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Dog-Proofing Your Yard: Fences, Gates and More

Dog-Proofing Your Yard: Fences, Gates and More

The Joys (and Headaches) of Fenced-In Living

Oh sweet, sweet fences, how much do I love thee? Let me count the ways! As a proud dog parent, I can attest that fences are absolutely rad. They’re the ultimate management tool – not only do they keep our canine companions safely contained, but they also allow us to enjoy all sorts of fun backyard activities with our furry friends.

Playing at home in a securely fenced yard is super handy, especially if you have a DINOS (dog-in-need-of-supervision) and need a break from walkies or want to give them a good romp before a stroll. But as you probably know, there are many different fence types to choose from, each with their own pros and cons when it comes to privacy, finances, function, and aesthetics.

I learned this the hard way when our pups figured out how to escape our chain link double-gate setup. They’d lift the latch and push through the bottom of the fence. I had to get creative with some DIY fixes, but eventually realized a commercial gate latch with a few modifications was the way to go.

Fence Frustrations and Solutions

No matter what type of fence you have (or inherit from a previous homeowner), you’re bound to run into some dog-related problems – maybe fence fighting with the neighbors’ pups, little fingers poking through the links, or a serial escape artist on your hands. But fear not, my fellow dog lovers, there are plenty of ways to prevent these common fencing woes.


If you’ve got a jumper or a fence patroller, consider using landscaping to keep your pup a safe distance from the barrier. Planting dense shrubs, like boxwood, along the fence line will force your dog to back up, making the jump harder. And for those perimeter patrol dogs, the landscaping will create a wider buffer zone to encourage them to take a break from guard duty.

Just be sure to check in between the shrubs regularly – you don’t want your dog creating any secret tunnels to Naughtyville.

Visual Barriers

If your dog is reacting to stimuli on the other side of a chain link fence, try adding some privacy with reed, bamboo, or plastic slat fencing. These inexpensive options not only give you more visual separation, but they also prevent curious paws and snouts from poking through.

As one dog walker eloquently put it, “If style isn’t your thing, but function is, you can try a black plastic construction fence as a visual block.”

Dig Deterrents

For the determined diggers in your life, an “L-footer” might be just the ticket. That’s wire fencing laid down against the base of your fence and bent perpendicular (90 degree angle) to it. You can bury this fencing underground or just lay it on top of the grass – either way, it creates an effective barrier to thwart tunnel-digging escapades.

If you’ve got a serial digger on your hands, you could also consider pouring a concrete footer along the fence line and sinking the bottom of the fence into it before it dries. A little more work, but super effective.

The Redundant Fence: Your Backyard’s Dynamic Duo

One of my all-time favorite fencing solutions is the “redundant fence” – a fence within a fence. You can set up a secondary, internal fence on just one side of your yard (where the trouble is happening) or all four sides.

The idea is to create an extra layer of security, preventing your dog from making bad choices, rehearsing behaviors like fence fighting, or escaping easily. Plus, it can help speed up training and keep other people/dogs from putting your pup in dangerous scenarios.

As one dog owner shared, “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.”

The great thing about redundant fences is that they don’t need to be expensive. Depending on your dog’s Houdini-like abilities, a simple visual barrier like PVC fencing may do the trick, or you may need something as sturdy as a solid wood fence to contain them safely.

Airlocks and Locks: Extra Layers of Protection

In addition to fencing solutions, there are a couple other ways to keep our canine companions safely contained.

Airlocks: These gated areas built in front of your main entrance are perfect for homes without a fenced yard. If the door opens and a dog escapes, they’re still contained by the small gated airlock. For some pups, a sturdy baby gate on the porch might do the trick, while others may require a small fenced-in area with a locking gate.

Locks: These handy devices keep your dogs in and unwanted visitors out. We have 10-foot swinging gates on our fence, and after a few stormy incidents, we added a second lock (on the inside) to help keep those gates firmly shut. Depending on your area, it’s not uncommon for people to let themselves into a fenced yard, so interior locks are a must.

Training and Supervision: The Dynamic Duo

Of course, prevention is awesome, but supervision is always super important. Don’t leave your pups unattended in the yard – not only can they get into trouble, but they’re likely to get bored and want to go on adventures.

And while all the fencing solutions in the world are great, don’t forget the power of training. Teach your dogs the skills they need to ignore dogs on the other side of the fence, come when called, and stop escaping. Training goes a lot faster when you can prevent your pups from rehearsing naughty behaviors in the first place.

So no matter how much training you’re planning, the fencing and management strategies above will only make things easier. And easy is my favorite!

Now get out there and hit up the local hardware store. It’s time to set your pups up for success in the backyard of their dreams. And don’t forget to check out for more dog care and adoption resources. Happy fencing, my fellow dog lovers!

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