The right fence for your dog

Don’t have time to walk the dog? An enclosed backyard is the next best thing. Choose the right fence for your companion – and make sure it keeps him safe and contained.

One day, I was driving home from work when I suddenly noticed a small dog not far from a high traffic road. The pink collar told me she was someone’s beloved companion. Fortunately, the dog headed back into her yard, and that’s when I saw the hole in the fence. I pulled over, went to the door of the house, and alerted the people who lived there that they needed to check their backyard and block their dog’s escape route.

When you don’t have time to walk your dog, it’s a good idea to have an enclosed outdoor space for him to get some fresh air and exercise. A fenced in backyard is the ideal alternative to daily walks when you’re too busy to take your canine to the park or woods. But there’s a lot more to it than just letting your dog out the back door and then forgetting about him. You want to provide a fun outlet for him, but you also want to make sure your fence is going to keep him in and protect him from outside hazards.

• There are a variety of fence types to choose from. Many neighborhoods have homeowner covenants that stipulate the type of fence you can have in the backyard, so you’ll need to find out what your local options are. Chain link and board privacy fences are among the most popular for keeping dogs contained. Stone walls are probably the ultimate, but they aren’t an option for most people because of the high cost.

• The fence also needs to be high enough that your dog can’t jump or scramble over it – between 5’ and 6’ is ideal, depending upon the breed of dog you have. Many dogs can jump much higher than their actual height, especially if there is something they are trying to get to on the other side. Check local regulations pertaining to fencing heights.

• If your existing fence isn’t high enough, consider a product that will extend its height and discourage escape. For example, the Dog-Proofer from Purrfect Fence features sturdy containment arms that fasten to the top of almost any fence, effectively foiling the dog’s attempts to clamber over the top.

• Dogs love to check out what’s happening outside their yard, so if you have a wood fence consider installing an insert or two. Pet Peek (877-901-0991 or offers a safe, easy to install option.

• Be sure to walk the perimeter of your yard on a regular basis. Check the fence and gate carefully for any loose areas, holes or gaps as well as splintered wood and exposed nail heads.

• Your gate should lock from the inside of the yard. In my opinion, this is a good deterrent for thieves or trespassers. Make sure the gate is shut and locked any time that your dog is outside. Use strong, high quality locks and hardware.

• Check that there isn’t anything near the fence that your dog could use for leverage. This could include stacked building materials, picnic tables, children’s play equipment, or even brush piles.

• The same applies to agility equipment. Make sure it’s far enough away from the fence that your dog can’t use it to escape the yard. For this reason, veterinarian Dr. Ava Talmage recommends the tunnel as the best option for outside obstacle course activity.

• Some dogs will try to dig their way under a fence. Dr. Talmage suggests burying small-holed fencing 12” into the ground to help prevent your dog from digging out – and other animals from digging in. If it is not possible to bury the fencing, she advises running a strand of wire along the bottom of the existing fence to help deter digging.

• Obviously, burying your gate or running wire underneath it isn’t an option. Paving or patio stones installed under the gate will help discourage digging.

• Some dogs will find a way through, over or under your fence despite your best efforts to contain them. Dr. Talmage suggests boundary training, which uses a reward system to keep the dog in the yard. A professional trainer who uses positive methods can help you with this.

• Many people install invisible fencing to keep their dogs confined, but using even mild electric shocks to control a dog’s movements is frowned upon by positive trainers and can lead to both physical and behavioral problems.

A high, sturdy fence and gate for your backyard means your canine companion will have a safe place to play and run when you can’t otherwise give him the exercise time needed. That translates to more fun and fitness for him, and less guilt for you!


Anabelle Lee Macri lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor's degree in journalism, and is a freelance writer.