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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Best Fencing for Dogs that Dig

I work for a lot of people who truly see their dogs as their children, and who pay me to go to great lengths to make sure that their fence is up to the task of keeping their dogs in the yard. One couple kept having to go out and search for their dog around town. They had no idea how it kept escaping. Taking a stroll around the fence, and finding no obvious problems, I suddenly noticed a large bush. Peeling back the leaves, I discovered a huge hole in the ground, with broken, rotted fence boards near the ground effectively enlarging the hole. Some dogs just like to dig!

For dogs that won’t stop digging, there are a number of options for curtailing these escapes. One of them is making sure that your fencing system is optimally designed for the task. If you have a dog that likes to dig, there are a few simple fence features that will go far in keeping your dog safe, sound, and out of trouble.

What to Look for in a Fence That Discourages Dogs from Digging

Short of a solid underground wall that runs entirely around the property, no amount of effort will keep the most determined digging dog from tunneling. However, most dogs aren’t that determined. For the typical digging dog out there, a few simple features will help.

  •  Low to the Ground: Having a fence that runs low to the ground is probably the most obvious step to take. The less space there is between the fence and the ground, the more effort and digging is required to make a tunnel, and the less tempting it is for dogs to make the attempt in the first place!
  • Durability: Even smaller dogs can muster a great deal of strength, especially when single-mindedly digging a hole, and this can damage the fence and make escape easier. One of the most common escape routes I’ve encountered has been a partial hole in the ground that is combined with wooden fence boards or vinyl pickets that have been bent or snapped off at the bottom. This doesn’t happen with a stronger material such as steel, which is the material I frequently recommend to clients who have more muscular dogs.
  • Weather Resistance: When fences are eroded and damaged by the forces of nature, they can lose what strength they had in the first place. Rotted out wooden planks, boards, and bottom rails make tunnel digging much easier and more tempting. Nails and screws that have been rusted out can lead to boards and pickets that are easy to nose out of the way. Using materials that resist both moisture and UV rays--and have strong welds to keep pickets and rails together--will add years to the working life of a fence.

The Best Fencing for Dogs That Dig

For many years I’ve built fences out of cedar and pressure-treated wood and advised my clients on how to best take care of them, often doing that maintenance work myself year after year. For people who truly want wood, I recommend that they use pressure-treated wood for their posts and rails, and pay a little extra for something like redwood. I’ve found redwood to be more weather resistant than cedar, but anyone who chooses it should keep in mind that it will still require staining and sealing.

However, to my clients who want a lower maintenance alternative, I often suggest installing a steel rail and picket style fence that provides all of the dog-deterring features that make digging more difficult and less interesting.

  • Snug to the Ground: With a bottom rail that can be made very snug to the ground, a steel fence will discourage would-be escapees. Dogs will also find it far more difficult to move than the run-of-the-mill pressure treated wooden bottom rail commonly found on backyard privacy fencing.
  • High Weather Resistance and Low Maintenance: While steel fences have earned a bad rap for being heavy on the maintenance due to their tendency to rust, steel fencing is now usually protected from the elements by tough coatings like powder coat. Some manufacturers, looking to make powder coated steel more water resistant (powder coating is durable against UV rays but slightly porous to moisture) are now using an e-coating and a premium powder coating, in addition to a layer of zinc on top of high-quality galvanized steel. This multi-layer method is effective against moisture, UV rays, and gnawing, rubbing, and scratching produced by dogs and other creatures.
  • High Strength: It really goes without saying that steel is, above all, a strong material. In the past, some might have avoided steel due to issues with corrosion, but when the headache of rust is eliminated, steel is an excellent choice for pet owners and comes with very few drawbacks. It’s even easy to install, if you buy from the right manufacturer.
  • Allows Dogs to See Through It: You may think that your solid wood privacy fence is the best for Rover because he can’t see, and be tempted by, the world outside his yard. But actually, in my work, I’ve found that dogs bark, jump, and dig less if they can see through their fence. Being able to see what’s on the other side of the fence can have a calming effect on your dog, and I’ve seen dogs stop digging completely once they can watch what’s going on around them.

If you have been blessed with a digging dog and are looking for a uniquely durable steel fence with an advanced coating system, then check out the various steel fencing systems produced by Fortress Building Products. All of them use Fortress®’ advanced coating system, making for strong and beautiful fencing that will last a maintenance-free lifetime. If you have other projects going on (perhaps you’re looking for a durable, pet-friendly deck railing), I highly recommend taking a look at all of Fortress’ building products.




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