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My Experience with Installing an Underground Radio Dog Fence

I recently moved to a new home with 5 acres and no fencing. I looked at getting some normal fencing for my dogs, but it was cost prohibitive. Instead, I decided to buy an underground radio wire fence from on online vendor. I ended up going with the PetSafe Stubborn Dog Underground Fence, but the installation should be virtually identical for any type of underground radio dog fence.


Installing the fence was pretty much straight forward and simple. The most time consuming part was burying 1800 feet of underground wire. Before installing the fence, I had read online that some people used an edger to bury the underground wire. I tried this method and found it quite tedious. It may work for small lots with sandy soil but was way too difficult for 5 acres of clay dirt. About 200 feet into the install I decided to rent a trencher that automatically dug the trench and buried the cable. That sped the process up very much and saved my back a lot of aches and pains. I would recommend allowing enough in your budget to rent one of these machines if you have over a few hundred feet of underground wire to bury.


One thing the instructions did not tell you but I am glad I thought about is that it might be a good idea to put the front boundary back quite a ways from the road. Pedestrians walking past may not realize you have an underground radio dog fence. This may cause them to be fearful of the dogs right near the sidewalk/road. I put mine back about 60 feet from the road because I had a lot of room to work with. On a city lot you won’t be able to make this much of a boundary but 5 or 10 feet would be nice.


Underground Dog Radio Fence

The underground radio dog fence kit that I purchased had an option to stake the wire above the ground. This did not really seem like a good idea to me because a break in the wire is much more likely. Wire breaks can be a real pain to track down. Plus I have children so I was concerned about them tripping on an exposed wire.


An important part of installing the fencing is to place flags into the ground representing the boundary line. I placed the white flags every 10 feet or so and decided it was time to begin training the dogs. The manufacturer states in their documentation that it can take up to four weeks to train your dogs to stay in the contained area. I actually ended up having them completely trained in six sessions over a two day period.


Day One
I began the training by walking the dogs all the way around the perimeter. I did not let the dogs get into the correction area during this first walk. I just gave them lots of praise for staying near me. On the second walk, I walked very close to the correction area so that if the dogs wandered towards the correction area they would receive a correction. It only took 2 corrections with Roosevelt and he was all done with going by the white flags. My australian shepard mix “Cocoa” took a bit more time to learn that the area by the flags was not a good place to be. After the leash walk, I decided to walk them near the perimeter off-leash. They both did very well this time.


Day Two
The instructions with the unit said that once the dogs knew the correction area, you should test them by trying to call them into the correction zone. This just seemed counter-intuitive to everything I understand about dog training so I decided to take a different approach. I just could not see allowing my dog to get a correction for following my command.


Instead, I took some treats along with me and walked with the dogs around the perimeter of the dog fence. I took the treats and periodically threw them into the correction zone but neither dog would go after it. When they didn’t go into the correction zone, I praised them and rewarded them with a treat. I did two session of this on day two.


For the third session on day two, I once again took treat with me and I walked in the correction zone periodically dropping a treat by my feet. When the dogs didn’t come after the treat, I would toss one to them inside the perimeter. This seemed to work well because I could really tell that both dogs wanted to come into the correction zone badly, but had been trained not to.


The Following Days
Once the second day of training was complete, I only let the dogs out under supervision. We have had neighbors with their dogs walk past and Roosevelt and Cocoa do not break through the boundary. We did have one time that Roosevelt wandered into the correction zone but he quickly left after the correction. I think he just did not realize where the correction zone was because he was playing with the kids near the garden and just backed up into the correction zone.


Long Term Success
I am now able to leave the dogs outside with confidence. I was a little nervous about leaving them outside unsupervised at first, but they have done very well. Just a little side note – I was always so careful to remove their collars when leaving the house with them in my vehicle. One time I accidentally forgot to remove the collars and drove right out. I realized it once we were past the correction zone and neither dog received a correction. I think the height of the car combined with the metal bottom puts the signal out of reach.