How To Train A Dog With An Electric, Wireless, or Underground Fence

Need to train your dog to stay in the bounds of an electric fence? First you need to decide what kind of fence you have – a full electric shock fence that works via contact, an underground fence, or a wireless fence.

This article covers each one and how to train your dog to stay inside them or not jump over them.

What’s The Difference Between An Electric Fence, A Wireless Fence, And An Underground Fence?

First off some definitions…

Electric Fence – For our purposes this means the classic electric fence using an electrified exposed wire. If a dog (or person) touches the exposed wire they get a shock. This is most commonly used across the top of a fence to teach a dog not to jump over a fence. See training video below on how to install and train a German Shepherd with a DIY electric fence.

Wireless Fence – Also powered by electricity, a wireless fence has two parts – a transmitter and a shock collar. The shock collar is worn by your dog while outside in the yard. The transmitter creates an invisible boundary around your yard. If while wearing the shock collar, your dog crosses this boundary, it gets either a beep, a vibration, or a shock. Instructions below discuss how to train your dog on these devices.

Underground Fence – Lastly we have the underground or invisible fence. This fence is made of a buried wire and works with a paired shock collar. The buried wire is the boundary. If a dog wearing a paired shock collar gets close to or crosses the boundary then the shock collar delivers a beep, vibration, or shock depending on the settings.

How To Train A Dog With A Wireless Fence

Here’s a set of quick instructions on how to train your dog to stay inside the boundaries of a wireless fence system. The video below shows how to setup and train on a Petsafe Stay and Play product. The same training can be used for any wireless and shock collar combo.

  1. What you need – Wireless fence transmitter, shock collar, flags for the boundaries, a super long leash, and treats. The collar in this example beeps before it sends a shock. Once trained they won’t go beyond the beep boundary and will no longer be shocked.
  2. Setup the transmitter inside – The signal can travel through your house but lots of metal can distort the signal. Keep the transmitter away from radiators or other heavy, dense sources of metal.
  3. Charge the collar – Remember to switch it out and recharge it often!
  4. Use the right contact points on the collar – long contact points for long hair and short contact points for short hair.
  5. Place the boundary flags – In general you will walk around your yard with the collar. When it beeps or blinks you are getting to the boundary. Place flags along the boundary so there is a visual clue for your dog to learn the edge. Follow your system’s instructions for specifics. Note that the transmitter makes a circular (actually spherical) boundary so expect the boundary to be shaped like a circle.
  6. Don’t stress your dog during training! Include lots of playtime and treats. If you have patience you can train your dog to stay inside the boundaries without ever getting shocked.
  7. Keep Training Short – Train your dog 15 minutes at a time. Don’t try to overwhelm them.
  8. Day 1 – Set the collar to beep or tone. Don’t set it to shock. Walk your dog around the yard. When your dog is close to the edge and you hear the beep or tone tell your dog come back and give them a treat.
  9. Reward quickly – Boundary beep then call then treat all within 2 seconds. Dogs forget easily. Be sure to give them a treat right after they return from the boundary when you call them.
  10. Start close – Start with a short leash and lengthen it as your dog learns.
  11. Days 2-3 – Repeat with the shock turned on as above. Don’t stress your dog! Start at a lower setting on the first shock day and see how they respond. Go slowly. You want them to notice the shock but not yelp in pain. Pain is bad and can erase everything you’ve been teaching. When they notice the nick (static correction) then call them and give a treat within 2 seconds.
  12. Set the right shock levels (not too high!) – See minute 15 in the video below and instructions above on how to set the correct shock level.
  13. Days 4 – 7 – Practice with distractions. Have other dogs or other people and distractions present. The other dogs or people will attempt to get your dog to cross the boundaries. This is the hardest part of training but it’s important. Your dog must remember the boundary so they don’t get shocked even when they are distracted and try to cross the boundary. Have patience on this day. You’re almost done. You may need a whistle or some other trained cue to get your dog undistracted and to come back for their treat.
  14. Weeks 2 – 3 – Keep training and have patience! Don’t leave them alone yet.
  15. Week 4 – Training to cross the boundary. Cross the boundary? Yes, you want to train your dog to do this. Let them know it’s OK to cross the boundary when you do one of the following (otherwise they will get stressed):
    1. You take off the shock collar and put on a leash
    2. You take of the shock collar and put them in a car or truck
    3. You take off the shock collar and establish some learned pattern that you will take them over the boundary

How To Train A Dog With An Underground Invisible Fence

An invisible fence consists of a buried underground wire that acts just like the transmitter of a wireless fence system. The wire sends a signal to a shock collar to start beeping as your dog gets close to it and deliver a nick or static correction if they cross the wire.

You can use the same training method using flags as in the above. This time you will place the flags along the corridor where you buried the underground wire.

How To Train A Dog With An Electric Shock Fence

The video below details everything you need to build a DIY electric fence and train your dog to use it.

The purpose of this style of electric fence is to teach a new dog not to jump over a fence. For this, Shiloh the German Shepherd, will be the star of the show.

For this DIY setup you need an existing fence. You’ll install the wire along the top of the fence. In addition you need a low-powered electric fence charger suitable for pets, wire, insulators to hold the wire to your fence, and warning signs. Lastly, you’ll need a grounding wire. Electric fences don’t provide as much of a shock.

Is it cruel to use an electric fence? We have an entire article on the topic. The German Shepherd in this video had already been hit by a car. They installed the fence to keep her in the yard and protect her from future car accidents.

Editor’s Note – Check your local regulations on warning signs and installation of charged fences. The setup in this video is for information purposes only.