A fenced yard makes a great playground for dogs and children. Two or more dogs can entertain themselves for hours running, playing tag and wrestling. They have fun and get exercise while building strong, healthy bodies.
Fences that enclose the yard must be secure. Secure fences keep out javelina and other animals that can bring disease and even rabies. Secure fences also keep the dogs in and out of trouble while protecting them from traffic.
Welded wire fencing can be put up rather inexpensively around even a large piece of property. Strong metal posts should be pounded in securely every 8 to 10 feet and the fencing secured with wire ties at three or more places along the post. Extra stakes might be needed in low spots to prevent critters from crawling either in or out.
Chain link fencing is the very best, but can be quite expensive. Clever and handy folks could probably install it themselves. but it is a big job as all the posts have to be buried in cement and the fencing material pulled tight. Once installed, however, there is no maintenance and it keeps those in that are supposed to be in and those out that are not welcome within.
A solid wood fence is fine and gives privacy to the property, but dogs need to be able to see what is going on in the outside world, particularly in a small yard. Be sure to build in some peepholes.
Below ground electric fences, which require that the dog wear a collar, work quite well at keeping most dogs in the yard as long as the batteries in the collar are active. But this kind of fence will not keep animals out of the yard. And the invisible barrier will not keep visiting dogs safe. These are not designed for life in the woods, but in areas where fences are not permitted, they can be lifesavers.
Diggers and jumpers can be a problem with any fence. One solution is an above ground electric wire running along the inside of the fence. I have an escape artist, skilled as digger and jumper. Her son watched and waited while she prepared the escape route and then they both would take off at full speed. Just when I thought the yard was secure, a neighbor would call to inform me that two black flying objects had passed by.
I did not want an electric wire. I dislike electric wire. But finally, as a last resort, a wire was installed around my entire property. It is about 12 inches above the ground and 12 inches in from the fence. Since it was installed six months ago, I have had no escapees. Before the electric wire, the primary offender had to be tied when in the yard because her goal in life was to escape. Now she is free to run and play. Each dog was zapped at least once by the wire and now they stay about three feet away. It is a miracle. My dogs are so much happier and no longer even think about escaping. This wire is inexpensive and easy to install and costs almost nothing to operate.
Whether or not you have a fenced yard, it is nice to also have a kennel. Kennel panels, which are chain link panels enclosed by a frame, are totally portable and allow you to expand or move the kennel area easily, or kind of easily. These kennel panels come in 3, 4, 5 and 6-foot heights and range in length from 4 feet to 14 feet. For large dogs, six foot panels are recommended. These panels can be bought new or sometimes you might find them used. You can always add panels. Kennels keep the dogs in and wildlife out. Within this kennel area, you would have a doghouse and an area up off the ground for sunbathing plus plenty of fresh water.
When the dogs are in a secure kennel, you know they are safe. And with a cozy doghouse, they will be fine if it rains, snows or a cold wind comes up when you are away. Kennels can be mighty lonely for just one dog. It is no place to keep a dog for hours on end all by himself. Dogs like to be where the action is, and with the family.
All dogs like to run and play. A securely fenced yard provides a safe opportunity for dogs to play with other dogs or for dogs and their families to play and be together. With a nice big secure yard, life is wonderful.
Columnist Christy Wrather can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.