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How to install invisible dog fence wire

Now that you've planned your dog fence installation, it's time for the hard work: installing the boundary wire.

Before you start digging, take a good look at your plan of where you intend to install the wire and make any last-minute adjustments. Also, as a reminder, before you bury the wire for your dog fence, call your local utility companies to mark any existing underground lines.

If you're like most folks, you'll not only need to install your dog fence wire in the ground, but you'll also need to install it across concrete areas like driveways and sidewalks — a prospect that can seem overwhelming. No worries, though! In this article I explain how install your dog fence wire in almost any terrain.

Installing wire in the ground

As I mention often throughout this site, most do-it-yourself dog fences come with wire that is inappropriate for outdoor use. If your DIY dog fence includes thin, stranded wire, consider purchasing direct burial rated wire  that is 18-gauge or thicker. The upgraded wire will add to your initial cost, but will more than pay for itself over the long term since you'll experience far fewer wire breaks.

Some DIY dog fences recommend stapling the wire to your existing fence or to the ground. Unless you have a really good reason for leaving it exposed, you should instead bury the wire underground. Otherwise, it’s left unprotected from damage by weather, landscaping tools, and animals not contained by your dog fence system (e.g., your neighbor's dog, wild animals). Remember, a dog fence with damaged wire is a dog fence that doesn't work.

Also, some DIY dog fence brands recommend laying all of your wire out on the ground before you begin installing it. Don't! You'll just end up with a tangled mess. Instead, unroll small lengths of wire (15 or 20 feet) immediately before you intend to put the wire in the ground.

Here's the process I recommend:

Tools You'll Need:

  • Dig a trench for your wire. Use your shovel to create a thin trench between 1 to 6 inches deep in the areas you wish to protect. The trench does not need to be wide — simply kick your shovel into the ground, and move the shovel back and forth a couple of times to create room for the wire. In areas where your ground is particularly hard or rough, you may need to use a pickaxe to create your trench.
  • Install the boundary wire. Tuck the boundary wire into the trench, and cover the wire by stomping on the ground around the trench. You can use a handheld weeding tool to simplify the process, just make sure to dull the prongs first — if the weeder is too sharp, you may accidentally break the wire (watch a video of me using this technique). Alternatively, you can use a wooden paint stirrer, although a weeding tool tends to be far more efficient.
  • Create and install your twisted wire. In some areas, you'll need to install wire that shouldn't correct your dog — for example, the wire that connects your transmitter to your outer boundary wire. Fortunately, there's a simple solution: when you twist two lengths of wire together, it cancels the signal each of those wires emits. If your twisted wire needs to travel a long distance, it's pretty painstaking to create the twisted wire by hand. Fortunately, I can show you a quick and easy way to create as much twisted wire as you need.
  • Cover your wire. Once your wire is in the ground, take a few minutes to cover the trench you dug by stomping on it.
  • Flag your boundary line. Every two to three feet, put one of the flags that came with your DIY dog fence in the ground to act as a temporary visual cue for your dog. You'll remove the flags in a couple of weeks, once you finish training your dog to understand his new fence.
Helpful Tip: If you accidentally break the wire during installation — or if you need to cut the wire to complete your installation — use a waterproof wire splice  to reconnect the loose ends of wire. Using a regular splice or electrical tape is not sufficient and will lead to major headaches down the road as the two ends of your wire either wriggle loose or tarnish.

Installing wire in concrete

Most dog fence installations require the wire to cross over a driveway or sidewalk at some point. Unfortunately, you can't just leave the dog fence wire exposed in these areas—not only is that unsightly, but your wire will quickly become damaged. Follow these instructions to ensure your dog fence wire stays protected and hidden in concrete areas:

Tools You'll Need:

First, I'd like to stress that you should wear a dust mask and goggles to protect yourself from the concrete dust you'll kick up with your circular saw. A shard of flying concrete can seriously injure your eyes, and the dust from concrete or blacktop may harm your lungs.

Mark the area where you'll install the wire. If you're installing the wire at a joint in your concrete driveway, you can just follow that line. If you're installing the wire in blacktop, use a chalk snap line to mark your cut.

Now, cut through the driveway or sidewalk with a circular saw. Make sure the cut is wide enough to comfortably house your wire.

Once your trench is cut, bury the wire very deeply at both ends of the cut. This will allow you to use landscaping tools (like an edger) without damaging the wire.

Finally, mortar over the cut. Use self-leveling mortar that matches the existing driveway or sidewalk material.

Next: Installing your dog fence transmitter >>

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Invisible Fence®, PetSafe®, Guardian®, Innotek®, SportDOG®, RadioFence®, ComfortFit™, UltraLight™, Deluxe In-Ground Fence™, and Contain N Train® are trademarks of Radio Systems Corporation. PetStop®, Wire-Free®, and Perimeter are trademarks of Perimeter Technologies. DogWatch® is a registered trademark of DogWatch Inc. is not affiliated with Radio Systems Corp, Perimeter Technologies, or DogWatch Inc. and diclaims any interest in any trademarks not its own.

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