How to Put Up Electric Fence or Hot Wire For Dogs, Horses, Animals (Part 1)

Setting Up and Splicing Wire


Cost of Supplies: $70

Build Time: 2-4 hours (depending on how much fence line you will need to put the hot wire on)


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Ok I promised some of ¬†you I would post a tutorial about this…

Although this method works for all destructive , escape-driven animals (dogs/horses/cows/etc), I get the most questions from frustrated dog owners on how to control their out-of-control pups….so lets talk about that for a bit.

I know how frustrating it is to have ¬†a dog that no matter how many holes you plug in the fence, they always seem to find another way out. ¬†When nothing else works and you are about to get rid of the dog, try this first! ¬†It’s worked for me 100% on the hundreds of hard-to-contain foster dogs that I’ve cared for.

I was a foster parent for a no-kill shelter for 10 years and was THE ONE they called when they had a fence jumper, fence climber, or just plain ATE through the fence to escape.  I had it figured out how to stop this behavior once and for all and these homeless dogs were able to be rehabilitated from escaping, and were eventually adopted out to wonderful, permanent homes.

It’s called an electric fence, or ‘hot wire’. ¬†Unfortunately where I live, if your dog escapes, it’s legal for anyone to shoot him/her if the dog wanders onto their property…that is if the dog doesn’t get eaten by coyotes or gets hit by a car first. ¬†Needless to say, I had to figure a way to contain my much loved, hard-to-contain dogs. ¬†This method saves dog’s lives by keeping them in the yard, teaching them how to respect the fence that was put up to contain them in the first place.

Before I put up the hot wire, ‘Chilidog’ was escaping daily, causing mischief in the neighborhood. ¬†I was afraid that he would eventually be shot or get hit by a car. ¬†As you can see in the pic above, Chilidog shows no fear of the hot wire. ¬†He has learned to respect it and calmly walks along the fence leaving a respectful distance between him and the wire.


  • Roll of Hot Wire¬†(I get the poly string because it stretches tight, looks¬†nicer, and seems to hold up better…¬†but you can also purchase some simple aluminum¬†hot wire¬† and skip all the splicing.¬† Simply twist the wires together when connecting and you’re good.¬† (Get enough to stretch the¬†perimeter of your fence)
  • ¬†Three 5ft¬†metal grounding stakes-these stakes will be pounded into the¬†ground for your ‘ground’ (to save money I’ve been known to use rebar for stakes)
  • Three hose clamps (1 for each metal grounding stake)
  • Four feet of electricity conducting wire.¬†(the wire will connect from one¬†grounding stake to the next)
  • Hot wire tester
  • Electric fence¬†insulators-I prefer the hot wire to be at least 6in off the fence so I purchase 6in insulators.¬† There are insulators for wooden fences, chain link, t post, etc.¬†(For homemade insulators you¬†will need some 2ft metal stakes and an old garden hose)
  • Electric Fence¬†Box-do you need a lower watt box for smaller animals like dogs, etc. or do you need something stronger like a livestock electric box for larger animals?

Locate where you want to put your electric fence box.  I bought an electric weather-proof box that can be left out in the elements.  I just screwed it onto a piece of wood and wired the wood to my wire fencing.  Easy!


Pound the 5ft grounding stakes into the ground next to the electric fence box.  Each stake should be at least 1 1/2ft apart from each other and sticking out of the ground a few inches

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Attach a good electricity-conducting wire going from one stake to the next.  Make sure each wire is secured tightly to each stake with the hose clamps to get a good ground

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Connect a wire to the ‘grounding rod’ on the electric fence box, coming from the closest stake. ¬†The grounding knob is usually on the left so make sure to tighten the wire onto¬†it instead of the ‘hot wire’ knob which is usually on the right


Time for the insulators.¬†¬†Because money was tight I used what I had…in this case a few porcelain insulators¬†¬†for wood fencing and then homemade ones…


Here is a homemade insulator that I made out of a metal stake and garden hose…I simply just pounded it into the ground


For the homemade insulators I just cut off some strips of old garden hose and wrapped the hose around the top of the stake.  Make sure the hose completely covers all the way around the stake.  Use two strips if needed.  The hot wire will short out if it touches the stake and the hose prevents this by acting as an insulator when the hot wire is wrapped around the stake.


When you string the hot wire for dogs, you will want it about 6-10in above the ground so set your insulators accordingly to height.  For larger animals like horses, set the insulators higher up on fence.

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Decide where your hot wire will run and place your insulators about 10-20ft apart from each other

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Time to splice a piece of hotwire to the hot wire box…this will serve as the¬†‘connector’ wire which will connect the box to the hotwire. ¬†Measure and cut a piece of hotwire wire, making sure to add 6in extra for future splicing

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The connector wire will be spliced to the ‘hot wire knob’ on¬†the box

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If you bought aluminum¬†hot wire¬†¬†all you need to do is twist wires together to splice (but don’t twist too much as it will break.¬†¬†If you bought¬†the¬†poly string (which I prefer),¬†take one end of the ‘connector’ wire you just measured out and cut


Start by unraveling the three main twisted nylon parts of the wire


You will notice tiny wires running through each of the three main nylon parts of the hot wire.  Separate these tiny wires from each nylon part and twist them together to keep them tidy and out of the way


Clip the nylon part away with scissors


Now twist all three clumps of wires together


Wrap the wires around the electric wire knob which is usually on the RIGHT side of the electric wire box.  Twist securely


Let the other end of the connector dangle for now, it will later be spliced into the main hot wire once you string the main hot wire up.

It’s time to string up the main hot wire! ¬†Find¬†where you want it to start and tie the end of the hot wire to the insulator


Continue stretching the wire from one insulator to the next

I simply wrap the hotwire once or twice around the homemade insulators before moving onto the next


When you get to the box, the main hot wire needs to be spliced into the connector wire

To do this, the main wire will need to be cut in order to splice into connector wire.  This will leave 3 ends that will be spliced together

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Splicing two or more ends of hot wire together is VERY¬†similar as to when we spliced the hot wire to the box…separate the tiny wires and cut away the nylon just like before (the pics only show two hot wires being spliced together¬†but this can be done the same way with three or more also)


Twist the two groups of wires together for a good connection


Tie itself into a knot


Wrap the metal wires around one end of the string to keep it tidy


Fill in any holes along the fence that your dog or other animal has been digging or pushing through to escape.

It’s time to plug er’ in and see how it works! ¬†Make sure to use the electric fence tester to make sure hot wire is working.

Tip:¬†Make sure to keep grass and weeds trimmed so they don’t touch the wire and short it out

Horses usually learn quickly and only need to be reprimanded by the hot wire once or twice before learning to respect it.  Dogs that are used to escaping may take 1-4 times of trying to go under or scrambling over the fence and letting the fence reprimand them before they finally get the idea to respect it.

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34 Responses to How to Put Up Electric Fence or Hot Wire For Dogs, Horses, Animals (Part 1)

  1. Mark says:

    Awesome Tutorial. Thank you for taking the time to put it together with all the pics.

    • Tee says:

      I’m glad it was useful for you Mark! Life is SOOO much easier once you get the fence up and working and your pets are finally under control! LOL ūüėČ

  2. Kaylynn says:

    Hello! Will this work if the dog’s feet are not “grounded” while they touch the wire? We have a 6+ ft cinder block fence that our neighbor’s dog is trying to jump, but she is completely off of the ground when she could come into contact with the wire on top of the cinder block wall.

    • Tee says:

      Hi Kaylynn,

      Good question! I’m assuming the dog probably jumps up, grabs the top of the fence with it’s front feet, then pulls itself up the rest of the way with it’s back feet. As long as the dog touches the wire while it’s touching the wall, it will shock him. So you might put the wire as close to his side of the wall as possible so when he pulls himself up, he runs right into the wire.

  3. Danielle says:

    We live in Nevada and get some pretty good gusts of wind and it is rather common to have fences blow over, which happened to us last night. Our dog got out last night, fence blew down while I was at work. Fortunately he stayed close (surprised me, he is a 9mo puppy). I don’t want to put electric wire on the fence because if it blows down, there goes my electric fence too. I purchased 24″ wood stakes and am planning on pounding those into the ground and attaching fence post insulators to hold the hot wire. Funds are tight seeing as how we have to replace a good 25ft of fencing. Do you see any problems arising with that method? I have had a bad experience with using the wireless pet containment system in the past so that would be a last resort for us.

    • Tee says:

      Hi Danielle!
      I think your method would work just fine with wooden stakes! So glad to hear your pup stuck around after the fence blew down, SCARY!

  4. David says:

    What about for diggers? We have a fence up with a gap of maybe 8″ from the ground to the electric fence, keeps the bigger dog out but a neighbors dog is smaller and goes under. Need a fix.

    • Tee says:

      Hi David,
      You could run a second string of hot wire lower to the ground to keep the smaller dog from going under.

      • David says:

        Well we have a 3 hot wire fence and some places have a clearing of up to 11″! We might just rock it or brick. Or maybe even chicken wire it.

        • Tee says:

          LOL…Yeah, if the hot wire is too far away from were the dogs slip through the fence then it won’t shock them. Good idea…Rock, brick, or chicken wire works well because they cant’ dig into the ground to make larger holes to slip through.

  5. Susan says:

    Would something like this work for the top of a block wall to keep squirrels from getting into our fruit trees? They knock all the fruit down before its ripe so we end up with none. So frustrating!!

    • Tee says:

      That’s a good question Susan! I haven’t personally ever tried it with squirrels, but I’d think it would be worth a try! Let me know what happens!

  6. Paige says:

    Hi Tee.

    We just installed this wire fence system and apparently my dogs have been shocked. We set it up just before we had to leave out of town because they were constantly digging their way out. The problem we have now is they are terrified to go out in the yard. I really did not realize until I returned from the weekend away. I took them on their daily walk on Monday afternoon (late) and they both made 4-5 poops each. I didn’t think anything of it until the next day I went to scoop the poop and there wasn’t any. (BTW, pet-sitter walked them twice a day whilst we were gone). Then I realized they had been staying in the house all day and only going to the bathroom on their daily walk. Today we had our first ever pee in the house accident.

    Do you have any instruction to de-traumatize them? I have been trying to take them out there on a leash, and they tug and pull against it. And they are just terrified when out there, looking around like something is about to get them. I’ve tried shutting their doggie door so they can’t come inside and my dog is screeching her head off to get back in the house!

    Please let me know what I can do. These two dogs are normally never scared of anything – fireworks, thunder/lightning, nothing. Now I’m so worried about how traumatized they are.

    Any suggestions welcome. Thank you.


    • Tee says:

      Hi Paige!
      No worries, this is normal for lots of dogs. They just haven’t figured out that it’s the actual fence that’s shocking them…right now they think that just being in the yard will shock them. The only way they’ll get used to being in the yard is spending lots of time in it. When I’m working with new dogs that are having a hard time adapting to the new hot wire, I usually plan a day or two of working in the yard to keep an eye on them. Usually the new dog will hide under the porch or by the door all day while I’m out there working and that’s OK. I basically just let them be and don’t force them out as they will start to venture out on their own time. I’ve worked with hundreds of dogs with this and they have ALL adapted to the hot wire. Sometimes it takes a good 3 or 4 days (& sometimes a week) for them to start getting the idea but they won’t get better if they don’t spend lots of time outside. If you don’t have time to be outside with them, that’s OK too…lock them out for at least a couple hours a day (the longer they spend outside, the faster they get the idea) I know it’s hard to see them scared but I promise they will realize the yard is not a scary place…and it’s only the fence line that they have to avoid. Do this and you’ll be so glad you stuck to it. Try giving them treats (if they are interested) when they are outside so they start to associate getting rewarded for going out. Hope that helps!

      • Paige says:

        Thank you so much for your prompt response. I have been trying that, so I will continue and give them more time. I know my husband was happy I mowed the lawn this week so I could be out there with them! Thanks and I’ll let you know how it goes.

  7. Rebar is a bad choice for ground rod. Steel + moisture= rust. Rust + Electricity= poor conduction.

  8. Mark says:

    My question is can I put my electric box next to my house (so as to use the outside outlet to plug into) and run the ground wire next to the house and the Hotwire across my property 120 feet away? Perhaps running Hotwire underground in conduit?

  9. Virginia says:

    I have a chainlink fence and a pit bull.he was going under fixed that but now he’s going over it and been into 3 fights.I was wanting to put a hot wire or 2 along the top. Can it be done and how and what will I need please

    • Tee says:

      Hi Virginia, Yes this is possible. I would definitely put a hotwire along the bottom and top of the fence. All the tools and equipment that you will need are listed in my post. First I would run the hotwire along the whole bottom perimeter of the fence using hotwire insulators (I explain about these in my post). Once you’ve run the wire all the way around the bottom, continue to run the line up high around the top, securing it with more insulators that I just mentioned about. There is a pic in my post showing examples of the hotwire at the top and bottom of the fence. Once your dog gets reprimanded a couple times by the hotwire, he will definitely respect the fence and keep a safe distance from it ūüėČ

  10. Karla says:

    Hello, for those of you whose dog(s) are afraid to go into the yard after getting shocked, I’ve always had success walking them near the fence and saying “Owie-Owie”. Then I walk them away and go back and say the same thing several times. Then I let them off the leash and let them go near it by themselves and say the same thing. Of course, they may go out alone and get shocked, but they learn fast. All I have to tell mine now is “Owie-Owie” when they are loose and I’m walking off the property alone. They stay inside the fence even though I open the gates. I have German Shepherds and they used to scoot underneath the 4 board horse fence.

  11. Ellen says:

    Can I zip tie the charger directly to my chain link fence instead of drilling holes in my house siding to hang it?

  12. Rachel says:

    I’m considering trying to make a “mini” hotwire. There’s a product called “scatmat” that makes a fabric strip you can lay on your counter and when touched it shocks the offending counter surfer. But they charge about $50 for it. Would you have any tips or ideas on how to make a small hotwire to string across the counter edge? Even if it’s powered by a small battery? My main problem is I’m electrically inept. I have no clue where to start. Thanks

    • Tee says:

      Hi Rachel,

      Hmm, I’ve never really tried the whole electric fence IN THE HOUSE although I do use the scatmats ALL the time. (you can read my post about my scatmats HERE The reason I chose scatmats over electric fence for in the house is because I can remove them in an instant if I want to use the space that the scatmats were placed on. A hotwire is more permanent and time consuming to set up and take down. But if you did decide to go this route, you would have to somehow secure some insulators to string the hotwire along the countertop or wherever you want your pet deterred. Also, to set up a complete hotwire, you will be spending around $80-$100 so it might just be easier to get a couple of scat mats that equal that price…unless you needed to deter your pet from a very large area…just a thought ūüėČ

  13. RBK says:

    I appreciate the tutorial and I bought all the stuff you recommended by clicking the links you made to Amazon. But now I’m realizing that although the link you made for electricity conducting wire takes you to a spool of Fi-Shock aluminum wire, you say later in the instructions that aluminum won’t work. Am I correct or is it just a misprint?

    • Tee says:

      Hey there! It was definitely a typo which I have since fixed…thank you so much for the heads up! The wire you bought will work just fine as I use it myself for my hotwire ūüėČ

  14. Carl kukol says:

    Our fence shares another property. If I install hot wire on my side of the fence will my neighbors on the other side feel any effects of the hot wire on their side?

    • Tee says:

      Hi Carl!

      Nope, they shouldn’t feel any effects unless they physically walk over and put their arm on your side of the fence and touch the wire. I’ve always shared a fence with my neighbors and have never had a problem. Hope that helps!

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