Monday, March 01, 2010

March is 'Fix Your Fence' month

Winter whipped up crazy weather all around the country this year.
How are your fences holding up? Warm weather will arrive soon, and your dogs will be taking stock of every little change and possible escape route in their outdoor world.

We'd sure love to get fewer panicked calls and emails from dog owners who come home to find their dogs missing and a notice from animal control tacked on their door. So we're calling March Fix-Your-Darned-Fence Month. Heed the call: Sh*t happens, and dogs have been sneaking off for solo-adventures for eons, but if your pet has a block head and short fur, he's going to be in bigger danger out on the mean streets, especially if he ends up in some kind of trouble with neighbors and/or animal control.

To spare us from sharing your panic, please do your dogs a favor and check your fences this week, k? Wiggle those gates to see if they're still sturdy enough to withstand a pushy bowling ball head. Replace those broken, rotting fence boards, and remove anything that can be used as a doggy ladder up and over the fence. Reinforce the space between the fence and the ground and toss some lattice up on top to add height while you're at it. If you just aren't sure how secure your yard needs to be, pretend you're a bored terrier with Tarzan fantasies and the weak links in your fortress will probably jump right out at you.

Please don't wait for your landlord to do the work; Your dog is counting on you to fence him in. Our favorite ingredients for fence repairs are a couple of pizzas, some beer, and a few weekend warrior handyman friends. Salvage yards usually have a section for fence supplies if you're on a tight budget (imagine the money you'll save in fines and mandatory boarding fees at your animal control)

Solid, six foot privacy fences are still the best choice since they protect your dog from theft and prevent feuding with the neighbor dogs. But if neighbors aren't an issue, split rail fences with heavy gauge deer fencing or (better yet) hogwire panels tacked on can be relatively quick and inexpensive. This is the fence we built in preparation for the barn project. We're loving the heavy duty rebar at the base to prevent diggers from getting any ground. It's anchored to each post and heavy wire twists every few feet keep the rebar securely attached to the deer fencing. This style of fence won't stop a committed climber, but you aren't going to leave your dog outside alone unattended, right?



Invisible (ie electric) fences are a Nish-Nish for determined terrier types like pit bulls. Don't even waste your money. Chain link is great, but just begging to be scaled by ambitious types. So remember - no matter how tall your fence is - Don't get complacent and give your young dog an excuse to experiment.

Right: BR alum and Olympic gold medalist Bruno can scale a 6-10 foot fence -- noooo problem. Photo credit Tom Becker

Finally, if your dog just can't handle being outdoors without making a joke of your fences, consider investing in a good kennel. The magnum kennels are nice and sturdy and easy to put up with butterfly clamps. Kennel

If you've learned something about containment from your dogs, please share. Thank you!

EDIT: Thanks Christine for reminding us about roll bars. Husky homes rely on them to prevent their escape-prone pets from busting out. These are as easy as they look and as affordable as PVC piping. More Info

29 comments:

Melody said...

Great post, what if my dog doesn't jump but dig? Are there ways to prevent him from digging?

Donna said...

Hi Melody. Bend that heavy gauge wire so it comes out 6-12 inches away from the fence once it hits the ground and anchor the heavy rebar at the base like the photo shows. It that's still not enough, you may need to pour a short cement base along/under the bottom so your dog just can't get anywhere.

Then, think about giving him a spot in the yard where he's 'allowed' to dig and teach him it's okay to use that spot (deep walled sand box, etc) Good luck to you guys!

Anonymous said...

Osa got out once by using the "Z" on the inside of the gate. The gate was built up 2 feet immediately after. I have a GREAT fence guy in the south bay if anyone is interested in any fence work. He has done all of work, and is honest, hardworking, and likes pitties.

Let me know if anyone is interested in the San Jose area.

Natalie

who wouda thunk it?? said...

I have earned the importance of making sure no one can get IN, either. a gate latch on a chain link fence can be kicked right in. All my gates are secured with a heavy length of chain around the gate posts, and a nice big tamper proof padlock. I also never leave my dogs in the yard when I am not at home, even for ten minutes. I have had a dog stolen, noosed and hoisted right over the fence, while I had run to the store. Luckily he was picked up by animal control months later and returned yay microchip!!

Donna said...

Noosed and hoisted over your fence? Holy crap! You must have been out of your mind about this!
Thanks for the reality check. And yes - praise be to microchips - and to you for keeping your contact info current on the chip.

Cathy said...

I've got a coyote mix who just can't ever be outside unsupervised...The little gal is actually part cat! She scales our 6' wood fence like it's nothing.

Anonymous said...

natalie makes a great point about locks on the gates- these guys are great about getting frustrated with not being able to get over/under/through and figuring out how to open the gates. and children/neighbors/roommates who don't know the rules can be that much more dissuaded by locks on the fence. it really does make a difference.

Christine said...

Tips! I have some, courtesy of our old mutt who could jump a 6-foot fence without a running start. We used lean-ins, similar to this: http://www.inetdesign.com/wolfdunn/containment/barbarms.html so that he couldn't grab a hold of the top of our 6-foot wooden fence and pull himself over.

Alternatively, you can get PVC piping and place them along the top of the fence-line so that the dog can't get a good grip onto the top and hoist himself to the other side.

Dianne said...

As a tale (tail?) of caution, we are still looking for our girl who jumped the foster’s fence (a rental) last Spring.

http://findberdina.wordpress.com/

We have had 30 inches of snow since she was last seen, but a group went out and posted fliers last weekend. We have been working with a pet tracker, Sam Connelly, and her wonderful golden retriever, Salsa.

http://www.puregoldpettrackers.com/

Lots of good information on her site as to what to do to prevent your pet getting lost – see Safeguards you can do today, including take lots of good pictures, and what to do if your pet goes missing. And of course, success stories. Since we started working with her, she has helped locate quite a few dogs and cats.

I went out on a track with them a few months back. I was highly skeptical of this tracking thing, since it seemed to me it could easily be a stunt like the Amazing Kreskin. Twice on the track, Salsa stopped tracking the dog and tracked exactly where I had just walked, them came up and leaned against my leg and looked me in the eye. It was if she was saying “Of course, I’m really tracking her. Look, I just tracked you!”

mikken said...

When I can fence in a yard, I was thinking about using these -
http://www.coyoteroller.com/home

They're nice because they would help keep critters from climbing *in* to the yard,too.

The Foster Lady said...

For the dogs that like to try to grab onto the top of the stockade fence and hoist themselves over, PVC piping can be adhered to the top. It's harder to get your paws around something that is round and slippery.

Agree about Electric Fences...my Lily and my friend's beagle Darwin would take that jolt any day of the week if they saw anything of interest on the other side!

Animals Away said...

The pups look like they enjoy their new fenced in area quite a bit.

Dianne said...

The shelter where I volunteer won't adopt out to an owner with invisible fences. Most feisty dogs will grin and bear the shock to get out, but not to get back in!

Sally said...

For my digging dog, I finally put in a concrete footing along the fence line. I picked up (literally) hunks of broken up concrete from a demolition site and lined the base of my fence. However, I still don't leave her unattended in the back yard for fear of some new Houdini act to get out!

Anonymous said...

I find that setting up your dog for success with sturdy escape proof fencing is necessary for safety.

But if the dog is consistently trying to escape, there is either an underling behavior problem that needs to be addressed or perhaps the dog's physical and mental needs are not being met.

who wouda thunk it?? said...

read my post today....

NYCKitten said...

Wow - that's impressive! Bravo Bruno!

Janet said...

Perfect example of what Badrap is warning against: http://www.wcnc.com/news/local/Family-dogs-euthanized-by-mistake-Animal-Care-and-Control-admits-mistake-86273092.html

TDY said...

Great post! Our rescue won't adopt to people who plan to leave their dogs unattended, but even while supervised, pitties are such great athletes and so smart that it only takes a second for them to escape. No need to make it easier on them with broken fences!

Our dog's new favorite party trick is to kiss guests on the lips when they come in the door. He doesn't jump ON them, but he will leap straight up in the air and give them a big lick - easily kissing my husband's 6 foot plus friends. As hilarious as this is, it's something we're trying to curb, as not everyone appreciates a block-headed pit bull coming at their face! :)

Luckily he hasn't tried to use those same leg muscles to leap over our 6 foot fence, but knowing he easily could is precisely the reason I don't let him out of my sight when he's outside!

Rusty's Mom said...

Mine don't try to escape but one did accidentally. She was chasing a squirrel up a tree (her favorite pass time). She got about 7ft up or so and jumped down. The only problem was the tree was near the fence and she landed outside the fence line.
I saw her go over and I found her panicked leaning up against the fence to get back in.

So check to make sure your tree branches aren't hanging over your fences either.

Donna said...

Yep - tree branch ladders are classic!

A favorite fence story: Once I was in our backyard showing a foster dog to prospective adopters, and explaining why fences were just an inconvenience to some dogs. They nodded, but you never know how much nodding is just posturing.

Suddenly as if on cue, our girl Sally - who'd been playing with the neighbor's dog next door - came S-A-I-L-I-N-G over the 6' wood fence like superman in flight, squealing like a lovestruck pig in a happy rush to greet the visitors. She nearly beaned them in the head on her way over.

After we jumped out of our skin, we lost our breath laughing, which was fine since I didn't need to talk to make my point anymore. How I wish we had that on video - it was so g-dam funny.

Veronica said...

Our big issue is keepIng the neighbor's dogs from breaking fence boards to get into our yard. We have reinforced the bottom with 2x4s and will be adding the wire and rebar to ensure our dogs don't try to crawl under any broken areas. Our dogs are social, theirs are dog aggressive and it's been a serious problem. Since they came through the first time and mauled my small dog, he's decided he wants to go under when they crack boards and fight back and my staffy mix is there to back him up. I usually hate overweight dogs, but the neighbor's dogs being so fat keeps them from jumping over. That said, I think coyote bars are going up next to prevent it just in case. How do I convince the neighbor replacing boards as they get broken isn't enough? Our side is turning into a fortress, but what about the other neighbors? Pitties really don't need any more bad press, and it's just a matter of time before something else happens.

Anna Peterson said...

Our otherwise perfect little brindle marshmallow, Tozi, has gotten under, over, around, or through every kind of fencing imaginable in pursuit of small game. She recently cannon-balled through a solid board fence to get to the armadillo on the other side. I was less than 15 yards away. We are putting up 6' privacy fence in front of the chain link, but we still never leave her outside unsupervised. She is not very young, not very athletic, but extremely determined. Moral of the story? Where there's a will (or an armadillo), there's a way.

Laurie said...

I always had a problem with my dog digging out when she was a puppy. She got lost for a week, and it curbed the habit, but I noticed this product called Dig Defense, and it seems to replace cementing, so you don't have to dig anything up. Has anyone used these?

Adrienne said...

The most important thing is to not leave them alone outside. No fence at all can stop a determined escape artist.

My pit once chewed through our house wall. Yes, literally through the house -- through the molding, drywall, insulation, and a beam. She was only alone for about 6 hours. If she can do that, then she can chew through the boards of a fence!

Jeannine said...

Two other fencing options: I won a Purrfect Fence at a silent auction which is a fence created to keep cats in and predators out by using angled-in flexible deer-type fencing. The pitties could chew right through the nylon fencing but we also used 6 foot non-climb horse fencing on the inside. So, once they got to the top of that, the wiggly, flexible nylon that angled into the yard kept them from getting any foothold to go over. Not pretty, but functional and luckily we live on acreage in the county so no one cares that it's not pretty. The second solution we had to use years ago when we did have to leave our pitties outside while we were at work was to bury a complete floor (covered with deep gravel to protect their feet) of welded wire sewn together with wire and also sewn with wire to the kennel panels. It was also covered with sewn welded wire on top and shade cloth on top of that. By sewn, I mean that we used a roll of wire "thread"(think bailing wire, but this was stronger) to completely sew together the pieces of welded wire in and out through each square and to the base of the kennel. They never were able to escape and they were Houdinis. It wasn't ideal, but ideal wasn't possible for us at that time and it was SAFE for them. This is no longer necessary for us, but it definitely worked when we needed it.

Nancie Tharp said...

My son installed the DIY coyote roller (roll bar) on my chain link fence and it works perfectly. A little unsightly but I am growing morning glories to run up the fencing and hopefully cover that PVC pipe! Once my girl gets older and less inclined to jump I'll remove it (we didn't secure into the fencing with screws, but rather used clamps).

Love your no nonsense blog!!

Boo N Little said...

Does anyone know anything about Pet Playgrounds Fence system? I am considering this type.

Lynn (in Louisiana) said...

O.M.G. I'm so excited to see a blog post from Donna!!!!