dog fencing through creek?
May 19, 2016 6:27 AM   Subscribe

I want to put a dog-proof fence around a 1-acre place I am planning to buy, which includes some frontage along a small-ish creek. Legal issues aside, is there a fence design that would allow the stream to flow through without snagging flotsam and jetsam, yet keep dogs within boundary?

I don't want to use an 'invisible' or electric fence (although that is available!). I could also fence off the creek entirely, but the dogs enjoy the water, and it would look bad, frustrate my own enjoyment of it, and imply that my property line ends there. Or should I just resign myself to routinely clearing any snagged debris?
posted by mmiddle to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
This could range from tricky to illegal, depending on who has jurisdiction over the stream. Assuming from your wording that the creek runs through your property entirely, is any kind of easement for it?
posted by hwyengr at 6:45 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

You can't really set aside the legal issues, as I am sure you know; there are any number of questions from ownership and zoning (do you own to the center of the creek or just the land on each side?) to whether or not there are ESA-listed species in the stream that, in reality, are integral to this question.

But just to the fence, I am not sure there is a guaranteed design that would both contain a dog and pass debris. I often see cattle fencing across streams installed using hog panels or metal bars suspended from a cable, so that they can swing downstream when debris or high flows push on the upstream side. But I've never seen them installed with tight gaps and no clearance underneath, which is what would be needed for dog containment, and they still need periodic cleaning and maintenance.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:54 AM on May 19, 2016

The property description says "no restrictions" - if I do contract for it, I would want to check further, but for now assume that's the case.
posted by mmiddle at 6:54 AM on May 19, 2016

Could you put a fence that's dog-proof when they're supervised (i.e. can't easily jump out, and assuming they have decent recall) around your property, leading to the creek, and put an unsupervised-dog-proof fence around a smaller section?

For example, I have a small, securely-fenced potty area they can let themselves out in unsupervised, but for my larger property I'm only fencing to supervised-dog level.

Pretty much no fence is dog-proof if they're left to their own devices long enough. Different dogs have different tolerances, obviously - I have a Houdini dog, which colors my perspective.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:10 AM on May 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

Contact your local department of environment / fish and wildlife to ask this question, and see what they recommend if they confirm you don't have restrictions in your area.

Another risk of tight fencing across the creek - depending on the topography, if you fenced off the creek with tight fencing you could end up damming it off and flooding your property, or neighboring property (a liability). It could happen suddenly, even with your good intentions of cleaning it out regularly.

A tight fence around the inner area of your yard would probably be easier and less risky, with a general cattle fence around the border for monitored walks, as bookdragoness says. If you're worried about your dogs getting out through the creek, I would think you will also have to do much more rigorous gating of your property to enter/exit. And generally you would have to do a lot of fence monitoring/maintenance - other wildlife might compromise the fence... something might dig or force their way under, which your dogs could find.
posted by lizbunny at 7:16 AM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thanks!! these are all excellent points. I'm now leaning towards just having to supervise them, maybe with long tether(s) in hand, as an occasional 'special treat' for them.
posted by mmiddle at 8:04 AM on May 19, 2016

Install an invisible fence. It'll be cheaper and the dogs can still have fun.
posted by trbrts at 8:09 AM on May 19, 2016

We've had to do this not for dogs but for goats, horse, ducks and geese. The creek here is seasonal or revived by rainfall, so half the time it's a dry bed and some of the time it's ankle-deep or more. We've got t-posts on the banks - one in the middle? I think - and use the same woven wire fencing as everywhere else, though it's a bit slack there to follow the land contour. There's a 24" layer of poultry mesh along the bottom, to keep the ducks in. It's under pine and apple trees, leaves fall in but it hasn't gotten blocked in the years since we set it up.

There was a snapping turtle climbing the fence to get in, once.

A lot depends on your dogs - if they like getting wet or not, or climb/explore or not, and so on. Our current pups I'd never worry about, but some former ones I'd watch like a hawk.
posted by Fantods at 8:10 AM on May 19, 2016

And one note about invisible fences: our dog doesn't care. Runs right through. She knows how they work, builds up speed and ploughs through the "barrier." This is especially the case if she sees a squirrel or other incentive. It's easier and cheaper for us to just keep an eye on her.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:57 AM on May 19, 2016

How big are your dogs? And how fast flowing is the creek? Barb wire would be the easiest/cheapest but each strand would have to be too close together if you have Pomeranian or something. If there is a heavy flow you may need an angled grate to strong enough to deflect branches.

Be aware too that depending on the creek depth and flow if your dogs get knocked off their feet they can get trapped against the fence on the outflow end potentially drowning.
posted by Mitheral at 10:07 AM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Please do NOT put barbwire across a creek! You will kill anything that gets pushed against it in a flood and any fish that snags on it.

Short answer: no there is no dog proof fencing that will not clog up with debris. Fence to near the creek (if it's in the flood zone you'll still need to clean it after high water) or just watch your dogs.
posted by fshgrl at 2:40 PM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Build a fence, but instead of going through the creek, put the creek on the other side. That is, not a boundary fence, but an internal fence. You can (should?) still fence the boundary, but the dogs can roam in the enclosed area without the issues (and costs) of fencing the creek.
posted by GeeEmm at 3:03 PM on May 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

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