How to Dog Proof a Fence

by Michelle A. Rivera
The more agile your dog is, the easier it is for him to get out of the fenced-in yard.

The more agile your dog is, the easier it is for him to get out of the fenced-in yard.

dog image by Joanna Redesiuk from

Some dogs are experts at finding ways around the barriers their owners erect to keep them safe and out of harms' way. For some dogs, it's only a matter of building a fence high enough to keep a dog from leaping over it, or deep enough to keep him from digging under it, and the yard is secured. Some dogs, however, see the fence as little more than a challenge to their intellects, and try to find ways above, under or around it just for sport. Those are the dogs you need to keep from breaching your fence by finding clever and creative ways to dog proof the fence.

Step 1

Inspect the ground along the fence line for openings or weaknesses through which the dog might escape and look for holes in the fence so as to determine how your dog is making his escape. The steps you take to dog-proof your fence will depend upon how your dog is breaching the fence in the first place. If your dog is digging under the fence, you will have to perform a very different repair than if he is escaping by leaping over the fence, jimmying the gate or crawling through a hole in the fence.

Step 2

Sterilize your dog to decrease his motivation for escaping. Male dogs can smell a female dog in heat within a five-mile radius and an intact dog will move heaven and earth to get to a female in heat. If he is bored, bring him indoors or get him a playmate. Many times, your problem can be solved by determining the cause of the behavior. Consult a dog behaviorist if you cannot identify and treat the problem on your own.

Step 3

Examine your fence for any signs of weakness, loose planks or holes. Chain link fences, over time, become weaker in certain areas and can easily be pushed out at the bottom where they are most vulnerable. If you find that the chain link fence is being pushed away at a specific location, causing a hole in the perimeter, take action to repair the damage. You can call in a service expert to work on your chain link fence, or you can anchor it yourself by using ties and stakes.

Step 4

Secure the bottom of the fence by securing zip ties to the bottom of the fence and a tent stake. Pound the stake into the ground using a hammer or mallet. Put stakes every foot for best results. Pound the stakes at an angle so they are not so easy to pull up. If the dog is escaping under a wooden fence, erect chicken wire to cover the gap between the bottom of the fence and the ground. Chicken wire can be installed using the zip-tie and stake method, or by using hardware that comes with the chicken wire.

Step 5

Patch up any holes in a wooden fence and replace any damaged chain link in a chain link fence. It is possible to patch up a chain link fence, but the result will be unsightly. It is far better to purchase a new section of chain link and replace it between the two posts.

Step 6

Purchase chicken wire and use zip ties, also called cable ties, to apply the chicken wire to the existing chain link or other metal fence. You can also use chicken wire to create a barrier for dogs who like to dig under the fence. Dig a 3 foot trench under the fence, regardless of whether it is wooden or chain link, and bury the chicken wire into the trench so that it is providing a 3 foot barrier. Do this around the perimeter of the fence, if necessary, or only where the fence is compromised.

Step 7

Add the security of an invisible fence if all else fails. You can purchase entire invisible fence systems to use in concert with actual fences if your dog is the kind of dog who has found his way out of conventional fences. This is one way of ensuring that your dog is kept safely within the confines of his yard.

Step 8

Assess the gate to determine if it is easily opened by your dog. Some dogs have figured out how to open the latch or simply push the gate open enough to squeeze through the opening. The gate should have a tight fit for best results. If the gate is causing the problem, replace a faulty latch or use a padlock to make it more secure. If the dog is escaping by squeezing through the opening, secure the opening with a chain and padlock, bike lock or tightly wound bungee cord.

Step 9

Remove any objects which allow your dog to jump over the fence. Check to see if there are tables, chairs, the doghouse or any other object close to the fence that the dog can use to boost himself up and gain more height which affords him the opportunity to leap over the fence. If your dog is sailing over or climbing the fence and you have removed all the objects you may need to invest in a higher or different kind of fence. Some dogs have been able to climb over a chain-link fence by putting their paws into the holes. If this is your problem, replace the chain link with a six-foot wooden fence.

Items You Will Need

  • Chicken wire
  • Hammer or mallet
  • Zip ties
  • Tent stakes


  • There are a variety of ways to fix the fence so that your dog will not escape. Since each dog is individual, the remedy will depend upon how your dog is escaping and what materials your fence is made of. Consult a professional fence installer or a dog trainer if you cannot get your dog to stop escaping.


  • You may be liable for any damage or injuries your dog does after escaping from the yard, regardless of your well-intentioned attempts to keep him confined. If your dog is escaping, it is important that you resolve the problem.

Photo Credits

About the Author

Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.