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