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A dog who escapes in your absence is a very serious cause for concern. It’s a little less worrisome if your dog just escapes a room in the house, but if he manages to tear through a wooden or chain-link fence, then it immediately increases the dangers he could encounter. Dogs who are escape artists can injure themselves in their attempt to break away from their confinement, which is a serious headache for dog owners.
Is there a way to ensure your dog’s safety while you’re out of the house so you can leave him in the backyard without fearing for his life? Yes, there is! Aside from helping you get to the root of the problem, we will also suggest some solutions to keep even the most determined dogs inside the perimeter.
Why Is My Dog Jumping the Fence?
You may think chain-link fences are stronger or opt for wire fencing, but in truth, it doesn’t matter what kind of fence you have, understanding why your dog is jumping the fence will help curb the behavior. There are a few reasons why our dog feels the need to escape, and the most common ones are listed below.
Boredom or separation anxiety
The bane of a dog owner is a bored dog. Boredom causes destructive behavior, which includes destroying your property or escaping your existing fence by tearing through it. Without you and who all lives in the house, your dog will start to get restless, bored, and anxious. These emotions will manifest as destructive behavior.
What can you do to curb these issues? Well, separation anxiety is something that needs training with a professional animal behaviorist. Boredom, on the other hand, is an easier fix. Just make sure you exercise your dog enough every day. If you don’t have the time, you can rely on a dog walker. Even just 30min to an hour at the dog park can be a significant energy release.
When your dog hears other dogs having fun, it’s inevitable that he will want to join! Your dog’s “fear of missing out” or FOMO, could be a reason why he jumps your chain link fence. A very well socialized dog and one that is sufficiently exercised will have less of an issue with companionship escapes, but escaping for mating reasons is a different story.
When male dogs get a whiff of a female dog’s pheromones, all bets are off. One of the reasons why vets suggest neutering and spaying dogs, in general, is because of mating escapes. Your dog will have a compulsion to go after the female, and no fence line will stand in his way. Neutering or spaying your dog provides benefits beyond unwanted behaviors, it also affects your fur baby’s health.
On the hunt
For those who have hunting dog breeds, then you might know that a squirrel or bird on the other side of the fence may be all it takes for your dog to scale the fence. Dogs who are territorial and have the hunting drive may also take it upon themselves to leap over the fence to guard their property against the invading critters.
Dogs who climb over the fence for protection reasons are usually ones who are territorial. Any passerby such as mailmen, delivery men, and even pedestrians or animals minding their own business can be seen as a threat. In order to protect and guard the property, your pooch may jump the fence line to defend your domain.
In order to curb this protective behavior, your dog will need to learn that not everything and everyone that crosses the property line is a danger to your pooch and his “pack”, which includes you. This type of training takes time, so there are other precautions you can take in the meantime to keep your dog from jumping the fence. We’ll go into that a bit later.
Maybe the fence itself is an issue. For example, if you have a reactive dog, which is one that reacts to visual or audio stimuli, then having a wire fence, which will do nothing to obstruct your dog’s view of other animals and humans, is probably not the most effective. For fencing options, it brings us to the next section, where we will give you tips on how to reinforce existing fences or which new ones would be more secure.
How Can I Keep My Dog From Jumping the Fence?
Plant shrubs, trees & vines strategically
You can simulate the impression of nothing beyond the fence with some strategically planted shrubs, trees, or vines. If you have a wire fence, you won’t have to rip up the whole thing and redo it. Position appropriate plants, trees, and vines around the perimeter in a way where you obstruct other creatures from your dog’s view. This will also create the impression that there is a forest beyond the single layer of shrubs, which will deter your dog from jumping.
Add a shorter interior fence
Sometimes an additional fence is enough to hinder your dog from climbing the fence. Not all of them have the determination to get through an obstacle course to get to the “prey”. Maybe your dog could have gotten enough height to get over one fence, but if you place them close together enough, your dog will no longer get the speed and height needed to scale both.
If you go for this method, you should also consider what type of fence to use and what it will look like. You don’t want to underestimate your dog and have him try to scale both and end up injuring himself.
Install rollers on top of the fence
You can also consider installing coyote rollers on top of your fence. Coyote rollers are specially designed to stop animals from climbing over the top of the fence. Many dog owners may think this is overkill, but it really solves a lot of their problems.
The roller is a little like a rolling pin but made out of aluminum. The coyote roller sits on top of the fence and its purpose is to roll when the animal gets up to that height to prevent it from getting a secure foothold. This device works to keep your dog in and wild animals out.
The roller won’t hurt your pet, just make him lose his balance and fall a short distance to the ground. What’s great about the rollers is it protects small dogs if you live near rural areas because coyotes are notorious for scaling fence and killing small breeds (hence why it’s called coyote rollers).
Another reason why coyote rollers are great additions to any fence is that you won’t need to uninstall anything. Just add the rollers on top and you’re good to go!
A dog run
What is a dog run? A dog run is basically a large doggy pen. It will function similarly to a shorter interior fence and keep your dog safely enclosed inside. The pen is designed to suit your specific backyard and your dog’s needs. A dog run is usually made with chain links and it is also a multipurpose attachment to the dog house or dog bed.
If you’re fully committed and want to nip your dog’s escapes in the bud, then we would suggest perimeter landscaping. Add things to show your dog that he can’t make it over the fence and even if he does, there is still a long and arduous road to freedom.
Adding things such as a thick flowerbed in addition to our shrubs, trees, and vines suggested above can create the illusion the space beyond the fence is inaccessible to your dog. You can get creative and add a moat, reed fencing, bamboos, anything you can think of that not only prevents your dog from climbing and escaping but also adds a touch of style to your property.
All of our suggestions thus far work well for a dog who scales the fence, but what about dogs who are diggers? After all, there are 2 ways to get through the fencing.
If you have a digger, then you may have to consider other options. You could place a few layers of bricks alongside the bottom of the fencing so it takes more effort for your dog to move them while digging. Buried chicken wire is another option too, but furious diggers could get hurt if they still power through.
Extend fence height & angle the top inward
Sometimes the simplest options work just as well. You can extend the height of the fence to deter your dog from trying to climb it. However, your dog could surprise you and attempt the climb anyway, which increases the chances of injury. This is why extending the fence height works better if you have a small and less agile dog.
You really help enclose your dog inside your backyard, you can angle the top of the fence inward so it’s nearly impossible for your dog to easily climb out. All it takes is a few adjustments, nothing too big to your existing fence.
Train your dog to stay away from fences
You can also rely on training, but in order for the training to be effective, you have to understand why your dog is wanting to climb the fence. We listed some reasons above, but if you don’t believe any of them apply to your dog, then we would suggest enrolling your pooch in a behavior class. The experts will be able to give your dog a more accurate assessment, and also draw up a training plan.
For example, let’s say your dog is an escape artist because he has separation anxiety. If this is the case, then addressing the emotional issue will, in turn, solve the fence climbing.
For dogs who escape because they have a strong prey drive, this could be a little trickier. Alongside behavior training, you may also need to rely on overexposure and desensitization to the stimuli. This can take a while, as with any type of dog training, so keep your pup’s favorite snacks stocked up with plenty of patience and praise at the ready.
Block your dog’s view
Guess what? Maybe your dog is only triggered by visual stimulation such as another dog walking by or a squirrel scurrying past. If this is the case, then re-evaluate your fencing choice. A chain-link fence will not do as well as wooden slats, or even very dense shrubs.
As we mentioned, there are a variety of ways to block your dog’s sight ranging from strategically placing plants around the perimeter, adding landscaping, or switching out the type of fence you have for another.
Keep your dog tired and busy
We touched on this above, but tiring out your dog with enough exercise before you leave is an excellent way to make sure your fence holds. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog and one that is unlikely to have the energy to notion to want to scale the fence.
If your dog is tired but you’re still worried, you can find jobs for him to do that will keep him occupied for the length of your absence. For example, giving him a puzzle toy, or a stuffed Kong with his favorite treats can keep him busy for a while.
If nothing else works, then you have one more thing you can try – vibration, spray, or ultrasonic collars. These devices are dog collars with advanced technology embedded inside. You would need to set parameters such as the distance and space your dog has to roam in your backyard. Once your dog exceeds the perimeter, the collar will either vibrate, spray an unpleasant scent, or emit an ultrasonic sound to deter your dog.
The set perimeter is also known as an invisible fence because it is invisible and is enforced only by your dog’s collar. Some people believe shock and choke collars are inhumane, and although our suggestions are safer, you can still consult your vet or trainer before you try one of them.
One thing we would strongly advise against is leaving your dog tied to something in your absence. If the leash is tied to a collar, your dog risks choking himself. There is also a chance your dog may injure himself from trying to break free.
If all else fails, a dog sitter or dog walker can be helpful in a pinch. Another option that works very well is choosing a trustworthy doggy daycare to leave your dog at whenever you will be away for an extended period. It may not be worth it if you only plan on leaving to run quick errands, so we would still prioritize finding a good fence or adding to what you already have with some of our ideas above.