We love our pets and we love our homes, and keeping them both safe is important. Installing a new fence is a great way to protect your dog and give him the space he needs to run and play while at the same time adding style and privacy to your home. We spoke with Kristin Rickman, Emergency Response Division Manager of PETA, who shared some tips on how to turn your backyard into a safe playground for your four-legged friend.
See Spot Run: A Fenced in Yard Offers a Place to Play and Exercise
A pet is not a furry statue. Companion animals, even the sleepy and lazy ones, need to get outside not only to answer the call of nature, but to sniff and explore the world. While the amount of outdoor activity your dog needs will vary from breed to breed and dog to dog, all dogs need daily outdoor stimulation to keep them physically and mentally fit.
“A fenced yard is a great thing,” said Kristin Rickman. “It’s a great way to go outside with your dog and allow them time off of the leash.” But Rickman quickly warned against leaving your dog alone in the yard. Just like children, pets always require supervision. “Anytime your animal companions are outdoors, you need to be outdoors with them. You should never leave them outdoors unattended.”
And of course, even with dog fences, regular walks are a must. “Take your dogs for walks and let them sniff around and give them a view of the world. That gives enrichment that your dog wouldn’t get being in the yard the whole time.”
A Fence that Makes Sense: The Best Options Put Safety First
So what type of fence is best for dogs? It depends on the dog. “Any kind of fence is okay,” said Rickman, “as long as it’s secure and safe. Make sure the dog can’t get hung up on it. And make sure it’s tall enough so the dog doesn’t jump over the fence.”
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Unseen Dangers of Invisible Fences
Invisible fencing uses electric shocks and noises to keep a dog inside a yard. These invisible fences are cruel and for more ways than you may realize.
“No animal deserves to be shocked for crossing an invisible line,” said Rickman. PETA has opposed invisible fences since the technology first appeared on the market and continues to warn pet owners of the potential dangers.
Not only do these fences harm your animal, an invisible fence may not be enough of a deterrent to prevent your pet from running away. “When a dog sees something very attractive, like a squirrel, the dog may deem that the shock he knows he’s going to get is worth it to chase the squirrel,” Rickman said.
The dog will chase after the squirrel even after getting the shock for crossing the invisible barrier. But once the squirrel runs up a tree, the dog is stuck outside the yard and knows he’ll get another shock if he attempts to come back. As much as the dog wants to return home, he’s not willing to get shocked to do so. “We’ve seen circumstances in which the dog will get stuck on the other side of the fence and is afraid to come back to the yard,” said Rickman.
If that wasn’t enough to turn you off invisible fences, know that these barriers offer little protection for your four-legged family member. Curious children, other animals and strangers can walk right up to a dog defended only via an invisible fence. And dog-theft is a very real crime that is on the rise. According to the American Kennel Club, 71 dogs were reported stolen in 2008 and that number skyrocketed to 637 in 2014 and continues to grow.
“There are people who drive around looking for unattended dogs,” said Rickman. “They steal them and sell them to laboratories or sell them to dog fighters.” A supervised dog in a yard is much safer than an unsupervised dog out in the open.
The best defense is a fence you, your dog, and everyone else can see.
Only the Best for Your Pets
A fence can be a dog’s best friend. Not only will it help keep your dog safe and happy, but with new materials and styles, adding a fence can greatly improve the look of your home and yard. Check out CertainTeed.com to see new styles options, and to find a contractor in your area, use our Find a Pro tool.