the other, a combination of pipe & burying in ground ?

ADMIN – Hi Ken,

There is no good way to shield the wire that we have discovered. Encasing the wire in a metal pipe does not help, nor does shielded wire. The best way to create a section with no correction is to modify the layout so that the wire either bypasses the area, passes high over or low below the intended dead zone.

Randy Schmitt January 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm

I am planning to install a loop around my backyard on 3 sides with the house being the 4th side. Is it possible to use shielded TV coaxial cable for the wire along the side of the house with the dog access door? I have read your claim of poor success with coaxial cable, and I can understand how it would not be effective if left ungrounded. However, you never said if the homeowners installed a GROUNDED connection to the outer shield braided wire to make the shield work.

ADMIN – Hi Randy,

You can certainly give it a shot. We have tried a bunch of things to shield the signal in one section but none has proved fruitful, nor have we ever had a customer successfully do it. Don’t want to be doom and gloom, we would love to see it successfully done … it would be very useful and we would love to hear if anyone does it successfully, but I would not bank on it.

What most people do to complete the loop is run the wire up a downspout on one side of their home, along the gutter and down the downspout on the other side. That vertical height separation is usually enough to let the dog come in and out of the house at liberty.

Guy Groner December 31, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Like the other people I would like to do one loop around the back yard. The backdoor exits to a deck that is about 18 inches off the ground, and the dog carries the collar with receiver at least a foot off the deck. So if I run the wire under the deck the total distance from wire to receiver will be about 30 inches.

Would a 30 inch distance be enough to let the dog get out the door? Can I adjust the RF signal strength so 30 inches is enough and still have the fence effective (it is an inexpensive Innotek)? Will using shielded television co-ax partially attenuate the signal under the deck?

ADMIN – Hi Guy,

You could adjust the boundary width distance to say 12 inches. It would be hard to train the dog with such a thin boundary. I would suggest you try another route. You could not set it to more than 18 inches, otherwise you would get the dog getting the corection every time they lay down and also the boundary is not precise down to the inch, so you don’t want to set ti so agressively that there is no margin for safety.

We have never seen good results from shielding.

Thanks in advance,


Tom Andersen November 28, 2009 at 2:35 pm

This site is great. Wish it was around 5 years ago when I was installing my own here on 14 acres.

I laid down 340o ft of stranded 14 gauge (no not buried, its also through woods and bramble). Rabbits chewed through it in multiple places. So I ordered 4000 ft of 10 gauge solid. They don’t chew through that, and the cost (a few hundred) is a lot less than a half mile of trenching. So if you are not going to bury it, get heavy solid core. Its a few hundred dollars well spent on a large system. I even looked at getting aluminum 6 gauge wire in a huge roll (as for power wires) – If I had do it again I would perhaps use that – no splices. Also you get a nice low total resistance (about 10 ohms on my system).

Also as a physicist I know that twisting the wires is not really needed – for the frequencies that these things work at using wire like lamp cord (I used 16-2 house wiring which is really sturdy and fairly cheap) will work as well. If you do use a twisted method you do need to be carful that the lengths of each wire are the same – if one is shorter than the other then you might get some signal leaking out. My guess would be that not getting the twisted pair of wires each the same length is a problem.

Dave Cabelus November 27, 2009 at 2:47 pm

For creating dead spots in the wire, can you do a three wire twist? If I understand correctly, in order to create a dead spot, you have to twist wire with the current headed in opposite directions. This is good for getting from one loop to another isolated loop, like a flower bed. I’m trying to create one single loop around my back yard, including the back of my house where the back door is. I want the dog to be able to pass through the back door without getting a shock. What I was wondering is if I take the wire past the back door a few feet, then go back with the wire in that same area (that gives me the two wires to twist), then come back one more time with the wire. If I twist all three of these sections of the wire, will that cancel the signal, or will having that extra strand enable the signal to be preserved (and my dog will get shocked)?

ADMIN – Hi Dave,

Clever idea, but unforunately you cannot do a three wire section – the signal will still be present and the dog will still get the correction. There are a few ways to do a backyard only that you can see in our planning section.

  1. Looping around the entire house, but keeping tight to the front of the house so the dog cannot get out of the backyard
  2. Going across the back of your house by going up a downspout, across the gutter, and down a downspout – the vertical clearance letting you dog come in and out through the back door.
  3. Doing the three sides of the backyard, then doubling back on yourself six feet away.
earl murray November 24, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Has anyone tried using shielded wire for producing dead spots in the loop? I’m thinking that something like TV cable, with the braided shield grounded, to get around a porch without having to use a double loop with twisted wire.

Rodger Rushing November 17, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Which is better, strained wire or solid wire? thanks

ADMIN – Hi Rodger,

There is no significant difference in performance whether you use the stranded or solid wire. The stranded is a little easier to work with, the solid is a little more corossion resistant. But, they are still very close and either will work very well for this application.

Sean Sullivan November 16, 2009 at 9:28 am

How do I bury the perimeter cable under a 16 foot width of sidewalk that I want included?

ADMIN – Hi Sean,

The easiest way to bury the cable under the sidewalk would be to cut a shallow groove across the sidewalk with a circular saw, place the cable in the groove and then calk over it. If there is already an expansion joint in place use this instead.

Mike November 12, 2009 at 10:23 am

I will be running a 2000′ loop around my property. The question that I have is this. What is the max distance that I can run twisted wire from the box out to start my boundary,and will the large size of the boundry effect this twisted wire distance ?

ADMIN – Hi Mike,

There is no limit on the amount of twisted wire your system can use. The 2000′ loop is not an issue, provided your system can handle the combined length of the twisted wire and the loop. If you are using something for big yards like the SportDog or the Ultrasmart then you are well within the capacity of the system.

garrett November 9, 2009 at 8:54 pm

How far into the ground will the wire have to be placed for a section not to pick up the signal?

Hi Garrett,

The wire will have to be buried very deep. The exact depth will depend on how high you have the boundary width set, but at least one foot if you want there to be no signal at the surface. Burying at one foot is difficult, and I would strongly suggest that you use another method to create a no signal section. If you tell us more about your layout, we can usually find an easier solution!

Eric November 8, 2009 at 6:14 pm

In every illustration I have found, it seems twisted wire leading to the transmitter is required. I plan to have the transmitter in my garage. The plan is to have the wires out one side of the garage mounted up in the garage rafters (where the garage acts as part of the boundary, and the other lead directly out the opposite side wall – direct wires out each side of the transmitter to form the loop. Am I missing something? Do I need any twisted wires and splices at all?

ADMIN – Hi Eric,

You don’t need to start with twisted wire. It seems like in your installation that it will not be necessary. The reason most people use a small section of twisted wire to start the installation is that they want a non-correction section that gets them out to the main loop. With your installation, where the garage is part of the boundary, a non-active twisted wire section is both unecessary and undesirable.

Barry Ohs November 2, 2009 at 1:15 pm

I have an older Invisible Fence transmitter ICT700 and I need to buy Perimeter wire (800’+-)Invisible fence company sells 14g can I use 20g without a problem

Admin – Hi Barry,

Yes, you can use regular 20-gauge wire without any problem.

Susan October 26, 2009 at 3:44 pm

I have one small section that I would like the dogs to cross over. Can I splice twisted wire into a 12 ft section of the boundry wire? From the drawing plan on the website it looks like a splice then boundry wire then another splice of twisted then boundry around the shed structure. But then I read the post about the porch so I’m confused.
What I want to do is have a shock free section of the boundry wire. How do I do this, I have a couple acres that I don’t want to have to double back on. thanks

ADMIN – Hi Susan,

There is no easy way to create a section of the boundary loop that does not have a correction. You cannot splice the twisted pair of wires into part of the boundary loop.

The only way to create a non-active section of the outer boundary loop is to:
1. go high above that section so that the wire is high enough that the dog does not get the correction down below.
2. go down below that section so that the wire is down far enough that the dog does not get the correction when it crosses over.

Twisted wire is primarily used to connect the boundary loop to the transmitter box. Unforuntatlely it cannot be used as part of the boundary loop.

Darwin September 22, 2009 at 4:58 pm

I am going to have the transmitter in my garage which is on one side of my house, then I am going to lay wire around the perimiter of the back yard which is 600 feet ending up at the opposite end of the property/house. I would need to some how get the end of the wire back to the garage which is 60 plus feet away.

My main concern is that that wire will have to go right through/past the porches that I want my dog to have access to. I cannot see how the twisted wire will help me in this senario..

The only thing I can see is to double back all the way around the yard as I have seen in some drawings…. that just seems to be a waste of wire.


ADMIN – Hi Darwin,

You are right the twisted wire does not help here. Doubling back would be one option.

Another would be to run the wire up the downspout on one side of your house, through the guttering and down the downspout on the opposite side. The vertical clearance should let the dog still get thought the back door.

A final option would be to run the wire around the front of the house.

Hope that helps.

Michele Farrow September 19, 2009 at 9:17 am

can the wire be twisted too tight and cause the entire system not to work?

ADMIN – you want to do about four twists per inch, but that does not need to be perfect. We have never heard of a system not working due to overtwisting, unless that overtwisting causes a break in the wire.

Leave a Comment