The dog’s brain is a complicated machine.

Yeah, right.

The dog’s brain is thinking one thing: Food. Well, there is one other thing it might also be thinking about. They are creatures of survival. They want to catch food, eat food, and then make more dogs to grow their pack so they can then tell them to get more food. They are not complex creatures, and perhaps that is why we love them. We feed them. They love us. It is a win-win relationship.

This primal simplicity is also why we might find it hard to keep them in our yard. Those instincts are powerful, and should a tasty squirrel be spotted a block away or a dandy looking lady poodle saunter by, then suddenly the draw of the living room couch won’t be enough to keep the pup in its place. A fence might be needed to keep man’s best friend where you want him, her, or it. There are some things to consider as you begin looking at fencing for Fido.

Height Matters
If you have a small dog, then this probably won’t be as much of a consideration. But, the bigger the dog, the bigger the fence. It might be tempting to cut corners and spend less money on a shorter fence. But, the cost of chasing down your dog because it leaped over your cheaper fence might not be worth it. For most big dogs, a 6 foot fence should be plenty tall for what you need.

Leave the Climbing to the Squirrels
Chain link fences can be a cheaper option and are, perhaps, easier to install, but they can be a dangerous option for keeping a dog contained. Chain link fences offer plenty of pockets for their paws, giving them a chance to vault over the fence, should the temptation on the other side prove enticing enough. Not only does this defeat the purpose of having a fence, but it can be dangerous for your pet. He or she can get themselves mostly over the fence, but then a paw slips out and landing on top of those fences can hurt. Wood is your best bet for a fence to contain them.

A Little Privacy, Please!
A privacy fence, rather than a picket fence, might be a better option for a fence designed to keep your dog contained. Picket fences afford lots of glimpses of passing traffic, strolling squirrels, and a parade of potential admirers. This can disturb both you and your pet. They will be tortured by seeing so many things they can’t reach. And you will be tortured as they vent their frustration with their barking. To save everyone involved, a privacy fence will do the trick. A privacy fence is also a nice way to have your yard to yourselves. It will afford you space without lots of distractions. Fences aren’t just for the dogs, after all.

No Zap Required
Some homeowners contain their pets with invisible fencing. It can seem much easier than installing a full fence, and it doesn’t block any sightlines, but there are other things to consider. Invisible fences require an investment of your time and training to make sure the dog is safe. Just letting them run into the electric shock will be traumatic. What kind of mood would you be in if you got zapped just walking around? It takes time to educate the dog to understand the boundaries. Also, some stubborn dogs have learned that the zap is only temporary, and they are willing to charge right through it to get what they want. (Can you blame them? Poodles are beautiful!) That would be a powerless feeling, watching your dog plow past the little flags, towards the street. If you have a large dog that looks aggressive, invisible fencing can also be problematic in the neighborhood. Walking past a snarling dog with only a little flag between you and them doesn’t inspire lots of confidence!

Beat Boredom
Building a fence is a great way to contain a dog, but it is what happens inside the fence that makes the difference. Dogs will always be distractible, but they won’t wander off or bolt as much if they feel safe and happy at home. Think about what you can add to your yard to make it a more entertaining place to be. An active dog is a happier dog–and that is true for humans as well. Taking dogs on regular walks will boost their mood, confidence, happiness, and even perhaps make them tired enough to ignore the roaming squirrels. Fences don’t change behaviors. If you have a dog that runs, a fence is a good place to start, but other habits will make long-lasting behavioral shifts in your dog that will make them (and you) happier.