Finding a Break

Finding and Fixing a Wire Break

Over the lifetime of an electric dog fence, it is not uncommon for a wire break to occur. If a wire should break, your transmitter box will let you know by incessantly beeping and flashing. You may also notice that your receiver collars are no longer reacting when you approach the wire.

Performing a Short Loop Test

Your dog fence transmitter will let you know there is a break in the line by setting off an alarm. If your transmitter is alarming, and you think you may have a wire break, the first thing to check is the functionality of your dog fence transmitter. The concept of a short loop test is to create a tiny little loop of dog fence wire on your transmitter, to see if your transmitter is still alarming when this short loop of wire is connected.

Here is how to do a short loop test:

  • Unplug all wires going into your dog fence transmitter.
  • Cut a small piece of wire (12 inches) and strip both ends of it.
  • Connect each end to your two terminals going into your dog fence transmitter, creating a tiny little loop.
  • Plug in your dog fence transmitter.
A graphic showing how to do a short loop test
How to do a short loop test
A graphic showing how to unplug all wires
How to unplug all wires

Is your transmitter still beeping? This means that there is a problem with your dog fence transmitter. Please contact us at 800-305-6116 to see if your transmitter is covered under warranty. Did your transmitter stop beeping with the short loop hooked up to it? This means that there is likely a problem in your dog fence wire. If the audible alarm stops when you are testing using a short loop, you can test your collar using the short loop, if you like.

Place your dog fence collar next to the short loop, making certain that the range is set low enough on the transmitter. Hold your receiver collars a few inches away from the loop, and make sure you have fresh batteries inserted in the collar. Your dog fence collar should beep when you place it next to the wire.

Testing Wire Continuity with a Multi-Meter

A multi-meter can also be used to verify the main loop functionality. A multi-meter can be purchased from any hardware or home improvement store.

Begin by setting the multi-meter to the continuity setting, which is the position that resembles a speaker. Next, touch the tips of the metal legs to the ends of your twisted wire. Next, listen for your multi-meter to beep. If it does, that means you have continuity in your dog fence wire. This means that your loop is functional and that you don’t have a wire break. If you don’t have a wire break, the problem could be in your collar or transmitter.

Ways to Detect a Wire Break

Wire Break Locator Kit

You can locate a wire break, by using a Wire Break Locator Kit. It includes a mini transmitter and an AM radio.

Based on our extensive testing, it has been determined that this device only works well for fence systems with less than 500 feet of dog fence wire. In addition to this, the breaks must be clean, as opposed to partial or decaying breaks.

A drawing showing a man locating wire breaks
Use a wire break locator

What to do:

  • Unplug your dog fence transmitter.
  • Connect your wire break locator to your twisted wire.
  • Ground the sending unit by attaching the enclosed wire to the center screw of an electrical outlet.
  • Plug in the sending unit, so that both lights on the transmitter are lit.
  • Turn on the AM radio, turning the station to 530 KHZ. You might need to adjust the dial to a channel that doesn’t have a radio station.
  • Begin to follow the twisted wire with the radio towards the main dog fence loop. You will begin to hear a combination of two sounds as you follow the twisted wire. Should there be a break in the twisted wire, the sound will slowly switch from two sounds to one sound.
  • If everything from the twisted wire checks out fine, begin to follow the main dog fence loop. You will begin to hear one steady sound. Follow the dog fence wire until this tone gets softer or begins to change. Begin to dig around this area and locate both ends of where your wire has broken.
  • Should you run into interference issues, disconnect your twisted wire from the main loop and connect both ends of the main loop to your sending unit. You will have to run an extension cord to your main loop in order to power it up.

Visual Inspection

A drawing showing a man making a visual inspection
Searching for disturbances

The following things commonly cause wire breaks: edgers, weed whackers, lawn aerators and rodents. Physically doing a walk around your perimeter looking for indications of any of these situations happening is the first way to look for a wire break.

The second place to check would be where your splices or wire connectors are located. Sometimes this is the area where the wires can become pulled apart inadvertently.


  • Start at the transmitter. Inspect the wire from the exit point through the door, wall or window. Carefully inspect where the twisted wire leaves your home. This is a common area where the wire can be broken. Examine the ground where the twisted wire is placed, looking for possible areas of disturbance.
  • Walk around the perimeter looking for any disturbances in the ground. Pay specific attention to the driveway, pathway, sidewalk and areas where there is heavy foot traffic. These areas are the most common places where wire breaks can be found. Look carefully at edge lines at driveways and sidewalks.

RF Choke Method

You can also use the RF choke method to find a wire break. First, you will need to purchase an RF choke at your local electronics supply or hardware store. Next, disconnect your wires from your transmitter and replace them with the choke-one end of the choke in each lead on the control box. Next, turn the signal strength all of the way up. There should not be any wire break error when the choke is in place. Now, take your two end wires and attach one to either side of the choke by wrapping the wire around the choke. Be certain that the choke is touching the uninsulated end of each wire. Use the AM radio to detect the break by walking the perimeter and listening for silence. There should be audible pulsing where the wire is intact, and silence where the break is located.

To Partially Replace Dog Fence Wire:

If your dog fence wire is old, consider replacing it before investing too much time locating and repairing a break in your wire. Dog fence wire is relatively inexpensive, and installing it is easier to do the second time around. You may decide to skip the pathways and driveways. Instead, you can splice into them on both ends, although it is a good idea to test areas as you replace each section of wire.

  • To begin, locate the ends of twisted wire that are coming into contact with the main loop of your electric dog fence.
  • Disconnect your twisted wire from your main loop. Strip about ½ inch of wire from the twisted wire so that you can see the copper. Twist both ends of the wire together, temporarily.
  • Go over to your dog fence transmitter and test for continuity with a meter. If your twisted wire is good, move on to your next step. If it isn’t, replace your twisted wire, or locate where your break is in your twisted wire. If your twisted wire was broken and you repaired or replaced it, temporarily connect the twisted wire ack to the main loop. Go to your dog fence transmitter box and test for continuity. If your main dog fence perimeter tests well, permanently repair or replace only the twisted wire. There isn’t a need to look further. If you still don’t have a complete loop, go on to the next step.
  • If you have figured out that the break is not in the twisted wire, begin to partially replace areas of your wire that are questionable. After you have replaced certain sections of your wire, go back to your transmitter to see if the problem has been corrected. You can also run a piece of standard wire from each end of your twisted wire to the middle of your fence and connect them to your loop. This makes it easier for the break to be isolated, allowing the search area to be lessened for potential breaks.
Two drawings showing cables
Repairing a wire break

Repairing a Break

Once you have found the wire break, strip off a ½ inch of insulation on each side and then use a waterproof splice capsule or waterproof wire nut to put the two ends together again. Should the wire be too short to rejoin the two ends, you can just splice in another section of wire to create the connection.