Having a lovely outdoor space where your dog can sniff, play, and relax is ideal for both dogs and dog owners. Unfortunately, if your dog is an escape artist and decides to jump the fence, it can be very stressful. You will be left worrying about their safety and figuring out how to find them. Thankfully, there are lots of practical things you can do to stop your dog from jumping the garden fence.
1. Figure Out Their Motivation
There are plenty of reasons your dog might try to escape and if you can figure out their motivation, it can help you work on appropriate solutions.
For example, some dogs may be frustrated because they aren’t getting enough stimulation. Therefore, the solution will be to increase their exercise and mental stimulation.
Some dogs may try to escape because they think something fun is going on out in the world, or they see another dog they want to play with. Others may be prey-driven and want to chase something.
Some dogs have separation anxiety and may be trying to get to you if you’re not at home. It’s really important dogs aren’t left outdoors unsupervised for long periods. It’s better for them to be safely inside when you aren’t home.
If your dog isn’t spayed or neutered, they may be escaping to try and find a mate. Male dogs may smell a female dog in heat, and follow that powerful urge to try to get to her. In this case, getting your dog spayed or neutered can help to tackle your dog’s behavior.
2. Make Sure Their Needs Are Met
A lot of dogs try to escape because they’re bored and perhaps their needs aren’t being met. Both physical and mental stimulation is important for any dog to stay happy and healthy.
It’s crucial that you’re taking your dog on walks, even if they have a big fenced-in garden. They need that change of environment and stimulation to prevent boredom.
If your dog is escaping, it might be time to increase their exercise. You can do this by walking them more often or taking them to the dog park. Each breed is different, so it’s important to do some research to see how much exercise your dog needs.
Increasing their exercise doesn’t have to just be about giving them more walks. It can be allowing them to take their time on walks so they can sniff more and explore the world around them. It might be getting involved in canine sports, such as dog agility or flyball, or making playtime more active.
If you are struggling to find time to increase your dog’s exercise, it can be worthwhile finding a dog walker.
Mental stimulation is just as important as exercise, so you might want to consider playing games with your dog. You could introduce puzzle toys or invent your own fun games to get their mind working.
You could increase the amount of interactive play they have with you to ensure they’re getting the attention they need. After all, to your furry friend, you’re their whole world.
A lot of dog breeds were bred to carry out specific tasks, so it can be helpful to figure out safe ways to allow them to fulfill those instincts.
Aside from ensuring they’re getting enough physical and mental stimulation, it’s important to make sure they feel safe and happy in the garden. They should always have access to a shaded area, fresh water, and never be left alone for long periods.
Giving them an area they can call their own in the garden can be helpful, such as an outdoor bed, a dog house, or a little play area.
3. Make the Garden Exciting
A great way to tackle escaping is to make the garden more exciting than what’s going on outside the fence.
Make the garden a place they want to be by adding plenty of dog toys and other items such as a paddling pool, sprinklers, a sandbox for digging, or sensory items. Consider treat dispensing toys to keep them occupied and engage their mind. You could introduce lick mats or snuffle mats to make things more exciting.
Rotating the toys you use in the garden every few days can help to keep things interesting. This way, you don’t have to keep buying new toys and your dog will still have the excitement of a new game to play.
Focus on engaging with your dog when they’re outside. For example, you could play games or do some dog training to teach them new tricks. The more they build up a positive association with being in the garden, the less attractive escaping will seem.
4. Make Your Fence Higher
If you have a very determined dog, the best option might be to make your fence higher. You don’t necessarily need to replace your existing fence, but instead add material to the top of it. You could use wire, wood planks, reed rolls, or bamboo rolls.
Often the sight of high fences alone can be a deterrent for your dog. If not, the extra height is often enough to physically keep your dog in the yard.
Adding height to your fence can be costly and a bit tricky. Of course, it will depend on where you live and the permissions you have. However, it can be an effective solution if your resources allow it.
5. Angle the Top of the Fence
If you don’t feel that making your fence higher is practical, you can add a section at the top that angles inward. This will visually discourage your dog from jumping or climbing as they can see they’re blocked in. It can also physically stop them from getting over the top of the fence.
The American Kennel Club suggests using some wire and attaching it to the top of your fence, angling it inwards so it creates an ‘awning’.
You can also use an L-footer, which is simply wire angled in an L-shape. You can attach it to the top of your fence so it’s facing inwards to create that same effect.
6. Remove Any ‘Climbing Aids’
Try to keep an eye on your dog to see exactly how they’re climbing or jumping the fence. There are quite often things around the fence line that they may be using to help them reach the top. These might be garbage cans, piles of wood or rubble, kids’ toys, chairs, or large rocks for example.
Once you’ve figured out what they might be using to their advantage, you can remove them or move them away from the fence line.
7. Install a Coyote Roller
Coyote rollers are long bars usually made of metal. You attach them to your fence and when your dog tries to climb out, the bars roll . This stops them from getting a grip and can prevent them from escaping.
As the name suggests, coyote rollers were originally designed to keep coyotes out of people’s yards, but they can be a good option to keep dogs in your garden too!
You can find kits online which contain the bars and everything you need to mount them on your fence. You may need some assistance to attach them so it’s probably worth having someone else on hand.
Alternatively, you can use PVC pipes or rubber tubes installed on top of your fence to create a curved surface that’s harder for your dog to get a grip on. You could install PVC piping hanging from a cable so it turns when your dog tries to make their escape in the same way as a coyote roller.
8. Do Some Landscaping
You could consider adding some landscaping features that help to deter your dog from jumping. You could plant thick bushes, dense shrubs, or trees along the fence line to keep your dog away from the fence.
Installing a second fence on your side of the primary fence can be helpful. Install this smaller fence a little way in front of the main fence to prevent your dog from getting a running start and make it harder for them to escape. However, ensure it’s not close enough that your dog can use it as a climbing aid!
To make the secondary fence more aesthetically pleasing, you can add some bushes or plants in between the two fences to make it look like a landscaping feature.
9. Block Your Dog’s View
Some dogs see other animals in the neighborhood (like your neighbor’s dog) or people walking by and get frustrated because they can’t go and say hello. They might see a squirrel or bird outside the garden and be frustrated that they can’t get to it. This is a common cause of dogs jumping the fence.
If you have a chain link fence or any type of fence that allows your dog to see the outside world, the best solution can be to block their view.
While getting a new, solid fence (such as a wooden fence) is an option, you don’t necessarily need to replace your whole fence. Instead, you can use fabric, reed fencing, or bamboo rolls to create a screen attached to your existing fence.
You might only need to do this in high stimulation areas, for example, areas where your dog gets particularly wound up or where there are a lot of people passing by.
10. Focus On Training
Working on training your dog is one of the best ways to tackle them jumping over the fence. You need to teach them that you don’t want them to escape, and help them understand what you want them to do instead.
Your dog should always be supervised when they’re out in the yard, especially for long periods of time. Watch out for signs that they’re about to try and jump the fence, intercept the behavior and call them back to you. If you need to, physically go and bring them over to you.
Then give them something else to do to redirect their energy. This might be offering them a toy, engaging them in a game with you, or simply rewarding them for coming to you instead of jumping the fence. Positive reinforcement helps to teach them what you want.
The key to success here is consistency and patience. It may take some time for them to understand what you’re asking, and for them to figure out that there’s something more fun for them to do than escaping.
Take your time to figure out what will work for your garden and your dog. Regardless of which method you choose, it’s important to pair it with training for the best results.
While you’re training, it can be helpful to take safety measures to help you find your dog if they do escape. Ensuring your dog is microchipped gives you some peace of mind that your dog will be returned to you.
Invisible fence collars or GPS collars can be a viable option. They will usually allow you to set up a virtual perimeter around your garden and give you an alert if your dog crosses this line. They also allow you to track your dog’s location live, so you can find them quickly and bring them home.
It’s really important that when you do find your dog or when they come back to your garden of their own accord, you don’t punish them. This won’t deal with the reason they want to escape and instead can actually make them fearful to come back to the garden when they do escape.
Jan Reisen, (2020), How to Help Prevent Your Dog From Escaping the Yard. American Kennel Club.