Skip to main content

Everything you need to know about electric dog fence installation

Everybody likes a little room to move around, dogs included, so knowing your dog has a safe environment in which to run freely is a great feeling. That’s one of the reasons electric fencing has become such a popular resource for dog owners.

Simply speaking, an electric dog fence creates a barrier within which your dog is safe to explore. The fence consists of electric wire installed around a designated perimeter that connects to a transmitter your dog wears on his collar. When your dog gets too close to the boundary, he first receives a warning tone. If he doesn’t retreat, he receives an electric charge that encourages him to move back into the safety zone.

If you’re considering installing an electric fence for your dog, read this handy tip sheet before you get started.

Consult your veterinarian

Although an electric dog fence sounds like the answer to your problems, you should know that they aren’t the right solution for every dog. Generally speaking, this type of fencing isn’t recommended for sick, elderly, or pregnant dogs. And already fearful dogs can become traumatized by the electric charge and develop aggressive or other unusual behavior.

Regardless, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian before moving forward with this project. She can help you determine whether an electric fence is the right containment solution for your dog’s individual health and temperament.

dog-on-fence-with-bubbles
Image by Ali Vidler from Pixabay

Consider your options

Once you’ve secured your veterinarian’s approval, decide which type of electric fence to install. You have several options:

  • Underground fencing. With this option, your wiring is buried underground. Although it takes a little more work to install, advantages include less damage from wild animals and environmental concerns, as well as a more visually pleasing look.
  • Aboveground fencing. If you already have a traditional fence installed, or simply don’t want to go to the trouble of burying wire, you can opt for aboveground fencing. Considerations include whether an aboveground wire will interfere with mowing the lawn and whether your wild animal population is significant enough to damage the wiring.
  • Wireless systems. There are no wires involved with this system. Instead, the transmitter, which is located somewhere inside your home, sends out a signal to a circular perimeter for a distance determined by you. Although there are no wires to mess with, the signal can be interrupted by topography, signal weakness, and metal siding.

Map your perimeter

Now that you know what type of system you want to install, take the time to map out exactly where your fence will go. If you’ve opted to bury your wiring, make sure you are aware of any underground utility wires and have obtained clearance from the proper municipal authorities before you dig. Tip: Lay your wire aboveground and test your dog’s collar to make sure everything works properly before you bury everything. If you’re installing a wireless system, make sure the containment area is devoid of any structures or terrain that might interfere with the signal to the transmitter.

Purchase your materials

Electric fencing systems are available online and at your local big-box stores, or if you are handy with DIY home projects, you can purchase the materials individually. Regardless, here are a few additional items you’ll want to consider:

  • Wire gauge. If you’re purchasing a DIY system that contains 20-gauge wire, you may want to upgrade to a thicker gauge, like 14 or 16 (the smaller the number, the thicker the wire). It may cost a bit more upfront but also might save you time, money, and frustration in the long run.
  • Surge protector. If you live in a climate with a lot of lightning and thunderstorms, you might want to pick up a surge protector. This inexpensive piece of equipment can save you hundreds of dollars in replacement costs. Be sure to buy one that works with an electric fence.
  • Battery backup. When the electricity fails on your property, so does your electric fence. If you experience frequent outages, consider purchasing an uninterruptible power supply.
  • Expert installation. From digging trenches to making sure the power supply works properly, there’s a lot to consider. If you’re not up for the DIY challenge, it might be worth the money to hire a professional.

dachshund-on-red-leash

Train your dog

Electric dog fencing isn’t a foolproof way to keep your dog from roaming, but it definitely won’t work unless you take the time to train him. Make sure your pet knows where the boundary markers are and what happens when he comes too close to the perimeter. Work with him for five to 15 minutes each day until he understands that the warning beep means he shouldn’t go any farther.

Most dogs learn how to adapt to an electric fence within two weeks, but remember: It won’t deter other animals from entering your yard. And each dog reacts to this security measure differently. If your dog becomes fearful or anxious, or develops injuries as a result of disregarding the boundaries, it might be time to reconsider. Keeping your dog on your property is important. If an electric fence doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to look for a safer option.

Editors' Recommendations

Debbie Clason
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Debbie Clason's work has appeared in Family Life Magazine, Sports Illustrated, The Lutheran Witness, Massage Magazine…
5 interesting things you might not know about the golden retriever
Did you know these things about goldens?
A small golden puppy runs across a yard

Which breed frequently trends on social, holds a place as one of America's favorite pets, and often earns the title of therapy dog? If you guessed golden retriever, you would be correct. We all can picture this loyal and lovable face and have hopefully met a sweet golden at some point or another.

While everyone has some idea of what they look and act like, if you want to become a golden retriever expert, you need to understand these fun facts. Here are five things you should know about golden retrievers (especially if you want to adopt one).

Read more
Why do dogs’ anal glands fill up? Here’s what to know
How often you may need to take your pup to the vet to relieve this issue
A small dog sits on the table at a vet office

In pet ownership, as in all life, you run into hurdles. Some dogs never have an issue with their anal glands, but they can come as a surprise to even veteran owners who suddenly see or smell something off. Unfortunately, you'll quickly discover how difficult (and gross) these little sacs can be. But dogs with particularly tricky bathroom issues will require a little maintenance and extra attention to the butt area.
What are anal glands?
There's no delicate way to say this: They're two smallish glands on either side of your pet's butthole. From an evolutionary perspective, the anal glands give off a unique scent, and the idea is that it acts as a canine's signature. Anal glands aren't analogous to anything we have as humans, so definitely don't worry about your own body expressing anything like this. However, many pups wind up having issues in this department and find themselves unable to empty them on their own.
Why do dogs' anal glands fill up?
Certain underlying problems, like obesity and poor diet, might make a dog more susceptible to gland issues. Smaller breeds also tend to struggle a bit more since their whole area is more compact. You may find your pooch expressing their own glands, licking the area, or scooting. That means it's time for an inspection.

How do you prevent anal gland issues?
Talk to your vet about what could be causing Fido's difficulties, as it can vary, but generally, you'll want to look at how much food and exercise they're getting. Additionally, a supplement, like a probiotic, will frequently take care of the issue. This works mostly by firming up the poop but can also introduce good bacteria to his gut.

Read more
Why do you often find your dog with their tongue out? Here’s what vets say about the ‘blep’
This behavior may be cute, but what does it really mean?
A German shepherd puppy sticks out their tongue

There's nothing cuter than a "blep" but what does it mean? Whether you first heard the term blep on the internet (it is meme-worthy, after all), or are learning of it for the first time, you're in for a treat. Bleps are positively adorable. The term started gaining online traction in the late 2010s, though it's no less popular today. The common canine behavior it's based on, however, is a habit as old as time: sticking out a tongue. Yep, a dog with its tongue out is enough to break the internet!

It's pretty dang cute, after all, but it's not always easy to figure out why a dog's tongue is sticking out. Don't worry though, pet parents — this is a great place to start. This is everything you need to know about bleps and what they mean.

Read more