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Underground Pet Fence

Updated on June 16, 2008

Electric Dog Containment Fences

Any type of containment fence is a great investment to potentially prevent your dog from getting loose, whether it be a wooden fence, chain link fence, or a rail guard, but these type of fences are not always an option, especially in neighborhoods with strict rules on what you can and cannot do around the outside of your home... (Curb appeal is very strong in many neighborhoods.)

If you live in a neighborhood or area that says you cannot have a fence or you must have a particular fence approved by the neighborhood committee, you may want to consider purchasing an underground electric dog fence.

Wireless pet fences are meant to be training deterrents and not punishment. Also, remember that these pet fences are meant to keep your dog within the boundary; it will not prevent dogs from coming into the boundary, so if you have a female in heat, the wireless systems will not prevent a male from getting into the boundary and getting your dog pregnant.

They are actually endorsed by national humane societies and various animal organizations.

Electric Pet Fences

Underground pet fences have been on the market since the early 1970s, but have just recently become popular among pet parents. They are a great way to protect your pet while still keeping up the curb appeal to your home.

As more neighborhoods are formed, the restrictions on homeowners are increasing, which can restrict a pet's freedom. You can purchase a small 6' x 6' fence area to put in you backyard for your dog to play in or potty, but that's just not fair when you may have a huge backyard. In these cases, the wireless fences are the ideal solution, as you still meet your subdivision restrictions, and still allow your dog to run in a regularly fenced in yard.

Another good reason that you may want to choose an underground dog fence, is because they are typically cheaper, as you can see in the chart below. Again looking at the chart, the averaged price is for a 1/2 acre, or 500 foot, parameter without a pool or garden and with 2 pets.

Compare the Price of Regular Fences and a Basic Underground Fence

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What's Included in a Basic Underground Fence

Typically, you'll receive a transmitter, underground wiring, and a receiver that your pet wil wear on his collar.

The Transmitter: You have to mount the transmitter in a dry location near an electrical outlet. All you need is a few screws, a screwdriver, and the outlet to hang your transmitter. You'll plug the transmitter into the electrical outlet, so that it can emit the radio signal through the underground wire that react to the receiver on your pet's collar.

You'll get a standard or deluxe transmitter, depending on which system you purchase; the only difference is how much are you want to cover.

Underground Wiring: The underground wire is a single strand of insulated wire that essentially makes a big loop around the area that you want to confine your dog and ends back at the transmitter. With most systems, you'll receive about 500 feet of 18 gauge wire with the wire nuts and the wire fastener. If you want to cover more than a 1/2 acre of land, you'll need to purchase additional packages of wire and training flags for about $34.

Tip: You may want to mark off the boundary with spray paint so that you can pre-plan the area before you dig.

You want to bury the underground wire at least 1 to 3 inches below the surface, but the fencing system will still work if you don't bury the wire. But, but not burying the wire, you may accidentally cut the wire with the lawn mower or someone may trip over it.

The cool thing about using underground fences, is that you can block off underground pools, gardens, and any area that you want your dog to stay out of. All you have to do is twist the wires together between the secondary area and the main area. By twisting the wires, you cancel the signal, which allows your pet to have access between the boundaries of each enclosure, but he cannot actually pass through, unless you take off the collar.

The Receiver: You should receive one waterproof receiver and collar that you'll need to put around your dog's neck in order for the electric fence to work. If the collar is not the right size, you can purchase a regular collar and put the receiver through the new collar. If you need an extra collar, for a second dog, you can purchase that as well.

The receiver is powered by 6-volt batteries that you'll need to replace every few months.

Understand how Invisible Fences Work

Different pets react to the fences differently- some will quickly retreat, while others may test their boundaries but for the most part underground fences are used as a psychological device that cannot actually harm your pet.

You need to teach your dog the rules and where he can go, and after that the collar can be used as a reminder.

Depending on which type of fencing system you purchased- basic or deluxe- you will have different training modes, varying from warning, warning and correction, and correction only. But with either system, the receiver will begin to beep as the dog gets closer to the boundary line, and the closer he gets, the faster the beeps get. If the dog ignores the warnings, he may get a shock or or a spray of citronella, which is dependant on which you choose.

Eventually, the pet will associate the shock or the spray with a specific area, which is where the boundary is.

When training your dog to the new fence system, you may want to let him walk around wearing the receiver for a few days just to get used to the weight, but that's up to you. You may even want to activate the collar and walk your dog up to the fence, while on leash, so that he knows his boundaries.

You'll also want to set up the boundary flags to set up the visual fence boundary. They will help you and your dog visualize the boundary line. Leave them up for at least 2 weeks. Your dog will eventually realize that within the flags is the "safe zone."

You want to make sure that you keep up consistent training with your dog. Hopefully, you're dog will get used to the "safe zone" and will not need to wear the activated receiver long term, but for stubborn dogs, you may have to leave the collar on and activated.

When Won't the Fence Work?

So that you don't assume electric underground fences will work in any and all situations, here are a few in which the fence systems won't work.

  • They cannot contain untrained dogs, so make sure that you train your dog to the system using the receiver collar for at least 2 weeks, 30 days being the optimum time. But, of course for insurance purposes, leave the activated receiver on at all times.
  • Dogs and pets that are not wearing an active receiving collar are not bound by the fence boundary, so if you have an unaltered female dog or your neighborhood has dogs that just roam the area, this may not be the best option, as 1) you may end up with a pregnant pup or 2) you may have a seriously injured dog hurt in a fight from a stray.
  • If there is a power outage, the fence won't work. It needs electricity to run properly, so if the power goes out, it's best to bring an outside dog inside and walk inside dogs on a leash while outside until the power comes back.

Other concerns with underground fences may include:

  • Faulty wiring.
  • Gaps where you did not fully cover the area.
  • Low electricity powering the transmitter.
  • Low battery powering the receiver.

If you opt for the slight shock of correction, you may want to shave thick coated dogs, so that they actually feel the correction, otherwise the shock may not be sufficient to keeping your dog away from the boundary area.

Remember that if you have a dog that likes to escape, you really need to check the battery of the receiver and all wiring to ensure that your dog cannot escape.


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    • profile image

      Bert Wages 

      8 years ago

      Bought a PetSafe inground fence for stubborn dogs from Pet Smart. The first transmitter did not work. Returned it and they replaced it. This one works fine, however you have to hold the receiver on dogs collar right at the ground to even get a sound, no correction. Please tell me what to do next. At this point I am not a happy customer

    • Izzy Anne profile image

      Izzy Anne 

      8 years ago

      This is the best hub about electronic fences for dogs. I wish it had shown up first when I googled it or searched for it on Hubpages. I really hate it when people review things without actually having experience of it.

      I have a wire fence around my garden, but my dog makes holes in it to get to me when I leave for work. Only a hard steel fence will keep him in and then I still despair. The electronic fence seems like a good idea, but I worry that since the dog is so desparate to get out, he will not care about the pain (the electric shock - works most of the products avoid!). I got this dog when he was 2 years old and his previous owner worked from home and was always with him and so the dog has attachment problems.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Whitney! Great hub as always. I love the idea that the dogs can come outside too and not get hurt or run off. Thanks for doing the home-work for me as I was considering the fence for my next big project.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Georgia

      I've never tried them, but I've always heard good reviews about them. I would really worry about someone taking the dog, as a person can remove the collar easily. I guess that's why one wouldn't want to rely on these fences while not home.

      I've seen the wireless fences, as well. My dad actually almost purchased one to fence off a section of our yard for the outside dogs.

    • Lilymag profile image


      10 years ago from Upstate New York

      I have the actual real wireless fence...this is the one that you don't have to dig and put a wire underground...I love it! It really is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

      The only draw back is the batteries, you need to make sure you always have good batteries in...My units will show the battery is good, and look! The dog is on the other side of the "fence"! (battery was bad, and didn't buzz the dog at all)

      Anyways, they are great! I would and have recommended them to everyone with a dog!


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