Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Hot! Hot! Hot!

Not the temperature, the fence!!

As I mentioned in several previous posts we hot wired our fence earlier this summer. We were having regular escapes by several of the dogs and poor Pumpkin and Bandit were on house arrest for several weeks because EVERY time they went out they were escaping out of the yard.

Earlier today I had an email from Rio's mom Anna.... apparently Rio is now on house arrest for trying to escape out of her fence. I mentioned the possibility of hot wiring their fence and Anna wanted to know more. So I present to you...

The WhiteStar Sammies Guide to Hot Wiring a Fence!

Setting the scene: In our case we have about 4 acres fenced in with wire field fencing. The corner posts are all wood, there are several wooden gates and the rest of the fence posts are metal T posts. Most of the fence is five feet high but a portion is only 4 foot high.

The problem: In places the wire is loose along the bottom allowing the dogs to push out under it. Our dirt is very soft and easy to dig in, they can dig a hole big enough to fit thru in a matter of minutes. And there is Pumpkin who was jumping the four foot section from a stand still.

The solution: A hot wire! We hot wired all around the bottom of the fence and along the top of the four foot section.

Hot wired fences are cheap, easy to install, very reliable and NOT just for big yards. You can get the components at any feed or ranch supply store. Maybe Home Depot too? You can even use a hot wire to keep them out of certain areas of your yard, like maybe a garden you don't want them digging in.

Here's what you need:

A charger/battery thingy. I really need to look up the name of what this is called.

We mounted ours in the garage but they can also be mounted outside if you build a little shelter for them. This is a heavy duty one, for horses and cattle, with a five mile limit. That means you can run the wire for five miles and it will still work. There are weaker units, even some made specifically for containing pets.

Wire Guides. They make all kinds. Since we had a combination of wood and metal posts, and were doing both top and bottom we had to use a variety of types. You want a wire along the bottom of the fence to be about 6 - 8 inches off the ground and sticking out about 4 - 6 inches from the fence. The top wire can either be just along the top (but not touching the existing fence!) above the fence or out in front of the fence. We ran ours right along the top

On the left, very strong heavy duty screw in guide that we used to anchor the wire at the ends of the fence and at at the corners. These only hold the wire out about 2 inches so are not practical to use for the entire fence. On the right, a light weight guide that nails into a wooden fence post.

On the left, the guides that we used for most of our fence. They just clip over the metal T-posts. On the right, the guides we used at the top of the four foot section. As you can see these hold the wire much closer to the fence.

Ground Rods. Hot fences need to be grounded in order to work. The typical way of grounding the fence is to use 3 six foot long rods spaced six feet apart. You pound them into the ground so that only about 6 - 8 inches sticks up and then string wire between them. This was the hardest part but we were able to get them in using a sledge hammer.

If you look back up at the picture of the charger thing you will see a black knob on one side and a red knob on the other. One side is the connection to the hot wire, the other side the connection to the ground wire.

Here's a picture of the first ground rod... showing the insulated wire coming from the garage and the ground wire going to the second ground rod.

Six feet away is the second ground rod...

And there is a third one 6 feet from the second one. These are on the outside of our fence but they don't have to be. The ground wire is not hot!

Wire. You need both insulated wire and non-insulated wire.

The insulated wire runs from the charger to the fence and from the charger to the ground rods. Here's a picture of what ours looks like...

From there you just string the wire from guide to guide. Couldn't be easier. The whole thing took us about 3 hours to install from start to finish.

The only "tricky" part was at the gate. We decided that we'd leave the gate unprotected. You can purchase fancy gate hardware for hot wired fences but they are VERY expensive. So we hot wired up to the gate, then laid down concrete blocks at the base of the gate to prevent digging. Yes, Pumpkin could jump the gate (it's only 4 feet tall, but it in an area that is "backed up" by another fence so we feel pretty safe in leaving that small area unprotected.

Here is how we hot wired around the gate:

As you can see the hot wire comes in to one of the white "tie off" guides on top and bottom. We then used insulated wire to connect the top to the bottom on both sides. More insulated wire along the bottom (under the concrete blocks).

Here's a detail picture of a top corner. Sorry it is small but I think you can see what is happening.

A few things to remember about hot wired fences.... if the power goes out the fence is down. You can buy battery back ups, in fact you can buy chargers that are batteries and don't need to be plugged in at all. They are very expensive! You can also buy solar chargers. They are very, very expensive!

In order for the fence to work it MUST be grounded. And in order for the dog to receive a jolt the dog also needs to be grounded. This means the dog must be touching both the fence and the ground. So if the dog were to jump up in the air and put it's paws on the fence without it's back feet touching the ground, it will not feel a thing.

You need to know where your underground utility wires are before you go pounding in those ground rods! Common sense here folks!!

Yes, it hurts to get zapped. I don't know this from personal experience but my husband has been zapped several times. (Don't ask.) No, it does not cause permanent damage. Getting hit by a car, THAT causes permanent damage.

The dogs WILL get zapped. It's how they learn. Don't try to prevent it. Some learn quicker than others. As far as I know several of my dogs got zapped only once and that was it. There there was Kelly. The Zappy Monster bit her several times. At least five times that I know of for sure. I'm convinced that at first she had no clue what was happening and she went thru a period of time (about two weeks) where she was afraid to leave the deck. She got over it and is fine now.

An added benefit of our fence is that my dogs no longer charge the fence barking wildly when stray dog are walking by. YES!!!!

Pumpkin fully endorses the hot wired fence...

"It gives me back my freedom and gives my mom peace of mind!"