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Peace in the Yard: 7 Ways To Dog Proof Your Fence

Oh sweet, sweet fences.  How much do I love thee? Let me count ways:

  • Fences Keep Dogs Inside. My dogs are off leash, safe, and free to roll in dead stuff without getting tangled in long leads.
  • Fences Keep Others Out. Except for a family of Whistle Pigs and one mole with a grudge, no one is cutting through our yard.
  • Fences Provide Privacy. It is my right as an American to wear my pajamas all day and not have my neighbors see me slob out.


So clearly, fences are rad. They’re awesome management tools. Not only do they keep everyone safely contained, but they also allow you to do all kinds of fun stuff at home in your yard. Playing at home is super handy if you have a DINOS and need a break from walking your dog or you need to exercise them prior to a walk.


As you probably know, there are many different kinds of fences to choose from. Go check ‘em out:

Solid Wood

Chain Link

Farm Fence

Iron or Aluminum 

Invisible (I have some thoughts on those)

Vinyl

Plastic (affordable option alert!)

In the end, what you choose will come down to your personal needs in these areas: Privacy, Finances, Function, and Aesthetics.

As soon as we bought out first home last year, we hired some pros to install a fence. We have a few acres, but could only fence in part of the yard. We chose six foot, solid wood fencing for the portion of our yard that faces the street. The rest is six foot, 2”x4” galvanized, no climb, horse farm fencing from RedBrand. The majority of our fence is the wire farm fencing. This allowed us to save a ton of money, but also provides unobstructed views of the rest of our property. This is a good option if neighboring dogs/properties aren’t an issue.

Farm Fence

Boogie’s first time off leash in our newly fenced in yard. It was a good day.

No matter what type of fence you choose (or what you already have, thanks to your landlord or the person who lived there before you), you’ll probably have problems with it. That’s the way life rolls.

Maybe your dogs are fence fighting with the neighbor’s dogs or kids are sticking their hands through the fence and you’ve been finding tiny fingers in your lawn clippings. Or your dog is a jumper, a digger, or a Chris Angel impersonator. Maybe your dog screams at passing skateboarders or the ice cream truck.

Luckily, there are some ways to prevent these common dog-related fence problems (escaping, reacting, being tormented):

1. Landscaping: If you have a dog that is a jumper or likes to patrol the fence line, consider using landscaping as a way to keep your dogs away from the fence. By planting dense shrubs, like Boxwood, along the fence line, you’ll force your dogs to back up, making the jump further (aka harder). And if you have a patroller, the landscaping will make the buffer zone between the fence and your dog a few feet wider, which might help your dog take the day off from guard duty. Just remember to check in between the shrubs on the regular to make sure the dogs haven’t created a secret tunnel to Naughtyville.


2. Bamboo/Reed Rolls, Garden Fencing, and Slats: If you have a chain link fence and you find that your dog is reacting to stuff he sees on the other side of the fence, try zip-tying rolls of reed fencing onto the inside of your chain link fence. It looks nice, it’s cheap, and it’ll give you a lot more privacy (note: it’s not 100% opaque). The reed fencing comes in 4 or 6 foot high panels and can be cut easily. Bamboo looks nicer/is much sturdier, but is also more expensive.

bamboo or reed fencing

Or, you can feed plastic slats through your chain link fence. They even come in “hedge” (!) style. Either option will also stop others from putting their hands/snouts through the fence.

If style isn’t your thing, but function is, you can try a black plastic construction fence as a visual block.

And if you have a fence that your dog is able to stick their head through, but you don’t care about privacy, try adding rolls of garden fencing to your fence to block ‘em in!


3. L-Footer:  If you have a digger, consider an L-Footer. That’s wire fencing laid down against the base of your fence and bent perpendicular (90 degree angle) to it. You know, like an “L”. You can bury this fencing underground, but it doesn’t have to be buried to work. Some people just lay it on top of the grass and maybe add some rocks and garden gnomes to hold down the fort. This site explains it well (and has tons of other great tips). Also see Bad Rap’s rebar tip.

L Footer (source)

L Footer (source)

4. Concrete Footer: If you have a serious digger, consider pouring concrete along the perimeter of the fence line and sinking the bottom of the fence into the concrete before it dries.  It’ll take some work, but this is super effective.

5. Coyote Rollers: If you have a jumper or climber, you can try these rollers, designed to make it impossible for coyotes to get a grip on the top of the fence (the bar spins). Think rolling pins at the top of your fence. You can DIY this with PVC pipe, if you’re handy.

6. Lean-Ins: Another option is to build lean-ins using farm fencing, so that the top of your fence is angled in a bit horizontal to the ground. It’s like adding a little awning of security.  It’s also like a cat fence, only sturdier.

If your dog is a champion jumper, and none of this is enough, you may have to consider an expanded exercise area that is totally enclosed with a ceiling. Or a Bio-Dome (sans Pauly Shore, since you actually like your dog).

You can score this kit here

You can score this lean-in kit here


7. Redundant fences:  Redundant fences are the jam. I know of more than one family (mine included) whose backyard life got an extreme makeover when they put in one of these babies. So what is a redundant fence exactly?

It’s a fence within a fence. You can put up a secondary, internal fence on just one side of your yard – wherever the problems are occurring – or all four sides. Most people I know have it on just one side of their yard where they share a common fence with a troublesome neighbor, with a busy commercial building or street, or with a damaged or ineffective fence that can’t be changed for some reason (like when you rent or your neighbor owns the fence).

The idea is to manage the situation with a secondary internal fence, set back from the common fence line, thereby preventing your dog from making bad choices, rehearsing behaviors like fence fighting, or escaping easily. Plus it can help speed up training and will prevent other people/dogs from putting your dog in dangerous scenarios.

The redundant fence doesn’t need to be expensive.  We used to rent a house that had a rickety old wood fence that belonged to the next door neighbors. Since we couldn’t do any repairs to the fence, we put up a roll of green plastic fencing about 3 feet back from the common fence line to keep our dogs from poking their heads through the broken fence. We also used a plastic, staked-in-the-ground, corner piece at one point. Could I have trained them not to poke their heads through the broken fence? Sure. But putting up the cheap redundant fence was easy, cheap, fast, always effective, and did I mention easy?

Depending on what issue you’re trying to prevent and your dog’s personal kung-fu skills, the redundant fence may need to be as strong as the outer fence. For some dogs, just having the visual of light pvc fencing will work, for others, they’ll need a solid wood fence to contain them safely.

One more thing about redundant fences: do it. I think people feel funny about a fence inside a fence. It seems silly to have two fences, especially if you just paid to put up the first one! But the families I know that went for it are enjoying their lives again. So if you think it could provide you with some peace at home, just do it.

For more on redundant fences, please check out Puddin’s Training Tips for ideas and some examples. She loves them so much, she wants to start a double fence movement!


BONUS: here are two more ways to keep your dogs inside and safe:

Airlocks: These are perfect for areas without a fence. You’ve probably seen airlocks at your local dog park or boarding facility. These handy gated areas are built in front of your main entrance, so that if the door opens and a dog escapes, they are still contained by the small gated area (the airlock) right outside the door. For some dogs, this may be as simple as adding a sturdy baby gate to the opening of your front porch. In other homes with other dogs, this may mean building a small fenced in area with a locking gate in front of your door. Grisha Stewart’s BAT book has some more tips, including adding a doorbell to the airlock, so that visitors have to wait outside the airlock (instead of at your front door) for you to let them in. We did something similar with our enclosed porch that leads to our front door (see here).

If you have kids, this one addition could mean the difference between being able to keep your dog and surrendering him to the shelter. I can’t tell you how many families brought in dogs to the shelter where I used to work because the dog was always escaping when the kids opened the door. If you have an escape artist or kids that let the dog out, add an airlock.

Airlocks are commonly used at doggy day cares (like this one)

Airlocks are commonly used at doggy day cares (like this one)


Locks: They keep your dogs in and other people out. We have 10’ swinging gates on our fence and after a few bad storms we discovered that the gates would sometimes blow open. We added a second lock (on the inside) to help keep those bad boys shut.

Depending on where you live, it’s not uncommon for people to let themselves into your fenced in yard. Maybe they wanted to cut through your yard and throw empty 40 bottles at your wind chimes (it happens). Whatever the reason, you don’t want people to be able to let themselves into your yard without your permission. So consider adding locks on the inside of your gates. It can be as simple as a big hook and eye.


All that being said, prevention is awesome, but supervision is always super important. Don’t leave your dogs unattended in your yard. Don’t. Especially if they fence fight or are canine Houdinis. Not only can they get into trouble sniffing snakes (I’m looking at you Boogie), but they’re likely to get bored. And bored dogs want to go on adventures. Give them a reason to stay inside the fence by hanging out with them and playing.

Of course, if nothing else, I’m a realist. So I know that most of us do leave our dogs unattended in the yard sometimes (even if it’s just for a minute) and that’s why all the above stuff should be considered. It’s our job to prevent, manage, supervise, and train…

So, training. Duh. Teach your dogs the skills they need to ignore dogs on the other side of the fence, to come when called, and to stop escaping. That’s really important too.

But all in all, training goes a lot faster when you can prevent your dogs from practicing naughty-pants behaviors like door dashing, tunnel crafting, and fence fighting. So no matter how much training you’re planning on doing, the solutions above will support your dog as they learn, keep them and others safe, and will only make things easier for you. And easy is my favorite.

Now go on and get! Hit the local hardware store and: Set your dogs up to succeed!

 

7 ways to dog proof fence

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53 Comments Post a comment
  1. susansills@verizon.net #

    Good article, clearly the voice of experience.  I have fences with

    August 8, 2013
  2. Brittany #

    Thank you! The timing on this is perfect. We are in the middle of moving from Los Angeles to Austin and fencing is one of my biggest concerns. We got spoiled by the wonderful concrete block fences that are typical in LA but Texas is much more of a questionable looking wood or chain link kind of place. Our dogs aren’t fence fighters (however you never know about your neighbors) but our pit bull is a worrier and I want to him to be able to relax in his own yard. I was already thinking of the redundant fence (using the extra space for the chickens and garden planters) but it’s nice to see such a complete list of options!

    August 8, 2013
    • Oh, I love the idea of making the redundant fence a chicken run! That’s a great use of space.

      My pit bull Boogie is a real worrier too and that cheap Reed fencing helped him relax, back when we rented a place with a chain link fence.

      August 8, 2013
  3. I have found tiny fingers in my lawn clippings ;) That reed fencing is perfect for keeping those kid’s remaining fingers and my dog separated. I had been considering using a tarp but the reed fence will be even nicer to look at. I use a tarp to separate my back yard from my front yard but my dog is never out by her self. Thanks for doing the research on fence solutions.

    August 8, 2013
  4. EV #

    LOVE this post! Also, pajamas in the back yard makes me kinda feel like a super hero.

    August 9, 2013
  5. Great post — we have a patroller who feels the need to let the whole neighborhood know that the yard is his..er, ours. And while we don’t mind that people know there is a big dog with a big mouth living in the house, we don’t want to this escalate into a larger problem. So we’re trying to manage through training and supervision.

    August 9, 2013
  6. Awesome post! We have put up a brown tarp and a garden (second) fence as a stop-gap measure to reduce fence-fighting with a new neighbor dog. A tarp is oh so very lovely to look at, so lovely that I called the neighbors proactively to let them know it was temporary. Our training to solve the fence-fighting is now complete and I couldn’t figure out what our longer term visual solution would be. Reed rolls! Such a great idea, had never even heard of that. Thanks!

    August 9, 2013
  7. Curlyh2odogs #

    GREAT article on fences!
    What are your thoughts on lawn alternatives for dog yards? (besides pea gravel and artificial turf)
    Especially in areas where rainfall is scarce and lawn alternatives are encouraged.
    Thanks!

    August 9, 2013
    • I’m not sure! I’ve never lived in an area like that (I’ve lived in the Northeast all my life and now I’m in Maine where “mud season” is a problem – the opposite of your dilemma). I have a book called “Beautiful No Mow Yards” which is filled with ideas for replacing grass with other options. For a rainy climate, moss is a great pick, but for arid temps, it recommends a lot of hardscaping options combined with dry-adapted plants. I wonder if it’s a combination of things that would work best, like: wood/stone/cement paths, mulch (the dog-safe kind), gravel, and native plants/grasses. Maybe with a sandbox for designated digging if your dog likes to do that?

      Anyone else have ideas?

      August 9, 2013
  8. Great post! We have a wooden privacy fence that we put in about 26 years ago…needless to say, it’s a bit worn out. Plus, being wooden (I’m guessing it’s pine, but not for sure on that), there are plenty of knot-holes that have popped out…so our dogs have some “peep holes” through the fence. It never was a problem until one day, I was outside with Riley (my Australian Cattle Dog), and the neighbors’ 3 year old son was poking his entire arm through the fence, waving it around, and squealing/yelling/screaming (not being mean or scared, just being a 3 year old). Riley was barking her head off and growling, etc…I had never seen her like that before. I’m pretty sure that this teasing had been going on for a while. I replaced that fence slat that same day, and we haven’t had a problem since.

    Our neighbor on the other side absolutely hates us (has hated us ever since we moved in–years and years before we ever even had a dog, so it’s not our dogs’ fault), and that side of the fence is really deteriorating. Unfortunately, it needs to be fixed from the outside, not the inside, and that neighbor won’t allow us access to his yard to fix it. He has a Chow mix and Riley barks like crazy at that dog. Luckily, they keep the dog in the front yard most of the time, so Riley and the Chow never get too much interaction (although they have met and been friendly on a few occasions, so I think she just gets this “Big Persona” [“Dogsona??’] when they see each other through the fence!

    August 9, 2013
    • My common privacy fence has panels that are working their way off the vertical posts. I asked the neighbor to hammer the panels back in. He said okay. But after 4 months of waiting for him to do it, I just tied the fence to post using ropes: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5115/6951399150_f53c1de762_z.jpg

      My brother also tells me that I could drill from my side of the fence. the screw would suck the fence in.

      Or you could simply add a panel on your side of the fence. Like a “good neighbor fence” – a fence that has boards on each side and looks the same on each side. My common fence isn’t sturdy enough for that

      August 9, 2013
  9. This is a wonderful article. I have L-footed the whole yard for my Treeing Walker Coonhound, and have a redundant 6-foot stockade on the one side with troublesome neighbors. I put a veggie garden in the resulting area, and this year I’m feeding homegrown veggies to my dogs, so it was a win/win. I wish I’d seen this article long ago, because I wouldn’t have been sweating my solutions. Sharing this everywhere!

    August 9, 2013
    • That’s awesome that you’ve created a veggie garden in the buffer zone between fences (did you see that another reader plans to use it for chickens?). It’s such a great way to make the most of the space and help our dogs out at the same time!

      August 9, 2013
  10. We just so happen to have a dog that likes to patrol the fence and it drives me bonkers because he is so focused on what ‘could’ show up that he’s missing out on the glorious day at hand! i’ll be planting along the fence this weekend!!!! You always rock my world!

    August 9, 2013
    • For good measure, throw up an inexpensive garden fence around your new shrubs (it’ll protect the plants and poof! you have a redundant fence). Good luck and let me know how it goes!!

      August 9, 2013
  11. Great post, some fantastic ideas. We moved into our place 5 years ago and put up a 6 foot vinyl privacy fence in the back yard. It was expensive, but I’m a “do it once and do it right” problem solver. The upfront cost has paid for itself many times over in peace of mind for us. The only possible problem we could have is digging, which none of them have shown any interest in or propensity for in the time we’ve been here.

    August 9, 2013
  12. gauchoman2002 #

    Also, I thought this was way too much good info to not share with the world, so I put a link to this article on Reddit.

    August 9, 2013
  13. Reblogged this on Skyline Pet Care Austin and commented:
    Fellow shelter workers/volunteers – let’s use these suggestions when people try to dump their dogs for escaping/fencing issues! There are lots of frugal options here.

    August 9, 2013
  14. Lorene #

    Please keep in mind if thinking about chain link fencing.. I had a dog scale one commando style after a neighborhood brat that poked at him incessantly. I had to have the dog put down after he scaled the fence and caught the child. Now we have horse fencing and have two iron 6 foot poles side by side every 6 feet. We wove the fencing through the poles. It’s more work, but the dogs (or occasional bear meandering through) can’t take it down now as it’s reinforced on both sides. What peace of mind!!

    August 9, 2013
  15. Great post as usual. That’s so much for sharing the “Double Fence Movement” :)
    I’m jealous of that double fence pic your have there (the wood and vinyl). So much nice-looking than my setup.
    The L setup. Simple but looks highly useful. Great idea!

    August 9, 2013
    • Thank YOU for providing great double fence resources!

      That is the nicest redundant fence ever, huh? I found it on a design site ; )

      August 9, 2013
  16. Therapy Dog Roo Roo's Mom #

    We have 1 reactive dog, all 3 dogs are diggers, and neighbors w/5 reactive fence jumpers! So initially we did the concrete under fence thing to prevent dig outs; works great! Then when the neighbor dog’s heads were consistently seen over the top of the fence, we installed a 40″ plastic lattice fence 3′ inside our 6′ board-on-board wooden perimeter fence, which enabled us to have great peace of mind!

    August 9, 2013
  17. Lynda #

    what the heck is a Whistle Pig????????????? Lynda in Maine

    August 9, 2013
  18. This is a great review of different fencing options for dogs! I’m a big fan of the double fence because it keeps mine from chasing up and down the fence, hoping for something to bark at. The space between is also great for growing vegetables. Beans don’t take up much square footage on the ground, and the trellis adds some height to the fencing! -James

    August 11, 2013
  19. WE HAD THE AIR LOCK ONE IN PIC BUT HAD TO MAKE IT 6 FT AND DOUBLE BECAUSE WE HAD ANIMALS JUMP THE SHORT ONES … AND SOME PEOPLE WOULD COME IN AND LEAVE DOOR OPEN .. SINCE our animals were allowed to roam free in house , it was a double safty gate needed…

    August 12, 2013
  20. Jennalyn #

    Great, realistic article. Thanks. I’ve trying to figure out a solution for the back corner where my 6′ fence meets the neighbours standard chain link – the big guy is leaping up and smashing his chest on the fence top. The redundant fence sounds great! With some boxwood in front to prettify.

    August 16, 2013
  21. tntracy@mac.com #

    LOTS of great info here. Of course, living in a HOA-controlled subdivision (blech!) renders much of it irrelevant. But, I will file it away for the day we escape snooty suburbia & leave the HOA Gestapo behind… ;o)

    August 18, 2013
  22. Sandie Pike #

    I have a jumper, a digger, and a climber. So what do u suggest?

    September 25, 2013
  23. Tiffany #

    Great post! I have dogs that can rip up a wooden fence with their teeth when they want out. So my solution has been to put metal flashing (it’s in the roofing dept at the hardware store) along the bottom of the fence. The flashing is dog chew-proof and if they throw their bodies against the fence, the loud noise makes them stop.

    September 26, 2013
  24. JulieD #

    Great article. I had never put a phrase to it, but “fence fighting” is exactly what we have at my house. I’ll be trying some of these ideas immediately.

    September 27, 2013
  25. I can attest to the ideas in this article. I have a Mastiff and a Great Dane mix and neighbors with a small child who is fascinated by my dogs, but his parents are afraid of them. So I installed a 6 ft high no step horse fence and then to prevent little hands from coming through the fence, I bought the reed rolls and wrapped it around the outside of the fence. To help it last our upstate NY winters, I stained the reed with a weather proof stain. Works like a charm!

    I also had to combine this with training so that my dogs don’t react to the sight and sounds of the neighbors in the backyard!

    October 4, 2013
  26. These are great ideas. Not only applied for dogs either! These types of fencing can be worked into to almost any home just for the look or for other animals. Great article, thanks for posting it!

    October 10, 2013
  27. Wow, this is great information! I’m the owner of a Hoboken dog walking company and we have so many clients with fencing issues. This really is invaluable information for pet owners dealing with this kind of stuff. We’re going to make this article available on our Facebook and website (in the very near future) for all of our Hoboken pet sitting and dog walking clients. Thank you!

    November 22, 2013
  28. What a great odea, double fencing! Most of the good horse farms do that, especially along the Interstate so horses don’t end up on the highway( that has happened).

    November 22, 2013
  29. DeeDee #

    I just took in a stray hound mix. He loves climbing our chain link fence, and has escaped countles times, even going into my neighbor’s yard while her pitbull was there. That didn’t end too well. My shepherd used to climb the same 4 ft fence, and I used a trainer’s ideas to show her who is her alpha and centered her on our pack. That worked great, but it’s not working for our newcomer. I was looking at professional fence screening, but the price was prohibitive. The two ideas from Home Depot in this blog I think will do the job without breaking the bank. This blog is FULL of invaluable tips and ideas. Thanks!.

    February 13, 2014
  30. Ariel #

    Love this article so much!! My new subdivision has fencing restrictions, one being nothing over 4 feet. My problem is that 4 feet for my husky is a cake walk and I hate chaining him up! Right now we have him on an invisible fence with the boundaries inside the actual fence so a redundant fence of sorts and then a coyote roller to top it off. This works okay most of the time but sometimes the outside world looks too good to pass up, even when I’m standing right next to him! Zap, Jump, and RUNNNN!!!! Anyways, I’m at my wits end so I’m thinking I will use 2 of your ideas to create a triple redundant fence by planting boxwood inside the fence line then putting up a second fence around the boxwood. Lets see you get passed 2 fences, boxwood and coyote rollers Houdini!

    March 2, 2014
  31. Claire #

    I have the same issue like Ariel: subdivision fencing restrictions that limit the height of the fence to 4 ft. and it also can only be a picket fence. We inherited the current vinyl fence from our predecessors and they had it build for a Yorkshire terrier while we have 3 dogs of 84, 86 and 130 pounds. They knocked the poles out just by playing. I guess the HOA will not like a redundant fence but it’s not explicitly mentioned in the covenants and I very much like the idea. So, Iwill try to do that in combination with the shrubs. Thanks so much.

    April 12, 2014
  32. Great post! Been reading a lot about dog behavior. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here!

    May 30, 2014
  33. Digdefence.com is what I used to dig proof my ornamental aluminum fence. It has worked great. I have a digger and so far so good!

    August 9, 2014
  34. For any type of fence it is important to make sure there are no areas where your dog or others may injure themselves or escape. Always check the status of your fence and make any changes that may be needed.

    December 2, 2014

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. That’s Damn Interesting! Lovely Links 08-15-2013 | The Doggie Stylish Blog
  2. Chi, the Pit Bull, and the Fence | The Lessons of Chi
  3. Dog Fencing
  4. Peace in the Yard: 7 Ways To Dog Proof Your Fence | radcliffdeafdog
  5. Gypsy Dog Ops » 15 minutes a day to a trained dog and a safe family
  6. Jumping the Fence and Going Wandering
  7. Are You Giving or Taking Space? It Matters. | notes from a dog walker
  8. Dog Walker’s Hair Goes Gray Overnight: Says Invisible Fences Are to Blame | notes from a dog walker
  9. Electronic Pet Fences: What You Need to Know | The Pet Professional Guild

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