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A Humane Answer for Dogs
that Climb Over Fences
By Clova Abrahamson

Too 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.

My 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.

The 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.

We 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.

This 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.





Sometimes people have a hard time visualizing these welded wire leaners and also have other questions.

Just to better picture what effect we are aiming for with the homemade welded wire leaners, first think about the commercial establishments, which you have seen—the 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 out. 

What 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.  

I 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. 

The 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. 

You 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.

Line 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. 

You 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.

I 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.

For 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.

Take 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.

Now, 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.

Now 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.

—Clova 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.

Contact Info: Dogs Deserve Better, Inc. • P.O. Box 23 • Tipton, PA 16684 • Toll Free 1.877.636.1408 • 814.941.7447
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