To me, it’s a no-brainer, get a fenced in yard for your dog if you can! But that’s a big “if” and don’t worry if you can’t.
A fenced-in yard will be your dog’s sacred place, hunting grounds, sun lounge, stick chewing center and romping area for playing with her doggie friends. And for you, this will be the equivalent of setting your kid in front of Sesame Street for an hour while you catch up on some chores. Not to mention, an easy “bathroom” break for your dogs.
A fenced-in yard is almost a must for a family with multiple dogs. For bathroom breaks alone, you stand to save quite a bit of time letting them into the yard rather than rotating them all out on leashes. The same holds true for exercise – having more dogs increases the level of exercise they give to each other. Thank heavens for this, as more dogs would also require more time (and/or more muscle) for you to get them out on leash for exercise. (Although I am still a big proponent of getting them out for adventures, even if they need to take turns 😕 )
In selecting a fence, I recommend a physical fence rather than an electronic fence. It is perfectly natural for a dog to respect a visual barrier. However, electronic fences can spook some dogs. For an escape artist, you’ll probably want both, which I think is much fairer than just electronic, because the dog can see exactly where she’s supposed to be. The other advantage of a physical fence is it blocks other critters from coming in. Also, if you have kids, you get a double-advantage and the kids and dogs can spend excellent time bonding together.
I can think of a few stories of dogs being spooked by an electronic fence:
- Emerald – got out for a run (out the front door) – her daddy frantically called her back and she got zapped making a fantastic recall to him 🙁
- Stella – generally scared to be on property, won’t let loose and have a good time.
- Dogs in woods – we came upon a pair of “brothers” in the woods behind our house. No people with them. One was clearly partying like a rock star, and the other was very nervous and out of sorts. I finally figured out where they lived, and I held their electronic collars in my hand as we entered their property. Only one of the two collars “zapped”… batteries had run out in the rock star’s but not in his loyal brother’s 🙁
Having said this, I know a few people and dogs that get along fine with the electronic fence, and their communities wouldn’t let them put a physical fence up even if they wanted to.
If You Don’t Have a Fence
If you don’t have a fence… how can you compensate? What else can you do to provide fresh air and exercise? I have placed three high-energy dogs with people without fences and I have no regrets about these tremendous success stories. They all found their own ways to compensate:
- one in a major city in a dog-friendly apartment complex, with daily jogs, visits to parks, and the incredible social life urban living affords;
- another in a condo adjacent to open space, living with another dog, with whom she fell seriously in love with;
- the third in a townhouse in my neighborhood after watching this woman (the socialite of the neighborhood) walk her previous dog multiple times every day. And it turns out this dog now has a part-time yard… at our house!
My neighborhood includes both single family homes and townhouses. There is no doubt in my mind: the townhouse dogs get out for more walks. Their mommas and poppas have incorporated walks into their daily routine, multiple times a day. Some of the yard people have not. So, where I live, this can be a distinct advantage of NOT having a fence!
While we enjoy a fenced-in yard for our dogs (it gives us a break more than anything), the reality is there are more dogs out there than there are fences. So if you don’t have a fence… compensate!