Dog Fence System Recommendation

A customer asks for some system recommendations for a Border Collie and a Border Collie mix.

Hello Stu:

I am looking for a system to cover approximately 3 acres for a BorderCollie and a headstrong BC/JackRussell. The house sits at the uppermost point of some very hilly terrain, and the ground is very rocky so it is difficult to trench. Our property is plagued with gophers and ground squirrels, not to mention the field mice, so I’m concerned about them chewing through a buried wire. The shape of the containment area would be quite irregular, and would cross an asphalt driveway, stone walls, etc..

1) Which system would you recommend? In addition to our functional needs for this system, I’d prefer something very reliable. I’ve noticed some complaints about Innotek in that regard, as well as their customer service. It’s not worth the hassle to us if the system breaks down after a couple of years.

2) Does the correction vary depending on distance from the wire and speed of the animal’s approach? The little one will just fly after the deer that cross over our property.

3) Does it use non-proprietary batteries?

4) Part of the wire could be suspended along a cattle fence, but most of it would probably have to be above ground. Can we just lay it on top of the ground? I’m worried that the wire would break, get tripped over, munched by critters, etc.. I think one of your advice posts recommends protecting it with that flexible black drip tubing for sprinkler systems – did I understand that correctly? If so, is the wire stiff enough to push through long lengths of tubing? How do you do that without having to do it in short sections, with a million wire splices?

5) Is there a reliable wire-break sensor we could use to find breaks that eventually occur?

6) For the driveway, I’m assuming I can just cut a groove in the asphalt using a masonry blade on a circular saw, stick the wire in, and patch the groove. Is that correct?

6) The larger dog is 42# and has a long, thick coat. The smaller dog is 30# with a thin, short coat. Would you recommend different collars for each of these dogs.

Thanks. Looking forward to your advice on these questions.


Hi Tom,

1) Border collies tend to be quick study’s so you have a lot of options. I would recommend an Innotek IUC-4100 if you wanted something a little smaller and rechargeable. The SportDog SDF-100 is also a good fit for your situation, the collar is a little bulkier and it uses a disposable battery but is also a little cheaper. They are both good reliable systems.

I like the Innotek systems, I think the reason they generate more complaints is that they sell a lot more than the other brands. We find them to be among the most reliable.

2) The correction on the Innotek is progressive (what they call “run-through” protection), increasing the correction level the nearer the dog gets tot he boundary. As a practical matter, none of that stuff makes a big difference. A properly trained dog will not go through irrespective of any extra whizz-bang gadgetry and conversely an untrained dog will go through despite any “run-through” protection.

3) The Innotek is rechargeable, and the SportDog uses a regular (non-proprietary 9V battery).

4) I find the wire surprisingly resilient and usually just lay it on the ground unprotected. With three acres unburied, you should expect the occasional wire break but finding them is not a big deal. (using either the included RF choke for the 4100, or the $50 dog fence wire break detector for the SportDog)

The sprinkler system tubing (the regular conduit – not the more expensive drip tubing) is useful if you want more protection, but I am not sure it is worth the fuss. The wire is stiff enough that you can feed around 50-100 at a time. Instead of cutting the wire to feed the next section, we usually just cut the tubing instead. Splicing the wire should be avoided as it leads to weak points in the boundary, so I would instead cut the tubing.

5) Yes, for the Innotek IUC-4100 the wire break kit that we include has an RF choke that you use in conjunction with an AM radio to find break. The RF choke makes the wire make a throbbing noise you can hear on the radio – the wire break can be found by listening for a section where there is no throbbing noise. For the SportDog you can use the PetSafe Wire Break locator which works the same way.

6) That would be the best way to get across the driveway. Use the circular saw + masonry blade to cut a shallow slot across the driveway, lay the wire in the slot and seal over. (You want to avoid using a heated asphalt sealant – they can melt the insulation on the wire. Instead use one that works at ambient temperature.

7) They are similar size and breed, so you could use the same type of collar for each dog.

1 Comment

  1. Deirdre says:

    We have a 10-year-old female pit bull about 55 lbs. and have a weekend home on a 1/2 acre with 60 feet of lakefront. She’s good with most everything except small dogs (especially white). Yesterday one of the neighbors decided to walk his 5 lb. something or other up our driveway to check out the view. While our 10-year-old has slowed down a bit over the years she still charges up the hill for a frontal assault on the unsuspecting canine and it’s trespassing owner. We were severely reprimanded and told we should keep our dog on a leash. Part of my wanting the place was so urban dog would have somewhere to run free. Rather than finding a weekend home with more land another hour away I thought I’d look into an electric dog fence. Do you think I need the strongest and how can I train her when we are only there for weekends?

    ADMIN – Hi Deirdre,

    Wow, I’m surprised you got a slap on the wrist when it was your neighbor that trespassed on your private property. However, that’s neither here nor there.

    With her temperament toward other dogs, I’d recommend the PetSafe Stubborn with an additional 500 feet of wire to cover your 1/2 acre property. The key to training is persistence and having an awareness for your dog’s learning pace. You will train her the same way we describe in our training guide, but only at a slower pace. This means you’ll work on training each weekend you’re at your lake property until she masters each step. If you follow our training guide and go patiently, you should be able to solve your containment problem.

    However, if neighbor crosses your boundary zone and into your yard, you will still have the same issue as this fence will only keep your dog inside the boundary loop.

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