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:

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{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

John K. March 21, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Hey, I own Guardian underground fence by PetSafe ….. I need to by more wire, but I don’t know what gauge to get…. will any work?

ADMIN – Hi John,

PetSafe recommends using a 14-20 gauge boundary wire. Any of these wires gauges will work with your system. Note, you do not want to mix the gauges of the wire. If you start with one gauge, complete the set-up with that gauge. If you just used the standard gauge wire that came with your system, it was most likely 20 gauge wire.

Lewis March 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm

I want to put down 1000′ ft of wire for our underground dog fence but because our land is full of rocks and trees I was thinking of a couple options. Option Number one would be use a Coaxial Cable and use the center 18 gauge solid core of the wire for the fence and the rest would protect the wire. This is the preferred option but I do question if it will work or not. Option two was to buy 18 gauge wire and run it thru drip tubing for added protection.

My question is … will the Coaxial Cable hold up underground … and will the weaved ground in the Coaxial Cable interfere with the transmission to the collar?

ADMIN – Hi Lewis,

Option Two, running the wire through a protective conduit, would be your best bet. When you use co-axial cable, the shielding tends to create uneven results. Also, as you mentioned most co-axial cable is not direct burial rated and will tend to rot out in the ground.

Keith March 6, 2012 at 11:08 am

I have a pet safe in ground fence system and need to rewire. Would it be a problem to use 12gauge 3.3mm non solid wire with this system?

ADMIN – Hi Keith,

You can use thicker wire, and it will work fine. But, the 12 gauge wire probably won’t fit in the transmitter socket (14 gauge is the thickest that fits). So, you need a small bridging section of thinner wire, or you need to pare down the wire at the point where it goes into the transmitter.

Laura Hunkel March 4, 2012 at 1:28 pm

My lot is 640 by 230. I would like to leave the 230 foot of lake frontage available to my dogs. They love to swim and chase fish. I understand this wire can go underwater (inside a hose) but how deep can the water be? One foot-2 foot -4 foot? At the end of my dock the water is about 5 foot deep…can the dogs swim in front of the dock as they do now? I will be inclosing about 450 by 230 foot area, not entire lot. How will “ice” in winter effect the system? Thank you. Laura

ADMIN – Hi Laura,

The depth of which the wire can be underwater is based on the boundary width. The wire can be underwater around 6 feet if you have the yard space to set a wide boundary around 6 to 10 feet wide. If you set the boundary width down to 3 feet you’re dogs will be able to swim around the dock and not get a correction. Ice will shorten the signal around 10%.

Colleen February 22, 2012 at 10:57 am

Hi, great article but would appreciate it if you could clarify a couple of things. You state the 14 gauge wire can be spliced onto thinner gauge wire if short pieces of the thinner gauge are spliced in to go into the transmitter, but later state different gauged wires shouldn’t be spliced together. I have both 18 gauge steel wire and the 20 gauge copper wire that came with the kit, and need to know if it will work using both together or not, before I go cutting stuff up. Thanks very much

ADMIN – Hi Colleen,

Generally you don’t want to mix wires of different gauges together, as you get variability in the boundary width (the thicker wire having a wider boundary). Mixing 18 and 20 gauge is not a big deal because they are so close, but you wouldn’t want to mix say 20 gauge and 14 gauge wire.

The exception to this rule, is for the sections of twisted wire, you can use any gauge you want. This is because the twisted wire is not active, so there is no impact caused by having a different gauge wire in this section. (Note however, both strands of the twisted wire need to be the same gauge otherwise it will not work)

Steel wire does not tend to work consistently. We would only use the copper wire.

Teresa February 17, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I have purchased 900 feet of 14 gauge in ground wire for my petsafe system. This is an all new installation and we aren’t sure how to twist this wire because its so heavy.

ADMIN – Hi Teresa,

The thicker wires are very difficult to twist yourself because they are so stiff. The least difficult way is to get a long length of wire, fold it in half, insert a rod into the fold and rotate the rod. Another option is to purchase pre-twisted wire.

melissa January 27, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Why does the wire have to be insulated for above ground use?

ADMIN – Hi Melissa,

We have found that when you use uninsulated wire, you don’t get a consistent field from the wire. You get sections where the field is uneven and inconsistent. We don’t understand why that is the case, so am afraid we can’t give a very satisfying answer. But, our experience is that it rarely works satisfactorily.

melissa January 27, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Can I use regular galvanized electric fence wire with the petsafe system we are going to run it on the fence just like a electric fence?

ADMIN – Hi Melissa,

Afraid you are going to need to use an insulated copper wire. The uninsulated Galvanized electric fence wire does not get you a consistent signal, even when fence mounted.

Jay January 26, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I currently have a petsafe underground fence. The underground boundary wire was struck by lightning. Since the lighting strike the continuity of the loop is not consistent. One acre 20 AWG wire, ohm reading 7.2 some days and somedays it’s completely open. I have tried to locate the open section with little luck. It would be nice if it was just cut somewhere. Question is can I abandon the old underground wire and run new 18 gauge wire in parallel? Do I have to remove the old damaged wire?

ADMIN – Hi Jay,

You can indeed just run new wire in parallel to the old wire. As long as you unplug the old wire it will have no impact on the signal in your new wire. You do not need to remove the old damaged wire – just unplug it from the transmitter box.

Trent January 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Can a person use bare wire connected to fence posts as would be used in an electric fencing to keep cattle in?

ADMIN – Hi Trent,

You don’t get a consistent signal with bare wire, even if it is on the insulating rods they usually use for electric livestock fencing. Afraid you need to use an insulated wire to get a good consistent signal.

Marshall January 23, 2012 at 10:13 pm

I have 10 acres I would like use the underground fence on. My question is most of that is fenced with barbed wire could I zip tie the insulated 16 gauge wire to this or would cancel the signal?

ADMIN – Hi Marshall,

Attaching the electric dog fence wire to a barbed wire fence will work well. There would be no signal cancellation.

Frank Parkinson January 20, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I need to run the twisted wire for about three meters over a terrace – the best place is in a channel already used for co-axial television cable (from a satellite dish). I notice that you advise that dog fence cable shouldn’t be with electric or cable Tv cable, but will it be fine with the co-ax alongside?

Thanks for all your great advice.

Admin- Hi Frank,

If you are able to cross the cable lines at a 90 degree angle, you can avoid all possible interferences. However, the best option is to lay the wire in your planned route and test the system. Testing the collar around the house at the boundary and where the co-ax cable enters the house, you will be able to see if you receive any feedback. The only interference you might see would be an amplified signal. If you layout out the boundary wire and test the loop, you will know instantly if you have any interference. If you did receive interference, you will need to adjust the boundary wire.

W Brown January 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I ordered a surge protector for my system. Unfortunately I no longer have any RFA wire left. Is there any commercially available wire that can be purchased by the foot for these cases or do I have to buy another roll? Thanks!

ADMIN – Hi W Brown,

For the lightning protection unit, you can use any single insulated electrical wire. It is available by the foot at most hardware stores. Since this wire is not used outdoors, only between the control box and the lightning protection, we do not need to be as picky about the type of wire we use.

Scottie January 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I have a ditch going through the middle of my property. Any suggestions on the best way to run the wire without the dogs getting out? I was thinking of maybe running the wire through pvc pipe about a foot above the water level.

ADMIN – Hi Scottie,

To get across a ditch, you can create a bridge above the water as you suggested, using something like PVC pipe to span the ditch and running the wire through the pipe. You can also run the wire through a flexible conduit (ilke sprinkle tubing) and staple it to the base of the ditch (below the water).

Joanie January 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I already have an existing Invisible Fence brand system. I was wondering if we are better off
to run new wire to expand the distance of the boundry? Or is splicing it feasible? What is the best gauge of wire to use? Is it worth it to do it ourselves? Or pay a professional? Thanks, Joanie

ADMIN – Hi Joanie,

If there is existing wire in place, I would just splice in a new section of wire to expand the system (and disconnect to old wire that is no longer a part of your layout). It is easy enough to do, but is labor intensive. Whether you do it yourself, or have a professional install it is usually just a matter of price.

Thomas Nunn December 17, 2011 at 8:59 am

Hello, I have two reels of 500 feet of coax meant for direct burial that I would like to use for enclosing 5 acres with an older pet safe transmitter we brought from our old home that did close to 10 acres using 5 pair phone wire that was shielded. Do you see any problems with using this? Thank you, Tom

ADMIN – Hi Tom,

The shielding on coxial wire tends to cause the boundary to be inconsistent. I would avoid using coax, and would try to use a single core copper wire.

Dotty November 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm

We have a radio fence for our dogs. We had it double looped across our front yard leaving our back yard open. The fence worked good. We have another small dog that likes to run off, so we took half of the loop up and spliced other wire onto it and now the whole area within the loop sets off a constant correction to the receiver collars. This circle encloses about an acre of ground,so the loop is not close together. Even when we took the splice out and connected the original wire ends together in a wide loop, the whole inside area remains active with the range set as low as it will go. What is the problem and how do we correct it?

ADMIN – Hi Dotty,

If the entire area within the loop is setting off the correction sounds like the boundary width dial is turned up too high (or the area size switch is turned to high instead of low). If making those changes doesn’t fix the problem, then do a small test loop and see if you still have the same problem. The problem is then likely with the system transmitter and it will need to be repaired or replaced.

Jennifer November 9, 2011 at 8:31 pm

We have a PetSafe brand system and used it successfully at our other house. We move the transmitter and bought new basic identical gauge copper wire from the hardware store. The collar beeps and lights up, but does not send a shock. Could the wire be the issue?

ADMIN – Hi Jennifer,

If the base station doesn’t give you an erro and if the collar is still beeping, it is definately not a wire issue. (Generally, the systems aren’t very fussy about wire – any copper wire will work at least in the short term) The issue is in the collar (more likely) or the base station (less likely).

Bubba October 26, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Hi, Can I use galvanized wire with the invisible fencing? Thanks

ADMIN – Bubba,

Unfortunately, no. The transmitter requires an insulated copper wire, either solid or stranded.

brian October 17, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Hello, I tried to review as many of the answered questions as possible but never really found an answer to mine.
I am attempting to keep my two labs out of certain rooms IN my house and the principle seems the same. I plan to take my wire in one end of my house and run it through the crawl space to the areas where I don’t want my dogs, taking care to not cut across “permitted” areas.
I was planning on figuring out the distance the collar had to be from the wire before it did not register and make the necessary distance adjustments under the house.
My question:
If my floor joist are 2×8 and there is insulation between them as well as approximately 3/4″ subfloor and another 1/2″ of hard wood flooring on top of that, the signal (in effect) would have to travel upward for about 9 1/4 inches to get to the interior of the house and then up another foot to foot and a half to my dogs neck. This is a potential total of 27 and 1/4 inches or 2 ft 3 1/4 inches of travel to the transmitter.
Will I need to run the wire directly on the underside of the subfloor or can i go over the insulation to make the install easy?


ADMIN – Hi Brian,

You can install the wire over the insulation as the signal will travel through the floor. The boundary radius is adjustable, so you’ll need to figure out the where you want the signal to reach and install the wire accordingly underneath. It may take a bit of troubleshooting but it’s doable.

Rich October 5, 2011 at 7:30 am

I am looking to get a puppy, My entire back yard is fenced in besides the driveway (which is in between the fence and my house. The driveway is 12′ wide. I would like to avoid adding a gate on to my fence. Are there any solutions with using an electric fence? Can I possibly make a small circle, just going across the drive, maybe 1′ diameter? What would you recommend?

ADMIN – Hi Rich,

You could do a long thin loop to cover the driveway. Something like the single-sided layout. (See our layouts page for more details. You would however need about six feet of separation between the opposite wires.

If you are looking at blocking just a small area, using a single outdoor pod may be a cheaper and easier solution than a full dog fence system. Something like the Pawz Away Outdoor Pod would work well.

Dave September 21, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I am looking to only keep my dog in the back yard. I put the module in the garage and have one side of the fence hooked to it directly. The other end of the fence is at the opposite end of the house. Could I use twisted wire from the garage to the other end of the house – where the twisted wire would be connected to both Pos/Neg on the module (In addition to the beginning of the fence, which is only connected to Pos), but only connect the Neg lead to the end of the fence on the opposite side of the house? (The Pos lead of the twist would be capped.) My theory is that this setup would allow the twisted wire to remain neutral while the rest is active.

ADMIN – Hi Dave,

Afraid this will not work, the twisted section will still be active (but it was very creative!). By capping the ‘positive’ lead of the twisted wire, you will get no current flowing through that lead and consequently it will not do it’s job of canceling out the signal from the ‘negative’ twisted wire.

Brian September 15, 2011 at 6:51 am

Can you isolate a flower bed off the existing boundary loop by running a line of the perimeter boundary inwards around a bed then back to the perimeter. I have tried this using the petsafe system and it doesn’t seem to be working. Would the secondary loop connect to the main one at the same place?

ADMIN – Hi Brian,

You can indeed protect a small isolated area like a garden bed. You just run the twisted pair of wires from the main perimeter to the bed, and then create a secondary loop at the bed. Remember, that the opposite sites of the garden bed loop need be be at least six feet apart, other wise they will cancel each other out.

The diagrams on our Installation — > Layouts –> Exclusion Zones pages should help.

Margaret September 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm

We have a chain link fence 4” tall. Our dogs either go over or dig under it. We want to run our wire along the fence line. Can we just weave it in and out of the chain link fence instead of putting it in the ground? Or run it along the top of the fence?

ADMIN – Hi Margaret,

You can indeed run the wire through the chain link, instead of burying the wire. I would weave it through or use zip-ties. If you use a weed-eater, then be sure to place the wire at least a foot above ground to keep it out of harms way.

jeff August 29, 2011 at 10:32 am

2 Questions.

1. Cattle wire, would that not work as a antenna as well (I know it will not shock) but why could it not be used? the pvc jacket on the other wire does nothing for the antenna does it?

2. above someone said about using 8 ft stake (copper?) to ground, does this mean I would not need to complete the loop (I think I would)

ADMIN – Hi Jeff,

1. You are right. In theory you don’t need the PVC jacket. In practice, when you use an uninsulated wire you have to be really careful that nothing touches it – otherwise you get weirdness in the boundary field. The resistance on the cattle wire also tends to be too high. That is why we strongly encourage people to stick to the standard insulated copper wire.

2. The grounding stake is primarily used with some systems to provide a path for lightning (an alternative to the lightning protection module). Some people use a pair of grounding rods to complete the loop (i.e. they don’t close the loop). It is very hit and miss and often will not work, or will stop working when the ground dries out. We would avoid this method as well.

Chris August 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Will flexible pvc electrical conduit work to protect my wires or will it dampen the signal?

Admin- Hi Chris,

Flexible PVC will work great for protecting your wire and will not affect the signal at all.

Janice August 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm

We are installing the Pet Safe in-ground fence system and do not want to cut our paved driveway, could we run the wire through a hose then through the culvert?

Admin – Hi Janice,

Absolutely, you can run the wire through the culvert. We also recommend putting the wire inside a water hole for added protection inside the culvert.

Angela August 20, 2011 at 9:08 am

Hi there. I have purchased an Innotek 5100 for my dog. And will be installing the wire underground.I have a few question re: wire gauge ( which seems to be a popular topic. ) I’ve read lots of posts re: 18 and 20 and a few posts re: 16 gauge wire.

What gauge does Innotek use in their systems? I have access to 14 gauge wire and was wondering if it is possible to use 14 gauge instead? Will it do anything to the transmitter? Is the main advantage to a 16 or 18 gauge wire that it will potentially withstand more wear and tear? Thank you for your help. We have a large heavy dog that we will not leave out alone, even with the fence, but I would like him to be able to wander the yard with us when we’re outside.

ADMIN – Hi Angela,

Innotek systems (and indeed nearly all systems) include 20 gauge wire as standard. All systems can be used with thicker gauge wire. The thicker wire has a lower resistance and accordingly transmits the signal slightly better which is useful if you are trying to use a system above it’s rated capacity (e.g. doing 30 acres with an Innotek IUC-5100), but on a regular sized yard it is of no benefit in terms of transmission. The principle benefit of the thicker wire is that it is less prone to breaking.

Ben August 8, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Fantastic job helping all these people. I use a petsafe brand system to do a 1 acre yard for our aussie shepherd. I ran into the problem of allowing our dog out the front door, but still allow access to the rest of the yard. I ended up using 8 foot copper grounding stakes. one to terminate the run, and one to ground the transmitter. I have had excellent results with this as to date (7 years). More issues with people planting flowers in the fence 😉

ADMIN – Hi Ben,

Thanks for the tip.

Rodger Vandveer August 7, 2011 at 5:39 am

Your right, finding 20 gauge wire is a bear. I am look for 1000 ft. of twisted pair (black/white). Can you accommodate such an order and if yes how soon?

ADMIN – Hi Rodger,

We sell twisted wire (in white) in 100 ft increments ($22.95). It is all in stock, so you could get it shipped out today.

Chad July 31, 2011 at 9:47 pm

I have tons of electric fence wire that I use for cattle. It is 14 gauge uncoated steel wire. Can I use this and run it above ground just like electric fence used for cattle?

ADMIN – Hi Chad,

Unfortunately you need to use insulated wire for dog containment systems. So, the steel wire from an livestock electric fence will not work. The dog fences work a little differently, touching the wire does not cause the correction – the wire only sends out a radio signal. The correction all comes from the collar that the dog wears.

Rex July 26, 2011 at 11:20 am

I re-wired my acre, cable tying part of the fence to existing rebar posts. I did the short wire test to check the collar and signal and it worked fine. Once hooked to the whole run, the signal lights and control range indicator work fine, but the collar doesn’t respond. It has a fresh battery. Now what?

Admin- Hi Rex,

Check that you have the boundary width dial (or switch) turned up enough that you are getting a good signal.

Also check that you don’t have a short in the twisted wire section of the wire. When that happens you have a complete loop, so the transmitter will show a complete circuit – but the collar will not trigger.

Sue June 29, 2011 at 11:37 am

Can having different wire gauges spliced together cause an amplified signal or make the signal inconsistant? I think we were sent one spool that was a heavier gauge than the others. We have the tone set for 8 feet but it is not consistent. It seems to move every day. Sometimes doesn’t go off until 1 foot from the wire. Other times it is 8 feet.

ADMIN – Hi Sue,

Having different gauges of wire spliced together results in the boundary zone being wider in some sections than others. In the areas with the thicker wire, the dog will get the correction further out from the wire. And in the areas with thinner wire, the dog will get the correction nearer the wire.

You will get fluctuations in the boundary width. But with a wired system it should only move 10-20%. It should never go from 1 foot to 8 feet. Sounds like there is something wrong with the system or the way you have it set up. What kind of system is it and what is boundary layout like?

Sue June 29, 2011 at 11:32 am

If we have an amplified signal, can this cause the correction to be higher than normal, or does it just cause the correction to happen in places where it should be safe?
My dog is trained with a remote training collar. We use it on level 5 and she responds without yiping or jumping around. She usually only needs the tone now.
When we got her an electric fence, the first time she received a correction, she jumped up, snapping at the air around her and yiped mulitple times. It seemed like the shock was much higher than it should have been, and she is afraid of the new collar now. The correction level was set to low. I am afraid to let my dog be corrected by this system again. It seemed to really hurt her, although she was not injured.

ADMIN – Hi Sue,

An amplified signal makes the boundary zone wider. It does not change the intensity of the correction.

First we need to make sure the correction level is set correctly. What kind of system are you using and what correction level are you using? What kind of dog is she? If you can turn down the correction – then turn it down.

Did you use the same training protocol that is on our site (with the first week of the training with no correction)? If not, then go back and do that. The first week with no correction often helps because it lets the dog learn what is expected of them before we add the stress of the correction.

Mike H June 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I have 500′ of uncoated solid aluminum wire (stuff used for horse electric fences). Can I use and bury uncoated wire for the RF pet fence, or will this affect the performance of the system?

ADMIN – Hi Mike,

The system will only work with coated (insulated wire). You cannot use the uninsulated wire that is used in electric livestock fences – these fences work in a different way than dog fences. Livestock fences run a high voltage current through the wire and the animal only gets the correction when they touch the wire. Dog fences run a low voltage radio signal through the wire and touching the wire itself does not result in a shock.

Ray June 18, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I’ve read about the gauges of wiring here but little is written about the correct wire insulation. One of your replies stated you sell 20 ga wire with a high density polyethylene jacket. Would you elaborate on what this jacket accomplishes? Thank you

ADMIN – Hi Ray,

The jacket is the insulation that covers the wire and protects it from damage and rust. The PET jacket on the wire we use holds up better to soil acid than standard PVC & Vinyl wire that is used for household wiring. PVC/Vinyl jacketed wire tends to rot out after about 5 years, so you can certainly use it, but where possible the PET jacket is preferable.

Paul June 15, 2011 at 10:27 am

I have a PetSafe dog fence and I love it, all my dogs are trained, but I’m getting regular breaks in the line. It is the line that is exposed under my deck that runs along a seawall, rabbits or other critters get at it and it causes a full break or worse an intermittent break. I cannot bury the line because the ground tappers down and the wire would be too far from the dogs to work. My questions is, is there any sort of conduit that I can run my wire through or a heaver gauge wire that I can run?

Also, I just read that I can use twisted wire to cancel the signal, is there a limit on how long a section of twisted should be, I want to go 90 ft

ADMIN – Hi Paul,

To protect the wire you can run it through a conduit. I prefer to use a flexible conduit like an old hose, or irrigation pipe – but you can also use something rigid like PVC. You can also use one of the thicker wires like 16 gauge of 14 gauge that has an extra thick layer of insulation around the wire.

There is no limit on the length of twisted wire. Note that it cannot be used as part of the loop, only to connect your loop to the transmitter.

Jess Runge June 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Hi, we have a 32 acre farm in the middle of our small town. Our two dogs currently have access to all of it–as well as the bordering two roads, the village park, one upset neighbor, and forest. I’d like to fence all the acreage, as the dogs are our best “rodent control”. However, several creeks cut across the property. Do you have any suggestions for crossing them with fence wire? And, what system would you recommend? We can bury the portion of the wire that’s in the lawn (or attach it to a “people” fence we may build later), but the rest will just be laying on the ground. I’d appreciate your advice. Thanks!

ADMIN – Hi Jess,

For 32 acres, I would go with a SportDog SDF-100A ( The system will take you up to 100 acres, so you should have plenty of capacity in reserve

To get across the creeks, the easiest way to go is to put the wire in a flexible conduit (like hose pipe) and weight it down so it sinks to the bottom of the creek bed. If there is a fallen tree or something else conveniently located, you can also go over the creek.

You can mix it up and have some of the fence above ground and other parts below ground.

Julie Chapman June 3, 2011 at 10:15 am

We have an Invisible Fence pet containment system. Just had a ton of landscaping done, all well, you can imagine. There are multiple cuts in our system. We are going to start over and try to do it ourselves. Can you recommend a gauge of wire that will best work with Invisible Fence. I’ve heard that they use 12. Thank you.

ADMIN – Hi Julie,

Any gauge of wire will work fine with the invisible fence system. They usually use the 12 gauge because it is tougher and will take more abuse before it break. It is however much more expensive than the standard 20 gauge wire used in most DIY kits (Around $90 per 500ft reel vs. $22). Both would work from a technical standpoint – the big difference is in their resilience. (See here for exact prices)

If you think it is going to be a low wear area and the wire is unlikely to get damaged, go with the 20 gauge. If you think it is likely to see a bit of traffic, the 12 gauge would be worthwhile.

Joe Dollison June 1, 2011 at 9:25 am

Hello. I had a wire buried in our yard and over the course of a year, I now have a number of breaks in the wire. Some of it was due to moles digging in the area where the fence wire was buried. Can I use a PVC pipe to protect the dog fence wire or will it hinder the signal? If pipe can be used, is there a difference between PVC or galvanized metal? Thank you.

ADMIN – Hi Joe,

It would be preferable if you did not use metal pipe. You can run the wire through PVC, flexible conduit like an old hose pipe or sprinkler system tubing also works well. Flexible tubing tends to be cheaper and easier to work with.

Jon-Paul May 16, 2011 at 12:29 am

Hi, does twisted wire negate active wire if I loop it back too close? I ask because I want to have the wire running alongside my fence and then looping back and it states if you double loop the wire needs to be at least 3 or 4 foot away. Is this so with twisted wire? Thanks JP

ADMIN – Hi Jon-Paul,

No the twisted wire will no negate an active wire. Only active wire will act to negate another active wire.

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.

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