Many people fence their yard for safety or for privacy, but dog owners have a third objective: to keep their dog safely in the yard. If you are a first-time dog owner or if you have never had a fence for your dog, you need to consider material, function, and design to make sure the fence is effective for pets.
Not only will a pet fence provide you with some peace of mind, the fence is a good way for your dog to learn boundaries and to get exercise outside without needing to be leased or watched. Consider this guide when designing a fence with the needs of a dog in mind.
Many people consider the fence material and design without thinking too much about the gates. However, with a dog, you need to make sure that all gates to the yard can be secured. If dog theft is common in your area, you might also consider getting gates that can hold secure locks or that can be internally locked with an electronic keypad.
Dogs can sometimes learn how to manage gate latches, so latches should be more complex. Ideally, latches would be located in an area where your dog cannot reach them. For example, you might put the latch on the gate’s exterior or you might put it high enough up that your dog cannot go up on hind legs to reach it.
You might consider spring loading your gates so that they close behind you. This way, if your dog is an escape artist, they have a harder time stealing through the gate as you leave to get into your car.
Some determined dogs can be climbers. Fencing materials vary, and dog fences vary as well. If your dog is agile and determined, they can use footholds in the fencing to get over the top of the fence. For this reason, chain link fencing might not be a good fit for some dogs.
Some dog breeds may be more inclined to climb than others. For example, if your dog has a strong tracking instinct, like a hound bred for hunting, they might climb if they are following a strong scent. For dogs like these, you might need a panel fence that has no footholds. Vinyl or wood plank fencing are good for climbing dogs.
If you already have a chain link fence, consider installing a roller at the top to discourage dogs from getting over.
Some dogs do not climb; they jump. Generally, any large and athletic dog can jump over a low picket or four-foot panel fence. You should consider the abilities and size of your dog when installing a fence. City guidelines might restrict the height of your fence, but if you have a large dog, make the fence as tall as your city will allow.
Ask your contractor about curved fence attachments that also help to make it harder for a dog to jump over the fence.
Many dog owners who have escapee pets might not realize that their fence could actually contribute to escapee behavior. Some dogs love to herd, track, or guard, and they have a hard time resisting all the passersby who provide ample opportunities for activity.
For example, if you have a smart Australian Shepherd or a Border Collie with a strong herding instinct, your dog might not be able to resist leaving the yard to herd passing children or even passing squirrels. Some dogs with very strong herding instincts will even leave the yard to chase after cars.
You can work on behavioral problems with training, but your fencing should work with you. Gaps or visibility from the yard area can make it harder for a dog to resist the urge to escape. If you have a dog with a working family history (police work, herding work, farm work, or hunting work), plan for a full privacy fence to reduce outside distractions.
Gaps and Spacing
You might not think of a dog as an animal that easily fits between gaps, but a healthy dog can actually look much larger than they really are. Large dogs with big coats actually have slender bodies that allow them to fit through (or under) small spaces.
If your home already has a fence, you might not want to tear it out in favor of a different fencing material. At the same time, rail fences or fences with large gaps between pickets might not keep your dog contained. A fencing company can dog-proof some of these fences by adding wiring to fill in the gaps.
You might also consider digging your fence down into the ground. Some dogs squeeze under fences or dig under them. If the fencing goes down into the ground, it’s harder for a dog to escape underneath by tunneling.
Finally, you might consider installing an invisible pet fence with a collar to let your dog know when they are crossing the boundary. These fences can train your dog to stay in the yard and to mind the physical barrier that is already there.
For more information about planning the right fence for your dog, contact us at Town & Country Fence.