Backyard Pet Fencing – Keeping your animals involved but safe during outdoor activities.
Our pets are like members of the family, so it goes without saying that we want them to be involved in our outdoor activities. Since letting them run free isn’t always an option—rescue dogs will sometimes have poor recall and some others are simply fond of wandering—we like to make sure there’s a secure area where they can safely play without letting their restraints interrupt the flow of the human activities.
Depending on the layout of the property, this can be tricky. An open, grassy backyard area is ideal because you can simply secure the perimeter with pet fencing and let the fun begin. It’s even better if the house has a door that opens directly into the fenced area—that way, you don’t have to worry about adding a door to the fence itself if you don’t want to.
Other yard configurations might require a little creative effort. In these situations, an alternative such as a PetSafe Wireless Containment System could be your best option. To help you come up with the right solution, we’ve put together this complete guide to outdoor pet-fencing. The sooner you can be assured of your pet’s safety, the sooner you can get down to the matter of hosting the perfect pet-friendly backyard bash.
Pros and Cons of Pet Fencing
- Gives pets a secure space in which to run around
- Adds aesthetic value to the property
- Boosts the resale value of the home
- May obstruct the view
- Can be time-consuming to assemble
- Building permit may be required (check in at your town office if you’re unsure of local zoning laws)
All things considered, we’d definitely rather have a fence than not, especially since we love to entertain. In addition to making the yard safer for our own pets, it makes it easier for our fellow dog-loving friends to bring their canine companions over, as well. This is particularly convenient for multi-day parties—there’s no need for our friends to board their pets or find someone to stay with them overnight.
Types of Pet Fencing
When it comes to pet fencing, you’ll have numerous options. In order to choose the one that’s right for you, you should consider the following factors:
- Budget: How much you’re willing and able to spend on the equipment and installation
- Size: Measure the area that you’d like to cover before buying any materials. The last thing you want is to come up short once construction has started.
- Layout: Which type of fencing would work best with the configuration of your backyard?
- Installation: Whether you’ll be putting the fence up yourself or hiring a professional
- Disposition of Your Pets: Do you want to obstruct your pets’ view of passersby, rather than just cordon off an area for pet play? Are they likely to try to dig their way out? Are they skittish dogs who might be traumatized by an extreme dog fence?
A full-on wooden fence is a great option if you want to keep your dogs from barking at passersby. Because they’ll completely obstruct the view of your backyard, they’ll also keep your outdoor activities private (which is useful if you’re playing alfresco strip poker). However, this feature can also be a drawback—although no one will be able to see in, you also won’t be able to see out.
Installing a wooden fence is also pretty hard on the wallet, both initially and in the long-term. They’re pricey to install, plus they require a great deal of maintenance in order to prevent the wood from rotting. Consider this option if you have particularly lively dogs who are likely to dig under or jump over other types of fencing.
Picket fences are an attractive and practical choice, keeping pets in without blocking the humans’ view of the great outdoors. You wouldn’t want to try installing one on uneven or rocky terrain, so consider this option only if the area you want to fence in is grassy and level. Also, be forewarned that smaller critters can still get in through the slats, meaning that Fido and friends might end up disrupting the party with an impromptu chipmunk chase.
Heavy, durable, and impressive, chain-link fencing is able to withstand years of punishment from both the elements and energetic animals alike. They’re not as aesthetically pleasing as wooden or picket fences, but on the plus side, they won’t obstruct your view at all. The bad news? The heavy-duty metal wire is fairly expensive, and you’ll probably need to have it installed by a professional making it an even costlier prospect.
Also known as “snow fencing,” this option attaches flexible wire mesh to a row of posts with zip ties, usually spaced 5 to 6 feet apart. The mesh is typically affordable, and do-it-yourselfers should be able to install the fencing without too much trouble.
Our favorite thing about this type of fence—it’s not permanent. This means you can adjust the perimeter if the restraints are threatening to interrupt the flow of your party. It will take a bit of time to do this, though, so be sure to plan ahead. Also, be prepared to replace the wire mesh every few years or so.
An even more affordable option than the flexible wire, deer netting, is set up in a similar fashion—by securing the material to a row of T-posts with zip ties. It’s easy to assemble, to take down and lightweight enough to pack up and move to other locations.
We love this type of fencing for its versatility and low price tag. Because the material is pretty flimsy, you should take it down for the winter if your region typically sees a lot of snow. It also might not do if your pets are especially rambunctious. We’d recommend using it only for temporary summer fencing, particularly if your backyard has an awkward layout.
Portable Animal Barriers
You can find this type of temporary pet barrier at online retailers like Amazon. It’s usually sold by the panel, giving you a great deal of flexibility when it comes to size. They’re not designed to fence in the whole backyard, but rather to give the animals their own private play area. Because we prefer to allow our pets to interact with their human companions during the party, we’d only use this option as a means of keeping smaller pets safe or separating the antisocial ones from the rest of the pack.
Invisible fences have two components: an electrical wire that’s buried underground along the perimeter you wish to secure and a receiver collar placed around the dog’s neck. When the animal approaches the boundary, the collar receives a signal from the wire causing it to beep and give off a mild electric shock.
The shock won’t cause the dog any long-term physical damage, but it can be ineffective for a couple of reasons. First of all, if the dog sees something they really want, they might not be deterred by the brief discomfort and tear off after it anyway. If they do manage to get through the barrier, they may be discouraged from returning. This phenomenon is especially prevalent in rescue animals, who are often wary to begin with. In addition, the receiver collars are expensive to replace if they’re lost or stolen.
A wireless fence is similar to an invisible fence, with one key distinction. Instead of an underground wire, a transmitter gives off a signal within the designated area. Again, when the dog gets too close to this boundary, the collar beeps and gives off shock waves.
For obvious reasons, invisible and wireless fences have aesthetic and practical advantages over physical barriers—at least as far as the humans are concerned. If you want to keep your pets from running away from your backyard gathering without putting up an actual fence, what could be better? If your dogs are stalwart breeds and can’t be contained by any other means, we would avoid these types of containment. Our aim is to allow the dogs to enjoy the festivities without harming themselves, and an electric shock definitely qualifies as harm in our opinion.
A Word About Shock Collars
If you do decide to go this route, there are a few options when it comes to electric collars. We’ve had nothing but great luck with the Sport Dog Brand Collars, but there are definitely cheaper options such as this one from Dog Care.
As we’ve mentioned, the invisible and wireless fence collars will give off a signal when the dog approaches the perimeter. This is an appealing choice for pet owners because it’s hands-free—the barrier is already in place, so the system does all the work for you.
Alternatively, if you’re trying to correct the animal’s behavior in addition to keeping it close, you might consider a remote dog training collar instead. These units are controlled by a handheld remote, which can transmit a variety of signals. If the dog threatens to run off or engages in some other form of poor behavior, you can transmit an unpleasant shock. Some models are also capable of transmitting signals that are pleasing to the dog, which you can deploy in order to reward positive behavior.
Finally, if it’s excessive barking you’re attempting to keep in check, look into anti-bark collars. Like invisible and wireless fence collars, these will work without any outside interference from the owner. Anti-bark collars are equipped with sensors that are placed against the dog’s vocal cords, in order to receive the vibration when the animal is about to bark. When this happens, the device will react in one of three ways depending on what type of collar it is. For example:
- A fragrance that’s unpleasant for the dog (such as citronella) will be unleashed to deter barking
- A high-pitched beep will emit from the sensor
- A mild electric shock or vibration will be administered
Again, since barking is a natural canine behavior, we wouldn’t recommend stifling it unless the dog is truly disruptive—in which case we wouldn’t welcome him to the party in the first place.
Permanent Vs Temporary
- Am I willing and able to perform the necessary maintenance and upkeep that a permanent fence requires?
- Will I need to apply for a building permit?
- How much can I afford to spend on a fence?
- Do I want to be able to take the fence along when I travel with my pets?
- Am I trying to keep pets and small children away from a certain area (such as a pool or steep drop-off)?
- How much time do I have before the fence needs to be installed?
For these purposes—giving pets the opportunity to share in the festivities while keeping them safe and contained—we think temporary fencing is a perfectly suitable option. It allows you to pack up the barrier when traveling or put it away when the weather turns cold increasing its shelf-life. We also like having the option of moving the posts if the layout gets in the way of the horseshoe or corn hole tournament.
Having hosted parties in many different locations, we understand the challenges that pet-friendly gatherings can present. In one case, our “backyard” area was nothing but a concrete parking lot—hardly the sort of environment that animals thrive in. Their two-legged counterparts were thrilled to have a level surface for the beer pong tables, but the animals were less enamored of their surroundings and had to be closely watched at all times.
No matter what your living situation is, we’re confident that you can come up with a pet fencing solution that works for you. If you find yourself in the same predicament we did with the concrete lot, check out a temporary pet play pen that can be set up specifically for the festivities. If your property has a large, grassy backyard area, consider investing in a permanent barrier that will secure the whole area. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, which is a definite plus in this case since you’ll have plenty of options from which to choose.
We love to have a good time, and we’ve found that allowing our furry friends to join in the fun makes the good times that much better. Installing customized pet fencing might turn out to be the best decision you’ve ever made.
P.S. – If you have time, check out some of the great pet organizations like the ASPCA or American Kennel Club (AKC). The ASPCA is a great way to help give back to pets in need and AKC is an awesome resource for all you dog lovers.