Ah - the age old question to fence or not to fence when you own a dog. We here at Great Dane Rescue of New England are huge proponents of physical fencing. If you can afford the 7’ privacy fencing great, if not whatever is within budget is great with one exception, electrical fencing.
Certainly the electric fence industry has seen an incredible boom in recent years. It is for good reason, affordability, flexibility and aesthetics to name a few. If you have a large yard it can be quite expensive to put in a physical fence therefore an electric fence can be a more economical option. Some feel their “natural borders” create enough of a property line marker for their dogs to know where the limits are.
We in rescue get asked the question about why we have a requirement for a fence for a given dog. To answer that question, we need to consider both the type of fencing and the temperament of the dog in the same context. Discussing one without the other would only partially answer the question.
Typically when a rescue indicates “fence required” it means fully fenced in yard with a physical fence. This does not mean partial fencing, electric fencing or natural borders.
Why Does Rex Need a Fence?
Flight Risk: Some dogs do not adhere the boundaries set and will dart off if given a chance. Especially a dog new to a home he does not identify yet as his own. But some dogs are simply given to running off. Danes in general tend not to be overall, but there are those that just love to get out for a jog.
High Prey Drive: In other cases some dogs simply like to chase, and sometimes kill, prey. It could be a neighborhood cat, a rabbit, a squirrel, you name it. We have had Danes go after snakes! It depends on the dog but high prey drive dogs will try to give chase and some will do harm to whatever they catch.
Not Dog Friendly: Some dogs are just only dog dogs. Meaning, they just don’t like other dogs on their property, or maybe in general. Since we are dealing with rescue dogs we do not know why this occurs in some cases but we need to protect surrounding dogs and the dog in question.
Border Patrol: In some cases dogs protect their “fence lines” or property lines. Some will even show fear aggression toward a human coming on to their property. Some dogs also may just not like kids who are running through a neighborhood. They may give chase playfully but it is perceived or turns into nips and bites. In any case a dog who doesn’t like strangers in his midst will need a fence for sure. It could be he is fine with proper introductions however just not the surprise guest – I mean who likes that?
So what kind of fence is best and why?
If you ask anyone who does rescue a physical fence tall enough for the dog in question is perfection. Privacy fencing is ideal, and fencing that cannot be easily jumped over or dug under is also ideal. Not ever budget can afford the perfect solution so we will go through some pros and cons of each solely from our own experience.
Privacy Fencing: If you get privacy fencing (not gaps or very tiny gaps) that is the height required for your dog’s size it is obviously ideal. This prevents dogs from exiting the property and also, even more importantly, prevents most creatures from entering the property as well. It is both keeping a dog in, and preventing anything else from coming in. Further, for some dogs not seeing all the commotion on the street or in a neighbor’s yard makes them feel calmer and at ease.
Chicken Wire or Chain Link Fencing: Chain link is obviously more rugged and preferred of the two. But both serve a good physical barrier between the dog and the outside world. The good part is the fence, if tall enough, keeps the dog in and safe. The only difference to privacy fencing is that the dog can see all the activity on the other side, and likewise whatever is out there can also see your dog. This includes doggie-lifters (those that steal dogs) for instance. Chicken wire is a great temporary solution but unless it is the steel rigid kind it might not endure for an escape artist!
Partial Fencing: Partial fencing means the fence does not fully enclose the property – there is a gap. This is more or less like not having a fence when it comes to creatures joining your dog, or for a dog who does not respect boundaries. If at all possible try to fence in at least a portion of the property to give your dog space to run without incident.
Electric Fencing: Okay – let the debate begin! There are those that staunchly support electric fencing and those that are the exact opposite. We find people are clearly on one side or the other these days. We do not support electric fences and here is a story as to why.
A dog was let out with two other dogs to play and go to the bathroom. In the blink of an eye one of the dogs disappeared. The owner worried it was a coyote and he was right to do so. The dog, while as large as a coyote, was taken down and dragged beyond the border of the electric fence. Luckily he fended off the coyote but it was for naught when he tried to re-enter the property on the other side of the electric fence. He couldn’t without suffering “correction” via the collar. Instead he decided to go back into the wooded area and lay down to die. Again luck was on his side when the owners finally found him after a long search and rushed him to the vet with severe wounds. He survived but we believe the point is made.
Your dog will not be safe from other creatures who do not have electric fence collars – including those that prey on dogs. Further, if your dog preys on other creatures the same holds true – he could give chase and disregard his collar and be gone doing untold damage to who knows what.
Lastly some dogs simply fear the electric collar. Even on vibrate some dogs simply are not the personality types to be okay with those types of devices. Making sure the device is not hurting them mentally should also be a significant consideration when planning the type of fencing you will install.
To protect everyone we recommend and will continue to recommend a physical fence of the highest quality you can afford. We know these things can get pricey but we would rather you put your dog on a long lead for a while completely supervised than to have them unprotected if unsupervised. Rigid 9’ chicken wire fencing is $250 for nearly 100 feet sold at most hardware stores. Even this is a great solution if installed correctly.
We all want what is best for our fur babies and a physical fence provides that peace of mind no other fencing can.