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Pet Containment – The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line:

If your dog does escape the yard, avoid the common but ineffective practice of punishing him when he returns or when you catch him. Dogs don’t have long-term memories and have no idea what the problem is when their owners scold or punish them afterwards. In the case of escaping the yard, the dog rarely even realizes that his person does not want him to jump out and run around because that activity just seems like a fun thing to the dog. In addition to being ineffective – physical or verbal punishment will only confuse the dog, make him fear your approach, and prevent him from coming to you when you call him to come back home.

If you have recently acquired your dog or pup, take great care to not let him jump the fence. The experience of romping loose will seem like fun and very natural to the dog; however he may become hurt or lost. Usually a dog jumps for one or more of these reasons: he sees an animal or something else that he feels compelled to chase (especially common for dogs with prey drives), he sees a friendly person or dog he’d like to meet, (understandable since companion animals naturally seek companions) or he is bored and looking for something to do, or looking for his people. Your job will be much easier if you don’t give him a chance to escape.

Steer clear of fence styles with substantial and/or expandable gaps, such as iron grate and open picket varieties. The gaps might seem too narrow for a dog to squeeze through, but a determined dog, anxious to chase something or someone seen through the fence, can compress his body or push hard enough to shift a picket for allow escape. Even if the dog can’t squeeze through, the gaps in decorative fences allow canine jaws to protrude, human hands to intrude, and in a worse case scenario you may end up with injuries and a lawsuit that costs you much more than the most expensive, secure fence.

Remember the risks to leaving him unattended in yards. A fence does not substitute owner attention, training, and responsibility. The problems of leaving dogs unsupervised in yards could be: barking complaints, injuries, tussles with wild animals, kids teasing or throwing things at your dog, pet theft, escapes that could lead to the dog getting lost or biting someone leaving you liable. Or a dog might learn to associate the yard with anxiety, fear or loneliness.

Gates should be checked on all sides for gaps that a dog can squeeze through or become stuck in. Latches on gates should be higher than the dog can reach, and are even more secure if fitted with a lock because some dogs can learn to open latches. Plus you don’t want anyone to be able to open your gate from the outside. Make sure to leave no gaps – dogs can make themselves very skinny in order to squeeze through an opening. A dog that isn’t neutered is driven to seek out mates, and a frightened dog might feel desperate to escape something in or near his yard.

To prevent fence-jumping, make sure any physical fence is high enough because many dogs will attempt to jump over a fence, especially one less than five feet in height.

Since more dogs try to dig out under physical fences than jump over them its a good idea to install the bottom of the fencing in a shallow trench, then fill in the trench with cinder blocks, large stones, railroad ties, or concrete. This should discourage even the most enthusiastic digger!

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