Having problems with your underground dog fence system? Not sure if it’s the collar, the transmitter, or the wire? In this article, we’ll help you fix underground dog fence problems and troubleshooting.
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Table of Contents
- What To Do If Your Invisible Fence or Collar Isn’t Working
- Step 1 – Check the batteries on the receiver collar
- Step 2 – Connect a 15 Foot test wire to the transmitter
- Step 3 – Test the Receiver Collar and Transmitter
- Step 4 – Repeat the Test with Extra Receiver Collars In Use (if applicable)
- FAQ – Receiver Collar Problems
- FAQ – Transmitter Problems
- FAQ – Underground Boundary Wire Problems
What To Do If Your Invisible Fence or Collar Isn’t Working
Step 1 – Check the batteries on the receiver collar
Depending on the model you may be able to buy replacement batteries, if needed, from a local store. Others, like PetSafe require their specific replacement batteries which you can get here.
Step 2 – Connect a 15 Foot test wire to the transmitter
To check if the transmitter is having issues you’ll need to disconnect the existing boundary wire and connect a short 15-foot section of boundary wire to run some tests.
Make sure the 15-foot wire is spread out. The signal will cancel anywhere the wire is within 3 feet of itself.
We recommend something simple like this single strand wire for testing. Don’t use double strand speaker wire.
Step 3 – Test the Receiver Collar and Transmitter
Turn on the receiver collar and the transmitter. For all tests use the same correction level on the receiver collar.
Set the collar to beep or vibrate. Set the transmitter to half power. You’ll test two different settings on the transmitter. Again, keep the collar correction level the same.
For the tests, you may want to add the rubber stoppers to the end of the contact posts. You only need it to beep or vibrate to run the test. You can also test the electric shock coming from the contact posts if you want to run a full test.
Approach the live boundary wire with the receiver collar. Test it at multiple parts along the wire. It should beep at the same distance along the wire.
Set the transmitter to full power. Test the receiver collar again. It should beep at the same distance along the wire. However, this time the distance should be greater.
Watch the video below to see this test in action. After the video, we’ll discuss the results you’ll experience and how to fix them.
Results – Transmitter Problems
If the collar appears to turn on but not all the lights are working on the transmitter or its alarm is on you have a transmitter problem. Contact your manufacturer to fix it.
Results – Collar Problems
Is it beeping when you get close to all parts of the wire? If not change the collar batteries and try again. Does it still fail? You have a collar problem. Contact your manufacturer to fix it.
Results – Underground Wire Problems
If the collar works at all places along the wire and the mid-power and high-power levels are working then the transmitter is also working.
Your problem lies with the underground wire. There’s likely a wire break in the boundary wire. Often this occurs at the splices.
You’ll need to use a specialized tool to find the wire break in your boundary wire and check the splices. We cover the tools you can use or the DIY setup you can build with a radio in this article on finding breaks in your underground fence wire.
Step 4 – Repeat the Test with Extra Receiver Collars In Use (if applicable)
FAQ – Receiver Collar Problems
Why Is My Collar Not Beeping When I Approach The Wire?
If your collar isn’t beeping you have one of three problems: the batteries need to be changed, the transmitter isn’t working, or there’s a break in the underground wire. Run through the tests described above to figure out the exact problem.
How Long Will The Batteries Last In My Collar?
PetSafe collars last 1 – 3 months with a fully charged collar. Extreme dog fence collars last 3 – 4 months. Sportdog collars last for 168 hours or about 1 month of use 8 hours a day.
In short, most collar batteries last at least a month and sometimes up to 4 months.
Why Does The Collar Keep Falling Off My Dog?
Check that the collar is properly fitted per the instructions below. You want the contact posts snug but not tight. If it’s fitted right below the skull it shouldn’t fall off.
If it falls off after refitting the collar you may have an issue with the buckle. Contact the manufacturer.
What Is A Properly Fitted Collar?
A properly fitted underground fence collar should be attached right below the skull and have two fingers of space under the collar. The contact posts should consistently contact the skin but shouldn’t cause abrasions.
If you attach the collar too low on the neck where the neck is wider the collar may slide up when your dog runs around. This could cause the contact posts or prongs to lose contact.
FAQ – Transmitter Problems
How Do I Check The Fuses In My Transmitter?
This will vary depending on the manufacturer. Here are the instructions for the top 3 brands:
- PetSafe In-Ground Fence Manual – https://www.petsafe.net/media/manuals/prf-3004w-in-ground-fence-manual.pdf
- Extreme Dog In-Ground Fence Manual – https://www.extremedogfence.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/extreme-dog-fence-user-manual.pdf
- Sportdog In-Ground Fence Manual – https://www.sportdog.com/media/downloads/400-1178_Online_%281%29.pdf
How To Reset The Transmitter On A Dog Fence
See the instructions above for your particular brand. If you can’t find your instructions simply turn the transmitter off, wait 30 seconds, then turn it back on. You can also try a hard reset by unplugging the transmitter, waiting 30 seconds, then plugging it back in and turning it on.
FAQ – Underground Boundary Wire Problems
Why Does My Collar Beep In One Place On The Invisible Fence, But Not Another?
You may have an issue with the collar, transmitter, or a break in the underground wire, or broken splices. Follow the instructions above to test all three problems. If you have a wire break you’ll need to follow our article on how to find a break in an underground fence.
What Happens To Underground Dog Fence Wire and Invisible Fences Over Time?
Over time underground dog fence wires will degrade or you’ll have a wire break via one of the following causes:
- The wire gets cut accidentally from digging
- The splice locations break due to poor slicing equipment or vehicle traffic above it pulling them apart
- Vehicles or lawnmowers run over the buried invisible fence and break the wire, especially at splice locations
- The insulation is chewed open by your dog, insects, or burrowing animals
- Water gets in the splice causing shorts
- Your dog chews up exposed wire at the surface or pulls apart a splice
- The soil shifts over time and breaks the wire, especially at the splice locations
If you use a high-quality underground wire splicing kit (see picture below) along with high-quality 14 gauge wire with good insulation, you can expect your boundary line to last 50 to 70 years. This is based on a study of underground copper wire from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI).
We recommend these underground wire splicing kits.
My name is Ken and I’m one of the staff writers at Petloverguy.com. I’ve cared for pets most of my life starting with hamsters, turtles, and snakes. Then moving up to parakeets, guinea pigs, and even ducks.
I currently live with two yorkies and a chihuahua mix.