How to Dog-Proof a Barbed-Wire Fence
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Living on a farm in Brazil, I've gained local in-depth knowledge of food, plants, and traditions, which I share through my articles.
You might think that having a barbed wire fence is a good barrier for dogs. That's what I thought as well—how wrong I was. I would like to tell you some of the things we have tried and used here on our farm. I will also mention the pros and cons of doing each one. Take a look and see which ones might help you secure your property. These ideas can be used for keeping your own dogs or livestock in or other dogs (coyotes, strays, etc.) out.
It may be that your place already had some barbed wire fencing installed when you moved in, or maybe it is the most cost-effective method of fencing for you. Where we live, our choices were limited to a barbed wire fence or building a wall. The wall and its continued upkeep were way over our budget, so that was a nonstarter for us.
How to Tell If Your Dog Is Getting Out Of Your Fence
If you aren't sure if your dog is getting out of your wire fence, there are a few indicators. If your dog goes out at night while you're asleep, it may be that they'll return before you wake up, and then it makes it difficult to know if it has been at home or out roaming around your neighborhood. Some dogs are jumpers, some are diggers, and others push their way between the wire strands. Check for these telltale signs.
- Check your dog for scratches on the sides, back, or stomach area. These are easier to see if the dog has short hair. On our Doberman, these marks are quite clear. Sometimes these will bleed a little as well.
- Look for well-trodden paths, flatten grass, or digging marks near the wire. Depending on how much land you have and how overgrown it is, this could take some time.
- Another indication is dog hair caught in the wire. If your dog has long hair, this may have caught where the dog gets out. So although your dog may have escaped the scratches, a mark has been left behind for you to see.
- The next way is to ask your dog. Huh? Our Doberman isn't the brightest dog, so when I said, "Max, show me your hole," she went straight to it. As odd as this sounds, this happened twice! Our mongrel was doing a mental eye roll, I'm sure, as she seems to be the more intelligent of the two.
Using this as a guide will help you know where and how the dog is getting out, and then you can plan how to fix the problem.
Barbed Wire on Wooden Stacks or Posts
Depending on the quality and availability of wood in your area, you may be able to source this for free. Barbed wire on wooden stacks is the most common method we see here. There are many scrubland areas, and the locals readily cut wood.
Depending on where you live, you may have a free source of wood, such as this.
The pros are cost; depending on your area, you may be able to cut this for free. The use of a chainsaw would be a benefit depending on the size of the stacks you require. If you aren't able to do this, hire someone to cut on your behalf. We had a worker cut for us when we required 6-7' stakes for our young coconut trees. He was able to go to the scrubland adjoining our house and cut 400+ for us. For that purpose, he just used a machete as they only needed to be a couple of inches in diameter. Still, all of the wood here is hardwood; therefore, they will last a long time.
Consider wood that is at least 3" across and as high as you deem necessary for use with barbed wire. Remember, you will be placing these solidly in the ground, at least 2' deep, so work this into the decision for how high you need them.
We still have some fencing on wooden stacks on our outer perimeter. These are mainly to keep cattle out and as a property line marker.
The disadvantage is that wood rots and is prone to insects and is less permanent because of this. It also burns, so if you do any land clearance by burning, clear a firebreak near your fence.
Wire and Concrete Stacks
The majority of our fencing on our farm is concrete stacks and barbed wire. When we first moved in we had uneven land with wooden stacks and we had cows coming under the gap. We hired a digger and a driver to level the land and then workers to put the concrete stacks and barbed wire in. We have wire, spaced about 8" apart and have between 11 and 12 runs. That is a lot of wire and stacks on our eight acres.
The downside of this method is that it can be expensive. The stacks themselves weren't that expensive but if you have a lot to do, the costs mount up. Plus, with several runs of wire and wages, you can see how the cost can spiral. If you are capable of doing the work yourself, I'd suggest this is your best option.
The Quality of the Wire
All barbed wire is not created equally. We live in an area with high humidity and a lot of salt air, and metal rusts incredibly fast. We opted for a good quality wire over the less expensive brand as we wanted it to last. We also used some inexpensive wire, which was reused from earlier fencing, and now we are having to replace it. Another thing to consider is the barbs, how close are they? We have just discovered that some of the wire installed by the previous owner has very few barbs.
Whether your dog is a pedigree or a mongrel, you don't want it to get out or others to get in. A good quality wire is essential. Galvanized is best to prevent it from rusting and breaking.
If you are using concrete stacks like we have on our farm, don't forget about the wire you use to tie the barbed wire, it too should be galvanized. Some of our wire wasn't coated or galvanized and now it is breaking off and leaving sections of fencing unsupported. It's a case of the weakest link. If you have good quality barbed wire but poor quality tying wire, your fencing isn't going to be secure or last long.
If you are attaching your wire to wooden posts, you will be using the nails shaped like a U called fence staples. These should be galvanized as well.
Using a Mesh or Netting
For our dogs, the barbed wire wasn't enough. Even with a run at the bottom in the sand. Another option we have used was plastic mesh. This was something we had left over from the time we were doing fish farming. Our fish cages were made from various strengths of these. The advantage for us, we already had it here on our farm. This is usually sold by the meter and the price will depend on the quality of the plastic. Although this did a wonderful job whilst submerged in the water, in the sunlight it became brittle and broke. We have a high UV rating, sometimes up to 11 which falls into the extreme category. It is this that destroys plastic items which are exposed to the light.
This type of mesh may be perfect for where you live. It is black so it is unobtrusive and can be attached with cable ties. Make sure you attach this at the top, middle and bottom. You can judge the spacing that is required. It should be as high as you think your dog can pass through. I would say a meter (39").
We have now erected some shade netting on the wire to use as a barrier. As you can see in the photo. This too we had previously purchased to reduce the sunlight in our garden. It is woven and was relatively easy to hook it on the barbs with two people. One fixing the top and the other at the bottom. This too we have cut to about a meter in height.This should be more robust than the plastic mesh as it is designed to be in the sun.
This is working in most places but you do have to watch for digging. Just this morning my dogs were out playing up on the dunes behind our house. They came back under the mesh. I have since secured this with bricks, and bits of old tiles to keep them from digging.
Using Renewable Sources
Palm leaves woven into the wire is one the items we have used as they are plentiful here on our farm. For this, we cut off the large woody end and weave the more flexible part of the leaf through the wire. If you don't have palms, any flexible branches will work. As you continue adding more leaves or branches, the wire becomes more difficult to work with as it becomes tighter.
We have also used sticks such as bamboo. These were hammered into the ground. We left a gap between them but they could sit side by side, creating an impenetrable barrier.
Both the leaves and the sticks look more visually appealing if they are the same level. Leaves can easily be trimmed but sticks will need to be sawn or cut with secateurs.The positive side is this is a renewable source and is often free. However, it can be time-consuming.
How a Dog Gets Through Wire
Remember: a dog can go under, over or through. I have seen one of my dogs do all three. When my Doberman was younger, she jumped like a gazelle over a lower part of the fencing. Between mine and my neighbor's house, we have a section of fencing that is low, less than a meter. We use this to climb over when we go to visit, instead of walking the long way around. They have wrapped some fabric around the barbs so we don't catch our clothes on it. It was here, Max leaped over.
If the wire isn't pulled tight or the dog is slim, they can pass between the strands of wire. This can also happen if the tying wire has broken or come loose. There are a few things you can do about this. Run an extra strand of wire to make the gap smaller or use a connecting wire in between the strands. This will pull the wires closer together.
Going under the bottom wire is a result of digging or uneven ground. This results in scratches on the animal. In certain places, we have even run a length of wire at ground level. Hammering sticks into the ground or blocking with heavy items seems to be working.
As you can see, we have tried several methods, and some of them work for a time, and some of them don't. If your dog is determined to get out, they will look for the easiest way. Stay vigilant and check your fencing frequently.
© 2018 Mary Wickison
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on May 18, 2020:
You're absolutely right. A determined dog will find a way. The owners need to become a detective and watch for signs. Dogs can be sneaky when they want to be.
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 18, 2020:
Your first-hand tips to dog-proof a fence are useful. It must a constant effort to prevents the dogs from sneaking out and some others getting in. That dogs are smart makes it all the more difficult.
RobWVJr on August 23, 2019:
Farmers should do this in Europe to keep wolves out. I mean they started reintroducing them because they killed them all practically. However now the governments want the wolves to be protected, so why don't farmers just do this in Europe. I mean the livestock owners can't shoot the wolves so why not do this? See I see wolves as untamed pets, but they are not pets but they are just wild dogs to me.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on December 03, 2018:
We started with 13 puppies and now have 9. Although I called them Dobermans, my dog is a doberman cross and she ran up on to the dunes (through my fencing) and found herself a friend.
They look like a rotweiller cross, the muzzle is wide. The coloring is also, Doberman or Rotweiller.
However, this is my first time with puppies so maybe they all look like that.
I am giving them the replacement milk 2 or 3 times a day. I hope to start them on some solids, next week. I read on the internet, at 4 weeks I can start on solids. Hopefully at 6 weeks, they will be weaned.
They took to the replacement milk, very well.
Dr Mark from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 03, 2018:
Hi Mary it is a rainy day down here in Bahia so I am mostly inside. I was thinking about your Dobie puppies and wondering how things are going up there. Did the milk replacer work out? Do you still have all of the puppies?
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on June 23, 2018:
I think you must be a mind reader. Last week my husband planted some chillies in our raised beds and I wondered if the plant or the peppers themselves could act as a dog deterrent.
I didn't trust my dogs to stay out of the beds, so I put plastic fencing around them.
Even today, we were renewing some fencing where the dogs have pushed through our perimiter fence. I will put cayenne pepper on my shopping list next week. Thanks for the idea.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 23, 2018:
It sounds as if you have tried all different types of methods to keep your dogs contained. Using natural materials on your farm is not only good economically but also attractive as in the case of weaving those palm leaves through the wire.
We once had a dog who liked digging. Once we determined that he often dug in the same spot we put some cayenne pepper in it. Once he got his nose in that he never went back to the same spot. Eventually he stopped his digging.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on April 05, 2018:
I think you've hit on a critical point, it is about making their own area, their territory. Ours stay put during the night, and the middle of the day because of the heat. The most tempting times are early morning and early evening.when they're perky.
I hope your terriers stay put after your modifications.
Thanks for your comment.
Tim Truzy on April 05, 2018:
Great article. We have a small pack of terriers, notorious diggers, who used to escape from our fenced in yard. We added chicken wire to the fence, placed bricks and filled in their favorite digging places, and encouraged them to love their yard by helping them identify spots in the area that belonged to them. It's funny: they each have a place now they go to for their "bathroom" moments. We tapped into their territorial behavior. It seems to have worked, until it gets cold, then all bets are off.
But they have not gotten away in a good while, that's comforting.
Thanks for an interesting and informative article.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on March 22, 2018:
You're right, it isn't a good deterrent unless a lot of extra work goes into it. I can't even imagine what it would cost to have chainlink fencing installed here. I can see how that would be a better option for dog control.
I'm glad you're enjoying our adventures. If you'd like to read more, I have a site on Patreon, the link is in my profile. That is more like a blog of short posts.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on March 22, 2018:
Isn't it amazing that we can stand there and tell the dog they were wrong, and they just don't care! Although we were sick with worry, they don't seem to care about that.
Being frugal and resourceful is what small time farming is all about. For example, we have a trailer made out of fish cages, a wheelchair, and a chicken shed door. It is great to have a neighbor who is a welder. No idea is too crazy for him.
Thanks for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Jo Miller from Tennessee on March 22, 2018:
We don't have dogs so this is not a problem for us but I have never thought barb wire fences I have seen in this area would be much of a deterrent for dogs. Most people here use chain link fences.
I enjoy reading about your farming experiences in Brazil.
Christine Mulberry on March 20, 2018:
These sound like great tips. I've lived in rural areas for many years (urban ones as well) and although I've never been a farmer, I've known many. They tend to be very resourceful and inventive people in my experience. This is an example of that! Dogs are smart and determined. Even my little long haired dachshund surprises me. She climbs fences and she is oh so proud when she does :)
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on March 19, 2018:
I don't think our Fila felt pain with all that loose skin. He had his own agenda but was so quiet when he wanted to sneak out.
I never knew I would spend so much looking for holes in fencing, or a palm leaf pushed aside.
I think I am much more aware of our surroundings and notice if something isn't as it should be. Just this evening when I went to lock the gate, there was a vine snake in one of the coconut trees heading for a dove's nest. Although my husband took it out of the tree, I suspect those baby doves will be gone tomorrow.
My neighbors have a blind cat that comes through our fence, how she has avoided being chomped by our dogs, I don't know.
Most of the dogs here are free to roam the neighborhood.
I guess fence repairs have always been a necessary part of farming.
Great to hear from you.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on March 19, 2018:
After I read your comment, I had a look on YouTube about them. I think it is a good idea but not sure how it would work with our set up here, we have long runs of fencing.
We have a 'fairly reliable' electricity supplier (Spanish/Chinese owned).
It is something I will keep in mind if our other methods let me down. Buying anything that needs to be imported costs a lot of money with taxes, import duties etc,
In addition to the the ways I've mentioned above, we are also going to be planting more cactus by the fence. That is also a security measure, as we have had incidents where our wire has been cut.
Plus since our coconut farm will be producing in the near future, theft is a possibility. I'd like to see someone attempt to jump a wall of cactus whilst carrying a bag of coconuts with a Doberman snapping at their heels.
Life in the tropics is always an adventure.
Thanks for your suggestion.
Dr Mark from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 19, 2018:
I just read your comments on your Fila and had to smile. My Fila never squeezes out, she just goes through. She has snapped the barbed wire and ripped up my web fencing; almost every day I have to go out and find the holes to fix. Arent dogs great?
Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on March 18, 2018:
How about an invisible electric fence? Lots of dog owners here in Michigan use those. The dogs learn not to go off the property if they don't want to get shocked. They wear special collars. Of course a steady supply of electricity is needed.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on March 16, 2018:
Yes, it is a shame that you have to protect your property from canine invaders when really it is the responsibility of the owners.
You are right, dogs can get through incredibly small gaps. When we had our Brazilian mastiff, he would squeeze between a wall and a fence post erected right beside it.
Sometimes, it is enough to test the patience of ourselves and the neighbors.
Great to hear from you, have a wonderful weekend.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 16, 2018:
Thanks for sharing from your experience. Excellent comprehensive coverage of the topic. My challenge is keeping dogs out. It's amazing how they get through small spaces.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on March 15, 2018:
Flourish, we too have had some dogs push through our fence. One was killed by our Brazilian Mastiff. My neighbor's mongrel dog grabbed one of my guinea fowl, and others come to visit, like your neighbor's dog.
We seem to spend more time controlling dogs than we do farming!
At least your neighbor's dog meant no malice.
For some reason, the mongrels here just love to wander. I think it is the Brazilian way, they just love to be sociable.
Thanks for your comment.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on March 15, 2018:
It can be a worry and dogs can be so determined. Keeping the dogs tethered, isn't kind but sometimes is the better option. It is an ongoing problem, as our dogs are part of our security here, not pets. A tied dog is no security.
Good fencing and frequent checks are needed.
Two days ago, I woke to find our Doberman chewing on a bone which I can only assume was a pig's leg. I have no idea where she found that.
It's good to know I am not the only one who has this ongoing problem.
FlourishAnyway from USA on March 15, 2018:
You gotta love dogs and their determination. I'm convinced that any barrier is seen as a challenge rather than a deterrent. We used to have a neighbor with a digger dog, an energetic teenage puppy, who would escape his yard no matter what they'd do so he could come visit me. I'd look out my living room window at several points throughout the day and there he was looking back at me. sometimes he'd just sit under my trees and watch the squirrels play. My indoor and outdoor cats didn't appreciate his antics but he was a sweetie.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on March 15, 2018:
Our dogs do the same. They go out when the gate is left open. They have serious cuts or sometimes, we have serious complaints from the local authorities as they run after people passing by. We have barbed wire, too, and they have their own way of getting out when they like. We don't want people to get hurt as well as the dogs so we keep the fence in order.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on March 15, 2018:
So true Bill. I often wonder who is running the show around here.
Here, many dogs are left to roam and often visit several neighbors. The country dogs also have better 'road sense' than city dogs. We seem to be the only ones concerned with keeping our dogs within our land.
I hope your weather is warming up for you, enjoy the weekend.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 15, 2018:
The longer I am involved in urban farming and farming in general, the more I'm convinced that the animals are smarter than their owners. They always, and I mean always, find an escape route. Put them in Alcatraz and they could find their way out of that maximum security prison as well. :) Good suggestions, Mary....have a great weekend!
How To Keep Your Dog From Escaping Your Backyard?
There are many reasons why your furball would like to escape your yard. Dogs are curious pets that will love to discover new things around the neighborhood. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t restrict him from having fun in your backyard by the fear that he escapes. The best way to make sure he stays safe without leaving your property is certainly by dog proofing your fence!
10 Solutions For Dog Proofing Your Fence!
Once you choose the perfect fencing solution for your yard, it’s time to make it even safer for your pooch. Whatever fence you have (or will have), he could probably still find a way out of your backyard. Hopefully, there are some ways to prevent him from escaping by dog proofing your fence. Here are 10 things you can do to avoid this common problem!
1. Extend Your Fence Higher.
Sometimes your fence is simply too short to restrain your dog from jumping over it. Some breeds can jump up to 6 feet to clear objects like fences. Therefore, it’s always better to have taller walls to keep your companion from escaping your backyard. Depending on his breed, size, agility, and many other elements, you might consider extending your fence!
2. Remove Things That Your Dog Could Climb On.
The height of your fence isn’t always the problem. Objects around the yard could allow your companion to climb over the fence quite easily even if it’s very tall. I highly recommend you to remove climbing aids that will allow your dog to escape from the yard. Remove things such as garbage cans, chairs, tables, or anything else that he can jump on near the fence can help him to overcome this obstacle!
3. Install Rollers At The Top Of Your Fence.
This is an awesome dog proofing solution for your fence to restrict animals from climbing over it. Rollers are long metal bars that will keep your pet safe inside your yard. It’s also an excellent idea to protect him from predators such as coyotes that won’t be able to clear tall fences with rollers. They are designed to prevent your dog or other animals from getting the foothold they need to go out or in your yard!
Similar Dog Proofing Fence Solution: Lean-in extensions at the top of your fence could also restrict your companion to jump or climb over it!
4. Try Landscaping.
Another awesome way to discourage your furry friend to jump or climb over the fence is with landscaping. Planting dense shrubs along the inside of the fence line will make it more difficult for him to jump. Besides, landscaping looks better than most dog proofing fence ideas on this list!
5. Extend Your Fence Under The Ground Level.
Dogs are excellent diggers that will certainly be able to find their way under your fence. The ultimate solution to prevent your companion from escaping by a tunnel is to install something that extends your fence under the ground level. This will require some more work and material, but it’s efficient!
6. L-Footer For Diggers.
Very similar to the last dog proofing fence idea, the L-footer will be easier to install. It simply consists of extending your fence at the base with something bent 90 degrees (like an “L”) that will restrict your dog from digging. For this fence extension, you could be made from materials such as hardware cloth, chicken wire, or anything else that’s solid. You could also decide to bury or put some grass over the L-footer for aesthetic purposes!
7. Put Gravel Or Concrete At The Base Of Your Fence.
Instead of grass or dirt, you could put some gravel or even concrete at the footer of your fence. This will certainly stop your dog from digging to escape from your backyard. For concrete footers, make sure to embed the bottom of your fence into the mixture before it solidifies. This might take more work, money, and time to implement, but it will be extremely effective!
8. Block Your Dog’s View.
Some companions will try to escape because of things they see or simply interact with them. Whether it’s other pets, wild animals, or people, sometimes it’s better for him to not see them. For example, your dog could bark after everybody that’s walking in the street or jump over your fence to chase squirrels. These are excellent reasons to block his view with your fence. Rolls of bamboo, reed fencing, climbing shrubs, or anything else that you can’t see through could be an excellent solution!
9. Double Gate or Install Redundant Fences.
Dogs could take any opportunity to get their freedom. Opening your backyard gate for a few seconds can be enough for your companion to escape. Hopefully, you could install an airlock with two gates to give him any chance to escape. It means that everybody who wants to go in or out will have to open the first gate, close it, and open the next one. Another option would be to have two fences. It might seem weird, but it works according to this article from notesfromadogwalker.com! [Link Open In a New Tab]
10. Dog-Proof Your Gate With A Padlock or Clip.
With some practice, your buddy could understand how to open your gate. The solution is simple, you just need to install a dog-proof clip or padlock to prevent this happen. Otherwise, your companions will eventually figure out how your backyard door works!
5 Ways Your Dog Can Escape From Your Fence!
Pets will use different techniques to escape from the backyard. To keep your dog safe inside the fence, you need to understand what type of strategy he’s most likely to try. Here are the five ways that he could overcome your fence with the best solution(s) for each escape method!
Jumping Over Your Fence.
Dog Proofing Solution: Install a fence that’s simply too high for your companion to jump over it.
Climbing Over Your Fence.
Dog Proofing Solution: Install a taller fence or put rollers/lean-in extensions at the top of your fence to avoid your dog from climbing over it.
Digging Under Your Fence.
Dog Proofing Solution: Either put some gravel (or landscape) at the base of your fence or extend your fence under the ground around 12 to 24 inches (30-35 cm) to restrict your dog from digging under it.
Finding His Way Through Your Fence.
Dog Proofing Solution: Choosing a solid material for your fence such as metal, brick, or certain hardwood could certainly help to keep your dog safe inside your backyard.
Opening Your Fence Gate.
Dog Proofing Solution: Install a dog-proof clip to the gate that your companion can’t open to escape.
Find more information about these different escaping methods in this article from the K9 of Mine site! [Link Open In a New Tab]
Is Dog Proofing Your Fence Enough To Keep Your Canine From Escaping?
Choosing the right fence and dog proofing it is an excellent idea. Nonetheless, it’s not always enough to keep your companion from escaping your backyard. If he wants to find his way out, he will probably succeed at some point. Hopefully, the dog proofing fence ideas presented in this article will decrease the chance that it happens. However, there are some other precautions that you can take to avoid common dog-related fence problems!
Know Why Your Dog Wants To Escape!
The first thing you should do is to try understanding your companion. He might have some good reasons to escape your yard. Most dogs that are escaping are simply bored or lonely. Your buddy needs regular physical activity and mental stimulation, so don’t neglect that. Regular walks, fun games, or many other activities will certainly give him less motivation to escape your yard!
Therefore, it’s maybe your fault if your dog is constantly escaping. Knowing the reason why he does this will allow you to help him. Fear, anxiety, lack of training, and many other things can influence his motivation to clear your fence. By taking the problem at his source, you will be able to make your companion happier. That’s why you should probably take some time to think before dog proofing your fence!
Make Your Yard Fun & Safe!
Without anything to do in your backyard, your dog will want to go somewhere else. If he doesn’t feel good, safe, and happy in this area, it’s normal to escape from it. Your yard should be a place where you can both have fun together. Besides, you should make sure that your buddy has everything he needs in the yard such as a shelter, some water, and fun things to do!
Don’t Let Your Dog Alone Outside!
Pets are social animals that need to interact with others. Leaving your dog outside alone will encourage him to escape. That’s why I would recommend you to always give him attention while he’s in the backyard. Your simple presence will keep him busy and happy. To have fun together, you could play to fetch, do some training, or simply spend time in your backyard!
If you want my main resource, I find many dog proofing ideas in this article from the AKC blog! [Link Open In a New Tab]
How to Help Prevent Your Dog From Escaping the Yard
For lots of dog owners, a nicely fenced backyard where your pup can roam, sniff out interesting things, and snooze in the shade is a must. It’s perfect — except when your dog believes the grass is greener elsewhere, and they become a master escape artist. One minute you see them from the kitchen window, the next, they’re gone.
Along with worrying about their safety, it’s frustrating to feel like you can’t trust your dog even in your own backyard. Don’t despair there are some relatively simple things you can do to keep your canine from escaping the yard — or find them if they succeed.
How (and Why) Your Dog Is Making a Run for It
Your dog may decide to roam because they’re lonely out there. As nice as it is to have all that open space, they may prefer your company, or may just be looking for a friend. A territorial dog may see something outside their boundary that they think threatens the home, so they need to get out there and ward it off.
Maybe they’ve found “treasure” on the other side: a new friend to play with, food, an enticing stream of water, or a big field to run in. And, of course, there are the prey-driven hunters. A mere fence won’t keep them from chasing a squirrel or rabbit that just ran through the yard. They may just be a puppy or an adolescent who requires more outlets for his incredible energy.
Different dogs have different ways to escape. Some are jumpers they take a running start from the ground and over they go. Some use whatever is near the fence to climb up, and then over they go. Other dogs are diggers, burrowing tirelessly on their way to freedom. Then there are the chewers who can make a hole in the fence large enough to slip through. The deep thinkers may figure out how to actually open a gate. Some dogs rush the gate whenever it is opened and dash out before you can catch them. Especially determined dogs will use a combination of these techniques.
Although it may sound counterproductive, you should take your dog for a walk every day, even if you have a nice fenced-in yard. The great physical and mental exercise that comes with a walk may help your dog use up some of their energy and keep them from being bored when out in the yard.
Creative Ways to Keep Your Dog in the Yard
For jumpers and climbers:
- Extend your fence. You don’t necessarily have to make it higher, but adding a section to the top that tilts inward will deter your dog. A lean-in or L-footer will do the trick. You make a lean-in by taking some farm wire and attaching it to the top of your fence, so that it creates a sort of awning on the inside. Your dog will see fencing above them and that should deter any climbing. An L-footer extends horizontally from the top of the fence and also creates an awning-type deterrent.
- Remove climbing aids. Walk around the yard and take note of anything close enough to the fence that can be used to climb on, such as wood piles, garbage cans, playground equipment, benches, chairs, or boulders.
- Buy a coyote roller. These are long, metal bars that can be attached to the fence to prevent your dog from getting the foothold he needs to get over. When an animal tries to use it to gain footing, it rolls like a rolling pin. Designed to keep coyotes out, they’re equally effective for keeping a beloved pet in. They do require mounting brackets and end caps, but you can find complete kits online.
- Add landscaping. Plant a hedge of dense shrubs along the inside of the fence line. Not only does this make for a more difficult jump, it looks great, too.
- Attach an L-footer along the bottom of the fence, facing in. You can use chicken wire, hardware cloth, or a piece of chain-link fence attached to the base of the fence. Some people bury it for aesthetic reasons. But you can also lay it on top of the grass and hold it down with rocks, gravel, mulch, or even planters.
- Pour a concrete footer. This will stop even the most determined digger. Pour concrete along the perimeter of the fence and bury the bottom of the fence into the mixture.
For border patrollers:
- Block the view. For a watchdog, guard dog, or any dog that patrols their territory, it’s often the sight of “danger” that propels them out of the yard. If you have a chain-link fence, run plastic slats through it. With any type of fence, rolls of bamboo or reed fencing are a relatively inexpensive alternative. Just use zip ties to attach it to your existing fence. It blocks the view and doesn’t look half-bad. While this takes longer to be effective, you can also plant climbing shrubs or vines along the fence, though you’ll have to protect them from the dog until they’re established.
More Tips for Keeping Your Dog From Escaping the Yard
No matter how your dog escapes the yard, there are several other measures you can take to ensure their safety.
- Install an airlock or double gate. Take a few lengths of fence and another gate and create a small, enclosed area inside or outside the fence. When someone wants to get in or out, he or she will have to go through one gate, close it, and then open the second gate.
- Get your dog a Puppy Bumper. This is a collar stuffed with fiberfill that’s meant to keep puppies and small dogs from slipping through small openings.
- Make sure all the latches on gates and fences are secure. If you have a gate that blows open or a latch that doesn’t stay shut, add a lock or hook-and-eye closure.
- Make the yard their happy place. The backyard shouldn’t be a prison it should be a haven, shelter, and playground. Make sure they have plenty of fresh water and some shade. For fun, bring out a treat-dispensing toy. Rotate your dog’s toys to keep them interested.
- Don’t leave dogs alone out there for long periods of time or any time when you can’t supervise. The very best way to keep them in the yard is to be there with them. Play fetch, brush them, use it as training time, or just hang out. Your pup will be less interested in leaving if their best friend is there, too!
- Keep your dog safe inside when you’re away from home, so they won’t escape to go looking for you or get taken out by someone else.
- Equip your pup with a GPS tracking collar. These devices use GPS technology like you’d find in your car or your phone to track and transmit your dog’s location in real time so you can use it to locate him. Device capabilities vary by brand, and most take advantage of a smartphone app for tracking and monitoring.
If your dog does escape from the yard, it’s important to remember that you should not punish your dog when you find them, or when they return. Punishing them won’t eliminate the desire to escape, and it may make them afraid to return to your yard.
Lastly, contingency measures like a microchip or a GPS-enabled collar make it much more likely that if your runaway pup does escape, he is found safe and sound as soon as possible after the fact. You can’t put a price on peace of mind, so prepare now before your pup’s next attempted escape.
Barbed Wire Fences Installation Steps and Tips
The additional installation of a one or more "non-barbed" electrified wire can offer an additional "pain barrier" as well as a feeder wire to barbed wire systems.
- Razor Wire Mobile Security Barrier
- Rapid Deployment Barrier System
- Galvanized Razor Wire
- Galvanized Concertina Wire Fence
- Razor Wire Fence
- Single Concertina Wire
- Hot-dipped Galvanized Razor Wire
- Cross Razor Wire
- Straight Type Razor Wire
- Welded Razor Wire Fence
- Concertina Wire
- Flat Razor Wire Fence
- Ground Locking Pegs
- Razor Wire Machine
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Tianlin building, Shijiazhuang City, China.
How to Dog Proof a Garden
Last Updated: March 31, 2019 References
This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.
There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
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Dog-proofing your garden means both ensuring that it’s a safe space for your dog and taking precautions to protect your plants from the whims of your wily canine companion. The secret is creating a garden that works with your dog’s needs instead of against them. Find out how to securely enclose your yard and minimize the chances of your dog getting into trouble there. With some thoughtful planning and planting, you can cultivate a thriving, dog-friendly garden that’s free from toxins, hazards, and temptations.