Dog Fence Planning Guide

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Planning and Layout

If you would like to give your dog the freedom to run and play in your yard without an unsightly and costly traditional fence, then an electric dog fence is perfect for you. Professionally installed electric dog fences can be expensive. The good news is that installing an electric dog fence on your property is a simple D.I.Y. project that any homeowner can do. This D.I.Y. dog fence installation guide will walk you through the choosing and installing of your electric dog fence system.













Choosing the Right Electric Dog Fence System

The first step to installing your dog fence is choosing the proper fence for you and your dog. With more than 20 years experience in the dog fence business, we have installed and used every type of fence system that we sell. We've created this quick and easy Comparison Charts to help you in selecting the system that best matches you and your dog's needs. You can also reach us by phone or e-mail 7 days a week.

Once you've selected a system read on to find out how to plan your optimal layout and install the system quickly and easily. Consider using a heavy grade dog fence wire than what normally comes in the kit.


Call to Have Your Utilities Marked


Installing your own D.I.Y. dog fence can be a great afternoon project and can save you a lot of money. Professional installers always call to have customer's underground utilities marked. 811 is a free service in the U.S.A. and Canada. Utilities professionals will come to your residence, whether you own the home or not, and mark your underground electric, cable, phone, water and gas lines.

You will be responsible for any other underground wires or piping such as sprinkler systems, low voltage lighting or self- installed water pipes. It is important to get all of your underground wires and pipes marked. Doing so will make the installation of your new dog fence as seamless and trouble free as possible. Your local utilities will have your lines marked within 2-5 business days. Your new dog fence will arrive at your home within the same time frame.



Dog Fencing Installation Guidelines

Installing a D.I.Y. fencing system for your dog is relatively simple, but there are certain principles and laws of physics that can not be worked around.  Remember this as you design your system and come up with the perfect layout for you and your dog.

  • Running Parallel To Cable Lines You can run parallel to cable lines, but the fence wire should be at least 3-4 feet away from the existing cable line. Failure to leave sufficient space between the cables and your fence wire can lead to signal failure and may cause a dead zone in your perimeter.
  • Rounding Corners:  You must round corners when laying out your dog fence wire. If you make sharp turns as you approach corners, the proximity of the two sides may cancel out the signal field in those areas. Two signal outputs coming in contact effectively cancel each other out - the same reason why twisted wire doesn't produce a signal and your dog can safely pass.
  • Twisted Wire: You can use twisted wire to cancel your dog fence signal field from your transmitter to the perimeter of the fence or lake loops within the fence. Remember the twisted wire will need to be buried.  Be sure to run your twisted wire from the shortest point possible. This will create the least amount of hand work and material usage. 
  • Crossing Driveways & Structures: At some point in your installation you will have to cross a driveway or sidewalk. Don't panic!  This is extremely easy to do. You don't necessarily have to bury the wire. Consider these pathways as you plan your layout and review our information section Crossing Pathways for detailed instructions.
  • Range Adjustment: Wherever you install your dog fence cable, remember your dog will have to stay back from the cable. 1-5 ft. is the normal setting range depending on the breed, temperament of your dog, and the property geography. Remember this principle as you design your layout. Due to the signal range field smaller property spaces cannot effectively accommodate certain layouts, like the Double Loop.


Make a Sketch of Your Property

Make a diagram of your yard. Feel free to print out this free graph paper to draw your layout. We suggest deciding on the layout before you actually install the wire. This always makes it easier to install your dog fence and you can reference it as you begin installation. Be sure to include all permanent structures like your house, shed, and driveways as well as other important features like pools or gardens.

dog fence design paper




Planning Your Layout

Whether you're planning on giving your dog access to all or some of your yard, designated areas only, or even aiming to keep your dog out of sensitive spots, there is a perfect layout for you!  Choose a great layout that works for you and your dog. Remember we are always a phone call or click away for immediate expert advice and support.


Whole Yard Perimeter

The most widely used layout for a dog fence makes a single loop around your property. Your dog has access to the entire property and the twisted wire connects to the main control box. Your dog can travel all the way around your home with no escape points.
Dog Fence Front & Back Layout




dog fencing hour glass layout


With this layout, your dog can use both the front yard and the backyard but cannot move freely between the two. You choose whether your dog is in the front or backyard at any given time. This layout makes it easy to segregate your dog to either zone. Have that BBQ In the backyard without Rover trying to steal your food or bother guests. Many people also choose this layout to separate two dogs from each other or to give their front or backyard time to regrow.



Front or Backyard Pinch Method

The pinch method allows you to install your fence in a simple continuous loop while still limiting your dog's access to only one side of your property. By running the perimeter wire in a loop and then "pinching" the house, the dog will also be kept from running out an opened house or garage door. This is the best and easiest backyard or front yard only installation method. This method allows you to confine your dog to either zone without installing the wire completely around either the entire front yard or backyard. You must be cautious if installing this type of system.Be sure to install the dog fence cable far enough away from your home, to prevent signal field from entering your home and inadvertently setting off your dog fence collar. A good rule of thumb for keeping the wire far enough away is 1-2 feet from your maximum containment field. For example, if you have a four foot signal field emitting from your dog fence cable you would want to keep your containment wire at a minimum of 5 feet away from walls or structures.

Front of Backyard Pinch Method




Front or Back Yard Only

Front or Backyard Double Loop Method

The double loop method is another way of achieving a back or front yard only containment system. In this method, you run a perimeter loop and then double it back to create a closed loop. Be sure to leave at least 4-6 feet of space between the two wires.In some cases, the double loop method is the only installation method possible. These scenarios would be a shared front driveway or a townhouse or duplex where the homeowner does not own the side yard.

Double loop installation for Invisible Fence
*Disadvantages of a double loop method:
1. Your dog loses a lot of the yard because you have to separate the wires by several feet
2. It is harder to find wire breaks due to the parallel running wires
3. Uses more installation material because of the double wire completing the loop
4. Takes longer to install - Essentially it takes twice as long to install the system because you are doing a double loop back to the origination point. 




gutter installation of dog fence wire

Front or Backyard Over the House Method

A third option for achieving a backyard or front yard only loop is to run the wire up and over the house using the downspouts and gutters. This is not our preferred method! The signal can sometimes 'spill' into the bordering areas inside your home,  causing your dog fence receiver to activate indoors. If you are planning on taking the collar off your dog while he is inside your home, you won't have to worry about the downsides of this type of installation.





Waterfront Limited Water Access

If you have a waterfront property you can run your perimeter right  into the water to allow your dog to drink or swim. Fishing sinkers or bricks work well to sink the wire. If the wire is more than 10 feet deep, the signal will not reach the surface and your dog will be able to swim over the fence line. You could allow your dog unlimited access to the entire body of water. Installing a system like this can be accomplished in several different ways. You can wade out into the water and place the line using bricks or sinkers to weight the dog fence cable down, or you can use a boat to place the wire in deeper bodies of water.

invisible dog fence lake water installation




dock or boathouse dog fence layout

Waterfront Dock/Boathouse Option

Another option for a waterfront property accounts for a dock or boathouse within your perimeter. Basically a variation of the first waterfront layout but incorporating the dock and the boat house. You can also start your loop it you have a power source in the boathouse or at the end of the dock.





One Sided Open Ended Exit / Entrance Layout

The open ended layout allows you to create a free pass area for your dog. With this layout you would complete a double loop around three sides of your property and use twisted wire as part of the main loop. (Remember the twisted wire i nothing more than the main loop being twisted together.) The twisted wire will cancel the signal field allowing your dog to pass.

For this layout to work properly, you will need to keep the wires running parallel to each other separated by 5-8 feet. There are a few situations where this is a preferred layout. For example, if you have a lake or body of water you want your dog to have free access to, this layout would work well. Please remember if your dog swims outside of the containment area he may not be able to get back into the fence.

One Sided Open Ended Exit Layout



dock or boathouse dog fence layout

Lakefront Access Two

Lakefront Access Two if you have enough space in your yard, you can use a double back around to create a three sided fence boundary. Set an extra length into the lake when doubling back so that your dog will not be able to easily run around the electric dog fence.





Misc. Designs

Avoidance Areas Within the Perimeter

Giving your dog access to your property but not your garden or other areas is easy with an internal lake loop. Lake loops within the perimeter create "no go" zones by connecting to the main perimeter via twisted wire that your dog can freely cross without a correction. You can also use an extra dog fence transmitter of the same brand as your main loop transmitter to create a smaller distance based signal field than the one you have set for the containment barrier. Avoidance areas can be set to a much lower field range than your actual containment field. For example: Supposing you have a 100 pound Great Dane and you have a six foot field set up to contain him, it might take six feet to keep him in the yard, but it would only take about a 6 inch field to make him avoid flower beds or off limit areas. You could set two customized transmitters up sending out different ranges. The containment field would be six feet and the avoidance field would be connected to a different boundary wire system but only have a field range of 6 inches or so.

dog avoidance areas within the perimeter of the dog fence




avoidance only dog fence layout

Avoidance Areas as the Main Function

You can use your electric dog fence not only to keep your dog in but also to keep your dog out of sensitive areas of your property. Multiple loops connected by twisted wire can allow you to create multiple 'no-go' zones on your property. An unlimited amount of off limits areas can be created with this application. This type of install is ideal for somebody who already has a fenced in backyard and wants to keep the dog away from certain areas.





Avoidance Areas Wireless Application

Hand burying wire can be a real bummer and consume a lot of your time. Buried wire in your flowerbeds can also become a maintenance nightmare over the years. Cutting your dog fence cable and wire popping up out of the ground can ruin the aesthetic value of your plantings and flower-gardens. Certain outdoor wireless barriers can be the perfect solution for avoiding manual labor and constant maintenance. The outdoor wireless fence systems are disguised as a rock and can transmit a field of 2-10 feet in every direction of placement. These systems will only work with certain models of dog fence systems, unless of course you are only purchasing these systems for avoidance and not containment.

Wireless rock to protect flower beds


wiring around gate

Gate or Escape Point Installations

In certain instances, the main purpose of the installation is to keep your beloved pet from escaping from a fence gate or opening. You can certainly make this happen with an electric dog fencing system. All of the fundamental rules of installation apply to installing a small section of protection as they would for a whole yard installation. This includes completing a loop, twisted wire and installing a main control panel next to an outlet. The illustrations below demonstrate how protection can be provided for almost any escape point on your property.

With this layout, you can simply run a piece of twisted wire from your main dog fence transmitter to the gate opening or escape point. Simply run a small loop around this area separating the wires by at least 2-4 feet. This area will now be active and prevent your dog from escaping through this area.



Physical Fence Installation

A determined escape artist can easily penetrate a physical fence and find themselves exposed to the dangers of the human world. A gate can get left open, a clever dog will dig under a fence or in some cases even hurdle over it. Over the years we have seen some creative solutions, where homeowners stack up blocks or mend up sections of fence with metal meshing. In most cases a determined dog will always move to the next section that is unprotected, find a penetration point and escape into the world. One sure fire way to stop your dog from escaping permanently is a physical fence installation. This is highly effective, because a dog can't jump or dig out nor sneak through an open gate. While he is in the process of attempting to dig out of the fence he is in the correction zone. It doesn't take long for Fido to figure out that he should stay several feet away from the physical fence. For your dog to escape, he would have to know where the hidden fence system starts, then be able to jump 6 feet in the air and 8 feet across and over the unseen boundary. For the skeptics who would say my dog can dig under the fence, the signal field also travels about 4 feet underground. In this case, your dog would have to get his miners cap on digging 4 feet down and 6 feet across, while being in the correction field the whole time. This type of layout is more or less foolproof as long as simple maintenance is performed.

wooden fence double looping



metal fence installation

Front Yard Only Installation

In rare cases, an electric dog fence can be installed in a front or back yard only. This type of layout would be perfect for the homeowner who has walls surrounding his property on three sides with only the front or back as an escape area. This is a relatively easy install and can be accomplished by simply running the neutral wire from the transmitter to the front or backyard. Then run a loop wire around the entire front yard connecting one end of each wire back to the ends of each twisted pair.


Tips From the Pros:This type of layout can also be modified to cover a smaller area in the front yard for situations like electronic gates or gated openings for driveway entrances. Use the same type of installation principals as the pictured layout but make the loop to cover the driveway area only. This will prevent your dog from escaping if the gate is left open or if the dog tries to escape when the gate is opened.


Three Sided Electric Dog Fence

In certain instances, it is not feasible to install a wire around the front of your property and a double loop system is not practical because the back yard is too small. You could use this type of installation in a duplex or townhouse where the front yard is shared or a home with a shared driveway where you can't go around the front yard to complete the loop. There's is very few dog fence transmitters that can handle this type of application. It is strongly advised against because of the high rate of error and failure in previous attempts. Unless you're very technically inclined and have perfect conditions this is an unrealistic setup. This is the only type of installation that does not require a complete circuit around the property and back to the transmitter.

You will need: 

  • Two 10 ft. long 5/8" copper ground rods 
  • 5/8 Ground rod clamps (these can be obtained at any local hardware or home improvement store)
  • Sledgehammer  

10 foot long ground rod

ground rod clamp used to attach to ground rods for dog fence wiring


Installation of the three sided ground rod dog fencing system is relatively simple. 

  1. Drive a ground rod approximately 8-10 feet deep on each corner of your backyard,  leaving at least 6 inches of the top of the rod exposed on each corner.
  2. Run a twisted wire from your dog fence transmitter to the closest corner of your backyard.
  3. Separate about 4 feet of twisted wire and use one end of the twisted wire to connect to your first ground rod.
  4. Splice and connect a regular spool of dog fence wire to the other end of the twisted wire and run the wire all the way around the containment area and back to the other ground rod.
  5. Strip and connect the exposed copper wire to the other ground rod clamp.
  6. Test your dog fence transmitter for continuity. A ground rod system makes it necessary to turn the transmitter up to a higher output signal and increase the field range using the adjustment knob.
  7. Test your dog fence receiver collar making sure it works on the line.  If the system functions, proceed to tacking or burying the dog fence wire.


Ground rod dog fence system layout Ground road installation Back yard only


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For those who want containment but don't want the effort of installing an in-ground fence a final option exists. Wireless dog fence systems are a fantastic option but are limited in application and layout and only work well in certain instances. The dog fence collars are much larger than the traditional wired systems so they are only recommended for dogs between 8-200 pounds. You are also limited to the type of installation you do with a wireless fence. This type of installation and most systems do not allow you to customize the boundaries like you could with a wired system. Wireless fences are also limited with geographic locations, and normally only work well on flat layouts with little or no trees. Large trees can cause interference with the signal out put. Some obvious advantages of a wireless system are very little installation time, portability and can be taken on trips or with you when you move. Wireless fence systems are hit or miss and work great in most cases, but all and all are still much lower quality than traditional underground dog fence systems. In general, wireless pet fence systems have two components a base unit or dog fence transmitter which emits the signal field and a dog fence receiver collar which receives the signal field. The transmitter must be placed inside your home and radiates a signal field up to a 180 foot diameter in and a up to a 90 foot radius in every direction of where the transmitter is placed in your home.


Wireless Electric Dog Fence System

wireless fencing for dogs option

A wireless option can be an excellent alternative but be wary if your property does not meet the minimum  radius specs. In some cases, homes are close together.  If you use the full output of a wireless fence your dog may be on your neighbor's property or worse out in the road.


Remember, you cannot change the shape of the field. But, you can strategically place the transmitter in your home to maximize the space you have to work with. Here's an example: Say your house is 50 feet back from the street but you wanted to use the full 80 ft. max radius. You could locate the transmitter towards the back of your home so that the containment area does not reach the road in front of your house.


increase the diameter 
and radius by adding extra transmitters to the fence

If you have more space than the max diameter of the wireless signal field, you may be able to add extra wireless transmitters to increase the overall size of the containment zone. If you have a large house you can put one transmitter on each corner overlapping the signal fields to give your dog more space. If you happen to have an outbuilding with a power source, you can also add a unit inside the outbuilding, as long as the signal fields overlap each other. Check the details for the system you are interested in to see if this option is available.

Continue to Layout & Test Your Invisible Dog Fence