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If you have a dog, you know how difficult it can be to keep them on your property. Sometimes dogs just want to escape the confines of their yard, but it's our responsibility as guardians to ensure our pets are within our control at all times - even those times we're not physically with them. Fences make for good neighbors, and they make much safer environments for pets. Here are five ways you can fence your yard and the costs, the benefits and the dangers of each.

The type of fencing you ultimately select should be based on your geographical region, your HOA guidelines (if you have them), and the type of dog(s) you are containing. You'll also need to consider your weather. If you're in an area with lots of weather, you'll want to consider installing a more durable type of fencing. If you live in an area with snow, the snow can pile up near the gates and provide a near perfect way for your pets to escape. But, if you have a dog that is regularly escaping from your yard, consider reading this article or implementing some of these practical tips below:

Change fencing If one type of fence line is not working, change over to a different type. For example, if your dog knows how to easily escape a chain link fence, consider putting up a block fence or installing a roller bar over the chain link.

Block view: Some dogs jump the fence because they are being teased by neighbors, another animal, or just because they can't stand to be locked in. Consider blocking the view by changing to a block wall.

Increase View: Some dogs jump the fence because they hear or smell things, but can’t see what it is. We haven't tried these PetPeek Fence Windows, but they do look interesting for the dog who feels a need to see outdoors.

Install footers: If you have a digger, you’ll need to install footers. They are easy to do, inexpensive to install, and there are many variants on how to do it.

Invisible Fence: While many are against the idea of an e-collar, we are forever what ever keeps pets in a safe and happy home. Invisible fencing can be used in many different ways. If you choose to install an invisible fence, and we urge this as a last resort, here are Five Reasons Your Dog Might Benefit from an Electric Fence. Be sure you read up on the best ones and how to train your pets. This is not an "install and go" option and it has the potential to create great harm to your pets psychological well-being if they are not properly trained on it.

Block Walls

This is our favorite type of fencing, but that could be because we're based in the Southwest and block fences are the most prevalent types of fences down this way. Your block wall should be at least six feet tall and should be reinforced throughout so a strong wind doesn't blow it over. Dogs that won't do well with this type of fencing are ones who jump.

The top level gives them something firm to grab hold of and balance on top of, so be sure you do your homework for this type of fencing. You'll also want to make sure you install footers so dogs don't dig their way out (particularly if you have a "denning" like a wolf hybrid, or a "tunneling" dog like a terrier). When installing, be sure you include drainage holes for water to escape your yard.

Wood Panel Fence

Wood panels make an excellent fence and do a good job of establishing barriers around your home and yard. Most fencing comes in 6- or 8-foot panels that are between 4-6 feet tall. Always go for the taller fence when selecting one to keep pets in a yard. You can paint or stain your fence to make it more attractive, and you can provide barriers for pets so they don't chew or bite their way through the wood. If you have a dog that jumps, you should consider installing a roller.

This is an inexpensive way to keep your pets indoors and coyotes out - when the animal jumps up to clear the fence, the theory is that they will grab the roller, which will then "roll" them back into (or out of) the yard. (See example of installing rollers below).

Composite Fencing

This is an excellent solution for pets who chew their way through wood, but still provide a cost-effective method of keeping your pets in the yard. Usually consisting of vinyl or other composite material, they make sturdy fences that can last a very long time with little to no maintenance. When using this type of fencing, be sure to consider adding footers and a roller for dogs who dig or jump.


Decorative Metal Fence

If you have a highly destructive dog who chews his way through every other type of material, a chain-link or decorative metal fence may be the solution. Available in a variety of colors and styles, decorative metal is a type of fencing that is easy to install (look for the "no dig" method while shopping). Unfortunately, it's not as effective for keeping pets contained. Small dogs in particular can easily escape the barrier this provides. Consider installing a an invisible fence along the barrier to discourage dogs from crossing.

This is the least attractive, but most affordable, way of keeping your pets contained. Usually this type of fencing is used to keep pets out of garden areas, but when it's used with rail fencing, the welded wire can be a very economical way of containing pets, particularly when you're using it in a large area. Be sure you understand that your pets can tunnel under or jump over this type of fencing and make other arrangements as needed.


Installing Footers

The barrier to the outside world is only as strong as your lawn if you have a pet who likes to dig. There are many different types of footers you can install to keep your pet from digging to freedom. Here are a few:

L-Footers: This consists of a welded wire that wraps around the fencing to extend up to three feet along the bottom of the gate. When the dog digs, he winds up digging against the wire and is quickly frustrated by his efforts. You'll need to exercise caution when using this type of footer as your dog can easily tear a nail or injure his foot by obsessive digging. It's a very effective method of containment for wolf hybrids and other digging breeds. This is one of the best sites we've found on installing L-footers. (Image courtesy of WolfDogProject).

Concrete Footers: This is the method we used when we had to figure out how to keep Tristan, our coyote-wolf hybrid, in our yard. Simply dig a hole along the fence line (we made ours about 1 foot deep), pour in a layer of concrete and let it harden. Simple. Not really, it was a lot of back-breaking work. But it's highly effective, it makes for a much stronger fence line, and it kept our ridiculous dogs from burrowing out. If you have wolf hybrids, or any of the Nothern breeds, you may want to make the footers a bit deeper.

Bar Footer: This isn't really a footer - in fact, in a well-built fence, it should just be part of your fence line. Just attach a solid piece of pipe (rebar, etc.) along the bottom of the fence. In effect, it ensures your dog can't squeeze out underneath. This is a fairly practical alternative for a "mild" digger, but it won't keep a wolf hybrid or Jack Russell Terrier contained for long. Like I said, it's something that should be incorporated into your original fence design anyway.


Coyote Proofing Your Fencing

We have an entire section on how to coyote proof your yard, but we did not add the idea of the roller. You can either install your own roller fencing to save money, or you can work with an established brand to have it installed (or order the kit). One that we have found is called "Coyote Rollers" and it appears to be a great way to safeguard your yard.

Install a roller: see our directions on installing an inexpensive roller.

Use coyote fencing: Learn how to coyote proof your yard by clicking here or consider adding a ready made fence roller kit. We found some nifty designs at CoyoteRollers.com (and the image below is theirs). This is how it works:

Install your own coyote fencing:

We stumbled across this unique way of keeping dogs in the hard on homesteader. It's a very easy fix and with a little effort, looks to be highly effective.  The theory is that the too line of the fence will roll, forcing the dog to fall backwards when he tries to clear the fence. Usually dogs pull themselves over the top rung, so this seems to be very effective.


How to do it:

  • Buy PVC pipe ( 1/2" and 3")
  • Wire cable
  • L-brackets
  • Eye bolts and nuts

Attach the L-brackets on either side of the fence. You may need to reinforce it at key areas along the fence line, depending on the size of the fence. Run the wire through the small 1/2" PVC pipe. Thread that 1/2" PVC pipe through the 3" PVC pipe. Attach the wire to the end of the fence with the eyebolts. Voila! Instant Coyote Roller! (I don't know who to credit for the image, so if this is your picture, please let me know and I'll get it linked out).

Use Purrfect Fence: We have information on this nearly invisible fencing here. Be forewarned, however, that this is not used to keep coyotes out of your yard. You'll only want to use this to keep your dogs or your cats in the yard. If a coyote were to clear the fence coming in, he would be stuck in the yard with your pets. That would not be a happy ending for any of the animals. However, if your goal is to keep coyotes or wild cats out of your yard, then merely reverse the layout and you'll have a very effective deterrent for wildlife.

We hope that this article helps you keep your pets in your yard, but if not, we have even more ideas. We'll be posting them as we come up with them!

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Author: stacymantle
About the Author

Stacy Mantle is a freelance writer who currently resides in the southwestern deserts of Arizona with a few dogs, several cats, and a very understanding husband. She is a regular contributor to Pet Age Magazine, Catster, Animal Behavior College, and of course, PetsWeekly. Many of her stories and articles have been translated into several languages, and now reach an international audience. She is also the author of a bestselling urban fantasy/thriller, Shepherd's Moon; a humor book entitled, Conquering the Food Chain: Living Amongst Animals (Without Becoming One), and a line of Educational Activity Books for children.

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