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An Invisible Petsafe Fence for an Aussie – Part I: Prep

Why would you want an invisible fence?

While it is a cute addition for a garden, a fence can quickly become an eyesore when a very tall one is needed to keep in an athletic dog.

Invisible pet fences have become more popular in recent years.  It’s easier to install than a real fence and does not result in a visible barrier.  For most people, the few downsides to an invisible fence – other animals can get in and the fact that your dog will likely be shocked a few times – are outweighed by the pluses.  For us, the decision was made easy when we discovered the expense of a do-it-yourself install of the Petsafe fence was nothing when compared to the expense of the materials and install for a real fence.

We went with a Petsafe fence because it had good reviews, seemed simple and had great customer service.

The entire process was straightforward and simple.  In the post below, I’ve described our experience so others can see what is involved and decide whether or not they want to do it themselves.  The sections below contain information on choosing the fence for your yard and mapping out the boundary.  Later posts will describe installation and dog training.  Lastly, I will share my thoughts and advice on how the fence process should be altered for Aussies and other working breeds.

Please note:  My summary of the process is a rough overview.  If you decide to install your own fence, please buy a kit from a reputable seller and follow their very detailed instructions.  Our Petsafe fence kit came with everything we needed and made it very DIY friendly.


Choosing an invisible fence for your yard – Petsafe Fence

There are basically two types of electric fences that are utilized as dog fences.  There are wireless systems that operate based on a shock radius around the transmitter and in-ground systems that function as a shock field around the wire.  For both systems, the correction (aka the shock) is delivered through a collar the dog wears around their neck with correction probes that penetrate through the dog hair to rest against their skin.  Some companies only have one type so it helps to know which one you are looking for prior to beginning your research.  Petsafe fence offers both but I believe they initially started with just in-ground.

Wireless systems are great for indoors and for smaller outdoor areas; and work fine for even terrain.  The transmitter is located inside the house and an energy field is established within a set radius.  As the dog approaches the boundary (or moves a preset distance from the transmitter), a beep and eventually a correction indicated that the dog is pushing its limits.  Wireless systems are quick and easy to install.  They are also portable, which means you can take them with you on vacation.

Wireless systems create a circular boundary with the correction field transmitting from the center.

In-ground systems are used outdoors and are great for big spaces or uneven terrain.  The transmitter is still located inside.  However, because the energy field is emitted from the wire and not the transmitter, the shock field remains with the line through hills and valleys.  This option requires a more intensive install, but can certainly be worth it.  In-ground systems offer more flexibility because the boundary can be completely customized (as opposed to a set radius).

In-ground systems can be made into any shape with the correction field transmitting from the wire.


We chose an in-ground Petsafe fence for Trooper because our yard is both large and hilly.  The fence prep and installation section will therefore be discussed in the context of an in-ground system.

The first prep step before installation is mapping out exactly where you intend to put your fence.


Mapping out the boundary

We fenced in the backyard for the dogs. The dogs leave the property via the garage.

Know what else is buried
It is important to know where your utility lines are buried, even though you will likely not bury the wire  as deep as your utility lines.  Knowing where they are enables you to be more cautious when necessary.  If you need to cross a utility line, try to do so at a ninety degree angle.  Although rare, running the fence wire parallel to utility lines can cause the fence signal to be transmitted to non-shock zones within the fenced-in area.  It is also helpful to know where sprinkler systems and low voltage lighting wires are buried so nothing is damaged when you are installing the invisible fence wire.

Sketch out a map
Sketch out a map of the property and include structures (house, garage, shed, etc), utility lines, physical obstacles (like pathways), dog-approved areas and off-limit areas.  Keep in mind proximity to dangerous situations (the road, neighbor’s underground fence).

Sketch system layout
There are a lot of different ways to lay down an in-ground invisible fence.  You can have both the back and front yards enclosed together, only one yard, both yards but no direct access between yards, one giant loop or one giant loop with many smaller, internal, off-limit loops.  We chose one of the simpler layouts, one large loop in backyard only.

The back yard contains the majority of the dog area with a small amount of extension on the right side.  The left side is not available to the dogs – the extension in front of the house prevents the inside of the house from having shock zones.  The transmitter is located in the basement with the loop completed via a vent between the house and garage.

In order to cross our driveway, we pushed the wire between pieces of siding above the garage doors and then down into the small amount of space between the driveway and the edge of the driveway.

Other tips:
-Round the corners so you turn the wire gradually rather than a 90 degree angle.
-Minimize the number of times you have to cross an obstacle (i.e. driveway), because it’s more work than burying the wire.

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  1. Hi, this is a great site. We just got our first Aussie and I plan on installing a invisi-fence like the one you have shown. I was wondering what brand of fence you have or recommend.

  2. Hi Ray,
    We went with the PetSafe UltraSmart PIG00 kit and we bought it through a do-it-yourself website. It came with great instructions on doing the install and training. I haven’t investigated all the brands out there, but I know this one has a few features not found on all systems.

    For example, you can adjust the boundary zone (area where warning beeps occurs) and correction zone (area where shock occurs) independent of each other. So if your dog responds well to the beep and doesn’t need the correction, you can turn the boundary zone up and the correction zone down.

    Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  3. Do electronic pet fences work and what is the most readily useful company?

    • I have found that an electronic fence works great for my dogs. But it isn’t a miracle solution – it takes consistent training to teach your dog where the boundary is and reinforcement to get them to respect it. Neither of my dogs need to wear their collar anymore and they never go outside the zone.
      I’ve heard it doesn’t work for some dogs, but I had my doubts about the owners’ awareness with regards to training. In any case, I love the Petsafe brand (see link above). Their kit has been reliable and durable and they have great customer service. Good luck!


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