Fencing Considerations for the Dog Owner

Fencing Considerations for the Dog Owner

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The old saying goes, “Good fences make good neighbors.” For dog owners, good fences make good neighbors, safe pets, and fewer pet-related problems.

While a fence isn’t a requirement for owning a dog, it does make life easier for everyone. Certain breeds are required by law to be in a fenced yard and many rescue groups will not allow the adoption of a dog to a home without a fenced-in yard. When thinking about putting in a fence for a dog, a few considerations must be taken into account before construction can begin.

Fence Dimensions

How tall should the fence be? The fence should match the dog. A four-foot high fence would do nothing to deter a German Shepherd from taking a walk around the neighborhood. Conversely, a six-foot high fence for a Chihuahua would be overkill. In general, the dog should not be able to put its front feet on the top rail of the fence if the intent is to keep the dog in. Some breeds, such as Border Collies and Kelpies, are notoriously clever when it comes to conquering fences by using things like trash cans as a ladder to get over the fence. Be sure that you don’t have things near the fence that could make a convenient way out for a persistent dog.

What material should be used? Most materials are dog-safe; however, the owner needs to be aware of potential dangers with fencing materials. Decorative fences, while effective in keeping most dogs in, do not meet the legal definition of an appropriate fence. Also, some dogs can wiggle out of these types of fences or can get their heads stuck between the rails which is potentially a life-or-death situation.

Even the old standby, chain link, has its problems. Pit bulls are notorious fence climbers and have been known to scale a chain link fence with no trouble. Not only could this allow the dog to get out of the yard, but it could also cause injury if a dog’s collar gets tangled in the fence when going over or if the dog slips. Some dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers, are chewers, preferring wood to almost anything else. Dog owners must be certain that any finishing or stains used on the fence are pet safe.

Securely Installed

What else should be considered? Fencing should go securely into the ground if you have a breed that digs, such as most terriers. Not only could a dog tunnel out, but they could get their collar caught while trying to wiggle under a fence. Sight lines should also be considered. Dogs that are nervous or tend to bark at any movement should be behind a privacy fence both for the consideration of the neighbors and for the health of the dog.

A privacy fence should also be considered if the owner lives on a main walking route or in a neighborhood with many children, as children tend to tease dogs through fences such as chain link. If the owner has a pool in the area where the dog will be, another fence should be erected around the pool to keep the dog out.

If local law mandates, be sure to post signs as required. It also may be beneficial to talk to neighbors with children about not climbing the fence and teasing the dog through the fence. Dogs are considered an “attractive nuisance” in many communities so, by appropriately fencing the yard, posting signs, and having a discussion with parents in the neighborhood, the owner has lessened some of the exposure they face when owning a dog. Additionally, by making certain to keep neighborhood kids from climbing the fence, the dog is protected from teasing or being fed things it shouldn’t eat.

Special Needs

What considerations should be made for special needs dogs when selecting a fence? Special needs dogs pose particular challenges and requirements in regard to fencing. Foremost, the owner must consider the dog’s needs and the type of accommodations needed to keep the dog safe and happy. Regardless, all special needs dogs need a fenced yard if they are to be allowed to be off lead in the owner’s yard.

Visually impaired dogs need a physical reference to alert them that they are approaching a fence. Sloped landscaping beds or a hedgerow along the inside perimeter of the fence will keep a visually impaired dog from running into the fence. Hearing impaired dogs need a fence in order to keep them from roaming because, due to their impairment, they can be easily hurt or killed by cars and other hazards they aren’t aware of because they can’t hear it. Physically impaired dogs, particularly those that became impaired later in life, may “forget” they aren’t able to do what they used to do and hurt themselves if they are not provided a safe area.

As a canine form of cognitive decline similar to dementia in humans is on the rise, senior dogs can get lost easily and confused about their surroundings. Dogs that used to be able to find their way home can become lost on their own street. Appropriate fencing keeps all special needs dogs safe, secure and close to home while allowing them freedom to roam in a yard without a lead.

The Right Fence

Dog owners want to keep their pets happy, safe, and secure. Appropriate fencing is one way to accomplish these goals as well as provide a sense of added security for neighbors and community members. Choosing a fence should be done with care and consideration in order to find the best option for one’s needs. With the right fence, both dog and owner should be happy with the results.

Author Information

Luke Johnson is an experience home improvement consultant that has worked on residential & commercial properties throughout Australia. Check out Perth Fencing business Fence Makers for some fencing ideas.

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Categories: Outdoor Structures

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".