How to install an electric fence
May 26, 2005 1:05 PM   Subscribe

What can you tell me about putting up an electric fence (to deter our dog from climbing out of the dog run)? I'd like to install one this weekend.

Our 10-week-old lab puppy, who we've had for a week, has already learned to climb the 4' fence that encloses our dog run, and in the process she caused herself a bit of injury. While she's still at this young and impressionable age, I'd like to let her know quickly that fence climbing simply will not do (the injury she suffered certainly has not deterred her!). Appreciate any help you can give me.

And please, while I welcome other suggestions, I'd really like to avoid a debate about whether or not use of an electric fence is cruel to the animal. Thanks.
posted by vignettist to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
What is the scenario in which you are putting her in the dog run? Dogs *really* want to be with the pack, and that means where the people are. To be exiled to the backyard is really stressful for most dogs. Is this where you are keeping her during the day while everyone is gone from the house? Is there any way she could be crated inside the house instead?

I know of dogs that will simply roll themselves into a ball and blast through the electronic fence. If your dog is determined to escape, she will.

Also, keep in mind that a fully grown lab will be able to jump over a 4' fence without any effort at all.

I'd encourage you to consider crating her inside the house. She'll likely be happier.
posted by ambrosia at 1:22 PM on May 26, 2005

I did this a few years ago. My dog is smart and figured out after about 3 months that the corners of the yard shocked less for some reason and then also figured out that a long running start meant less shocking as well. Good luck!
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 1:28 PM on May 26, 2005

Response by poster: Also, keep in mind that a fully grown lab will be able to jump over a 4' fence without any effort at all.

Which is why I want to discourage the behavior now. I've had lots of labs, but I haven't had a climber in 20 years, and at that time we installed a higher fence. That's not an option in this case.

Also, with respect I have to say that I would rather train the dog to stay in a 9' x 22' dog run (with our other dog) than leave her crated by herself all day.

Brodie, are you are talking about fenceless boundaries? I'm asking about an actual, wired fence. Appreciate it though.
posted by vignettist at 1:38 PM on May 26, 2005

No, this was a radio fence ON a REAL fence. The dog could jump/climb and DIG FAST.
Nothing -but lots of training face to face- worked.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 1:46 PM on May 26, 2005

I'd tell you that because of higher salinity, dogs' blood conducts electricity better. Then I'd tell you to get shocked yourself, and multiply the pain you felt by at least two-fold. Then I'd tell you to invest in better training and visible fences.
posted by klangklangston at 1:46 PM on May 26, 2005

Ah. Whups. Well, I think you could do it. I'd go to your friendly neighborhood Farm & Fleet, pick up an electric fence with a variable voltage setting, and dial it to its lowest (since they're designed for livestock). You could also decrease the voltage further by putting a Radioshack transformer on there. You won't need much, as the dog will learn quickly.
posted by klangklangston at 1:49 PM on May 26, 2005

I'm curious, what prevents raising the fence? It might cost more, but it's the only foolproof (modulo digging) way to keep the dogs in. And other things out.

For instance, are either of the dogs unspayed females? If they go into heat, you'll have every dog in the county over your 4' fence. Likewise if they're intact males and there's ever a female in heat in the neighborhood.
posted by gurple at 2:20 PM on May 26, 2005

Response by poster: Gurple, to answer your questions, the dog run is another enclosure within an already enclosed yard. Two sides are walls, one side is a 6' fence, and the entry/exit is the 4' fence. Our other dog is a neutered male, we've really not had any problems with him trying to escape.

The idea is just something very low voltage on that 4' fence to let the puppy know that jumping on the fence / fence climbing is not a good idea. I'd like her to learn that before she decides to try to climb the 6' fence, as she will undoubtedly put herself at higher risk of injury from falling from the greater height.

Because we're talking about the entry/exit gate, I don't want to use one of those fenceless boundary barriers. I want the dog to feel confident walking through the gate while knowing that jumping up on the fence is a no-no.

My question is really, is putting up a wired fence something I can put together myself, or am I better off just driving 2hrs to the nearest feed store to find a comparable product? I am moderately handy, (for instance, we built both the exterior and interiors fences ourselves) but don't really know much about electricity / wiring. Suggestions about parts I would need and how to put them together greatly appreciated.
posted by vignettist at 2:48 PM on May 26, 2005

"Don't know much about electricity/wiring" and "I want to teach a baby puppy a lesson using such" are (para)phrases that do not belong together. Get a professional if you insist on doing this, and be sure to test it. If you get my meaning.
posted by sageleaf at 3:51 PM on May 26, 2005

Best answer: You can certainly install an electric fence yourself, but you'll want to purchase the components at the feed store. You don't want to permanently injure your dog. Modern chargers are designed to "pulse," meaning to deliver current only at intervals.

You can get an inexpensive battery-powered charger, that runs off a dry cell, or you can pay more and get a solar-powered charger (which will not last forever, contrary to what you might think, since it, too, involves a battery for storage) or, if you have an outlet nearby and someplace out of the weather for the charger, you can go the cheapest route and get a wall-powered charger. Most chargers have multiple settings; I would start on the lowest setting for a dog. They can take a hint where some critters can't. The lighter-duty chargers are designed for just the sort of application you describe.

The most important part of the fence is not the charger, though, but the ground. The fence will only supply a shock if a circuit is completed when the dog touches it. That means that, at the least, (a) the charger has to be seriously connected to the ground. Most manufacturers will recommend 3 ground rods driven into the ground and hooked up together. I've found that 2 will do it for horses and goats. And (b) when the dog is standing on the ground, its paws must make good contact with the ground. As you might expect, electric fences work better in damp weather than dry, because the dampness reduces the resistance between the paws/feet/hooves and the ground. You don't say what the floor of your kennel consists of, but if it's gravel or a concrete pad I'd have some concerns that the circuit will not be completed adequately.

Your biggest challenge may be to find insulators that will attach to your fence securely. There are only a few designs out there, and they are for metal t-posts, step-in temporary posts, and wooden posts. If your kennel fence uses one or more of the above, you're in luck. If not, you'll have to get creative. I'd think you'd want the wire to stand off the fence about six inches on the inside if possible; some insulators are designed to do that. Use wire for the fence itself; the tapes just don't deliver the shock as well and you don't need/want the visibility of tape in your situation.

So, you'll need: charger, ground rods, heavy wire to connect rods to charger ground terminal (I use romex), insulators, and fence wire. You can use hose clamps to attach the ground wire to the rods, but pay the few extra cents and get the purpose-made clamps and you'll be glad you did. That should do ya.

For more (pricey) ideas, try looking at Premier Supplies.
posted by bricoleur at 4:46 PM on May 26, 2005

the entry/exit is the 4' fence

Why not just get a new gate that is taller? A 6' foot fence should be plenty unless she grows into a high jumper. A new gate or fashioning some extension on it seems to be a more economical and easier solution.
posted by Yukon at 5:52 PM on May 26, 2005

I've also seen dog runs that have a fence "ceiling" - essentially a really huge crate - would that help and be simpler/less dangerous for you and pup both?
posted by SashaPT at 7:03 PM on May 26, 2005

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