Sunday, June 10, 2012

Is your dog an escape artist? Tips to keep her safe

Don't let this innocent look fool you; Irish terrier mix Sophia is the Queen of Escape.

The following is an excerpt from Your Adopted Dog:Everything You Need to Know About Rescuing and Caring for a Best Friend in Need, by Shelley Frost and Katerina Lorenzatos Makris (yes, your Dozen Dogs Diarist!), published by The Lyons Press.

The common canine penchant for roaming is a top hazard. Just like people, many dogs like to get out and see the world. This is no reflection on her love for you; it’s just a dog thing.

Most will try to get out if they can. Some are regular Houdinis. All face severe threats to life and limb when they are out on their own.

Your first couple of days together could be the time when your dog is most likely to try to leave. It's strange but true that for a rescued dog, no matter how bad her life was before she met you, she might try to go back to it, just because it was more familiar. Even if you're giving her heaven on earth, she might be too confused to appreciate it right now.

Your job is to be her benevolent jailer, for her own good. Roaming dogs very often and very quickly become dead dogs.

Securing the yard

Fences   A surprising number of dogs are able to climb or jump to the top of a fence. They hold on with their paws, and use upper body strength to actually vault to other side… and they are out.

Make sure your fence is at least 6 feet tall. If your dog is a particularly large or motivated, you should have an even taller fence. Some dogs can easily climb a wire or chain link fence. A board fence is slick and discourages them.

To prevent jumping over a board fence, cut 2x4s into 1-foot lengths—enough to space one every few feet along the whole top of the fence. Nail one end of each into the top rail. Affix chicken wire (or other small-gauge link wire) to the 2x4s and the top rail, so as to create a barrier that your dog will hit if she tries to jump out.

You can do something similar to a chain link or wire fence, by installing the type of angled posts that are normally used to hold barbed wire at the top of a fence. They slip over the existing posts of a chain link fence.

However instead of installing barbed wire, use chicken wire (or similar material) to drape between the posts at the top of the fence. The material will sit at a 45-degree angle, making an effective barrier to a dog trying to jump out.

“Invisible” electric fences work well only if you have an existing physical fence and a large ½ acre (minimum) yard. Without a fence there is nothing to stop stray, loose dogs, children, delivery people, and letter carriers from entering your property. Your dog is at their mercy, and she might bite to protect her territory.

Or, if the yard is too small, such as a yard in a standard 50’ x 100’lot (the house and garage take up most of the area), the dog might panic, thinking the yard itself is zapping her. She could then become destructive to the outside of the house, trying to “escape” inside.

Digging Out  

Many dogs love to escape, and love to dig. Bad combination. But there are preventive methods.

Ideally, if you are putting up a new fence, first pour concrete 2 to 4 feet below ground, and 4 feet into the yard, all the way around the perimeter.

This can be quite pricey. A cheaper method is to sink pre-fab cement board vertically to those depths. Even less expensive is to install chicken wire or other stiff wire mesh (with ½-inch to 1-inch holes so that your dog can’t get a claw stuck in it) all along the perimeter, attached to the fence with pieces of wire.

You can either dig and bury it vertically to a 2-foot or 4-foot depth, or lay it on the surface horizontally at those widths, and cover it with dirt, bark material, or landscaping.

Yet another option is to use composite rolled roofing that comes in a 3-foot width, and slip it under the fence, laying it horizontally on the ground. You may cover this, too, with dirt, bark, or landscaping. Its sandpapery, abrasive surface discourages digging paws or ripping mouths.

Securing the house

Make sure all doors and gates shut and lock securely.

Fix broken screens and window panes.

DO NOT leave windows open if there’s a chance your dog can jump or climb out of them.

For one piece of proof as to why keeping dogs safely at home is vital, please see Chihuahua killed and skinned, possibly by neighbor angry about dog feces


Dear Reader, 
The Dozen Dog Diaries (DDD) would be delighted if you'd spread the links to these articles. Please just keep in mind that reprint or re-post of more than a paragraph or two of the text or of any of the photos is allowable only by explicit permission from DDD, who may be contacted at youradopteddogATyahooDOTcom. Thanks for visiting!

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