Humane Answer for Dogs
that Climb Over Fences
By Clova Abrahamson
often people consign dogs which escape their pens or yards by climbing
over fences, to the discomforts and dangers of confinement by chaining
simply because they do not know that there are various methods
to make fences climbproof. The purpose of this article is to
describe one of the methods that can be used to modify a fence to
make it climbproof.
husband and I have donated labor and materials to install what we
have termed welded wire "leaners" to climb-proof
fenced areas for several fence climbing dogs, which belonged to
various people who had been chaining them. Some of our friends have
also used our method to climb proof their yards. Unlike the barbed
wire leaners supported by leaner arms whch can be used only on chain
link fences with a top rail, these welded wire leaners can be installed
on any existing fence, including welded wire fences. They are
cheap. They are not unsightly. Moreover, they can be removed
and taken along when moving to a different location.
leaners are formed by taking either 36 or 48 inch welded wire, bending
12 inches inward at an angle of approximately 90 degrees. Assuming
that you have a four foot fence, overlap your fence with about 9
or 10 inches of the leaner wire and tie it to your fence with galvanized
wire, thus raising your fence to a height of slightly over 5 feet
if you used 36 inch wire for your extension (or 6 feet if you used
48 inch wire for the extension that you are installing.) The
bent portion extends inward 12 inches over your yard. Unless
your fence posts were higher than your original fence, you may need
to add inexpensive T-posts at intervals along your fence line to
give added support to the leaners. The gate must be fitted with
a leaner also. You will probably have a small gap between the gate
leaner and the leaners of the fence. Some dogs will notice it and
will escape by climbing up and pushing the wire aside. To prevent
this, drill small holes in a thin piece of plywood or Masonite (painted
to wateproof it) and wire it to the inside of the gate, so that
the dog can't get his feet into the gate wire to begin his climb.
Also wire 12 inch panels of the same material along the inside of
the fence next to the gate. It would be advisable to attach the
gate panel so that it extends upward to the same height of the leaners
on the fence and mount the leaner on the gate panel for better support
for the leaner.
found it necessary to cut the 3 foot welded wire which we used for
the fence extension and leaner into 10 or 12 feet sections. We cut
the first section, then gently bent that section of wire by laying
it over the edge of a large wooden box or outside table and pressing
it into an (almost) 90 degree angle. We then attached the bent 10
or 12 foot section to the original fence and fence posts before
cutting another 10 or 12 foot section to work with.
method of modifying a fence will keep a dog in. It will solve
the problem for dogs that climb over fences for the simple pleasures
of prowling around in the neighborhood, checking out trash cans,
chasing cats or playing with other loose dogs. However, it should
be mentioned that there are some cases where the problem with a
dog escaping from a yard is not about what is wrong with the fence,
but rather, what is wrong with the dog (or in some cases, what is
wrong with the way the dog is treated). A dog which suffers from
separation anxiety or other psychological problems will exhibit
a variety of behaviors (one of which might be escaping from a yard)
that suggest that the dog is not content and well adjusted. One
book on the recommended reading list of owners of dogs with psychological
problems is Dogs Behaving Badly, An A to Z Guide to Understanding
& Curing Behavioral Problems In Dogs by Dr. Nicholas
Dodman. I dare say that most dogs that climb fences can be helped
by the simple remedy of making the fence climbproof.
INFORMATION ON HOMEMADE
WELDED WIRE LEANERS
people have a hard time visualizing
these welded wire leaners and also have other questions.
to better picture what effect we are aiming for with the homemade
welded wire leaners, first think about the commercial establishments,
which you have seenthe ones that are protected by barbed wire
leaners on chain link fences. In these cases, at the top of
a chain link fence, there are metal barb arms, strung with barbed
wire. These barb arms are attached to the top of the fence
at intervals along the fence, leaning outward. These leaners lean
outward because the aim is to keep people from climbing into
the fenced area. Some people use barb arms strung with barbless
wire extended inward over their dog yards to keep dogs from climbing
I refer to as welded wire leaners are a homemade version of
this same concept, and I think they are quite a bit less noticeable
to neighbors. They project inward over the fence to keep
the dog from climbing out.
have had people ask me what welded wire is. Welded wire (or
rolled wire) is a comparatively inexpensive type of fencing material,
sold usually in rolls of 50 feet at the various places where
fencing materials are sold. It comes in heights of 3 feet, 4 feet,
5 feet and 6 feet. There are 2 or more grades of welded wire available,
the more expensive kind will have the wires closer together and
be a heavier weight wire.
welded wire that I use to fashion a "leaner" to
attach to the top of a fence, is welded wire fencing that is bent
inward to an almost 90 degree angle and wired onto the existing
fence, effectively raising the height of the existing fence as well
as providing the leaner.
begin with a roll of welded wire, usually 3 feet tall, if you aim
to attach it to a fence that is at least 4 feet high. Using a wire
cutter, cut a piece of the fencing wire about 8 to 10 feet long
(I find it easier to work with strips of this length, rather than
trying to do the whole side of the fence at one time.) Then
gently bend the top 12 inches of the wire inward at an angle (I
almost make a 90 degree bend, but it could be somewhat less).
I have found it useful to lay the wire on a table or large wooden
box and make my bend over the edge of the table or box.
the bent strip up along the top of the existing fence, bent portion
sticking inward over your yard, and overlapping your fence about
8 to 12 inches. Wire the strip securely onto the existing
fence, thus raising the fence height and the bent edge will be inward
over your yard. Repeat with more strips, attaching them along all
sides of the fence and the gate (separately). To climb over a fence,
a dog has to get to the top of a fence, put his front feet on the
top of the fence and continue over. In a fence with leaners, the
"top" of the wire is over and back of the dog's head as
he attempts to climb over. His front feet are limited in how they
work. Dog's can't reach back over their heads like we humans do
with our arms.
can extend the height of your fence upward to whatever height you
desire by adding wire to an existing fence, but if you go high enough,
you will probably have to put in some added posts of sufficient
height to support your fence extension. There are two precautions
to keep in mind. Some neighborhoods have restrictions on how high
a fence can be and before you pound any poles into the ground, be
sure you are not going to interfere with any buried utility lines
or sewer lines.
have to stress the fact that the weakness in welded wire leaners
is the space between the leaner on the gate and the leaner on the
fence. Some dogs will see that gap, climb up and push through it,
spreading wire as they go or at least as they try to push out. I
have solved that by wiring a solid panel of either thin plywood
or a thick, somewhat rigid plastic on the gate so they can't use
it as a ladder and wiring 12 inch wide strips of the same material
to the fence right next to the gate.
Those Having Trouble Visualizing Welded Wire Leaners
The following simple exercise, using a piece of paper, will help
you visualize what I describe as welded wire leaners.
a piece of paper, which is 8 1/2 inches by ll inches (notebook paper
or typing paper). Fold about 3 inches of the paper on one of the
long sides so that the folded part sticks out at 90 degrees (in
other words, do not fold it flat against the rest of the paper.)
This folded paper can now serve as an imaginary piece of 3 feet
high welded wire, which you cut from an imaginary roll of welded
wire and bent the top 12 inches at a 90 degree angle to the remaining
2 feet of wire on your imaginary wire strip.
with your folded piece of paper, stand behind a kitchen type chair.
The back of the chair is your imaginary existing fence. The seat
of the chair is your imaginary yard. Hold the piece of paper against
top part of the chair back, so that about 3 inches of your paper
overlaps the chair back. Now you have approximately a third of the
paper overlapping the chair back, approximately a third of the paper
sticking straight up from the chair back and approximately one third
of the paper (the folded part) sticking inward over the chair seat,
which is your imaginary yard. Imagine yourself tying a real piece
of welded wire to a real fence, while holding the wire in the same
position as you are holding the paper against the chair back.
you can visualize what you will be seeing when you use welded wire
to effectively raise the height of the fence and create a shelf-like
wire overhang. If the dog attempts to climb over the fence with
such an overhead in place, he will bump his head into the wire and
will be prevented from climbing over and will have to go back down.
Abrahamson, an Oklahoma animal welfare advocate with past practical
experience in fence building and repair, now writes how-to-do-it
articles in the interest of encouraging dog owners to eliminate
chaining as a means of confinement. As her own experience in fence
work was done strictly as an amateur, she stresses that anybody
can build or repair a fence with just a little encouragement and
information. If you have any questions, please
e-mail Clova at PERCOABE@aol.com.