Table of Contents
- Underground Dog Fence Installation - Introduction
- Tools and Supplies
- Creating a Plan
- Mounting the Transmitter Box
- Installing the Boundary Wire
- Testing the Fence
If you'd like to give your dog plenty of freedom while still making sure he or she is safe and secure, an underground dog fence can be the perfect solution. Underground fences are easy and economical to install, requiring only basic "do-it-yourself" skills. By following the step by step instructions, info and tips provided in this guide, you'll find that the installation process can actually be simple, quick and problem-free.
An in-ground dog fence has numerous advantages over traditional above ground fences. Because you will be burying the wire under-ground, the beauty of your home and yard is preserved. An underground fence can also provide more security and protection for your pet, since you won't have to worry about your dog jumping over or digging under traditional fences. Also, because the fence is installed below ground, you won't have to worry about zoning laws or neighborhood association restrictions, both of which can frequently factor into an above ground fence installation. Maintenance costs are also reduced, since you won't have to paint, stain, repair or rebuild the fence on a regular basis. It's easy and economical to install an underground electronic dog fence, making it the perfect choice if you are on a budget.
As you can see, an under ground dog fence can be the perfect solution for a myriad of situations. However, as you plan your fence, you might come to the realization that you would prefer not to bury wire or do any digging. Or, if you are planning to move in the not-to-distant future, you might want to explore a more portable fencing solution. If for any reason you feel that installing an underground fence might not be the right choice for you, check out how to install a wireless fence instead. If you do opt for a wireless fence, be sure to choose a radio signal fence instead of a wi-fi model, since they are more dependable.
In order to make sure your dog is happy, safe and secure, it is necessary to plan the layout of an inground pet containment system and then install the fence carefully. The info in this installation guide will help guide you through the simple process so that both you and your dog will be happy with the end result.
In addition to the materials included with your underground dog fence, you will also need a few basic tools and supplies in order to get the job done right.
In order to plan and install the fence, you may need the following:
- Pad of grid paper
- Pencil and highlighter markers
- Tape measure
- Pliers and screwdriver
- Drill and mounting hardware (if attaching the transmitter base unit to a wall or other surface)
- Lawn staples to help hold wire in the trench before burying it (optional)
- Shovel, power edger or trencher (depending on the method you choose for burying wire)
- Wire splicing equipment and materials as needed
In order to assemble and fit your dog's receiver collar, you may need the following:
- Scissors (used to cut the collar to fit your dog)
- Lighter (used to seal the cut edges of the collar and prevent fraying if you need to trim it to fit your dog)
- Non-metallic collar and leash (optional)
As is the case with most projects, proper and careful planning is an important part of the overall underground fence installation process. Of course, choosing the right fence for you and your dog should be the first step. If you need some help finding the fence that will work best for you, take a look at the info in our buyer's guide for electronic dog fences. If you've already chosen your fence, you can simply start shopping for an electric dog fence now.
When laying out an in-ground fence, it's important to first give some thought to the needs of both you and your pet. In most cases, your pet's security and safety are the primary motivating factors behind installing the fence. However, there might also be a few areas of your yard that you would like to keep off-limits from your dog, such as a swimming pool, garden or children's playground area. Thinking about these needs before you start the installation process can help you plan and install an underground electronic dog fence in an effective and convenient manner. If you find that you have specific questions about the installation process or simply need a few tips, look for the answers you need on the FAQ page or leave a comment below and one of our eFence specialist will reply.
Safety is also an important part of any home improvement or enhancement project. In the case of an underground dog fence, you'll want to make sure that you don't disturb or damage any underground utility lines, pipes or wires during the digging and installation process. There might also be a few areas of your yard that will require some special planning and consideration, such as a concrete patio or paved driveway. By taking the time to properly plan for these obstacles in advance, you'll end up with a better fence when you are finished. Here are the steps you should take in order to plan a layout of an inground pet containment and install the fence properly:
Identify the Obstacles
Before you even begin to plan the layout of your fence installation, you should take the time to carefully and thoroughly identify all of the potential obstacles. The first step is to call your utility suppliers, so that you can locate and identify any underground pipes, wires, cables or lines on your property. This includes gas, water, sewer, electricity and telecommunication lines. You'll also want to identify the exact location of any utilities that have been privately installed, such as your septic system, sprinkler system or gas cylinders. In most cases, you will probably find that obstacles such as utility lines have been buried much deeper than you will need to dig in order to install the under ground fence. As such, these underground utilities may not even factor into your fencing plan. However, in order to be safe rather than sorry, it's advisable to identify these locations before you start to dig. If you are not sure of the location of your underground utilities, you can call 811. By calling this number, you'll have access to free services that can help you identify any potential underground utility lines, pipes or wire. Although you'll need to call at least a week in advanced, this can be a great way to get underground utilities properly located and marked.
Create an Initial Diagram
Making a paper diagram of your home and yard can make laying out your fence installation a lot easier. Sketch your entire property onto grid paper, taking care to mark the location of your home, storage buildings, driveways, swimming pool, garden areas, and other important features. You should also mark the location of any obstacles that you previously identified.
Once you've created your initial diagram, give some thought as to which areas of your yard you would like your dog to be able to access, as well as any areas that you'd like to make off-limits. Mark these areas on your diagram. Different colored highlighter markers can be handy for this purpose.
When laying out the installation of the fencing wire, it's important to keep in mind that there also needs to be a warning zone created for your dog. In most cases, you'll want to adjust your fence so that the warning zone extends for approximately three feet on either side of the fence wire. Be sure to bury wire in a way that will provide your dog with an adequate warning zone along the entire perimeter of the fence.
Planning the Transmitter Box Location
It's also important to identify the areas of your yard that provide easy access to electricity. You'll need to install a transmitter box as part of your overall under ground fence installation. Ideally, this box should be located in an area that provides protection from the elements as well as close proximity to a source of power. The electrical outlet you use should be devoted solely to the fence's transmitter box. To avoid potential problems, don't plug any other electrical appliances or equipment into this electrical outlet.
An electrified shed or your garage could both work well as a location for the transmitter box. If you do need to install the box outdoors, you'll need to take care to protect it from the rain, snow, sleet and other elements. A sprinkler control box or other waterproof box designed for electrical installations can be used to provide this kind of protection.
When choosing the location for the transmitter box, it's also important to keep some basic fence wire concepts in mind. Your entire fence layout will consist of an unbroken single loop, which will start and end at the transmitter box. However, many times one complete loop simply won't fit the needs of your planned layout. If you discover that you have a need for areas where your dog will be able to safely cross the loop of wire, you can use twisted wire techniques in order to create a more customized layout. You can also use this technique to exclude specific areas of your yard, even if they fall within the primary fence perimeter.
Proper Wire Placement
When you plan the layout of an inground pet containment, it's important to keep some basic wire placement principles in mind. Corners should never be designed with a sharp 90-degree angle. Instead, plan to create rounded corners. Utility lines located in close proximity to an in-ground fence line can sometimes cause problems. To prevent this issue, avoid running your fencing wire close to utility lines, especially for a lengthy distance. If you need to cross a utility line with your fence wire, be sure to do so at a right angle.
As you lay out your wire, it's better to err on the side of allowing extra wire as opposed to not allowing enough. If you use a bit more wire than what you think you really need, you'll be assured of having plenty of length when it comes times to bury it. You should also be careful not to pull the wire too snugly, as too much tension on the wire could cause spliced areas to pull apart, thus preventing the fence from working properly.
When installing the fence wire, it's vital to make sure that the wire both begins and ends at the transmitter box, thus forming a complete loop. The wire must form an unbroken loop in order to work as designed. However, sometimes it may be necessary to exclude certain areas of your yard, even though they are located within the larger loop of the fence. If this is the case with your fence, you'll want to use twisted wire techniques, which are covered later within this guide, to achieve the desired results.
In some cases, your desired layout might require wires to be placed parallel to each other. If this is the case, make sure they are located a minimum of six to eight feet apart. If spaced closer, they could cancel out each other's signal, thus compromising the security of your invisible fence.
When laying out the location of your fence boundary wires, you should take care to allow enough space to effectively create a safety barrier. For example, if you want to allow your dog to roam between the front and back yard, you should make sure to allow at least nine feet of space between the house and the boundary wire. The buried wire should also be placed no closer than six feet from a road or sidewalk. This will provide better safety for your dog, as well as for other animals and pedestrians who may walk past your house. Whenever you have a need to allow your dog to walk safely over the wire in one or more areas, you will need to rely on twisted wire techniques.
Designing the Perfect Fence Layout
When designing your fence layout, it's important to remember that there really isn't one "right" or "wrong" method. The layout you ultimately decide upon should be a good match to the needs of both you and your dog. When designing your wire layout, keep in mind that in order to properly restrain your dog, the fence will have to form a complete and unbroken loop. If you are planning to run the fencing around the entire perimeter of your yard, creating a single loop can often be quite easy. However, many people find that they have either a need or a desire for a slightly more complex fencing layout. Fortunately, with a little forethought and careful planning, even fencing layouts that seem complicated can actually be quite easy to achieve. The instruction manual that came with your fence will likely provide you with sample diagrams that you can follow, along with step by step instructions, info and tips that will explain how to achieve the layouts. You'll be able to chose from many different single loop or double loop wire plans, one of which is sure to meet your fencing needs. With a bit of creativity, you can even create fence boundaries that simulate a no loop layout, such as what you might want to use along the front edge of your property.
Factoring the Transmitter Box into Your Fencing Layout
When laying out your under ground fence, it's important to factor the location of the transmitter box into the final design of your fencing layout. For example, many people choose to locate their transmitter box close to an exterior wall of their home or other building, due to the need for an external power outlet. If this is the case, you might need to use twisted wire techniques in order to create a fencing border around the entire perimeter of your property.
To do this, you would first start by running the wire from the transmitter box to the edge of the desired fence perimeter. Then, run the wire around the entire boundary of your property, until you reach the point where you started. You can then twist the wire back along the same wire that was used to reach from the transmitter box to the outer perimeter. By doing so, the twisted wire will "cancel out" the radio signal, thus allowing your dog to walk safely over the area so that he or she will be able to pass freely between the front and back yard. Using this technique, you'll be able to create a wide variety of fencing layouts, some of which are listed here:
- Fencing in Only the Front or Back Yard
In some cases, you might want to restrain your dog's access to strictly the front or the back yard. In order to do this properly, you'll need to make sure your dog can pass safely from the house into the fenced in area. To design this kind of layout, there are several different techniques you can use.
One of the easiest ways to fence in either the front or the back yard involves first creating a single loop of wire around the entire boundary of the desired area. Then, continue laying the wire loop around one side edge of the house, making sure to position it closely enough to the exterior wall to prevent your dog from being able to access the area. Continue the loop around the opposing side of the house. Then, bring the wire along the last side of the house, again taking care to position it close to the exterior wall. You can then close the loop at the transmission box, thus creating a fenced in area in either the back or front yard. By installing the fence in this fashion, you won't have to worry about impeding your dog from entering or exiting the door of your home.
However, when placing the fencing wire close to one or more exterior walls of your home, you should always check to make sure the signal is not being transmitted through the walls to the interior of your home. If this is the case, your dog could receive erroneous correction signals while he or she is indoors. You can test this by simply walking around the inside walls of your home while holding the receiver collar, making sure that no signals are detected. If you do find that signals can be detected indoors, simply move the wire a little further from the exterior walls or adjust the fence's boundary width.
You can also create a fenced in area in just the back yard or the front yard by looping the wire over your house. For example, if you want to fence in the entire back yard, you can first start by creating a loop around the entire back yard. Then, simply run the wire up one of your home's side downspouts, across the gutter, and back down the downspout on the opposite side of the house, thus allowing you to connect the entire loop. Again, be sure to check indoors by using the receiver collar to make sure the signal cannot be detected. If you find areas indoors where the receiver collar picks up the signal, use the control box to reduce the boundary width of the fence, or simply reposition the wire.
A U-shaped loop fence layout can also be used to create either an exclusively back yard or front yard fenced in area. To do this, start by first creating a loop that starts at the transmitter box and continues around the entire perimeter of either the front or back yard, ending close to the side wall of your home. You can then create a U-shaped loop and double back around the perimeter of the yard, thus creating a second boundary inside the first boundary. Complete the loop at the transmitter box. When using this technique, it's important to maintain at least a six to eight foot distance between the inner and outer wire loops in order to prevent the possibility of signal interference.
- Front and Back Yard Fencing Layouts
You might want to provide your dog with full range to both the front and the back yard, but not both areas at the same time. This layout can be handy if you enjoy having your dog outside with you in the yard while still being able to keep an eye on him or her at all times. To achieve this, you can create a "figure 8" double loop fencing layout.
Starting at the transmission box, run the fencing wire around either the front or the back yard. Then, run the wire closely along one of your home's side exterior walls. When you reach the back corner of the house, you can again create a loop around the entire perimeter of the back yard. Then, pull the wire close against the opposite side wall of the house, joining the loop at the transmission box. You will end up with a loop around both the front and the back yard. However, because the wire is positioned close to your home's exterior walls on both sides of the house, your dog will not be able to move freely between the front and back yard. Once again, you'll want to make sure to test indoors with the receiver collar to ensure that the signal cannot be detected in rooms that are adjacent to the side walls of your home.
- Single Side Boundaries
In some cases, you might simply need to protect your dog from leaving your yard on one side of your property. For example, you might already have a property fence on three sides of your home, but wish to prevent your dog from accidentally running out into the busy road at the front of your property. To accomplish this, you can run the wire from the transmission box to the desired edge of your property. Run the wire along the border of the road. Then, create a U-shaped loop, doubling the wire back along the edge of your property. Be sure to maintain at least six to eight feet of distance from the first wire, in order to prevent radio signal interference. Close the loop, then use a twisted wire technique to connect the end of the wire back to the transmission box.
- Creating Exclusion Areas within Your Yard
In some cases, you might want to provide your dog with full access to your yard, with the exception of one or more specific areas. These could include areas that could pose a risk to your dog, such as would be the case with a swimming pool or a garden that contained plants that could be toxic to animals. You might also want to create one or more exclusion areas in order to protect your property from possible damage from your pet. For example, you might decide to exclude the garden to prevent your dog from digging up plants, or a children's play area to prevent a large dog from playfully knocking over a small child.
When this is the case, you can use a twisted wire technique to exclude the undesired areas. Begin by running a loop of fencing wire around the outside perimeter of your yard, starting at the transmission box. When you reach the area you wish to exclude, run the wire across the yard until the undesired area is reached. Then, loop the wire around the perimeter of the area you wish to exclude. Once this is done, use a twisted wire technique to once again reach the outside perimeter of your yard. Then, simply complete the loop and connect to the transmission box. Or, repeat the process to exclude other areas of your yard before eventually completing the loop.
The transmitter box, which is often referred to as simply the "control box," is what will ultimately control your underground dog fence. It's this box that will produce the signal, which is then transmitted through the fence's boundary wire. The control box will allow you to adjust the boundary width of your fence, which will determine where the warning zone and the correction zone will start. In some cases, you can also use the transmitter box to set the strength of the correction sensation. You'll also use the transmitter box to make sure that your fence is working properly. For example, on some models, if a break develops in the fence wire, an indicator or alarm at the transmitter box will alert you.
Choosing the Transmitter Box Location
Because the transmitter box is such an important part of the in-ground fence system, you should choose its location carefully. In general, there are three basic criteria to consider when choosing your location - close proximity to a power outlet, close proximity to an exterior wall, and protection from the outside elements.
Since the fencing system will require electricity in order to operate, choosing a location that is near a power outlet can be quite helpful. However, if you cannot find a suitable location near a power outlet, you can also use a good quality extension cord. The power outlet should be grounded, which means it will be designed to accept a three-prong plug. Any extension cord you might use should also be designed for use with three-prong plugs.
In many cases, it can work well to locate the transmitter box inside a garage or an electrified shed. When this is the case, you should position the transmitter box close to one of the exterior walls. By doing so, it will be easier to run the fencing wire to the outside of the building.
Protection from the outside elements such as rain, sleet and snow is also very important. Since moisture can be detrimental to the proper functioning of an underground fence, you'll want to take care to make sure the transmitter box is placed in a protected location. Whenever possible, positioning the transmitter box in an area that is not subjected to extreme cold is also recommended.
Protecting the box from the elements is easy when you install it inside a garage, shed or other building. You can simply install it close to an exterior wall, run the wires through the wall, set the controls, and you're all set. However, sometimes it is necessary to install the transmitter box outside. When this is the case, it's important to use a weatherproof box, such as those that are designed for use with sprinkler systems. Weatherproof boxes can generally be found in the electrical department of most hardware stores.
Mounting the Transmitter Box
It's generally a simple task to mount the transmitter box, regardless of whether you've selected an interior or exterior location. In either case, you will simply use the mounting screws that are supplied with the unit. Since the transmitter box isn't especially heavy, attaching it to a wall stud is not an absolute requirement. However, if you don't attach it to a stud, you should use appropriate wall plugs or anchors in order to achieve a secure mount to the wall surface.
Protection from Lightning
If you are planning a large fence installation or live in an area where lighting strikes are a common occurrence, you should install lighting protection. This module is designed to plug directly into a grounded power outlet. Following the step by step instructions, info and tips provided, you will wire the lighting module to the transmitter box and out to the fence. Depending on the fence you choose, this module might be included or available for an additional cost. Installing a lightning module is always a good idea, as it will provide an added level of protection for your transmitter box and your home's electrical system.
Running the Wire Outside
If you have mounted the transmitter box inside your garage or other structure, you'll need to figure out how to run the wire from the inside to the outside. In some cases, you might be able to utilize an opening that already exist, such as would be the case if there are already other wires exiting the structure. Wires can also be run through venting, windows or under doors. However, you shouldn't use any vents that would subject the wire to high levels of heat, such as would be the case with a dryer or heating vent. Doing so could cause the wire installation to melt, thus causing unsafe conditions.
If there aren't any pre-existing openings that you can use to run the wire from the inside to the outside of the building, you could simply drill a suitably sized hole through an exterior wall. Then, once the wire is in place, caulk the hole for added protection.
Of course, the boundary wire itself is a very important part of the under ground fencing system. The amount of boundary wire needed will be determined by the fencing layout you created previously. The boundary wire will need to be buried or mounted around the entire perimeter of the area in which you want to your dog to stay.
When installing the fencing wire, it's usually easiest to work with shorter lengths of wire as opposed to rolling it all out at one time. In order to prevent tangles, it's generally advisable to work with a maximum of fifteen to twenty feet of wire at a time. Once you're ready to install the wire, simply roll out a short length. Bury or affix the unrolled section of wire using the desired method before unrolling more wire.
As you install the wire, you'll want to take care not to break it at any point, since breaks in the wire will prevent the fence from operating properly. If you happen to break the wire or if you need to splice it for any reason, it's important to take the time and care to do the job properly. Simple electrical tape connections or even standard wire splicing techniques are not adequate for underground dog fence wire. Instead, you should always be sure to make a waterproof wire splice, as this is the only kind of connection that will dependably and safely stand up to the rigors of outdoor exposure. These devices, commonly referred to as waterproof splice tubes, can be purchased separately if you need more of them.
As you are installing your in-ground dog fence, it can be helpful to mark its location with the boundary flags as you go along. These small flags, which are provided along with the rest of the fencing system, provide a visual clue as to the location of the fence. These small flags will be used during the time that you are fence training your dog. When your fence installation is completely, you'll want to adjust the position of the boundary flags so that they indicate the beginning of the warning signal zone, not the actual location of the fencing wire. However, during the installation process you can use them to remind yourself of the fence wire location if you find it helpful.
You'll also want to plan any twisted wire sections of the fence that you might need before you start the installation process. These areas are designed to create spots in the fencing line that won't provide a correction sensation to your dog when he or she passes over it. By twisting two wires together, each wire's signal is cancelled out by the other.
You can use twisted wire to either connect the outer boundary wire loop to the control box, or to connect the outer boundary wire loop to another interior loop within your fencing layout. Wherever the twisted wire is used, your dog will not receive a correction sensation when he or she passes over it. However, it's important to remember that you cannot use twisted wire as part of the main boundary loop.
You can either make your own twisted wire, or purchase it pre-twisted. Purchasing pre-twisted wire is a good idea if you need long lengths of it, because it can sometimes be a bit challenging to make long sections of twisted wire yourself.
However, if you only need a few small sections of twisted wire, you can make it yourself. To make a short length of twisted wire, you can simply twist them together manually. However, if you have a need for a longer length of twisted wire, you might want to use a hand drill or other device to help the twisting job go quicker and easier. Simply take a piece of wire of the appropriate length, and double it back on itself in order to create a double strand. Since the twisting process will shorten the wire slightly, it's a good idea to make the double strand a little longer than you need. You can then twist the loop around a doorknob to hold it secure, connecting the two loose ends to a hand drill so that you can twist the wires together easily.
Once you've got your fencing planned and your wire ready, it's time to start the installation process. There are a variety of simple methods, info and tips you can use to accomplish this task, which are explained in detail below. It is also likely that the instruction manual that comes with your fence will also provide you with a diagram of the layout you wish to create.
If you only need to create a small fenced-in area, digging the narrow trench needed to bury wire could be done by hand. To get the job done, you'll need either a shovel or a pickaxe, depending on the hardness of your soil. Hand digging also works well for areas that do not lend themselves to other digging methods.
If you choose to dig your trench by hand, you won't have to spend any money on equipment, as long as you already have a shovel, pickaxe or narrow hoe. However, digging your trench this way can be a lot of work, so it's not usually the method of choice unless you only have a small area that requires fencing. This method is also not usually recommended for very hard or compacted soil, since it's much harder to dig. It's important to remember that you really only need a narrow, shallow trench approximately three inches deep. In order to save time and effort, there is no need to dig a trench any wider or deeper than absolutely necessary.
It usually works best to dig the trench and bury wire at the same time when you are digging by hand. Working with approximately one yard of length at a time, dig your trench. Then, lay the wire in the trench and bury it, using the dirt you removed while digging. If you find it difficult to keep the wire in the trench so that it can be buried, simply use some lawn staples to help hold the wire in place before covering it with soil. Since you'll probably be able to find a package of lawn staples at your neighborhood garden center or home improvement store for $15 or less, they are an inexpensive way to make the job easier. Step down firmly on the area to compact the soil, then move on to the next yard-long section. Continue until you have installed the entire fence wire.
If you have a power edger that you use for other kinds of yard work, this piece of equipment can be a big help when you install an underground electronic dog fence. A power edger is relatively inexpensive, costing around $50, and can really save you a lot of time and effort when burying wire. They are a fairly common piece of yard equipment, so if you don't own one, chances are you might be able to find a neighbor that will let you borrow his or hers when it comes time for burying wire. Or, simply rent an edger or purchase an inexpensive model, usually for less than $50. You can choose between a gas-powered and an electric power edger. If you intend to install a large area of fence or if your ground is rather hard, a gas-powered edger will usually provide you with a bit more power as compared to electric models. If your soil is especially hard, compacted or dry, it can be helpful to lightly water the soil approximately an hour before you plan to dig the trench. However, be careful that you don't use too much water to avoid excessive mud and mess.
Before you start, set the edger to its deepest setting. Then, simply use the power edger to cut a narrow, shallow trench along the path you have previously marked. You'll generally get the best results if you take your time and dig the trench slowly with the power edger. If you can't seem to get the trench deep enough on the first pass to bury wire, simply make a second pass after the first one is complete. When you reach a corner, create a gradual arc instead of sharp right angles.
Once the trench has been dug, you can insert the fence boundary wire. It can be helpful to use a stick or screwdriver to help push the wire into the proper position within the trench. If the wire has a tendency to slip out of the trench, simply use lawn staples to help hold it in place properly. After the wire has been inserted into the trench, use the excess dirt that was removed while digging to cover it. If you don't have enough excess dirt to properly cover the wire, you can also use a bag of soil from your local plant nursery or home improvement store. Step firmly on the area in order to properly compact the soil over the installed wire.
If you are planning a large fence installation or if your soil is hard and difficult to dig, hiring a trencher can be the perfect solution. Trenchers can make quick work of installing an underground dog fence, which will allow you to get the job done in a fraction of the time it would take if you were simply using a shovel. Although it's probably unlikely that you already own a trencher, they are easy to find at tool rental or garden supply stores. You can even find trenchers that include attachments designed to lay the wire, which will save even more time and effort. In most cases, you'll find that you can complete even a large fence installation in a day's time or less when using a trencher. Although prices can vary, in most cases you'll probably find that you can rent a trencher for around $50 a day. If you are only installing a small fence, you might be able to rent the trencher for only half a day and still get the job done.
When renting a trencher, be sure to select one that is a good match for the size of the job as well as your skill and comfort levels. In most cases, a smaller sized model will work well. For very large fencing jobs, a larger trencher will help you get the job done faster. Most average-sized trenchers will fit into the trunk of your car. When renting a trencher, be sure to ask the attendant to demonstrate how to properly operate the equipment. Safety should always be one of your primary concerns. Wear protective shoes and clothing, and always wear safety glasses when operating a trencher.
If you already have a traditional above ground fence installed around part or all of your property, you can utilize it as part of your wire fence installation. Instead of burying wire underground, you can simply attach it to the fence instead. This installation method can be quite simple and easy, making the job go quickly. Plus, the visible fence can help serve as a reminder to your dog during the training process.
There are many different kinds of fences that lend themselves to the wire fence installation. Whether you have a metal chain link, wood, picket, steel post, barbed wire concrete or split log fence, you'll be able to use it as a base for your fencing wire. However, a sheet metal fence is the exception to the rule. If you were to affix the fencing wire to a sheet metal fence, it would tend to serve as an amplifier for the signal, causing uneven fence boundaries. For this reason, you should avoid using a solid sheet metal fence as the base for your wire. It's important to note that the amplification of the signal only occurs with sheet metal fences, due to the fact that they are solid. You can safely use other kinds of metal fences that have an open construction method, such as wrought iron, metal picket, barbed wire or chain link styles.
- Wire Height
When utilizing an existing above ground fence as part of your wire fence installation, it's important to mount the wire at the proper height. Ideally, you should affix the wire to the fence so that it is approximately even with the height of your dog's neck. But, this is not a hard and fast rule. You can also choose a wire height based on where you can most easily hide the wire. If you plan to use a lawn mower, weed trimmer or "weed eater" around the fence, you should make sure to mount the fencing wire at least twelve inches above ground level, to avoid the possibility of potential damage.
- Wire Mounting Methods
The method you use to affix the wire to the fence will depend largely on the kind of fence you have. If you have a wood fence, you can simply use U-shaped staples. However, you'll want to take care not to drive the staples into the wood too tightly, as this could damage the fencing wire. As a general rule, pounding the wood staples into place with a small hammer is preferred over using a staple gun or power stapler. By using a hammer, you'll have more control over the depth of the staples, thus helping to prevent damage to the wire.
If you have a concrete or brick fence, concrete staples can be a convenient way to affix the wire to the fence. These staples, which can usually be found in the electrical section of most large hardware stores, can be hammered into masonry materials in order to hold the fencing wire in place.
If you have a chain link or other open construction style fence, you might be able to simply weave the wire directly through the fence. When using this method, it's important to remember that you don't need to weave the wire through every single fence opening. Instead, you simply need to weave it through once every couple of feet. Be sure not to pull the wire too tight when weaving it through the fence.
For other styles of fences, weatherproof cable ties, zip ties or twist ties can come in handy when attaching the wire. To use these fasteners, simply affix the wire to the fence at one to two yard intervals. Be sure not to tighten the fasteners too snugly around the wire, as you want there to be a small amount of "give." This will provide a bit of flexibility, thus helping to prevent damage to the wire during the installation process, as well as after the fence is put into service.
Above Ground Fence Installation
In some cases, it might be preferable to simply install the fencing wire along the surface of the ground instead of burying it. This can work well in heavily wooded or other rural areas where you cannot dig or bury wire easily. You can also use this method to make it easier to install a large amount of wire fencing. However, it's important to remember that the wire will be visible as well as more vulnerable to damage when installed in this fashion. As such, you'll need to take care to avoid damaging the wire with weed trimmers, lawnmowers and other equipment. You'll also want to inspect the fencing wire periodically, just in case a squirrel or other animal decides to nibble on it.
Installing the wire above ground is quite easy. Simply lay the wire along the boundary of your intended confinement area. As you go along, fasten the wire to the ground every three to five yards by using lawn staples. You might need to use more staples on curved areas of the fencing, or in areas that receive a bit more foot or vehicle traffic. It's important to drive the lawn staples into the ground carefully, making sure that they are not installed too snugly against the wire. If the ground is particularly hard or compacted, you might need to use a hammer or mallet to help drive in the staples. However, in the case of softer ground, it's usually possible to simply push the staples into the ground by hand, or by stepping down on them with your foot.
Driveways, Sidewalks and Other Pathways
Many times you might find it necessary to lay the fencing wire across a driveway, sidewalk or other kind of pathway as part of your overall layout plan. When this happens, you've got several wire installation options from which to choose:
- Expansion Joints
If the concrete surface was constructed with expansion joints, you can simply utilize these natural grooves to hide the fencing wire. This is generally the easiest method of installing the wire across a driveway or sidewalk. Before installing the wire, take the time to clean out any debris that may have accumulated in the expansion joint. This will ensure that the expansion joint is deep enough to hide and protect the wire. Additionally, a clean surface will provide better adhesion for any caulk you might need to use as part of the installation process. A screwdriver or other long slender tool generally works well when cleaning debris out of concrete expansion joints. Then, you can simply use a broom or pressure hose to clear away the rest of the debris.
Once the debris has been cleared, you can lay the fencing wire along the length of the expansion joint. A small screwdriver can be used to help lodge the wire deeply into the opening, which will help to secure it. Once the wire is in place, you can use waterproof caulk to set the wire in place. Be sure to pay attention to the temperature requirements of any caulking product that you use. A warm day is usually optimal for applying the caulk.
- Cutting Your Own Slots
If there aren't any expansion joints that can be utilized, you can use a circular saw to cut a slot across the driveway. By cutting your own slot, you'll have better control as to where the wire will cross the pavement. Before making any cuts in your driveway, sidewalk or pathway, you should first carefully plan the position of the wire. Cutting along a pre-existing seam can make it easier to create a clean and less visible cut. However, you can also simply draw your desired line onto the pavement with a piece of chalk, thus providing yourself with a cutting guideline.
To cut the slot into the pavement, you'll want to use a circular saw and a masonry blade. In most cases, an inexpensive masonry blade will be enough to make small cuts. However, if you need to make more extensive cuts into a driveway or sidewalk, it could be worth your while to use a masonry blade that has diamond tips for extra durability and strength. If you really have a lot of slots to cut, you could always rent a concrete cutter to help get the job done quickly and easily. When renting a concrete cutter, be sure to have the rental department attendant show you how to safely use the equipment.
When making the cuts, it's important to remember that they do not need to be very deep. A narrow slot that is only a half-inch deep is generally adequate for the wire installation. Be sure to wear safety glasses while cutting to protect your eyes from flying debris. Take your time when cutting with a circular saw - let the saw do the work for you. When making long cuts, stop every minute or two so that your saw does not overheat.
Once the slot has been cut, use a broom or brush to remove any resulting debris. Then, simply lay the wire along the slot. A small screwdriver or stick can be used to help push the wire down into the cut slot. Once the wire is in place, you can use waterproof caulk, concrete sealant or a can of quick-dry concrete to seal the wire in place. Be sure to do a careful job when applying the caulk or sealant, because it will be visible. In order to ensure a neat job, you can mask both sides of the cut with tape before applying the caulking product. When you are finished caulking, simply remove the tape.
- Installing Wire Over a Driveway Surface
It's also possible to install fencing wire directly over the surface of a driveway. Although this method could also be used on a sidewalk or other pathway, it's important to remember that a wire running along the surface of a walkway could become a tripping hazard. You can help to minimize this tendency by making sure to staple the wire tightly to the ground on both sides of the walkway or driveway.
The fencing wire will generally hold up reasonably well to foot and even car traffic. Although you can't expect the wire to last as long as it normally would when using this method, it will generally last between one and three years before becoming worn. You could also provide the wire with more protection by running it through a piece of soft sprinkler tubing or a length of hose before laying it across the driveway or pathway.
- Tunneling Under the Surface
In some cases, you might choose to tunnel under a driveway or walkway, instead of running the wire over the top of the surface or through a expansion joint or cut slot. Although this method can be time-consuming, it does produce an attractive look. Running the wire through a tunnel dug under the driveway will also provide it with plenty of protection.
Digging the actual tunnel is of course the most time-consuming part of the process. Start by cutting a piece of 3/4-inch diameter PVC pipe a few inches longer than the desired tunnel length. Make a 45-degree cut at one end of the pipe, thus creating a sharp point. On one side of the driveway, dig a hole approximately one foot long. Make this hole a little bit deeper than the desired depth of your tunnel. You can then use the pointed piece of PVC pipe to bore into the soil under the pathway. To do this, simply twist the end of the pipe, forcing it through about six inches of soil at a time. You'll need to pull the pipe out of the ground frequently so that you can remove the soil that will accumulate inside the pipe. Continue working until you make a tunnel that goes completely under the pathway or driveway.
- Protecting the Wire
Regardless of which method you choose, it's important to protect the ends of the fencing wire when spanning a driveway or pathway. The area where the wire transitions from the driveway to the lawn usually tends to be a bit more susceptible to damage. To provide this area with more protection, there are a few methods you can use. If you are cutting your own slots in the pavement, try making them a little deeper near the edges of the driveway or pathway. This will allow you to seat the wire deeper in these areas, thus helping to protect it from grass trimmers, lawn mowers and other hazards. You can also use a short piece of PVC pipe or old hose to protect the wire at the edges of the pavement.
Once you have your fencing wire installed, you'll need to test the fence to make sure everything is working properly. In fact, you might want to perform your tests before you have all of the wires completely buried and secured. This can make it easier to find and fix any problematic areas before everything is buried and finalized. You can use lawn staples to help hold wires temporarily in place before burying them completely. Then, once your testing proves to be successful, you can complete the installation process.
Troubleshooting Basic Fence Installation Problems
In order to test the fence, you should first consult the owner's manual of your fencing system for detailed info and how to instructions. As a general rule, testing the fence will involve connecting the transmitter box to your power supply. Once this has been done, you can simply switch the system on. The transmitter box will show you whether the fence is working properly, or whether there are problems that you still need to resolve. In most cases, you'll find a green indicator light that goes on once everything is properly installed and working as designed. If there are problems such as a broken wire, the transmitter box will indicate this using a flashing red light, alarm or other kind of indicator.
If you immediately receive a flashing red light or alarm when you first plug in your newly installed fencing system, you will need to examine the fencing wire in order to locate the problem. Many times the problem will involve a loosened area of spliced wire. So, first checking any areas where you have spliced the fencing wire can be a good place to start. Once you've found and corrected any problems, the indicator light on the transmission box will confirm that the fence is now working properly.
Testing the Fence Signal
Once your under ground dog fence is working as designed, you'll want to test the entire perimeter of the border to make sure the signal is detectable and working properly in all areas. To do this, you can simply walk around the perimeter of the fence while holding the dog's receiver collar in your hands. In order to conduct a more accurate test, make sure you are holding the collar at a height that approximates the height of your dog. As you walk around the fence boundary, you should hear the warning beeps as you walk towards all edges of the fence. You can also adjust the fence signal during testing if you feel that the warning area needs to be made smaller or larger. Be sure to test all areas of the fence's boundary. If there are areas where the signal is undetectable, then your dog will not be safely and securely confined within the fence. If you do find one or more areas along the fence where the signal is problematic, you'll want to adjust the fence controls or the position of the wire itself until the problem is resolved.
Setting and Testing the Fence Boundary Width
When your in-ground dog fence is actually being used, your dog will first receive a warning signal or beep when he or she gets within a designated distance from the fence. Then, if your dog does not stop and instead continues moving towards the fence wire, he or she will eventually receive a correction sensation. As part of the fence installation process, you will need to set and then test the width of this warning boundary area. In most cases, you'll want to adjust the fence controls so that the warning boundary area extends at least three feet on both sides of the wire. Although you can make the boundary area narrower, this could make it more difficult to fence-train your dog. If you do need to create a narrower boundary area, it can be helpful to make the boundary area wider when you first start training your dog. Then, as he or she begins to understand the fencing system, you can gradually narrow the boundary area little by little until you've reached the desired size.
In order to test the boundary area, you will need to use the dog's receiver collar. Hold the collar at a height that approximates the height of your dog, making sure that you are not touching the collar probes as you perform the test. Walk towards the fence line until you hear the beep or see the warning indicator. Mark this spot with one of the small boundary flags. Continue moving around the perimeter of the fence, testing and marking the boundary area. When positioning the boundary flags, try to make sure they are spaced two yards apart or less. When you are first training your dog, having plenty of flags spaced closely together can help him or her learn the location of the boundary more quickly. If there are areas where you cannot insert a boundary flag into the ground, simply lay one or more of them directly on the ground surface to mark the position.
When your dog eventually learns the location of the fence perimeter, he or she will no longer need the sight of the small flags as a reminder. At this point, you will be able to simply remove these flags. However, you should save the flags just in case you ever need to revise the position of one or more areas of your underground dog fence. If this should happen, you can then re-use the boundary flags until your dog becomes accustomed to the new fence layout.
Once your fence has been installed and your dog has been trained to understand it, you will find that an in-ground dog fence can be an extremely convenient and carefree way to provide your pet with a safe and yet spacious environment. Your yard will remain beautiful and unmarred, while your dog is protected from any potentially dangerous areas of your landscape or surrounding areas. As an added bonus, you won't be inconvenienced by the need to walk around above ground fences within or around your yard. Once you've installed your underground fence, you'll probably wish you had done it much sooner.