LIFESTYLE

DIY Dog Fence: A Personal Solution for Your Dog’s Perimeter

Building dog fence
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Owning a dog is not an easy thing to do, even as a dog lover. There are certain aspects of owning a dog that we simply do not like, and whether or not we agree with them is more or less out of the question. Fencing a dog and enclosing him or her in a certain perimeter can often be annoying for both you and the dog, however it is necessary in some cases, not to mention the fact that the vast majority of times you are limiting the dog to a pre-defined perimeter for the dog’s own safety.

So even though we would all love to see our dogs running around freely, we sometimes have to put up fences to make sure not only that they are safe, but also that they are not a danger nor a nuisance to the other people around you.

Valid reasons for putting up a dog fence

Before we move any further, we must first establish what the valid reasons for erecting a dog fence really are. There are quite a lot of people, mostly first time dog owners, that don’t exactly understand the reasons behind the concept of dog fences, and more or less tend to abuse them.

Dog fence outside

So let’s have a look at why and when you should put up dog fences:

  • If you have a more aggressive guard dog – he barks, he growls, he looks like he is ready to rip flesh and muscle right off of the bone, and he is. It’s his territory, and strangers are not welcome in it. It goes without saying that fences are a must have in this case. However, don’t get too panicked about your dog leaping over it. If the fence is high enough, the dogs won’t even attempt it.
  • Dogs that love to wander around – these dogs present a danger to themselves most of the time, because of their desire to explore and discover the world around them. One of the reasons why you need a fence for these dogs is the fact that they tend to wonder off into the street or simply wonder off and never return either getting lost or distracted along the way.
  • Hyperactive dogs – first thing to note here is the fact that these dogs are usually very small, and as such, they are even more in danger of getting hurt by wandering off into the street. Another thing to note about these dogs is the fact that most of the time, for small dogs and puppies, the vast majority of the fencing will actually be indoors.

Either to make sure that they don’t trip and fall down the stairs, or simply trying to contain them within a certain room or a certain area of the house, either way you will thank all that you can thank for the existence of these fences.

What not to put up

There is this craze that has been going strong for a few years now with “invisible fences”, meant to keep dogs within a certain perimeter while not obstructing the view as much as a normal fence would. Small problem there; and it’s something that most people ignore all together, the fact that in order for these fences to work you will have to put a special collar on your dog. That collar is actually a shock collar. Granted, a lot gentler and a lot milder than a proper shock collar, but the effects are all the same.

The idea is that you plant a bunch of low range sensors around, thus creating the perimeter. Once your dog ventures or even gets too close to the edge of the perimeter, he or she receives a shock, thus forcing the dog to go back within the perimeter.

Invisible fence

Most merchants start waving SPCA, and other such organizations, approvals in regards to their product, however these same organizations approved the distribution and selling of shock collars, so it goes without saying that this is something to be scoffed at, at best.

In general, dogs hate the idea of an invisible fence, and no matter what kind of fence you erect, apart from an invisible one, will not obstruct your view significantly, and will also help the dog to actually get the feeling of a perimeter and actually have something to protect in the first place.

What you will need for a DIY dog fence

There are different types of dog fences out there on the market. However, you will primarily focus on 2 big categories.

  • Indoor fences
  • Outdoor fences

There are a lot of variants and a lot of styles that you could opt for. However the basic idea is the same regardless of its positioning. In order to create a solid and fixed perimeter for your dog, you will have to first understand that the barriers that protect said perimeter must be solid, and be able to withstand the weight and force that your dog might exert upon it.

Types of dog fences

To break it down to more bite-sized measures, each fence is made out of 3 things.

  • The structure– usually the frame or other skeletal elements that are designed to offer the fence stability, strength and actually dictate its shape. It can be made out of metal or wood, it runs the length and sometimes the width of the fence as well.
  • Reinforcements – these are small elements, usually tacked on to the structure or between the structure and the fencing, which serve no other purpose than to add extra strength and stability to the fence as a whole. Usually made out of metal, the reinforcements are small L, V, T and even ring shaped pieces that if placed strategically, will add a lot of strength and stability to the fence.
  • Fencing – this is what most of the fence is. It takes up the most space and it’s what most people see as being the fence. As a structural element it is there do provide a barrier between the 2 sides, clearly defining the perimeter and its limits. This one can literally be made out of anything remotely solid such as: Wire, cable, metal bars, wooden bars, wood panels, metal panels, glass, plastic, and so on.

Indoor fences

Indoor fences are the smaller, more elegant fences, designed either for puppies or small dogs. There are slightly bigger indoor fences that can hold in larger dogs, however if you have a large dog, chances are you are keeping him or her outside in the yard.

Buidling indoor dog fence

Small indoor fences are a bit trickier to make than outdoor fences, because you will have to make it match the interior of your house and make it look really good as well. That’s why most people don’t really bother with them all that much, however there are a lot of DIY ideas for them and it goes without saying that you can make a pretty good project out of them.

Here is an idea for a nice and quaint indoor fence. Here is what you will need:

  • 2 inch wide and 1 inch thick wooden boards, they usually come in lengths varying between 5 and 10 feet;
  • Hollow metal tubes or bars – make sure that you know how tall you want your fence to be beforehand. In order to figure out how many bars you should buy, simply figure out how long you want your fence to be, and calculate how many bars you will need if they are to be placed 1 inch apart. After that, add another 5 to the number;
  • 2 metal hinges;
  • 1 locking mechanism, make sure it’s something relatively simple, you’re not looking to put a padlock on or anything like that, a simple hook would suffice;
  • Sand paper
  • Lacquer

This fence is made out of 3 parts and each individual part is constructed as follows:

  • First of all, take the wooden boards, cut them into separate pieces and form a frame out of them. Don’t lock them into place yet, just cut them down, form the individual pieces and simply lay them down as they would be.
  • Grab the sanding paper and sand them down until they are nice and smooth. The last thing that you want happening is your puppy or dog getting a splinter.
  • After the wood has been sanded to a nice smooth finish, grab the lacquer and give the pieces 1 or 2 even coats. Make sure to let them dry in a nice dry place.
  • Next, grab the top and bottom parts of the wooden frame and using a drill start drilling holes 1 inch apart, which are toughly the diameter of the metal bars.
  • Once the holes are drilled, grab the bars and insert them into the bottom part of the frame, then add the top part of the frame on the other side of the bars. You might want to consider using a hammer for this as chances are that it will be a tight fit.
  • Add the sides of the fence and lock them in place using nails or screws.

That is one of the 3 sides of this fence.

Indoor dog fence

After all 3 sides are constructed, place the fence where you want it to be in the house, grab the 2 hinges and connect the hinges to the middle part and one of the side parts.  The middle part will act as a door, allowing you to let the dog in or out without having to lift him or her.

Optionally, you could replace the hinges with horizontal rails, attaching one end to the middle part and the other to the side part and making the door slide rather than open like a gate.

Outdoor fences

These fences are supposed to be bigger, stronger and a lot more robust than indoor fences. They have to withstand a lot more strength, a lot more power, and worst of all they have to brave the elements every single day all year around, unlike the indoor fences that don’t have to go through this.

These items are generally made out of metal, but wood is viable as well, provided it is the right thickness and is properly maintained yearly. The purpose of outdoor fences are a lot more demanding that the purposes of the indoor ones. They have to keep dogs in, other people out, brave the elements, withstand a lot more force than the dog could throw at it and discourage other people or dogs from attempting to enter your property.

Buidling outdoor fence

There is always the option of fencing off a certain area of the yard for your dog, and leaving the rest of it unfenced, however the poor dog would be far too constrained. You would much rather have the dog run and play all over the yard and at the same time have him or her protect the yard as a whole rather than just an isolated portion of it.

Even though it might seem like a more daunting task, you can construct an outdoor fence yourself; however you would need a bit more patience. A simple and durable design is the 3 sided wire fence. Make sure that you measure your yard properly, thus obtaining the exact measurements of the fence.

You will need the following:

  • 3 inch metal pipes, again their length varies, but they usually come 5-10 feet long;
  • Diamond wire fencing – this can be bought in spools. You might want to buy a little bit more than you initially measured, because you might find yourself having to make some adjustments further down the line;
  • Metal C clips and C rings. You will need a metric ton of these because this is how you will mount the wire fencing to the frame, so you are looking to buy somewhere in the 100-200 range;
  • 2 or 3 metal hinges;
  • Optional, you could buy metal bands that you could use to reinforce the corners. This is a bit too much unless you happen to have something along the lines of a Tibetan mastiff that simply hates fences.

First off, begin by digging a 5-10 inch deep trench. This will serve as the foundation for the fence, more or less. After you are done digging, grab the metal pipes and weld them together to form a frame.  Make sure you leave room for the gate as well.

Optionally, you could paint the frame after you re done welding the pipes together, and if you choose to do so, you might want to go for a metallic black finish; it adds a bit more elegance to it.

Outdoor dog fence

After all that is said and done, grab the spool of diamond wire fencing, and unravel it over the frame. Grab your C rings and C clips and start attaching the wire fencing to the frame, through each and every diamond shape that comes into contact with the frame. Weld the clips and rings shut after you are done, and using a wire cutter or pliers proceed to trimming the excess wire fencing that exceeds the frame.

Do the same with the section of the fence that you want to be the gate. After you have completed the fence, grab each section, place it into the ditch that you have dug earlier, and burry it. Make sure you use clips and bands to secure the sections together and reinforce the corners.

After this weld one side of the hinges to the gate and the other side to the section of the fence that you have specifically made shorter for this purpose. The gate must not be buried; otherwise it would not open and close, so it is a good idea to make it shorter than the actual fence, the difference being the depth of the ditch.

Again, the height of the fence is up to you. Some people opt for a fence that only goes chest high, while some go for as long as 7 or 8 feet tall. Just make sure that your dog won’t be able to jump it, or that other dogs won’t be able to jump into your yard and you will be set.

In conclusion

There are a lot of reasons and a lot of uses for dog fences. Whether they are for interior or exterior use, these fences will keep both your dog and other people safe, protecting both sides and defining borders that will serve both you and your dog well in the future.

Dogs behind fence

There are a lot of ways in which you can simply buy the fences and install them, but there are also a lot of ways in which you can build them yourself, and make a small DIY project out of them.

Regardless of what you choose, at the end of the day, your dog will be nice and protected, your home will be that much safer and that much more orderly, and nobody will have any more safety issues or concerns in the long run.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Seth Weaseley

    Personally I never had any reason to put up either an indoor or outdoor fence because my pet is of small size, but I think it is a must for bigger breeds…

    • John Walton

      Some small breeds can be very athletic and active, and they can benefit from mini fences that can be installed around the house. Larger breeds require full-sized fence and doing a DIY project for this is definitely worth it.

  • Missy Carter

    Which is better, a DIY dog fence or a commercial invisible fence? Although we can build a dog fence, we’re just concerned about the quality of the finished work. Any thoughts on this?

    • John Walton

      I am always partial with DIY because it is an immersive pet parenthood experience for me, and as long as you follow the detailed step-by-step guide, the end product should be fine. I only recommend the commercial fence if you don’t have the resources and stamina to do some DIY work.

  • Anita Chakraborty-spotts

    my neighbor and I both have 10 month old dogs that are of large breeds – both male, I also have 2 other older dogs that are not a problem. The 2 dogs attack the fence between our houses when they go out. They both come when called but have now busted through several slats when both are out together. What can we do to prevent this issue?. I am about to neuter my dog. Thank you in advance.

    • John Walton

      There should be and agreement for the schedule until your dog gets neutered. Also, you can reinforce the fence or re-establish the fence and start with the slats that were loosen by the dogs.

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