How to Successfully Install an Electric Dog Fence
I used to have a big black dog named Stormy, as good and loveable a girl as you could wish for. She split her time sprinting around the backyard and lounging over an air vent on a hot summer day. The latter made the rest of us a bit more uncomfortable, but she was happy and that was all that mattered. Every day, her family would head off to who knows where and she’d spend the day outside, doing whatever a dog would do with eight or so hours on their paws. Stormy was just one dog in a life shared by dogs like her around the world: staying outside while her family was away, waiting for them to come home.
But those good boys and girls like to escape, don’t they? Not so good when that happens.
Dogs aren’t always driven by arbitrary motivations. They love to be outside and they love to be free. We, as their caretakers, should provide them with as free and open an option for them to spend in the fresh air. However, not everyone has the time, space, or flexibility to put up a picket or wire fence to ruin their view and keep them penned in. So here’s what you need to do....
It’s Time to Install an Electric Dog Fence
You could grab a box and pull out an entire grip of reasons to switch to an electric dog fence. Maybe Rhubarb has figured out how to dig under the fence you already have, The Great Escape style. You might want to let Daisy spend their time in the front yard and need to make sure they don’t go running off. You may need to keep Diamond out of your below-ground pool or toolshed. Your reasons are your own, but the question remains: how do you even go about installing one of these electric dog fences?
It’s easier than you think. This article will take you through the step-by-step process on how to successfully install an electric dog fence, starting with first things first:
1. Plotting the Perimeter
You might think that you have to painstakingly measure out the perimeter of your estate, but that’s optional. Any marketed electric dog fence will come prepared with more than enough wire to cover a reasonable area.
Instead, you will want to grab a piece of paper and make a rough outline of where you’ll want the fence to be. It doesn’t have to be pretty, just as long as you have an idea of where the wire will be buried. Pay attention to make the corners rounded - right angles only serve to confuse the transmitter.
An optional step at this time would be to place flags or some other marker for your fence, following the map you drew. They’ll serve as a fine visual aid when it comes time to bury the wire.
Once you’ve made your plans and preparations, it’s time to stock up on supplies.
2. What You’ll Need
There are plenty of electric dog fence products on the market, it won’t be hard to find what you’re looking for at a reasonable price. They all come with a few pre-packaged necessities: wire, a transmitter, and a collar-based receiver. Those are the only crucial items you’ll need for your fence, but you may want to invest in a few other useful tools as well.
Sometimes the wire either isn’t long enough or is damaged and needs to be replaced. Using wire strippers, you’ll need to strip off the ends of your wires to reveal the copper alloy interior. To splice the wires, all you need to do is intertwine your original wire with the new wire, then bind them together with electrical tape.
Alternatively, stripping the wires and connecting them through a wire connector is a more secure method, but also requires silicone caulk to ensure the wires don’t come loose.
The shovel or lawn edger will be used for burying the wire when it comes time for it. The boundary flags, if you don’t already have your own markers, can mark the perimeter of the electric dog fence until your dog learns their new boundaries.
3. Setting Up the Transmitter
The transmitter is the starting point and the ending point for your wires, so that’ll be the first thing to figure out the placement of. It needs to be indoors, specifically your own home. While it may seem sensible to put it in a backyard shed, those structures are prone to water damage when the rainy season comes and can ruin the transmitter.
Depending on the type of transmitter, it may either sit on its side independently or be mounted on the wall. Either way, it needs to have some distance from any other important appliances in the house, like the water heater, washer and dryer, or air conditioning unit. Doing so will protect the transmitter from strong signals that could potentially cause interference.
4. Laying Down the Wires
The map has been drawn, the markers have been placed, all that needs to be done is placing the wires. This does not mean burying them yet, or at all. There’s still more to do with them above ground. Getting them in place is the easy part.
Keep in mind that twisting the wires together cancels out the signal. This is a useful trick to know if you also have another area on your property that you want to connect to the same electric dog fence. Cancelling the signal between the estate perimeter and the flower beds means you won’t have a live perimeter wire creating a random boundary for your dog. So long as the lines are tightly twisted, your dog will be able to run over them without fear of shock.
A quick reminder: you will also need to twist the wires as they lead to and from your house.
5. Testing the Fence
Once you’ve finished laying down the wire and plugged both ends back into the transmitter, you’ll need to do a thorough testing to ensure that the electric dog fence is functioning accordingly. The fence comes with a collar-based receiver, which can be used to see if the transmitter is working. If the receiver makes an audible sound near the wires, then everything is working.
From here you can fine-tune the boundary control to give your dog as much room as they please. The collar will beep as it approaches the wire perimeter, warning your dog so they don’t get shocked. The stronger the signal from the wires, the farther away the collar will receive it and begin beeping, effectively shrinking their play area. Find a happy medium so they won’t feel constricted in their field.
6. Bury the Wire
At this point, all the preparation should be just about finished. If you’re comfortable with the boundary settings and are sure the wire is intact, wound, and secure, it’s time to put it underground. Most manufacturers recommend burying it around three inches into the earth.
A lawn edger is the most recommended tool to do the job, but if you aren’t interested in either purchasing or renting one for the occasion, a shovel will do the same job. You’ll need to dig a shallow trench following the outline you’ve provided, following the wire.
All that follows the trench is placing the wire inside and covering it with dirt. Weeders are helpful when it comes to pushing the wire snuggly into the trench.
An alternative option to an underground electric dog fence is mounting it above ground. This option allows you to skip the trench digging and instead use stakes or a pre-existing fence to line with the wires. However, above ground electric dog fences are prone to damage, pose a walking hazard, and aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing adornments for your property. Considering the drawbacks, an underground electric dog fence is still recommended for most cases.
7. Fasten the Collar
Make sure that the battery in the receiver is secure before applying the collar. The receiver has two metal prongs that serve as contact points to deliver the shock in case your dog gets too close to the perimeter. These points should be in touching the dog’s skin, but not too tightly or loose. Adjust the collar accordingly for the most comfortable wear, and everything is good to go.
And the Fence Is Ready to Go
Conceptually, the electric dog fence by name alone sounds pretty complicated. Thankfully, it’s deceptively simplistic to pull together. From here on out you’ll need to do minor upkeep on your fence, as it will wear down over time and may cease to function without repair. If trained properly, you’ll have some leeway before Bruno figures out the fence is down to crack down on the problem.
So long as these steps are followed, your dog will be able to roam your home grounds without giving you anxiety about them running off. Enjoy your new fence!