disappearing doggies do dastardly deeds
July 2, 2006 12:21 PM   Subscribe

How can I contain my houdini hounds?

In the last month:
1. I came home to find someone had opened the gate in my backyard and let our dogs out.
2. The pole holding up the gate came loose, the dogs pushed it and it fell over - and they ran off
3. Yesterday, both gates were closed but the larger dog disappeared, was just found a couple miles away today.

I'm sure the humane society thinks we're reprobates now. But between the dogs being let out by persons unknown, knocking over gates and possibly teleporting through the fence, we're running out of ideas for keeping the dogs where they belong and not rooting throught the local chinese restaurants dumpsters. We live in an urban area and they've always showed up a couple of busy streets away. Any ideas or tips for preventing this? We're already going to get some locks for the gates (apparently there's a nut in the neighborhood who likes to let dogs out.) Another question: is it possible for a 60lb shepherd/lab mix to jump a regular sized chain link fence? I'm trying to figure out if she jumped or was let out by some idiot (or astral projected across town.)
posted by muddylemon to Pets & Animals (18 answers total)
Same dogs can actually climb chainlink fencing. I had an airedale when I was a kid that would climb the fence and then perch on top of it like a bird to taunt the neighbors' dogs. We wound up running a hotwire along the entire fence to keep him in.
posted by buggzzee23 at 12:26 PM on July 2, 2006

I'll second buggzzee23. We had a dalmatian when I was a kid who climbed 8 foot chain link to get out of her kennel. So maybe put something at the top that slants inward so she can't climb over? And also check to make sure she didn't dig a hole under the fence somewhere, of course.
posted by MsMolly at 12:33 PM on July 2, 2006

The easiest way to put an end to wanderlust in most dogs is to make a day trip to the vet and have them neutered. That will usually stop them from climbing or digging out, but a strong, secure gate is still necessary since most dogs will seize the opportunity of an open gate and go wandering.
posted by buggzzee23 at 12:54 PM on July 2, 2006

Have you considered installing an invisible fence?
posted by lia at 12:58 PM on July 2, 2006

I think the solution is to tie them up.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:05 PM on July 2, 2006

I think I agree with Steven. Surely if you know that their getting away is an issue, it makes sense to leash them to something in the yard, at least while you're not present, until you have a better containment solution. It'll give you peace of mind, and it'll make sure they don't cause a nuisance for the neighbours, et al.

(BTW I'm speaking here as a dog person, so please don't mistake this for anything other than constructive criticism.)
posted by macdara at 1:12 PM on July 2, 2006

One handy way to leash dogs so they have a free run of the yard but not beyond is to run a clothesline across the yard, and then fasten a lead to the clothesline long enough to get from one side of the yard to the other. As they run along the yard the lead slides along the clothesline, and as they run across the yard the lead is long enough to let them.
posted by mendel at 2:14 PM on July 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Can they not be crated inside when you're not home? Tying them up is a very bad idea for a host of reasons (not least that it can cause serious aggression issues), please don't do this. A six-foot privacy fence with a locked gate is the only truly safe way to contain dogs outside, that, or a proper dog run with an enclosed top, a locked door and a concrete base.
posted by biscotti at 2:19 PM on July 2, 2006

Best answer: I would also look into containing them inside. Are crates an option? Make sure they have lots of exercise and then let them sleep it off while you're gone in their crates.

Tying them to something can be very dangerous; you wouldn't want to come home to find one or the other injured or worse.

Perhaps the invisible fence works for someone somewhere - but I had a boss who got it for their dog and I saw that dog just rush past the part that shocked him forward to freedom. It was an expensive (temporary) solution that the dog worked around within an afternoon of setting it up. YMMV

Here's a resource of some general training that I use. It has a good crate training summary and other stuff if you're interested.

Good luck!
posted by dog food sugar at 3:27 PM on July 2, 2006

Is it possible to replace the chain-link fence with something more solid? We have a 6-ft wooden privacy fence for the backyard, and I don't mind our dogs going back there (through the pet door) when we are not home. We don't allow them into the fenced front yard unless we go with them to watch over them.
posted by Robert Angelo at 3:32 PM on July 2, 2006

A less expensive, but not ideal, solution to the possibility of fence-climbing is to install some of those colored vinyl slats in the chain link. If they ARE climbing, the slat might give them less purchase. Or not.

I think an enclosed dog-run is your best bet. A neighbor was selling his (chain link on all four sides and top, about 5 feet wide by about 8-9 feet long) for $100, just to give you an idea of the cost of a used one. I'm sure you could build one yourself for relatively cheap.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:41 PM on July 2, 2006

Any chance neighbourhood kids are liberating them to play with them during the day?
posted by fshgrl at 4:58 PM on July 2, 2006

Best answer: I had a husky who was absolutley horrible about escaping both from the house and the yard. Would jump over any fence including electric and would jump out of glass windows inside the house. I had to keep him tied up on a long lead when I was away but the best cure was neutering him and taking him for walks 2X a day. Since then I have found with all my dogs, daily walks do an amazing amount to stop their wanderlust. So, lock the gates, neuter and spay, and make sure to walk them everyday, that is what they like best.
posted by cellar at 8:18 PM on July 2, 2006

If you don't like to tie out the dogs to fixed objects or anchors, per se, you might still stop them from climbing the fence or digging out by attaching them to short 4 to 6 foot cables, and "dog anchors" consisting of weights of about 25 to 40% of the dog's weight. A friend of mine used some big bridge bolts as his "dog anchors," but any smooth, heavy object of appropriate size and weight to which you can securely attach a braided steel cable and collar fastening hardware will work. The dog has freedom in the yard, and can move around, but the weight is great enough to prevent climbing and digging out. Good exercise for the dog, too, and you will see energetic breeds building muscle in the forequarters.
posted by paulsc at 8:23 PM on July 2, 2006

Like I say, if you take them for walks they will not roam. Exercise and spend time with them that is what they want.
posted by cellar at 9:11 PM on July 2, 2006

Tying weights to a dog's neck is borderline abusive. Sure, you'll probably see some muscle development, along with tracheal damage and behavioural issues. That's the sort of thing that the assholes who fight dogs do.

cellar is exactly right: fix them, more exercise, more time with you, and please find a HUMANE method to confine them safely, which means a better fence with a locked gate, a crate inside or a run with a locked door.
posted by biscotti at 9:53 PM on July 2, 2006

Is there any possibility your dogs are barking while you're away? I have heard of someone repeatedly letting dogs out of someone else's yard because they disliked the dogs for barking. It's a nasty, passive-agressive thing to do, but let's face it - some people are nasty and passive-agressive.

Just a suggestion, and I hope I'm wrong. Good luck.
posted by shifafa at 9:55 PM on July 2, 2006

Response by poster: Hi - sorry I took so long to get back to this question, we had some internet problems.
For now they've become exclusively indoor dogs, I liked to keep them outside during day at least to save my house and give them more interesting things to look at. We also purchased some crates, so we'll see how that goes. thanks for the input and help.
posted by muddylemon at 9:35 PM on July 3, 2006

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