Pet Containment and Dog Containment Systems 101

1.  Choose a Pet Containment System for your Dog.

Start by choosing a dog containment system that is appropriate for your pet.  The system acts like a virtual fence, warning your dog with a beep when they are getting too close to their boundaries and giving them a correction if they keep proceeding.  For a guide to all the major pet containment systems, including Innotek, and PetSafe look at our reviews.

2.  Install the Dog Containment System

Next, install the pet containment.  This involves laying a loop of boundary wire around the perimeter of the property to mark the boundary line.   Some people will bury the wire, others will staple it to the ground, or ziptie the wire to a fence. 

3.  Train your Dog on the Containment System

Lastly, train the dog to use the containment system.  You will follow a series of exercises that will teach your dog about the new boundary rules, and the consequences for breaking the rules.  Then you will test the dog to make sure they objey the containment system rules even when temptations appear.

To learn more about how dog containment fence systems operate, take a look through the menu on the left.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Nanne May 20, 2017 at 7:54 am

Do they all need to be looped? Or can it be a straight line?

ADMIN – Hi Nanne. The systems all must be run on a circuit. However, there are ways to make a single sided boundary. Please visit our Dog Fence DIY Planning and Layouts page to see examples and diagrams.

Kelly April 18, 2017 at 10:52 am

Hi. I have a two acre lot that is chain link fenced along one side. I’d really like to enclose the entire property for my dog using an invisible fencing system but only lay wire along the 3 other open sides. I’m finding all the options a little overwhelming. Plus I know I can’t afford to have a company install for me; I’d like to do this myself. Can you point me in the right direction?

Also, does wire have to be installed in a loop or will it work if you just install one wire (unlinked) along the open sides of the property (meeting up with the chain link fenced side on either end of the wire)?

Thank you

ADMIN – HI Kelly. Yes, the wire does need to be a completed loop. We recommend taking a look at our Dog Fence Planning/Layouts page to see several diagrams of how you can layout your fence to create a complete loop with different obstacles.

Pollann November 2, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Hello, I have a large sheep operation and for my guardian dogs it doesn’t seem large enough. We have six Great Pyrenees Mountain style sheep companion Dogs. I worry when they wander off the property to the nearby state highway or on the county roads.
I would like a fencing system, that would allow them to be confined within the ranch just over 200 acres a system, that would cause them to remain on the property, I like the idea of the wireless system, but I need a much larger and not circular area to be available to the dogs, as they do need to stay with the sheep and goats the ranch has an irregular polygonal boarder.
Would it be possible to use a combined system like the wireless broadcasting emitted from a wire to broadcast the wireless systems signal and change the shape of the area from a circle to an oval or even a larger globular area to increase the range where the animals would be free to roam without the need to go along the entire perimeter of the ranch?

ADMIN – HI Pollann. The only system we have that would be even close would be the SportDog SDF-100A Dog Fence.
SportDog SDF-100A Dog Fence 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), Stubborn (for large dogs or dogs that need more corrective power), Elite Little Dog (for dogs under 10 pounds), Cat or SportDog collars. All of these collars are battery operated and have indicators to let you know when the battery needs to be changed. The SportDog collar is considered to be the most rugged and waterproof collar. This system only operates in traditional mode. This is a good, reliable system that will work well in most configurations. However, the transmitter will power up to 100 acres of containment boundary wire only.

I do not know of a system that currently offers the type of coverage that you need, specially in a wireless format.

Beth July 30, 2015 at 6:57 pm

I have a lab mix that like to socialize with the other neighborhood dogs. I need a containment system that is as large as I can find for her. We have 5 acres for her to roam around that includes a creek for swimming. So a model that allows for the most space and is wireless is what I’m looking for. Any ideas which one would be the best?

ADMIN – Hi Beth. What is the age, weight, and temperament of your Lab mix? Answering these questions will help me match your dog to the best DIY electric dog fence system.

Lissa July 21, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Hi, We are looking for a system that would hold our 4 dogs. We have 3 puggles and 1 boxer. The puggles vary from 18 to 35 lbs and the boxer is about 65lbs. The area we would like to contain is about 1/3 to 1/2 acre. We live in a wooded area and have neighbors that walk around and have kids and other dogs. Trying to find something that will work for the money and last. Thanks for any help!

ADMIN – Hi Lissa, the best dog fence for your 4 dogs is the PetSafe YardMax. The collar which is lightweight, rechargeable, and waterproof works great with any dog weighing at least 10 lbs. The best part is that you can set different correction levels for each dog, so you can match the correct strength to each dog’s temperament.

mike January 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm

I have three bird dogs i need to contain in a twelve acre parcel of land…we get quite a bit of snow in the winter……..which system would be the best for three dogs? Does innotek make anything or is there better?

ADMIN – Hi Mike, I would recommend only the SportDog for your dogs and property. It is a great fit for you. One, your bird dogs will need the higher correction levels of the SportDog and two, you will need the SportDog transmitter for covering 12 acres.

Joker December 20, 2013 at 9:32 pm

I in addition to the manual correctional shock collar, I picked up one of these and everything is working perfectly. Still she scratches and paws at the devices, and in many cases I come home and the devices have been removed. Do they make such devices in mittens and Chastity belts so that it will correct her as they near the devices to prevent her from taking them off? She is fairly obedient except when I am gone, then she becomes a minx. Please help, my wife will simply not wear these devices or leave them on, nor respect the boundaries I have set while I am gone to work.

Chad November 19, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I have a one year old pug about 20 lbs. My back yard is fenced in, but I have a front and side yard where the kids play a lot. I’d like to let him out there without having to chase him across the neighborhood. Any suggestions?

Robin September 3, 2013 at 12:05 pm

We adopted two adult dogs (dont tell them they are dogs) about three months ago. One weighs 9 pounds and the other weighs about 15 pounds. We have five acres for the boys to run, but we are having a hard time teaching them boundaries. We have been checking into underground fences but we have one very important issue that needs resolved. I understand the wire need to be a continuous loop and that twisting the wires creates a dead zone. My question: can we “double back” on a length of wire–creating three strands–and twist the three strands to form a dead zone?

Nick September 1, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Hi, I have 3 stubborn dogs who like to escape. I have a 6 foot fence around my property, with a small section that they have for themselves which has a 4′ fence. Two of my dogs can jump over the short fence and then dig out under my 6 foot fence. For roughly 1000 feet of wire, will one transmitter be sufficient or are booster stations required? What system would you recommend for 3 dogs?

william gilbert July 7, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Hi, I am thinking about getting a system for my Brittany. The question I have is I have a creek in my yard how do you cross it with the wire, I have a bridge at one end but the other end is open. can you run the wire in pvc pipe and still work at that point?

ADMIN – Hi William,

You can either run the wire through a protective tubing or PVC tubing, or you can run the wire directly in the water. The signal will transmit through the PVC pipe.

mike sorendo May 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I have a petsafe system already but have not put in yet. I’m getting a German shepherd rottweiler mix. She just turned 1yrs. Old. I want to use the system on one side, through the driveway and only a 5ft opening on the other side of the house to the neighbor’s fence. How would I do that?

Hi Mike,

Am I right in thinking you want to do an L-shaped section? To do that you need to go along the two sides that you want fenced, then double back on yourself six feet apart to make an L-shaped loop.

Because of the requirement that the wires need to be six feet apart, many people find it easier just to go around the whole property even if they only need part of the property fenced.

There are some work arounds, like elevating the wire, and running the wire on the top and bottom of the fence, but we would need to know a little more about the property to make suggestions.

Danna May 3, 2013 at 10:17 am

Hi – I have a 9 month old wire haired pointing griffon (very small – maybe 50lbs when fully grown) – who is super energetic and just wants to run all day and a 12 pound mini dachshund who completely ignores our commands but is somewhat lazy. We live on a 7 acre piece of land and would like to be able to give the griff some room to run – maybe several acres. We live in the UP of Michigan and have very significant snowfall each year, as well as a lot of frost heaving and very wet springs. Any suggestions on a durable system that would suit our needs? Thanks!

ADMIN – Hi Danna,

With those two dogs being so different in size, the Sportdog/PetSafe systems that lets us mix and match collars would be very useful. I would use the high capacity SportDog System, and use the included collar with the Griffon. The SportDog has a very high powered transmitter than will let you cover the 7 acres easily, and give you plenty of power in reserve to get through accumulated snow.

For the Daschund, I would add the compatible PetSafe Inground collar.

Alan April 20, 2013 at 8:44 pm

I need a fence on only three sides of my property. Does this system need to loop? Are the collars permanent, or can they be removed once the dog has learned the fence boundaries?

ADMIN – Hi Alan,

The boundary wire does always need to be a loop. You can either run the wire along the fourth side (elevating the wire if you don’t want it to be active. Or you can run the wire along the three sides that you do want, doubling back to make a three-sided U-shaped loop.

Many people remove the collars after the dog has learned the system and rely on the dog staying inside the containment area out of habit. I think this is a bad idea, because the dog will eventually (it may take months or years) learn to start going through the boundary again, and it only takes one time for the dog’s life to be put in danger. I don’t think it is a big deal if you occasionally forget to put the collar on in the morning, but I would not make a habit of it.

Steve March 26, 2013 at 5:56 pm

I have a 20lb cocker that needs containment. We live on a lake. Is there a system that allows for the continuous circuit to have a “dead zone” that would allow for the dog to play in the water yet contain him at the beach area when on land?

ADMIN – Hi Steve,

None of the systems can create a dead-zone, but you can create a similar effect by running the wire deep out into the water.

Amanda Hill March 19, 2013 at 6:11 pm

I have a 3 year old lab that I need too have contained because he scares the little kids in my neighborhood when he escapes out of the house because he can open the doors. So with that being said I need install a fence for a 90’x100′ area what would the estimated cost of the system and what system would you recommend for him? He’s a very quick learner but a lot of the time he refuses to come when he is called. Any ideas?

ADMIN – Hi Amanda,

A Labrador that can open doors? You need to teach him how to let guests in, that would be a great party trick!

A good system for a lab on one-quarter acre would be the PetSafe Ultrasmart. The included wire will be enough to cover your yard, so you are looking at a total cost of just under $300.

Another option, if you only need to stop him getting near the doors is to use the indoor pods to block off those area. near the doorway. That will cost you $70 for the collar and the first pod, then $40 for each extra pod. That will be a lot easier to install than a full fence.

Billy December 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I would like to know if I can use a # 12 stranded wire underground or does it have to be a solid wire. I live in the woods and also have a tractor and quads, deer and turkeys in the yard all the time and thought a bigger wire and stranded would hold up better?

ADMIN – Hi Billy, the heaviest gauge wire the systems can handle is 14 gauge. We offer 14 gauge stranded that has a extremely durable and thick 45 mil insulation coating.

Gail October 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I purchased the Inntek Ultrasmart with two collars. My entire 6 acre property is fenced except the driveway entrance. I originally intended to start the underground system in a barn, run it down a fence line, across the driveway, to the other fence and then back to the starting point. Unfortunately I did not realize that the wires could not be that close so I am not sure how to get the wire back to the barn. Is there another way, other than trenching 6 feet away from the other wire? Is there anyway to use a wireless system that just blocks the drive? Is there anything like the sensors on a garage door or the sensors on a driveway alarm system? Thanks

ADMIN – Hi Gail, you can choose to fence the driveway entrance area only with the Pawz Away Outdoor Rock. If your driveway is 12 feet across or less, you can simply place one Rock on either side and set up the wireless signal to cover the driveway. If it’s greater, you can plug boundary wire into the Rock and run the wire across then return to the Rock 4 feet separated back to the Rock to complete the loop. For this set up, you’ll need the PetSafe Ultrasmart PIG00-13619 collar, one re-charger, a roll of wire, and Outdoor Rock.

Christine July 25, 2012 at 10:59 am

I need to install an electric fence that will work for my two CATS. They are 8-9 pounds. One of them is deaf, (so warning beeps wouldn’t be effective for that one.) What is your best recommendation, keeping in mind two smaller, lightweight collars, for CATS? Thank you!

Admin- Hi Christine,

The best option for cats is the PetSafe Cat Fence.The system is similar to the PetSafe Little Dog but with lower correction levels and a breakaway collar to make it better suited for cats. Unfortunately the collar does not offer a vibrate mode. Your deaf cat will need more hands on training with the boundary flags.

Debra April 23, 2012 at 10:38 am

I have two 13 week old German shepherds, 25 and 28 lbs. At what age can I start using the invisible fence system, and what about the collars? Will they fit now? If so, would I have to replace them as they grow and get bigger?

Admin- Hi Debra,

A great system for your German shepherd will be the Innotek IUC4100. The system offers a nice slim fit rechargeable collar that takes about two hours to recharge and last a month. The collars will be able to adjust to fit your dogs necks as they grow. The system comes with 500 feet of 20-gauge wire but we do have the availability to upgrade to 14-18 gauge. We typically recommend waiting at least 6 months before training. It makes the dog fence training much quicker. However, if the dog can already understand basic commands like come, sit, and stay. Than the dog should be ready for training with the containment fence.

Laura March 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Hi, I just recently moved to a home that is on almost an acre. I have 3 dogs. One is a black lab puppy and since we moved has gotten out chasing deer all over the neighborhood. I would like to get an electronic fence but worried about him. My other 2 dogs will not be a problem. What system do you recommend for us? Also, one part of the yard is our driveway with grass on both sides. How does that work? Thank you for your help!

ADMIN – Hi Laura,

Am I right in thinking you just want to use the contain the Labrador, and that the other two dogs won’t be on the system? If not, let me know the breed, age, weight and temperament of the other dogs and I will update the recommendation accordingly.

For a labrador, the PetSafe Ultrasmartwould be a good choice. As would the PetSafe Stubborn. The Innotek is a little more expensive, but has a smaller collar and is rechargeable. The PetSafe is a little cheaper, but uses a disposable battery.

To get across the driveway, if there is a convenient expansion joint, put the wire in the joint and caulk over. If not, cut a slot across the driveway with a circular saw (and masonry blade), place the wire in the slot and then caulk over.

Jon March 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I have a 13 ” beagle. He finds a way of getting out of the Petsafe wireless fence. No idea how he does it. I tried it and the collar does NOT always work. Any idea what is going on ? I have 2 different collars and they both do the same thing.

ADMIN – Hi Jon,

I presume what you mean when you say the collar does not always work is that it is inconsistent. Sometimes when you walk through a boundary it will trigger, and other times it won’t. That sometimes happens with wireless signals, when obstructions like trees or metal block the signal. You can try moving the transmitter around you house to see if that makes the signal more consistent. But, for some properties you will never get a good signal and your best bet would be switching to a wired system.

Rick Merritt March 19, 2012 at 8:28 am

I am only trying to keep my dog from one area , does the wire have to be looped back to the start point or can it end at the farthest point? Thank you, Rick

ADMIN – Hi Rick,

The wire always need to start and finish at the base station. Unfortunately, you cannot have an open ended circuit.

FYI – If you are just trying to block off a small area, you may be able to use one of the outdoor wireless pods.

Lee March 18, 2012 at 9:29 am

I have two Great Danes (boy = 150lbs and girl = 160lbs) and 3 acres of land…of which about 1/2 is open and 1/2 is woods. At any chance (when I just let them out alone), they like to “explore” in the woods or in the neighbors yards. They do come back but with constant calling or I have to stay out there with them. I want to include a fencing system to let them roam in the 1/2 open acre but a second system to include just in the back yard about 300′ for a “potty area” during the day (They were previously trained to use one specific area for that purpose in our last house but that went out the door when we moved to this much larger yard.) The girl is stubborn and takes pain well (she’s been through a couple surgeries and doesn’t seem to flinch) the boy is just a follower, so anything she does he’ll try. I don’t know if there is any way for me to separate the two areas (unconnecting a point for the “potty area” for instance) – daytime only let them in the “potty area” but if I’m outside later that day include the open area and the “potty area” so they can have full access to the entire 1/2 acre without getting corrected. I was really against these systems but don’t know what else to do. Any information on separating the areas or ideas would help!

Admin- Hi Lee,

1) For you two Great Danes a great system will be the SportDog SDF-100. The system is designed for a larger, stronger, sportier breed of dogs like you have.
2) You would be able to achieve the two separate boundaries with only one transmitter. You would install the boundary wire from the transmitter leading to the front inclosing the ½ acres. Than, slice into the boundary wire that is in the front and lead twisted wire to the “potty area” and forming the loop there. The setup would be very similar to out exclusion zone layout expert the new boundary would be on the outside of the first boundary and not on the inside. You can view the layout under the installations table.
3) Unfortunately you will not be able to disconnect the boundary wires once install to allow them free roam when you are around. Note: constantly changing where the dogs could roam would confuse them.

Brenda March 11, 2012 at 9:36 am

We have 2 German shep pups (8months old) and want to have them play in a area of 1 acre around our home. My girl shepherd is very stubborn, selfish and possessive ignoring commands to stay or come when outside. We are surrounded by woods and at the first chance they get they will run right into them or the neighbors yard as our bog shep follows everything she does. What system do you recommend that will keep them confined and what kind of wire gauge do I need? Could you help with the cost of the system you recommend.

ADMIN – Hi Brenda,

For a German Shepherd, particularly one with that seems like they might have a high pain tolerance (this trait is often independent of stubbornness, one does not infer the other), the PetSafe Stubborn is a good choice. The stubborn has the strongest correction which make it a good choice for this breed. You rarely need the highest correction level, but it is useful to have in reserve in case it is necessary to get the dog’s attention.

You would need the PetSafe Stubborn system (including one collar and 500 feet of wire – $195), and extra collar for the second dog ($75), an extra 500 feet of wire to cover 1 acres ($30). So the toal cost would be around $300. If you needed to rent a trencher to help you install the system, budget in another $50.

The standard 20 gauge wire is what was quoted above and works well. Thicker wire is helpful as your budget allows, as it helps reduce the number of line breaks. Upgrading to the next thickness up, 18 gauge wire, would add $20. Upgrading to the thickest wire, 14 gauge, would add $130.

deborah Lapp February 24, 2012 at 9:24 pm

I have two rambunctious country mutts (a sort of Queensland and a sort of boxer). We are moving from a less busy road to a place with a busy road and deer frequently on the other side of the road (fun for chasing). I’ve been warned that the TWO of them will ignore the signal if they are playing together, but I don’t want to keep them penned up. Is there a trick to working with two dogs?

Admin- Hi Deborah,

The best option for your two dogs will be the PetSafe Stubborn/Large dog system. The Stubborn dog collar is designed for a sportier breed of dogs and is very durable. The collar will hold up to ruff housing better than most collars. You will simply bundle in an additional PetSafe stubborn collar. The system comes with 500 feet of boundary wire that can cover up to 1/3 acre.

Chris January 28, 2012 at 5:03 pm

We live in a neighborhood and would like to purchase a Wireless system for our 2 dogs. Will the other houses interfere with the system?

ADMIN – Hi Chris,

If the other houses are outside the containment area where you want to keep your dogs, they will not affect your wireless system. If the houses are within the containment area then they can block the wireless signal and cause interference.

Jake October 20, 2011 at 8:28 am

I’d like to find an underground fence system where the receiver collars work with training remotes as well. I don’t want to buy both systems and have to mess with needing to switch out collars all the time. Is there anything out there like this?

ADMIN – Hi Jake,

If you want a collar that can be used for both containment and has a remote trainer your best option will be the Innotek IUC-5100. However, the Innotek IUC-5100 does not have independent correction for multiple dogs on the Dog Fence function. It does however have independent correction for the remote trainer function. If you need to have both dogs on the same correction level for the containment fence, you can add resistors to the collar that will alter the correction level on one collar, reducing it by 50% or 75%.

Donna October 6, 2011 at 11:03 am

I have an older Petsafe wireless fence system. It is a PIF-101, I have just got a second English Bulldog, so I need a new collar, but can not find one that is compatible with the older system, any ideas?? I once purchased a second collar but I find out now it is not compatible with the system I have. I need a collar that is a PIF 275, the ones I am finding and the second one I bought is a PIF 275-19, and it has zapped the dog in the house where the other dog with the original collar that was bought with the sytem does not zap. Im so confused lol

Admin- Hi Donna,

Your best option to finding an identical replacement collar for the older PetSafe wireless fence will be on a resale web site like Ebay or cragslist. Unfortunately we are not familiar with the older PetSafe wireless units and it compatibly. You should give PetSafe a call and they will be able to tell you which collars if any are compatible with your transmitter.

PetSafe: (800) 732.2677

pat lewis August 3, 2011 at 10:26 pm

i have a small,a medium and a large dog ……..they are a shitzu,a cocker spaniel and a boxer………….I have an acre of land………..I would like wire that is thick ……and durable…….I plan on running it under part of my driveway………I need to know how much wire to buy to go around the 1.5 acres. and what system would work best for different size dogs??thanks

ADMIN – Hi Pat,

The best system for you will be the PetSafe Stubborn/Large dog system. You can use the included Stubborn dog collar on the Boxer and bundle in a Deluxe collar for the Cocker. You will also bundle in a Little Dog collar for the Shitzu( this is the only collar that is small enough for a 10 pound dog). The system comes with 500 feet of wire. To cover 1.5 acres you will need to bundle in an additional 1000 feet of boundary wire.

J Knutsen June 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I would like to have an underground electric fence installed to keep my little dog in the yard. Do you have a suggestion for steps? Is it best to try to tunnel under them, or somehow install the wire across the steps?


We find it easiest to go across sets. If the steps are cement, we usually cut a shallow slot with a circular saw – run the wire through the slot – then seal over with a waterproof caulk. For other kinds of steps we try and find a seam that we can cut with the circular saw.

Tunneling under works, and is useful where the steps are ornamental or otherwise hard to cut and reseal, but the process is very laborious and we would recommend you avoid it if there are alternatives.

There is a lot more information in the installation (driveways) section on this topic.

Stace Ames February 5, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Hi, I have a “Pet Stop” brand, right now, One of my dog lost there collar, I still have the dog, just no collar. “Pet Stop” brand collars are WAY to expensive! What do I do? Can I buy a different contanment system and use the wire that is already in the ground? Or do you have a better idea? Thank You Stace

Hi Stace,

We have two options for you. (1) Get a whole new system, you can use the wire that is already in the ground. Just switch out the PetStop base station for your new base station. (2) Get a second hand Pet Stop brand collar on eBay. People often put up old collars for auction. Pet Stop is a little harder to find, but finding Invisible Fence collars is pretty common.

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