By Robert Cabral, dog trainer and member of the Wag! Advisory Board
Do you have a four-legged escape artist using your yard as her stage? That’s not good — for you or your dog. But there are some steps you can take to minimize her chances of putting on another show.
Ask yourself these questions to help keep your yard dog from escaping
Having a yard in which your dog can run and play is an amazing benefit for you both. You just want to make sure it’s secure. Here are three questions to ask yourself as you assess your yard — and your dog:
- What can my dog jump over? Take a look at the size of your dog and then scan your yard to ensure she won’t be able to jump to freedom. Some dogs are so determined that they can climb chain link fences or use other objects in the yard as leverage to escape.
- How tall is my fence? Make sure fences are at least six-feet high and that dogs aren’t able to utilize the top of the fence post to escape. You can use so-called coyote rollers to ensure your dog isn't able to use her paws to propel herself over the fence. This will also keep coyotes and other critters out of your yard. Also, double-check gate latches to be sure your dog can’t knock them open. And always use a spring-loaded gate so that it closes automatically. You never know who may accidentally leave a gate open.
- What can my dog dig under? While dogs aren’t naturally burrowing animals, they can be diggers. If there’s an opening in the yard, a dog may work to make it larger. Sink your fence into the ground a few inches or use railroad ties at the bottom to prevent pets from finding an opening and digging their way out.
Other ways to keep your yard dog safe
When left alone, a dog can get into all kinds of trouble beyond escaping. Here are a couple of additional questions to ask yourself to help keep your dog safe:
- What can my dog get caught on? If you’re leaving your dog alone in a yard, always ensure she has a breakaway collar. A collar can get caught on things you might not think about, like a fence post or chain link. A breakaway collar, like the name implies, allows the collar to break apart and leave the dog unharmed. PetSafe has a good option, and these martingale breakaway collars from Let There Be Collars are another good choice.
- What can my dog eat? Check the yard to ensure there are no choking hazards for pets, including tennis balls or other toys that can become lodged in a dog’s throat. Remove any poisonous plants that your dog can digest. If you’re unsure what types of plants are toxic to dogs, the ASCPA has a comprehensive list.
Even if your dog isn’t known to be an escape artist, given the right opportunity, she can turn into one. Don’t take chances. Spend some time to help make sure your yard is as escape-proof as possible — and safe in all other ways, as well.