We receive many questions regarding how a dog fence works and what certain terms mean. Here in this section we will go through all of the basics of dog fences and the terms associated with them so that as you can better understand what system will work best for you. Dog fences themselves are referred to as many different things: dog containment systems, pet containment systems, wired dog fences, underground or in-ground dog fences, invisible fences, electric dog fences and electronic dog fences. There are too many variations on those to mention but they all refer to a system that can keep your dog safely contained within your yard. For this section, we will refer to them as Dog Fences. There are also a number of terms that you need to be familiar with and those include the following:
Boundary wire – this is the wire that you will bury all the way around the area that you would like to keep your dog contained in. The wire works with the transmitter and the receiver/collar to send out a signal. The transmitter sends the signal through the wire and you can set how strong that signal is and thus change how far from the wire that the receiver/collar gets the signal. The rule of thumb is that if you have the signal set for around 10′ from the wire, the first 8′ is the warning zone and then the 2′ closest to the wire is the correction zone.
Receiver/collar – this is the system collar that your dog wears that warns them with a beep and/or vibration when they get too close to the boundary that you have set for them and gives them a shock correction when they continue through the warning zone. The collars come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and some have batteries and some are rechargeable.
Transmitter – this is the main system for your dog fence. You run your boundary wire out of it and around the yard and it plugs into an outlet. It sends the signal out through the boundary wire and this transmitter allows you to set the distance from the wire that the system will give your dog a warning and correction. For really energetic dogs it makes sense to set this boundary larger than for a smaller or less energetic dog.
Correction – when your dog is wearing their receiver and they get too close to the wire, the collar will beep first and then give them a shock to get their attention. Depending on the system that you buy the shock intensity can be set at different levels. This is because some dogs don’t need much to get their attention while other dogs need much more. No matter what you have the shock set to, it is meant to get the dogs attention and not to injure them. We have tested most collars on ourselves and we compare the shock to that of shuffling your feet on the carpet and touching something or someone else to create a shock. The bigger shocks can be uncomfortable but do not cause harm.
Safe Zone – this is the area within the wire boundary where the receiver is not receiving any signal from the fence and your dog is free to roam and play.
Progressive Correction – Some of the systems have what is called progressive correction and this means that if a dog stays in the correction zone, the shock will continue but also get progressively more intense. This is meant to get a dogs attention if they are playing hard or perhaps tempted to cross by another dog but hesitates in the correction zone because they know they aren’t supposed to cross. Most systems also have a limit of 30 seconds where the progressive correction will stop, this is called Correction Timeout.
Twisted Wire – Twisted wire is two strands of wire twisted together. The wire twisted together cancels the signal sent from the transmitter in that section of the wire so that you can create an area where your dog can pass over without being corrected. This is most commonly used from the transmitter box to the outside edge of the containment zone as well as off of the outside edge into an area like a pool that you would like to keep off limits to your dog.
Wire Gauge – we get lots of questions regarding what wire makes the most sense for an installation. If you are burying all of the wire for your dog fence, most likely the standard 20 gauge wire is fine. If however, you are going to be installing your wire along a fence or on top of the ground or in a high traffic area, you may want to consider 18 gauge wire or even something heavier, although anything bigger than 14 gauge will have trouble fitting into your transmitter. In any case no wire will stand up to weed-wackers, edgers, lawn mowers, aerators or other lawn tools like them.
Splicing – this is where 2 pieces of wire connect (eg to add more length, make repairs to severed wires, etc). To do this, you strip the last 1/2″ of coating twist the to bare ends together and put a a cone-shaped plastic wire nut over the top. Twist clockwise (like you were screwing a cap down onto the wire until the wire nut is securely on the wire. Then, take the capped wire ends and submerge them into the waterproof gel capsule (sold with splice kit). Clip the lid closed and bury it.
We provide information on choosing a system in our Dog Fence Recommendations section or you can view side by side Dog Fence Comparisons or you can go right to our Store and start shopping.