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How to set up an electric fence for dogs and pets.

Common containment fences for dogs and pets
There are 3 common ways to set up a barrier or electric fence for dogs or other pets. Each local area has its own rules and regulations and each system has its ups and downs. the points expressed below are only some of the major factors to consider. Every situation is different and will call for different solutions and products.

Shock collar kits for dogs.
Shock collar kits are expensive and require the owner of the dog to train the animal as there is basic or no visual means for the dog to understand what is actually going on when they reach the boundary. If the dog does not understand what is going on it can lead to confusion of the animal and an ineffective and expensive waste of time. Generally they work by creating a closed loop circuit using a thin wire buried under ground and running a radio signal through it. When the dog approaches the the buried wire the radio receiver attached to the collar is set off and a pulse of electrical current is released onto the dogs neck. As stated above if the dog is not trained to understand what this means it will result in nothing more than pain and confusion for your beloved pet.

One of the good points with the dog collar is that if the dog is trained and understands where the boundaries are set out, there are no visible signs of fencing to ruin the landscape of your gardens and yard.

Electric fences for dogs
Electric fencing for dogs much like the one Grandad had set up on the farm is a very effective and visual deterrent for any dog or pet. The dog has a visual gauge of where it’s boundaries are. Once introduced to the fence after setup it is usually found that this is the most effective form of pet containment for both cost and mental barriers.

What generally happens is a controlled pulse is sent out from a charge regulator commonly know as an energiser along the live wire of the fence. Once an animal comes into contact with the live wire the current flows through the body of the animal and finds the closest path to the earth return of the energiser ( see diagram below) As the electrical pulse flows over the muscles of the animal it causes a contraction of the muscles in the effective area which is highly unpleasant for any animal. If you could compare it to anything a severe static shock is the best way to describe the pain.

You will be able to find all the electric fence products you require to make a pet fence here in an electric fence store like this one Electric Fence Australia

Standard dog mesh fencing and property fences
Standard boundary fences can be very ineffective for containing dogs and pets that are hell bent on escaping for social or mating purposes. As there is no means of deterring the escaping actions of the dog or pet, they have ample time to search for the best escape point and have the time to to either dig under the fence, push through it or climb over.

Choosing the right electric fence products for a electric dog fence kit
There are several key products you will require for an effective electric dog fence for pets.


An electric fence energiser (also know as a charger, controller, energizer, zapper or fencer.) is required on the fence to control and regulate both the voltage and the pulse timing on the fence.

You should only use a known brand that meets high electrical and safety standards. With the rise in online trading there are lots of unregulated, cheap and nasty and generally wasted money units on the market. Save yourself the time and money and buy a well know brand from a reputable supplier.

Wherever possible a low power energiser should be used. You can determine the power of an energiser by looking at one of two factors generally used to describe an electric fence energiser model.

Joule- The joule rating is an indication of the amount of “kick” an energiser can produce. The higher the Joule rating the more kick the energiser will produce on the fence. an example would be a 1 joule output energiser is 10 times less power full than a 10 Joule energiser.

The amount of Joule energy an energiser produces is also relative to the amount of spark gap ( the distance from the live wire of a fence an animal has to be before the current will jump from the fence and spark gap to the animal itself.) If you have a dog or pet with a long insulating fur or hair coat, you may require a larger Joule energiser with a larger spark gap to arc from the fence and make it past the thick coat to the skin of the animal.

Distance- The distance an energiser claims to fence ( eg: 10 kilometers ) is also an indication of how powerful it is. A general rule is 10 km of energiser will have a 1 Joule output of energy onto the fence. So a 20 km energiser should have around 2 Joule of energy.


The earth return of a electric pet fence is the most important part of an electric fence.

The earth terminal of an electric fence energiser is where the electrons flow back to create a closed or functional circuit. If the earth return is poor or non existent there can be no or little flow of electrical current resulting in a very poor or no shock at all.

You can create an earth return to your energiser in two ways:

Earth stake- This is usually a rod made from a conductive material like galvanised rod or copper tube.

Earth return wire- An earth return wire is a wire that is set up on the fence just like a live wire only it is connected to the earth terminal of the energiser. This is generally used for areas that have a non conductive ground like paved or concreted areas of the yard where there is no means for the electrical flow to pass through the animal into the ground and back to the earth connection of the energiser.

If an earth return wire is used it needs to be set up on the fence so that the dog touches both the live and the earth wire at the same time so an electrical circuit is produced for the electrons to flow from live to earth or positive and negative like any other normal electrical connection.

Some of the main causes of poor earth return are:

Small or inadequate earth stake.
Use of a non conductive stake like a painted star picket.
Poor or dry soil conditions
A short in the fence circuit caused by a conductive medium touching the fence like foliage and vegetation.
Constructing the fence over a non conductive ground area like pavers of concrete.

Therw are various kinds of wire you can use for electric fences for dogs and pets, each have their positive and negative qualities.

Galvanised wire: While this is generally the most conductive wire used to make pet containment fences it is also the most dangerous if a thin wire is used. Thin hard wires pose a risk for an animal to receive cuts if they panic and move quickly across a tensioned wire. This is the main reason plain or galvanised wire is not recommended for active animals like horse. Galvanized wire can also be dangerous to fast moving animals as is is not as visible as other forms of wire or tape for electric fencing.

Electric fence poly wire
Poly wire: Also known as poli wire this is the safer alternative to galvanised wire although its thin diameter results in a less visible barrier if it contacted by a fast moving or panicked animal it is far less likely to result in a lacerations or cuts. You can find a complete range of polywire here. Poly wire is constructed using polymer or plastic strands with a conductive wire or wires interwoven into the rope. It is the conductive strands that carry the voltage while the polymer fibres act as a visual agent for the wire.

Electric fencing tape
Poly tape: Poli tape is much the same as poli wire accept it is constructed in the shape of a flat tape.

This is the best type of fence wire to use for safety as it’s not thin enough to cut, visually it is has the recongnitive values for animals meaning they tend to remember what the tape is and what happens if you touch it. It has the highest surface area to aid in producing a shock if an animal comes close. The main downfall of poli tape is that the larger surface area can flap around in windy areas and become worn if used with insulators or wire holders that have rough edges. You can find a complete range of polytape here.

There are other forms of electric fence wire like braids,ropes and conductive polymer strands but these are generally used in more elaborate electric fence set-ups.

You can find more information to help you choose the best wire or tape for your electric fence here.

Offset insulator

Insulators is the term used to describe the wire holder that attaches to your fence posts to hold and separate the wire from any conductive mediums. If the wire or tape touches any form of conductive material it will result in a fence short and any animal touching the fence will receive little or no shock. The most common form of insulator is made from plastic or porcelain. Porcelain insulators last for years and are unaffected by the weather, plastic fence insulators should be U.V. treated so they last longer and do not breakdown from ultraviolet radiation.

Wood post tape insulator
There are endless variations of insulators you can use for you fence. Generally the differences in design are to accommodate different wire sizes, to offset or stand out from the fence or just different types to attach to different kinds of fence posts like wood post and steel posts.

Plastic electric fence end strainer
End strainers

End strainers are a form of insulator but are used to apply tension to the wire or tape or to terminate the fence at ends or corners.

Fence Posts

Fence post come in a variety of styles. The two most common are star pickets (also known as steel posts) or wooden posts.

There is also a variety of temporary tred-in posts that are used for fence setups like strip grazing and containment yards for short periods of use.

Electric fence laws, rules and regulations

If you are unsure if your local council permits the use of electric fences in built up or populated areas, you can generally find this information by visiting your local councils website or requesting local laws and guidelines for the use of an electric fence in your area directly from you local council help desk.

In some areas the use of electric fences is considered illegal for such reasons, but not limited to:

Interfering with the natural movements of native wild life.

Interference of living areas of neighbours.

If you would like to know more about electric fence for dogs or pets have a look at our handy help section.

How to set up an electric fence for dogs and pets. 1
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