We hear from many frustrated and concerned dog parents about their dog jumping over their fencing. When your dog is outside the fence, the cause can only be one of 3 things:
- The dog went through the fence.
- The dog went under the fence.
- The dog went over the fence.
If you do not see any holes, gaps, or openings in the fence line, then it is easy to diagnose that problem since the dog must have went over the fence. This is the only option that does not leave obvious evidence behind! However, to remedy this problem we generally suggest understanding how your dog is accomplishing this. The answer to this question is the key to selecting the proper solution. Keep in mind, the answer can vary by your fence height, the material it is constructed from, the peaks and valleys of your yard, and many more specific aspects of your property.
How Dogs Jump Fences
There are two basic ways dogs can get over fences; one is jumping and the other is “climbing”. A dog jumping a fence like a hurdle is pretty easy to understand; the dog can jump higher than the fence and will do so to escape. The “climbing” is not so straightforward and this is due to a dog not having the ability to climb like a cat, squirrel, etc. Dogs paws do not articulate like the paws of animals that are considered climbers. Additionally, dog claws are not able to "grip" or puncture surfaces as you would expect from animals known to be accomplished climbers. You can view a series of curated videos of dogs escaping from fenced areas in a list we created here or watch it below:
How do Dogs "Climb"
Dogs do not actually climb fences. However, what they do does resemble climbing. What they actually do is more consistent with kicking and scrambling up and over fences. For a dog to get over a fence that is higher than they are able to jump, they need to somehow get more than half their body weight over the fence and then their own weight will pull them the rest of the way over. A chain link fence is considered one of the easiest types of fence for a dog to “climb”. They just need to jump up against the fence, hook their front paws, and their back feet will catch in the chain link mesh allowing them to jump higher which they will do again and again until they can throw their front paws and head over the top tail. Once they get half their body weight over the top rail the rest of the work is done by gravity. A capable and determined dog can get over chain link fences 8ft and higher this way. This process is similar for wood fencing, brick fencing, vinyl fencing, and others. Of course, each material and style of the particular fencing plays a role in probability of a dog being able to climb.
How to Keep In a Jumping Dog
To keep a jumping dog from jumping a fence and only, the solution is quite simple. The fence just needs to be taller than the dog is capable of jumping. If you are installing a fence for a dog breed or type that is a known jumper then you have the option to research the capabilitie of that particular dog. Then you can be sure to purchase a fence that is tall enough to eliminate the jumping risk. If you already have an existing fence, then your options are to extend the fence height or replace the fence. Replacing fencing can be prohibitively costly which why many choose to modify their existing fence instead.
For example, Dog-Proofer offers a kit to extend fences by as much as 3ft. This “turnkey” solution has the benefits of having relatively low visibility, high strength components, a proven track-record, and installing quickly. It is also much less of an investment than a replacement fence.
How to Keep In a Climbing Dog
Keeping a dog from being able to climb a fence tends to be more challenging compared to keeping a dog from jumping a fence. A dog needs a specific fencing configuration and fencing material in order to get over fences taller than they can jump. Ultimately, to climb, they require something they can catch their back paws on to kick up higher. Wood privacy fences have this on one side (usually the side facing in) while the other “good” side of the fence is usually free of horizontal rails. The dog jumps up, kicks off the horizontal rails and uses them to scamper over the fence. Some very talented dogs can even do this on block or brick walls if the wall has enough texture for the dog’s back paws to get some traction.
Fences that are more difficult for a dog to “climb” are ones with nothing for a dog to kick off of. Some examples of fences that are difficult for a dog to “climb” are a 6’ or taller wood privacy fence with the “good side” facing in, 6’ or taller vinyl privacy fence (pictured above), tall decorative aluminum / steel estate-type fencing and tall smooth-faced masonry walls. For accomplished climbers, it often only takes a minimal amount of "grit" on the surface of the fence to allow their paws and claws to propel them upwards.
Luckily, existing fences can be modified to make climbing more difficult. A chain link fence can have privacy slats added. Since those slip into the grid of the chain link material they can reduce the amount of “catch” a dog’s back paws and claws can have on the wire. In a similar way, slippery surfaces could be added to the inside face of existing fences. The only problem with these options is that they can be more effort, less attractive and ultimately more expensive than just replacing the fence.
Another time-tested and cost effective option is to secure the top portion of the fence with a specialty climb-stopping fence topper (pictured above.) This tends to be preferred by pet day care, pet resorts, and others since this has been proved to keep 100% of dogs, regardless of skill, from escaping over fencing. One of the most popular options is our Houdini-Proof Dog-Proofer Fence Extension System. This is almost always less work and lower cost than replacing a fence.
Let Us Help Keep Your Dog Safe and Happy Outdoors
Keeping your dog safely contained in their designated area can be a breeze for some dogs while a huge struggle for others. It is important to understand the capabilities and personality of your dog so you can determine the best method for proper containment. If you require assistance with finding the best fit for your home, fence, and dog, please consider getting in touch with us.