One of the most important tools utilized by most animal owners is fencing. Fencing keeps your animal where you want it and keeps other people and animals away. Depending on your needs, fencing can also provide a visual barrier or reduce sound transmission. Fencing is vital to protecting your animal, your neighbors, and yourself.
Fence construction is based on a spectrum:
100: Six sides, steel or concrete, heavy gauge, locked gate. Secondary fence to keep people back and walls that block most sight and sound.
75: 6 or 8 foot chainlink with tip in, buried 2 feet or with 3 foot skirt
50: 5 foot chainlink tight to ground but not buried, latched gate with spring
25: 3.5 foot picket fence, latched gate
1: One strand of reminder wire
The reason it is important to consider this spectrum is that any fence less than 100 is not escape-proof. This means that you are “trusting” that your animal will not chose to escape at any particular moment. Which is not necessarily wrong, but it is important that you be aware of this so you can make reasonable choices. Particularly important is to consider how things can change—what happens if a cat walks by, or fireworks go off, or it rains or snows. Try to imagine every situation in which you might expect your fencing to contain your animal…
The fencing I build depends on several variables:
1. The animal: Is he likely to be scared and try to escape, if he did escape does he have a good recall? How big and strong is the animal?
2. The animal’s training and history: does he dig, chew, climb? Does he test fences? Has he been kept behind electric fencing? Does he respect fencing? When loose does he come to the front door or run off?
3. The intended usage for the particular enclosure: will animals be left in the enclosure unattended? For how long? Is it a small enclosure within my perimeter fencing, or will it be the only layer of containment?
4. What is outside the fence: If building a fence in town or next to a cattery, I would build more strongly than if building out in the middle of nowhere. Look to see what might attract your animal, what might scare your animal, and what hazards there are to your animal if he did get loose.
5. Surrounding hazards: it is always important to consider how your fence could fail. Are there trees that could fall or drop limbs, could snow pile up and let your animal climb over, could someone open the gate? Is the ground soft and easily dug or eroded? Also, consider location with regards to people who might taunt, harass, steal, or poison your dog.
6. Distance from people: many people find barking dogs really annoying, and this can lead to very serious problems, so if I were building an enclosure that was near people I would consider soundproofing or sound deadening materials and/or white noise like a fountain.
I tend to overbuild fencing because it seems that no matter what I anticipate, six months later I end up watching a dog for a friend and need to put him in a yard and he is a dedicated escape artist. I also tend to keep animals inside anytime I am not home, but if I were going to leave them out I would want more reliable fencing. I also generally like having two fences—an outer yard fence that keeps people out and that keeps my animals in when I am there playing with them, and a smaller enclosure within that yard where I can put them when I need to rely on the fence to keep them contained.