Dog Jumping Fence? How To Handle An Escape Artist Dog
It can be downright scary - and sometimes even embarrassing - when your dog keeps jumping the fence. Luckily, here are two surefire ways to prevent your dog from escaping. Aka, tiring them out - and following their every step in real-time.
You’re enjoying a peaceful afternoon in the backyard with your pooch. Then like an Olympic gymnast, your dog takes a running leap and vaults over the fence. As you dash out the gate after your pup, you wonder, Why does this keep happening?! Discover the reasons why – and what to do – about a dog jumping fence in this post! (Including how tiring them out and tracking their every step can help prevent them from getting lost.)
Table of contents
- So, why is your dog jumping fence in the first place?
- How to prevent a dog jumping fence attempt
- Create a backyard playground
- Get rid of things that might help your dog climb
- How to improve your fencing
- Plan ahead for a dog jumping fence – and escaping
- Keep your dog safe for a lifetime – one fence jump at a time
So, why is your dog jumping fence in the first place?
If fence jumping is one of your dog’s favorite sports, you need to address this troublesome issue right away. Because when you think about it, lost or escaped dogs are vulnerable to:
- Being hit by cars
- Eating something that might be harmful or toxic to dogs
- Turf wars, especially if they wander into another dog’s territory (and risk injuries from a fight)
- Tangling with wildlife (also increasing the risk of infections or injuries)
- Being taken in by a local shelter – and potentially euthanized if the shelter staff can’t contact you to pick them up
- Being dognapped, or picked up by pet thieves
- Being labeled a nuisance by your neighbors
Worse, a dog jumping fence means potentially never seeing your buddy again. Which is never worth going through, especially if you can take steps to keep them safe.
💡A dog GPS tracker can help you track your wandering dog in real-time. Plus, if you invest in a dedicated pet tracker like Tractive, you can find your dog across an unlimited range.
To keep your pet and other people safe, you should figure out why your dog’s developed this new habit. (Or just can’t seem to give it up.) So here are the most common reasons why dogs jump the fence.
Boredom is the number one reason that dogs jump over the boundaries of their enclosure. It’s also one of the counterintuitive reasons why dogs run away. Because, well, think about it: if your dog doesn’t have enough to do in your yard, they will seek excitement on the other side of the fence.
How can you tell if your dog is bored? They may get into the trash, dig in the garden, or make other messes. These are all signals that your pup doesn’t have enough to do.
Loneliness may also contribute to the urge to jump over the fence. Don’t leave your dog unattended in the yard. The moment you leave them alone is when escape artists make their move.
The mating drive is a powerful instinct in dogs that are not neutered. They may be jumping fences to seek a mate. Talk to your vet about getting your pup neutered if jumping fences is a recurring problem.
Some dogs run away simply because they’ve just got so much energy to burn. This is especially so if they’re:
- An active, high-energy dog breed
- A puppy, given puppies’ seemingly boundless energy and curious, investigative temperaments
- A runaway dog breed
- A dog that’s naturally built for running (and with higher exercise needs)
Which is where tiring out your dog with regular playtime and exercise turns up as a solution. It’s a win-win all around: you get some exercise, your dog ends up too tired to jump the fence, and you two get to spend some quality time together.
💡Besides tracking a dog jumping fence in real-time and over an unlimited range, your Tractive device also helps keep your buddy healthy! With regular Activity Tracking, you can ensure your buddy’s gotten enough exercise. (Aka, too tired to jump the fence or make an escape attempt.)
Separation anxiety may cause your pooch to escape the backyard, especially if they see you on the other side of the fence. (Which, frighteningly enough, might put them at risk of getting hit by a car or worse.)
Loud noises like fireworks or thunder could startle your dog. In an effort to get away from the noise, they might soar over the fence in a single bound. It’s why more dogs run away during the 4th of July than any other day of the year!
Read more: Noise anxiety in dogs.
Strong hunting or protective instincts could prod a dog to leap over a fence. If your dog has fence jumping tendencies, they will not hesitate to scale the fence to chase potential prey like a squirrel. (Or chase down an intruder, like a raccoon – or even your neighbor’s cat.)
In more dangerous cases, like if you’re in a cabin in the woods, this might end up with your dog picking a fight with predators bigger and more aggressive than them. (Like bears, boars, wolves, badgers, and even deer.) Risking their likelihood of injuries and even death.
💡Worried your dog might end up running into an angry Mama bear? (Or just a passing car? Or a particularly motivated feral cat?) Set up a Virtual Fence around your backyard. Aka, a “safe zone” and a “no go zone”. Your Tractive device will immediately alert you via your phone if your dog’s snuck past it.
Always know where your dog is
Follow every step in real-time with unlimited range. Get alerts if they wander too far. Keep them happy & healthy with Wellness Monitoring. And let others – like walkers or sitters – keep an eye on your dog too.
How to prevent a dog jumping fence attempt
If you’re experiencing a dog jumping fence due to boredom, pent-up energy, or loneliness, it’s your job as a dog parent to take charge and put a stop to it. And the good news is, it only takes a few, small changes to your daily routine (or to your yard) to get started.
Here are some ideas for keeping your pup active and reducing their urge to escape your fenced-in yard.
Every dog needs daily exercise in the form of walks, playtime, or training sessions to stay healthy. The amount of exercise your pup needs depends on their breed, age, and energy level. High-energy dog breeds like Shepherds and Border Collies need more exercise than low-energy dog breeds like Basset Hounds.
Read more: How Much Exercise Does A Dog Need?
So start by taking long walks or go hiking with your pup.
- If you can’t fit in a long walk, try several short walks around the neighborhood a few times per day.
- Mix up your route on occasion to keep the walk interesting and expose your pup to new sights, sounds, and smells. They’ll gain confidence and come home ready for a nap!
The bottom line is, if your dog is worn out from a good walk, they won’t have the energy to jump the fence. And if you’re regularly tracking their activity, you can ensure they’re getting enough exercise to stay healthy and happy for the long run.
Make dog walks a team effort
If daily dog walks are not possible for you, enlist other family members or friends to help.
- Agree to take the neighbor’s dog with you a few times a week, then ask them to take your dog a few days a week. (You and your pup may make friends in the process!)
- If that’s not possible, hire a dog walker to take your pup on a walk at least once per day.
💡Tractive’s fun Dog Walk feature helps you log in your daily walk with your buddy. So you can stay motivated and accountable to their exercise – and also yours! (Kind of like keeping up your Duolingo streak or ensuring you’ve hit your step count for the day.)
Try frequent play sessions like tug of war, fetch, or hide and seek in the backyard. Play is both mentally and physically stimulating for your pup, and strengthens the bond between the two of you. Intense 10-minute play sessions once or twice a day will burn excess energy and satisfy your dog’s craving for your attention.
Read more: How to tire out a puppy
Include a mentally-stimulating brain workout like a food puzzle, obstacle course, or visit to the dog park in your dog’s daily routine. These challenging activities will keep your dog mentally active and reduce boredom.
Work on basic obedience training commands like come, sit, and stay. An obedience training session is mentally and physically stimulating for your dog. A few minutes a day of obedience training can really pay off if your dog jumps the fence. A simple “Come!” or recall command can bring your pup right back to your side – you won’t even have to chase them through the neighborhood.
💡Meet Sally, a cheerful Samoyed who wanders the Scottish countryside completely off-leash! Much like other Samoyeds, she’s energetic, playful, and needs a ton of exercise to burn off all that extra energy.
What keeps her mom Claire from worrying? Being able to track Sally’s movements with her trusty Tractive GPS.
In her words, “…there’s always that fear ‘What if I lose sight of her, how will I call her back?’
“That’s where our Tractive GPS, we have the standard white model, has been invaluable. Whenever Sally’s been gone exploring for more than a minute, I can turn on the “LIVE tracking” and see exactly where she is.
If she’s heading away from me, I whistle loudly to attract her attention before she goes out of hearing range. She’ll happily come running right back as she knows she’ll be rewarded with a hug and a tasty treat.“– Claire & Sally, Scotland
Create a backyard playground
You can make your backyard a fun place to hang out so your dog won’t get bored and be tempted to jump over the fence. Here are some ideas to create a doggie playtime paradise at home.
Play games and give treats
Playing together is a wonderful bonding activity for you and your pup. Hide treats around the yard and let your dog sniff them out – then eat them, of course.
- Add a sandbox or designated digging pit to direct your dog’s digging instincts to a non-destructive activity.
- A playpen is another idea for containing your dog during playtime.
- Or set up an obstacle course, which will teach your pup to follow commands while getting some exercise.
Read more: Agility training for dogs
Make the yard a pleasing retreat
Is your yard hot and sunny in summer, or cold and windy in winter? Create some sheltered areas for your pup to hide from the elements. Also make sure to protect your dog paws in winter and the colder, snowy months.
Read more: How cold is too cold for dogs?
Plant trees and plants
Make your backyard an attractive place where you will enjoy spending time with your dog. Trees, shrubs, and flowers can create a lovely ambiance, especially in summer. Of course, you’ll want to install plenty of other play options in the backyard so that your pup doesn’t dig up the new plants. Just make sure to avoid substances that are toxic to dogs – like common household and garden items like snail bait.
Hang out with your dog in the backyard
One of your dog’s all-time favorite activities is hanging out with you. Indulge your dog’s need for your attention every day for at least a few minutes. Give them a belly rub and an ear scratch as they rest at your feet while you recline in your favorite lawn chair.
By spending quality time with your dog in the yard, the backyard becomes associated with positive experiences for your pup. Conversely, if your dog is left alone and has nothing to do in the yard, they will associate the backyard with negative experiences – and will be more likely to plan an escape. Check out more tips for creating a dog-friendly backyard.
Get rid of things that might help your dog climb
Dogs are smart and motivated. If your dog is too short to leap over the fence but really wants to escape, they’ll find a way. Your dog might stand on a picnic table, woodpile, rock, or swing set to enable a leap over the fence. To prevent this, move anything that gives your pup a height advantage as far away from the fence as you can.
How to improve your fencing
If you’ve tried everything and still, your dog keeps jumping the fence, it may be time to alter the existing fence in some way. If you are modifying your existing fence, it’s a good idea to check with your Home Owner’s Association to see if there are rules regarding fencing materials in your neighborhood.
Extend the fence height
Making your fence taller is an obvious way to make it harder for your dog to escape. Some pet parents attach strips of wooden lattice to an existing wooden fence to add another foot or so of height. Adjusting the fence height in this way can be a bit expensive.
A cheaper option to adding wooden lattice is to add a layer of bamboo rolls or chicken wire along the top of your existing fence. Be sure to attach the bamboo rolls or chicken wire to sturdy uprights to prevent sagging.
Let’s say your yard has an existing six-foot-high wooden fence.
- A redundant fence is installed a few feet inside the main fence.
- The redundant fence can be three to four feet tall and be made of chain link, bamboo, or wire fencing.
- This secondary fence prevents your dog from taking a long-running leap to scale the tall fence.
With a redundant fence in place, they have to jump over two fences in succession, making it unlikely (but not impossible, of course) that they will be able to scale the tall fence from a standing position.
A redundant dog fence around your entire backyard can be expensive. Consider installing a redundant fence only in the problem area where your dog usually jumps over your existing fence.
A relatively inexpensive DIY option to prevent your dog from leaping over the fence is to install coyote rollers. Originally created to keep coyotes out of people’s yards, coyote rollers can also keep your dog in the yard.
Dogs often grab the top of the fence on their way over, then heave their body up and out. A coyote roller prevents the dog from getting a grip on the top of the fence. Made from PVC pipe that spins on a wire, coyote rollers are an inexpensive solution that could be an option for keeping your dog in the backyard.
Install a dog peek-a-boo window in your fence
If you have a solid wood existing fence and your dog jumps out to see what’s on the other side, add a peek-a-boo window in the fence.
- Cut a 12-inch square hole at dog-nose height.
- Insert a 12-inch square sheet of acrylic into the hole, and frame it in securely.
- Now your pup can view what’s happening on the other side of the fence, and hopefully won’t be lured over the top.
Install slats to block the view
If your dog is constantly tempted to chase after squirrels or other dogs that they can see through your chain link fence, install slats to restrict the dog’s view. They’ll be less distracted and will focus more on all the fun activities available inside your backyard.
Read more: 15 Outdoor Dog Fence Ideas.
Avoid invisible, wireless, or electric fences
Invisible dog fences don’t need a physical setup. Rather, you can keep an open yard – and if your dog tries to leave the fence boundary, they get a small electric shock. Which, over time, is meant to train them to stay within boundaries and prevent wandering. Underground dog fences work similarly, administering a static shock to your dog if they try and leave the boundary.
- They can cause both physical and psychological harm to them – and in general, negative reinforcement or punishment don’t work.
- Your dog is more likely to respond aggressively out of self-defence – barking, whining, or even biting.
- And over time, the repeated experience of shocks from an invisible dog fence may even encourage your dog to run away.
Rather, here’s a smart, humane alternative that’ll neither burn a hole in your wallet – nor will it compromise your dog’s love and trust in you. A virtual fence. Here’s how the Tractive GPS Virtual Fence might work instead.
Plan ahead for a dog jumping fence – and escaping
If you have an escape artist who scales your fence regularly, you want to make certain that your dog can be returned to you. Here are three great ways to ensure you will be reunited with your furry friend, should they run away:
- Add a dog ID tag to your dog’s collar.
- Get your dog microchipped.
- Use a GPS dog tracker to find your dog anytime.
Include your phone number and city on the ID tags and attach them securely to the dog’s collar or harness. Most pet experts recommend to have your pup microchipped as well. The tiny chip is about the size of a grain of rice and is embedded under the skin. The chip must be read by a scanner, usually at a veterinarian’s office or shelter.
- A GPS tracker isn’t implanted into your dog’s skin. Rather, you can attach it to their collar with safety clips or a pouch. Then, it helps you track your dog in real-time and over an unlimited range.
- A microchip gets implanted into your dog’s skin. Then, a vet or local shelter can scan it to find your contact details and inform you they’ve found your lost dog.
Keep your dog safe for a lifetime – one fence jump at a time
As a pet parent, you want the best for your dog. The most important thing you can do for your dog is to keep them safe. A dog jumping fence might be cute the first time, but each escape puts your dog at risk, not to mention your good reputation among the neighbors.
So if you’re able to follow your dog’s every step – and track them in real-time – you’re that much more likely to prevent an escape attempt. Just like these Tractive pet parents the world over:
Read more: Tractive reviews on Trustpilot
By taking an active role in your dog’s safety, you’re helping build a longer, happier future together. (One fence jump at a time.) And if you’re looking for more tips on how to jump-proof your backyard, here are a few tips from the Ipswich City Council:
Found this post helpful? Share it with a fellow dog parent – and let’s help build a safer, happier world for our furry friends today.