Up and over
By Doris Dressler
Does your canine companion think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence? Living with a climbing, jumping escape artist can be very challenging. Why do some dogs do this and what can be done to prevent or stop it?
If you look at it from a dog’s point-of-view, climbing a fence and running like the wind is a pretty self-rewarding behavior. Your dog may have spotted an animal to chase or a person or dog pal to greet. Frightened dogs may attempt to flee from a perceived danger in the yard. And a bored dog is far more likely to attempt escape than a dog getting plenty of exercise, training time and social interaction every day.
The best way to prevent fence-jumping is to try to set things up so your dog never starts the behavior. If a dog is properly contained during his early years, he is much less likely to try to escape in his later years. If he jumps the fence even once, he will probably jump it again.
If boredom is causing your pet’s escapist behavior, try spending more time doing interesting activities that provide outlets for his physical and mental energy.
Other options to consider include:
- If he is jumping only one section of the fence, try raising just that section first; eventually you may have to raise the height of the entire fence.
- Block the view of what is beyond the fence that is tempting your dog to jump over. A solid fence is better than a chain link or see-through fence.
- Attach a 2-foot high wire mesh (or something similar) at or near the top of the fence, angling it in toward the yard to prevent the dog from jumping or climbing out. (He would bump his head on the mesh, preventing him from getting over and out.)
- Install a strong strand of wire 4 inches above the fence top and thread PVC pipe (1/2 to 1 inch in diameter) along it. When the dog tries to climb over, the pipe will roll and his paws will slip off. A ready-made product also is available for purchase at coyoteroller.com; pricing starts at $28 for a 4-foot section.
- If these options are too expensive, secure a small section of the yard and only allow the dog into the rest of the yard when you are supervising.
- Plant some bushes or place some obstacle at the take-off point. This can stop a jumper by disrupting his stride.
- If the dog climbs onto objects next to the fence to help himself over, move those things far enough away from the fence so he can’t use them for that purpose.
- Consider experimenting with an anti-jump harness. Google “anti-jump dog harness” for more information.
- Make sure your dog can’t dig out of the yard (if he fails at jumping over the fence). The bottom of the fence should be below ground; chicken wire works well for this purpose.
Dogs are less likely to jump the fence if you are outside with them; this also gives you an opportunity to do some training. If your dog looks like he is considering jumping the fence, immediately redirect his attention by calling him to you or engaging him in a game of fetch or chase. Deterring fence-jumping is another reason to take the time to teach basic commands, such as sit, stay and come.
Remember, there are risks when leaving your dog unattended in a yard. He may bark and disturb the neighbors; he may have an encounter with a wild animal. If he escapes, he could get lost or be hit by a car. Always keep an identification tag on your dog with current information.
This climbing canine is ready to fly the coop.