Can You Run an Underground Fence ABOVE GROUND?

Maybe a traditional fence isn’t in your budget or you don’t want to dig to install a wired fence. So, can you run an underground fence above ground?

While not recommended by most, with proper installation, a wired invisible fence can be installed above ground.

In this post, we’ll explain the steps of installing an above-ground invisible fence, and then discuss setting up the collar, as well as any troubleshooting that might arise. 

If you’re still not convinced that a wired fence is the best choice for you, then a better choice may be a wireless fence.  

How to Run an Underground Fence Above Ground

How to Run an Underground Fence Above Ground
Any electronic dog fence will work above ground, but most will require you to bury it since the light gauge wire is easily broken unless it’s underground.

To install your invisible wired fence you’ll need to do a few things first:

  • Decide where to place the transmitter and gather the necessary supplies and wires
  • Place wires
  • Set up collar signal and connect to fence
  • Tweaking and Troubleshooting

Location and Supplies

The transmitter on an invisible fence, while weather-resistant, is not waterproof.

For that reason alone, it is best to place the transmitter either in a weatherproof box outside or a safe place indoors, such as a garage or a basement.

Don’t forget that wherever you decide to place the transmitter, you need to make sure it is near a power source.

You will then need to determine how much wire you will need.

20 gauge wire is unsuitable for installing above ground as it is small, fragile, and can break.

So, make sure you have a kit with 14 gauge heavy-duty wire to withstand the elements if you are running the invisible fence above-ground.

Read our related article, Can You Use 14 Gauge Wire for Underground Dog Fence? for a complete guide to 14 gauge wire!

Place Wires

After you get your 14 gauge wire, next you will walk around the property laying down the wire with plenty of slack.

Then, staple the wire into the ground every several feet with the ground staples provided in your kit.  

If your kit does not include staples you can buy them separately from the fence company or most hardware stores.

If you are worried about the wire pulling up or getting tangled, place the staples closer together.

When you get to the corner of the boundary, pack the wire into the ground so that it does not tug on the rest of the wire.

It is also a good idea to make sure the grass is short where you place the wires so that the wires lay flat on the ground, and not sitting on the top of the grass.

While it can be more convenient to install the wire above-ground, keep in mind that you will need to be cautious of edgers and lawnmower blades.

Set Up Collar Signal and Connect to Fence

  • How Does the Collar Work?
  • How Strong is the Collar? Is it Safe for My Pet?
  • Will the Collar Fit my Pet?

How Does the Collar Work?

The transmitter sends a radio signal to your pet’s collar when your pet comes close to or crosses the boundary you set up.

The computer collar is designed to be a gentle reminder for your fur baby to stay in his space.

When set correctly it feels like an uncomfortable prick but is not meant to be painful.

Most invisible fence companies include trainers with adjustable shock strengths so you can train your pet to understand what to do when they encounter the fence.  

Collar Strength and Audible Warnings

When setting the strength of the collar’s shock you can also set the range of the signal to the boundary.

For those pets that are more stubborn in nature, an extended signal can be just the right reminder to stay within its bounds.

Remember too, that before your pet feels any type of sensation there is first an audible reminder, such as a buzz or a beep.

Today there are even models on the market that can include your own personal voice recording. 

Read our related article on How to Adjust Intensity of Invisible Fence Collar for more on changing and deciding on an appropriate collar strength.

Will the Collar Fit my Pet?

Computer collar receivers are easy to use and adjustable in size.

They can be as light as an ounce and adjusted to be small enough to fit a cat, or large enough for a more horse-sized dog.

As far as how tightly to adjust the strap, it should be touching your pet’s skin, with 2 fingers width between the collar and the skin, keeping in mind the length of your pet’s fur.

Now that you understand how to install an invisible fence above ground, what if you run into a problem?

Tweaking and Troubleshooting

A wired fence is not bound by size.

If you have several acres of property and want Benji to run free, just purchase as much wire as you need.

It can also be fastened to an existing fence. Simply wire tie, or weave through the fence.

But, what if you want a break in the dog fence wire to allow your pet more freedom?

Purchase a pre-twisted wire to place over the length of the break and splice it into the existing wire with waterproof wire nuts.    

If you don’t want your buddy to fall into a pond or stomp your roses, you can design any number of other boundaries within the larger boundary by using twisted wire

The twisted wire cancels the signal from the edge of the fence to the designated boundary.  

One good thing about placing your wire above ground instead of buried is that you can easily locate it if there is a problem with the connection.

Check out this video about installing your fence above ground:

If you are still not certain a wired fence is right for you, there’s always the option of a wireless fence.

Which is better? Wired or Wireless? We’ll compare them. You decide.

Read More: How to Test an Electric Dog Fence. Here’s how to safely test your new fence in a few easy steps!

Pros of a Wired Invisible Fence

Pros of a Wired Invisible Fence
Wired fences are more reliable, especially in terms of system malfunction.

Signal Strength

Does invisible fence work under snow? Short of 6 feet of snow or a power outage, a wired fence does not lose its signal.

However, wireless fences are prone to interference by low-hanging trees or even hilly terrain.  

In addition, if a wireless signal fails, your pup gets an unfriendly zap, even when he hasn’t misbehaved while wired fences do not shock when the power is lost.

Read More: Do Electric Fences Work in Snow? Yes! But here’s what you need to know to winterize.


Where wireless fences are bound to a circular signal within a confined space, wired fences can be custom-made to fit your needs.

As already explained, you can place extra barriers and create breathable room for your pet.

Read More: Wireless Pet Containment System PetSafe Instructions. Here’s what you need to know about the Dog and Cat Containment System and a link to the manual for instructions!

Pros of a Wireless Invisible Fence

Pros of a Wireless Invisible Fence
Since wireless fences rely solely on a wireless signal, they may malfunction and shock your dog incorrectly.


While installing a wireless fence takes just minutes, installing a wired fence can equal the cost of a professional to install it or your entire weekend of free time. 


While a wired invisible fence is perhaps more durable, wireless setups cannot be matched in their portability.

With wired fences, unless you want to spend time and effort digging it all backup, it stays behind.

If you decide to move locations and have a wireless fence, you need only to take it with you where you go.

There are even versions that are made for travel. 

But, keep in mind the batteries in wireless systems are not as strong and do not have as wide a range of coverage.

Read our related article, Which is Better Wired or Wireless Dog Fence? for more details to help you choose the right system for you!


Invisible fences have come a long way in recent years and can easily be installed above ground if necessary.

So, when a traditional fence is not an option an invisible fence may be a great solution. 

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

You can read more about me in our about us page

Connect with me:

Leave a Comment