Projects & Inspiration

Four Things to Consider When Choosing a Dog-friendly Fence

August 29, 2017

Posted by Ashley VanderWall

Keeping children and pets in the yard is one of the top reasons homeowners install a fence.

It is a worthy reason indeed. It’s important to give them a safe and secure outdoor space. So, when it comes to pets, dogs specifically, how do you know which fence style will provide your pooch with a safe place to play?

Here are four things to consider when picking out a fence for your dog:

Dog-friendly shadowbox wood fence with dog in yard

  1. Fence height
    You need the right fence height to keep your dog contained. If it’s not tall enough, your dog could escape. Consider your dog’s size and jumping tendencies to determine the appropriate fence height. How big is your dog? Does he or she tend to jump? If so, how high?
    For larger dogs, choose a 6-ft.-tall fence, especially if he or she is a jumper.  For small dogs, a 3.5-ft.-tall fence should suffice.
  2. Picket spacing
    If you want a spaced-picket style fence, pay attention to the picket spacing. A small- to medium-sized dog can squeeze between pickets and escape if the space is wide enough. How do you know whether your dog can fit between pickets? You can get a very good estimate by comparing the measurements of the space between your pickets to the width of your dog at his or her widest point. If you’re still not sure, test it! Bring your dog to a friend’s spaced picket fence or to your local fence supplier’s showroom and have them walk through pickets.
    Picket spacing on many prebuilt spaced picket panels may be wide enough for your small dog to squeeze through. In this case, opt for a privacy or semi-privacy fence. Or, choose a custom-built fence panel with individual fence components so you can choose a spacing to suit your dog.
  3. Visual barrier
    Some dogs experience barrier frustration when they see a potential playmate or person on the other side of the fence, but can’t get past the fence. They may bark at every squirrel or passerby. If your dog experiences this frustration, you may want a fence that he or she cannot see through. A privacy or semi-privacy fence are excellent options. For a small dog, there are a variety of 3.5-ft.-tall privacy fences. For larger dogs, you can choose a 6-ft.-tall privacy fence or a lattice-top or baluster-top style that offers the 6-ft. height with added style.
  4. Neighborhood regulations
    Double-check your HOA bylaws or community regulations for any restrictions on fence style. Unfortunately, some HOAs don’t allow fences or only allow specific kinds. If your neighborhood restricts you from building a fence, an invisible fence is a good option to keep your dog safe in your yard.

What about an existing fence?

The above considerations apply to dog owners choosing a style for a new fence. But maybe you just moved to a home with an existing fence or brought home a new puppy and realize your fence won’t safely contain your dog. If the fence is in good shape and you don’t want to tear it down, you can make some adjustments to it to ensure your dog stays safe.

  1. Add chicken wire to a split rail or spaced picket fence to prevent your dog from escaping through the open areas.
  2. Add height to a shorter fence using extension posts and lattice or pickets to create the appropriate height fence for your dog.
  3. Add slats to your chain link fence to remove visibility of outside dogs and people to ease your dog’s barrier frustration.

Whether you are putting up a new fence or modifying your existing one, your work to create a dog-friendly outdoor space will benefit both you and your dog.

Installing a fence yourself? Check out our tips on how to survive your first fence install.