Country living, DIY, & a Dash of Fun!

DIY Electric Fence / Hot Wire For Animals (Part 1)

Setting Up and Splicing Wire

  • Click HERE to see Part 2 of this tutorial (How to hot wire gates, rabbit hutches and chicken coops).

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-you get purchase a lower watt box for smaller animals like dogs, etc. or you can buy 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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

Be sure to check out part 2!

DIY Electric Fence / Hot Wire For Animals (Part 2)

(Gates, rabbit/chicken coops)


DIY Kids Pallet Wood Picnic Table


DIY Electric Fence / Hot Wire For Animals (Part 2)


  1. Mark

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

    • Tee

      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 😉

  2. Kaylynn

    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

      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

    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

      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

    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

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

      • David

        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

          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

    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

      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

    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

      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

        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

    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?

    • Tee

      Hi Mark,

      That’s a good question…I’ll bet if you called an electrician they would be able to tell you. If you find out let me know!

  9. Virginia

    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

      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 😉

  10. Karla

    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

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

    • Tee

      Hi Ellen,

      Yep, zip ties would work just fine ! 🙂

      • Angel

        For some reason our hot wire fence is not working, we’ve had multiple people with experience take a look at it and nobody can figure out what the issue is.
        My dogs dig out everyday. We used the galvanized grounding rod, and the aluminum wire. We have one grounding rod ( is this the reason why we’re not getting the connection we need?)
        Because nothing we do seems to work.

        • Tee

          Hi Angel,
          Hmmm…yes, I would add a couple more grounding rods, as you may not be getting a strong enough ground to run electricity through the wire. Good luck!

  12. Rachel

    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

      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 😉

  13. RBK

    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

      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 😉

  14. Carl kukol

    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

      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!

  15. Laura Belle

    The bottom pic shows a gate. How do you run for gates to be able to open and close without a break in the line?

    • Tee

      Hi Laura,

      There is a link right above that pic of the gate that leads you to Part 2 of the post (How To Put Up Electric Fence/Hot Wire For Dogs, Horses, Animals (Part 2) Gates, rabbit/chicken coops) In case you missed it click HERE

  16. Katie

    This has been a wonderful resource… I have a young black and tan coonhound who is incredibly hunting driven and digs out of our fence constantly. I am considering hotwiring the bottom, but my concern is with my smaller dogs, 2 dachshunds and a chihuahua. I am terrified they will be hurt by the shock which they are bound to experience at some point. I plan to place marking flags all along the line so they will learn but I am concerned for the little ones safety. I am looking at the charger designed for dogs, chickens and rabbits. What is your opinion on the smaller dogs and do you think marking flags help them learn faster?

    • Tee

      Hi Katie!

      Good question! Luckily I have a good answer for you 😉

      For dogs I prefer to use the Fido Shock which (unlike stronger livestock shockers), only gives out a shock strong enough for dogs. Through the years I’ve fostered and boarded hundreds of dogs in my home (including toy breeds) and have never had any issue with their safety. I’ve also never had a need to use the flags…they learn really quick what ‘bites’ them when they get too close to the fence and after a time or two will usually stay away. Hope that helps!

  17. Ava

    I need to wire just one fence to keep my horses from ruining the fence to get grass on the other side. How do I make a complete circuit back to my solar box when I’m not running the wire full circle on the perimeter of the entire fenced area. I only need it on one side?

    • Tee

      Hi Ava.
      You actually don’t need to run the wire in a full circle when using hot wire. Simply connect the wire to the hot wire box and run the wire as far (or short) as you want. I actually have a section on my fence that I have a hot wire box, and the hot wire that’s connected to it runs in a straight line down to the end of the fence (no circle)

      • Debi Brand

        With respect to the “one side” only needed issue, the side I need to make hot is the west side of our enclosed yard. But how does one get power to it, short of having to run an extension cord to it from the house–not what I would want to do?

        • Tee

          Hi Debi!

          You can use a solar powered hot wire box in which you wouldn’t need an extension cord. Amazon has a good one HERE. Hope that helps!

    • Debi Brand

      Second post attempted here: I also need to run a wire on one side only. What works best for power absent a plug in?

      • Tee

        Hi Debi,

        Sorry for the late response, your comment somehow slipped through and I didn’t see it till now 🙂 They do sell solar powered hot wire boxes that work well. You can purchase one HERE
        Hope that helps!

  18. Hi, I have a jumper that’s clearing 1.4 meters easy. I also have a toddler I don’t want to shock. Do you think a top line will work and do they eventually just stop jumping? My dog is driving me mad! She jumps and chases my chickens and pulls all my washing of the line. Not to mention is she gets past the next fence the farmer may shoot her… I’m almost thinking of rehoming 🙁 I’ve tried a shock collar and she now just ignores it and jumps faster… desperate

    • Tee

      Hi Chery,
      Yes, a line running along the top will work! I used to have a dog that jumped my fence so I ran a line up top, including along the top of the gate(I had to duck under the line every time I went through the gate LOL) It worked though, she never jumped it again!

  19. Debi

    I also need to make hot just one wire (at least for starters…), what is reliable power source short of a plug in?

  20. Laurie

    I’m thinking of adding a “hot fence” onto my picket fence for my golden retriever who knocks boards out easily and runs away. He pushes the fence at a low point, so I would want the wire low. But what happens when we get a foot of snow and the wire is covered? I know nothing about electricity, obviously. Thanks for your tutorial, it’s great.

    • Tee

      Good question! You will have to shovel the snow away from the wire when it gets high enough to touch, otherwise the wire will ground it out and it won’t work. It’s the same thing with weeds.
      When my hotwire starts getting to where it isn’t working like normal, I walk along the line and usually find a large weed touching it somewhere. I simply remove the weed and the wire will work again, hope that helps!

  21. Courtney

    What happens when your dog pees on a low hot wire – pulsated at a level recommended for dogs. I’m worried it’ll kill them. I can’t find reliable information online. Many say it just shocks them. Others say it can kill them. Have you had experience with this?

    I’m thinking about just installing a higher wire for my fence jumper and being done with it.

    • Tee

      Hi Courtney!

      Good question! There are different strengths of hot wire boxes that range anywhere from containing livestock down to containing dogs. I’ve had both types and have been shocked by both myself. I’ll tell ya right now, livestock shockers definitely give you quite a wallop when shocked. My own larger dogs have always been fine after being shocked by them when wandering too close to the horse pasture. I’ve never had a little dog shocked by a livestock shocker but I’ve seen a feral cat or two shocked and they just ran off afterwards. For my dog yard, I’ve always used the smaller dog shockers (I left a link to one in my post). They definitely give off a lower grade shock and would be the one I’d recommend for smaller dogs if you’re concerned about it. When I used to run a dog boarding facility at my place, I had a dog shocker surrounding the large yard that the pups ran and played in. I’ve boarded every sized dog you can imagine (from chihuahuas to mastiffs) and all of them were fine after being shocked by the dog shocker, and they learned to respect the fence at the same time. About the peeing on the hot wire…I’ve never actually seen any of my dogs do this, but it’s not to say that they haven’t done it without my seeing it. With all the dogs I’ve watched through the years (probably hundreds), I’m sure it’s happened but they all survived and lived on to ripe old ages! I hope this helps!

  22. R.Van KINS

    GONNa try this as my dogs just killed neigh ours chickens..ELECTRIC YARD MAY JUST SAVE ME ALOT OF MONEY AND WORRY..GONNA DO IT

    • Tee

      You will like this because you won’t ever have to worry again. The dogs learn to respect it and stay where they belong. Good luck!

  23. Samiam

    I have a pulse hot wire fence will that work or do i need one that is continuously

  24. dana owens

    I have a question….I want to make more play area for my dog and his friend. How in the world do you pound ground pole that far in the ground?! Can I use a metal fence post? Like 5′ pounded down to 3?

    • Tee

      Hi Dana!
      You can use tee posts (found HERE) pounded into the ground to hold up the fence, and a post pounder (found HERE) to pound the posts into the ground. Pound the tee post into the ground until the ‘spike’ on the lower part of the post disappears under the surface of the dirt. You can find both the tee posts and the post pounder at Home Depot or Lowe’s. Hope that helps!

  25. Jennifer Judice

    Any advise on split second training? I can’t find any literature on training my 2 big boys to respect the hot wire fence system we just installed. (Neighbors threatened to shoot them next time they saw one of them trying to poke through the fence 😥)

    Husband installed and working great. Have not worked with dogs at all but one of them got zapped earlier. Do we put orange or red flags along the wire? Do we make them get zapped?
    I’m so frazzled over the threat—- I just need to utilize all necessary actions.

    • Tee

      Hi Jennifer,
      Believe it or not, while we can’t hear it, dogs can hear it when it’s on. They’ll learn really fast after the first zap or two what that quiet pulsing noise is. My dogs always know when my hot wire isn’t working or turned off…I know this because they start escaping after a few weeks of it not working. They don’t hear it anymore so they start testing it. I’ve never used flags or anything…just let them figure it out, that’s the best way to do it.

  26. Sarah

    I have pitbulls that keep finding their way under the fence. I also have a yorkie and a chihuahua. Is the electric fence dangerous for the little ones?

    • Tee

      For small dogs you can use an electric fence box made for small animals found HERE. It is a lot safer for them.

  27. Alfred Trolinger

    What is a good idea for a human shocker? I have a shed that is constantly being broken into, a camera won’t do because they shoot it with BB’s or throw rocks at it!

    • Tee

      Hi Alfred!
      Haha! Although I’ve never used this wire as a human deterrent, I’m sure you could! If you were to run a hot wire (one about a foot off the ground and then another one waist-high) around your shed, I’m sure it would keep people out!

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