Electric Dog Fence Installation

1 STEP: Planning the Installation

Marking Utilities and Obstacles

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:

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 wire running close to a utility wire can induce a signal in the utility wire making part of your home wiring trigger the collar receivers.

Round corners
Boundary wires should turn corners gradually, avoiding sharp 90 degree turns.

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 to ten feet from theirs.

Sample Layouts

Perimeter Dog Fence Layout

The 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 your dog and to allow a space or 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 backyard.

Backyard Dog Fence Layout

1

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:

The 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 your 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.

2

Another 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. This method does not work with the PetSafe Yard Max system in YardMax mode.

3

The 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. This layout will not work with the PetSafe YardMax system in YardMax mode.

Gate on the Boundary

The Boundary Gate allows you to create a “gate along the boundary where there is no correction. This ¡s 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. This layout will not work with the PetSafe YardMax system in YardMax mode.

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 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.

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. This does not work with the PetSafe YardMax in YardMax mode.

The Hourglass Layout

The hourglass layout contains the dog in both the front and backyard, but does not allow the dog to cross between the front and backyard. This is great if you want the dog with you in the front or backyard 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. One note, where the wires are close to each other as it creates the center of the “hourglass”, you will still want to make sure that they are at least 10 feet apart so as not to have signal interference with its own signal.

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. This layout will not work with the PetSafe YardMax system in YardMax mode.

LakeFront Layout

On a lakefront 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 lakefront 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.

1

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? Your goal will determine how much wire you plan to sink.

2

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.

3

A modification of the first where you incorporate the dock and boathouse, but the lake is otherwise not incorporated into the fence plan.

Sample Layouts

The 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 your dog and to allow a space or 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 backyard.

1

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:

The 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 your 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.

2

Another 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. This method does not work with the PetSafe Yard Max system in YardMax mode.

3

The 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. This layout will not work with the PetSafe YardMax system in YardMax mode.

The Boundary Gate allows you to create a “gate along the boundary where there is no correction. This ¡s 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. This layout will not work with the PetSafe YardMax system in YardMax mode.

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 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.

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. This does not work with the PetSafe YardMax in YardMax mode.

The hourglass layout contains the dog in both the front and backyard, but does not allow the dog to cross between the front and backyard. This is great if you want the dog with you in the front or backyard 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. One note, where the wires are close to each other as it creates the center of the “hourglass”, you will still want to make sure that they are at least 10 feet apart so as not to have signal interference with its own signal.

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. This layout will not work with the PetSafe YardMax system in YardMax mode.

On a lakefront 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 lakefront 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.

1

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? Your goal will determine how much wire you plan to sink.

2

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.

3

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.

318 Comments

  1. Nadine says:

    I have 2 flower beds on either side of our front steps. Can I link both of them in a figure 8 style with twisted wire between them where the steps are? I want to create exclusion zones around the flower beds because he is a digger lol… Or can I run live wire under the steps without triggering the collar? We bought the SportDog brand fence.

    ADMIN – Hi Nadine. The figure 8 idea sounds like it would work, in theory. Sometimes the only way to really know is to try it. You CAN link exclusion zones using twisted wire so this idea should work. Just remember to have at least 6 feet of distance between each active section.

  2. Michael says:

    Can I install an underground invisible fence using a livestock fence and transmitter for a dog, and use a PetSafe like collar with the livestock fence? Thank you.

    ADMIN – Hi Michael,

    Yes, you can use any type of wire but you can’t have a hot wire that also serves to transmit electric dog fence signals. It will serve one or the other purpose.

    https://www.dogfencediy.com/faqs/special-wire/

  3. Roger says:

    Hi,

    I am thinking about doing a double loop around my yard and leaving the lake open. Can I inclose my underground wire in plastic sprinkler tubing. I am doing this because it will go into the lake a little ways and heavily damp soil. Plus the extra bonus of protection and/or easy replacement rather than digging it all up again.

    Do you see any issues with this?

    What is the max depth this can be buried and still work effectively? I read somewhere 1-3″ but if it was 4-5″ would that matter?

    Thank you for your time.

    ADMIN – Hi Roger. Yes, you can run your wire through any form of plastic tubing. If you want the dog to receive a correction you will need to stick to the no deeper than 3 inches rule. This optimizes the communication between the collar and the signal that travels along the wire.

  4. Golie Owens says:

    Will this interfere with remote gate opener?

    ADMIN – HI Golie. A wired system should not be affected by the remote control for your fence.

  5. Leah says:

    If I begin the wire at the box Can I end the wire at the edge of the house??

    ADMIN – Hi Leah. The systems are a closed loop system, meaning that the wire must begin and end at the box.

  6. Kayley says:

    Hi there,

    Thanks for all the information on your site, very informative. A few quick questions.

    1) Are the collars waterproof?

    2) Can the boundary wire be placed above ground? We have two sides of the property that are heavily forested & it would be much easier if we could place them above ground and then just bury the part on the driveway.

    3) Initially we would be using the system at our camp in the summer. We would also like to use the same system at our house in the winter? Would this be doable – to take it down and reset it at another location in the fall.

    Thanks for any info you may have.

    Kayley

    ADMIN – Hi Kayley. All of the collars are waterproof but most are NOT submersible. If your dog is a swimmer, you will want to look at the SportDOG systems and collars. These are waterproof and submersible to 5 feet. You can bury your wire no more than 1″ – 3″ in the ground or you can tack it to the ground using lawn staples. If you do choose to leave the wire exposed, we recommend upgrading your wire to a thicker option such as a 16 or 14 gauge wire. This is going to make your wire more durable. You can move your transmitter and take the collars with you but I would recommend running two different sets of wire, one for each location.

  7. BT says:

    We are going to do a Single-sided Boundary Layout. Which system would you recommend?
    thanks

    ADMIN – Hi BT. You will want a traditional style system to create a single-sided boundary layout. I would begin by looking at the PetSafe In-Ground Fence PIG00-13661: https://www.dogfencediy.com/reviews/petsafe-pig0013661/
    PetSafe In-Ground Fence PIG00-13661 is cross collar compatible and works with MOST PetSafe collars but DOES NOT WORK WITH THE YARDMAX COLLAR. This system would allow you to use the PetSafe Deluxe Collar (Standard correction levels, good for dogs between 5 and 90 pounds, $69.95), Stubborn (for large dogs or dogs that need more corrective power that are over 40 pounds, $79.95), PetSafe Rechargeable In-Ground Fence Receiver (A rechargeable collar with 4 correction levels ($119.95), Elite Little Dog (for dogs under 10 pounds, $99.95), Cat or SportDog (most rugged and waterproof collar and is meant for dogs that are hunting or farm dogs ($99.95)) collars. All of these collars are battery operated and have indicators to let you know when the battery needs to be changed. This system only operates in traditional mode and does not offer the run through deterrent. This is a good, reliable system that will work well in most configurations. This system will support up to 25 acres of wire.

  8. Daniel says:

    I would like to run the wire just around the back yard, but the rear door is basically at the corner of the house. It’s a single story house with the roof sloping to the rear, so I can’t go much higher than the door.
    Is the only solution going to be using the double loop method? That does not allow for the YardMax feature to work on the Petsafe Yardmax correct?

    ADMIN – Hi Daniel. Please visit our Dog Fence DIY Planning/Layouts page to see three options of r creating a backyard only layout. You can visit that page here: https://www.dogfencediy.com/installation/plan/

  9. Christie says:

    Hello,
    We have 50 acres and a Great Pyr that feels the need to patrol beyond that. My question is do you have to loop the wire back to complete the circuit? I’m hoping the fencing system is like my electric fence where I can run it in a line without having to loop back.
    Thank you

    ADMIN – Hi Christie. All of the currently available wired dog fence systems do require a close loop, a loop that starts and ends at the transmitter, to function as a containment system. Please visit our Dog Fence DIY Planning and Layouts page to see options for layouts that deviate from the standard loop.

  10. Jake R says:

    Great site – very helpful in decision making.

    I have a driveway question and it looks like the best option for me is to run it over the driveway. However when the driveway is plowed the plow could hit the cable and destroy my system. Since I know when the plowing will happen is there a way to create a plug/unplug system in my wire so I can just unplug the cable and move it for the plow?

    Thanks for the site again and I look forward to your insight.

    ADMIN – Hi Jake. There is not a way that we know of to create a plug in system like you are asking. However, one way around the plowing issue would be to put tall reflective markers on either side of your drive at the point where the wire crosses the drive and have your plow driver avoid plowing that area then clear it by hand in that one area. Another option would be to use an existing groove in your drive or to cut a groove in your drive and run the wire through that then cover it with a waterproof, silicon caulk to protect it and hold it in place. You can see more on this option by visiting our Driveways and Paths page.

  11. Jeremy Chiasson says:

    MY driveway goes to the back of my house with an automatic gate. All I want is to prevent my dog from going out the gate. So basically all I need is my driveway protected. How do I do that?

    ADMIN- Hi Jeremy. As you do not need a total fence system, I would recommend looking at the Pawz Away Rock Outdoor Zone (RFA-378): https://dogfencediy.com/store/accessories/indoor-zones/pawz-away.html
    These zones are meant to create an exclusion barrier. For your gate, you would either need two rocks that you would put at either side of the opening to create two overlapping signals or you would need one rock and up to 150 feet of wire to create a one sided boundary. With a bit of inventiveness, you can create a single sided boundary with 20 gauge wire running from the Rock. 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 in front of your gate so that your dogs do not run around it.

  12. Mike says:

    I will be running my dog fence next to a hot wire horse fence. Will this impact the effectiveness of the dog fence? Do I need to bury the dog fence 6+’ from the hot wire. Thanks

    ADMIN – Hi Mike. Yes, running your dog fence close to a hot wire fence, you will need to keep your dog fence wire at least 6 to 10 feet away. You will want to test your dog fence thoroughly to make sure there is no interference.

    • JoustingHill says:

      I have both traditional and Yardmax lines run within inches of the electrified horse fence wires and find they do not prevent the collars from signaling correctly. I do hear “tapping” on the dog fence line when I use the break-finder kit with the AM radio, but the collars still function correctly. Your mileage may vary.

      ADMIN – Hi Justin,

      Thanks for the tip

  13. Rachel Keeling says:

    I have an electric dog fence installed I haven’t burried it yet but it says you don’t have too anyways I was wondering when my dogs take off running and pass the wire it doesn’t shock them it’s like it can’t pick up good signal when there running?

    ADMIN – Hi Rachel. If your dog is running past the line without responding to the correction, you will want to test your collar to make sure that it is responding to the signal coming off the wire. If the collar is responding, you will want to make sure that the correction level is high enough. Another thing to test is the transmitter to make sure the transmitter is sending a signal through the wire. You can do this by taking a 15 or 20 foot length of wire and hooking it up to your transmitter and testing the collar again.

  14. Josh says:

    I am wanteing to do just my backyard of 2 acres and just got 14 gauge wire i.
    If i go from the back right of house and go all the way around to back left and put wire under deck. How can i make it to where my dog can come in back door.
    Can i cut wire and take about 10 foot of twisted wire and splice in on both sides of door. Then continue back to box?

    ADMIN – Hi Josh. Twisted Wire is used to connect the wire loop terminals between the transmitter and perimeter loop if the area between the transmitter and the boundary loop is an area you want the dogs to be able to cross though. This will cancel the signal in this area so that the dogs can cross back and forth through the area without receiving a correction. It cannot be inserted into the middle of a boundary loop.
    There are several ways to create a backyard only layout. Please visit the DogFenceDIY “Planning, Installation and Layout” page where you can find ideas and diagrams of layouts.

  15. Jessica says:

    We have 2 transmitters and 2 dogs can we hook both up to one wire?

    ADMIN – Hi Jessica. You would need to decide which transmitter you want to use and use only one transmitter. Then you would need to have 2 collar receivers for that transmitter for your two dogs.

  16. Angus says:

    We seem to be having a bit of trouble with our fence. We run it around a 2.5acre rectangular block. For some reason the section along the front of the block does not seem to transmit a signal to the collars during the night, this only happens in winter, in summer it works fine. We have replaced the 3 joiners (none of which are along the front) and replaced the batteries in the collars but still have the same problem. The system is about 18 months old and we had the same problem last winter. Any suggestions ?

    ADMIN – Hi Angus. This is not a problem that we have heard about. I would recommend contacting the manufacturer of your system for insight or troubleshooting.

  17. James says:

    It says to avoid running wires close to utility lines for extended stretches. How close is to close? How far is an extended stretch. These are extremely relative terms?

    ADMIN – HI James. The Boundary Wire should be installed 5-10 feet away from metal and/or electromagnetic interference (e.g., metal siding, aluminum siding, metal roof, metal or wire fencing, HVAC equipment, other electric fencing, underground utilities, etc) to avoid amplification problems, unintended corrections to the dog’s collar or signal interference.
    We recommend laying the wire where you think you want it on top of the ground and testing the collar to make sure it beeps and corrects at the right location on the perimeter loop. Once the correct location has been determined, then you can bury your wire no more than 1″ – 3″ in the ground or you can tack it to the ground using lawn staples.

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