DOG FENCE OPTIONS: INTRODUCTION
Dog Fence Options: Introduction and Fence Types
Fence Posts and Post Spacing
Digging Barriers and Braces
Post Tools and Footings
Top Rails and Top Support Lines
Zip-ties and U-nails
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Dog Fence Options: Introduction
We think this section is important because it sets forth choices, and to plan well you should know what your choices are.
Basic Dog Fence Types
There are three basic types of dog fences, two in common use and one quite rare. The three types are fences that provide a physical barrier (common), shock collar fences that use a radio transmitter (either wired or wireless, also common), and electric fences (rare).
Shock collar fences: We used to offer these but dropped them because we found them to be unreliable. Like electric fences they are really just psychological barriers. A dog determined to break through the invisible barrier will do so. Hence, they depend on a lot of owner training keyed to little white flags set out along the fence line. But then, even if the training is done with the proper skill, persistence, and determination (it often isn't), the fence may not work -- because the shock from the collar may scare the dog inside, or else the excitement provided by things like other dogs or squirrels may prove too much and cause the dog to charge right through the fence.
Electric fences: Not to be confused with shock collar fences, these use a fence charger to put a harmless but intimidating electric charge on one or more fence wires. These fences have a drawback similar to one of shock collar fences. That is, they are really just a psychological barrier. So dogs inclined to overcome them will find a way -- unless they are backed up by a barrier fence.
Barrier fences have an edge over these other types because they are real physical barriers. There are many types (see the next page), but any type chosen should have features that fit the pet to be contained. That is, the fence should be tall enough so that your dog cannot easily clamber over it. And if your dog seems likely to dig under it, special measures should be taken to prevent that. Of course, many new dog owners already have some sort of barrier fence in place. In that case the fence may serve to contain your dog on its own, or it might do the job if it were suitably reinforced. In general, whether add-ons are required or not, serious consideration should be given to using the existing fence--because that course is less expensive and easier than installing a new one.
Kinds of Barrier Dog Fences
There are lots of different kinds. Common ones include various sorts of wooden and metal fences. The best wooden fences have a solid covering of wooden boards, as in a stockade fence. These commonly have a bottom edge that doesn't quite touch the ground (to avoid rot). That gives dogs who want to get under the fence an opportunity. So it's a good idea to put some sort of metal mesh barrier at the bottom. This can be a 1-foot barrier fastened to the fence with U-nails and staked down securely with foot-long ground stakes. Or else, if digging is a problem, get one of our digging barriers. If you have some other kind of wooden fence that is tall enough but porous to dogs, you can convert this into a dog fence with some of our nearly invisible black metal hexagrid or welded wire fencing that comes in various widths. Attach a suitable width to the wooden fence with U-nails or zip-lock ties; stake it down securely with long ground stakes; and if digging is an issue add a digging barrier designed both to discourage digging and to stay out of the way of your lawnmower.
Other dog fences are made of metal. These include chain link, welded wire, and metal mesh (hexagrid) fences. Chain link fences are the most imposing. Highly visible, ugly, and expensive they account for an outsize share of the public's willingness to use unreliable shock collar fences to contain dogs. We don't recommend setting up a chain link fence merely to contain a few pets. However, if you already have one in place, it's worth recalling a couple of things. First, the bottom of a chain link fence runs straight while the ground below may not. So if digging or edging under the fence becomes an issue you may need to add wire mesh at the bottom as described for the wooden fences above, attaching it near the bottom of the chain link fence with strong zip-ties and staking it down securely with ground stakes. Also, the chain links provide good purchase for a dog's feet. So if you have a dog inclined to climb up and clamber over you may need to install a single low-key electric fence wire near the top. This will administer a harmless low-key shock that ends the problem.
Welded wire fencing can be handsome, especially if the welded wire is coated with black pvc and installed with a top rail. The material we sell, which is welded firmly, is also very strong; so it is well-prepared to repel direct assaults. It does have a couple of issues. First, it is designed to run straight while the ground beneath may not, and any gaps below the welded wire may serve as an invitation to escape-prone dogs inclined to dig. This problem can be resolved by filling in the gaps with earth and installing a digging barrier. Also, the rectangular mesh provides some purchase for a dog's feet. So in cases where climbing could be a major problem, metal hexagrid fencing may be a better choice.
The metal hexagrid fences offered on this website do not have these issues. The metal hexagrid mesh can be used to create its own anti-digging bottom fold, while the size of the 1-inch mesh and the fact that the fencing has a little give to it keeps the mesh from offering a congenial resting place for dogs' feet. Moreover, these are handsome fences. All their parts are black, the least obtrusive of all colors, and in residential settings with a wooded or landscaped background they fade into near invisibility. The best posts for these fences are round galvanized steel posts with a long-lasting black pvc coating. These posts, together with matching gates, produce a finished professional appearance. One can equally well use other metal posts (T-posts or U-posts) or wooden posts with this metal hexagrid fencing, but T-posts and U-posts have an informal look, while suitable wooden posts are highly visible and time-consuming to install. That's why all of our kits use the round posts.
Tough black polypropylene fencing of the sort used to keep out deer offers another option. Less expensive than most other materials suited to dog fencing, it is a good choice for certain dogs and situations. Specifically, if your dog seems unlikely to challenge the fence by chewing or digging then polypropylene should be considered. It is also suitable if someone will be watching your dog while it is out. It should be noted, however, that rabbits and woodchucks can chew holes in polypropylene fences through which a small dog might escape. Also, this fencing doesn't last as long as metal hexagrid. So in thinking about this product one needs to weigh the pros and cons carefully.