Aussies and Fences
A word about Aussies and Fenced Yards:
I get people asking about whether or not an Aussie needs a fenced yard. I strongly suggest that they do. While Aussies don't tend to be the type of breed who may run away on purpose, or roam wide areas, they do get in trouble if left to their own devices in an unfenced yard. Some become territorial so will try to chase cars, bicyclists or joggers passing the yard, and others may be tempted to leave the yard by other animals or even people they see. Some Aussies can get startled by loud noises such as fireworks, thunder or gunshots, and bolt in a panic. Also, not having a real fence can leave the dog open to harm from other animals, or even theft, or being hit by a car if they go to the road. I know some people will say they can boundary train their dog, and I know that works most of the time, but it just takes one time for the dog to leave the yard for something bad to happen. For me, I want the peace of mind of knowing my dogs are safely and securely fenced. It makes it so handy to be able to let them out the door into a large fenced area, so they can play, relieve themselves and if they are accidently let out, they are not free to get in trouble.
INVISIBILE OR UNDERGROUND FENCES
I know some people use the invisible or underground type fences, but in all my years in dogs I have heard of way too many cases where such fences have failed, sometimes with fatal consequences when the dog is hit by a car and killed. I personally know of some dogs who lost their lives after leaving their invisible fence and were hit by cars. It is just not worth the risk! The other thing I don't like about these fences is how tight the collars need to be worn to be effective. They shock the dog for leaving, which isn't my idea of a nice way to contain a dog. Sometimes they make dogs afraid of the yard (thinking going out in the yard makes them get shocked.) I know that happened to the dogs of a family member who was convinced to try this type of fencing. Her dogs were terrified to use their yard, even though they were "professionally" trained by fence company employees. But mostly they do nothing to protect your dog from other people or animals, and may allow an aggressive dog in your hard to hurt your Aussie. It will not keep the meter reader out and your dog may bite to protect his yard. It will not keep out children who may get in trouble with the dog. It will not keep skunks, racoons or other animals out, and some of these animals may carry serious disease or parasites.
Since the fence can fail due to mechanical problems, or the dog simply may tolerate the shock so it can go out of the fence, it just isn't a safe way to contain a dog. I am not a fan of tie out cables and even less so of chains, but feel it's still safer than an invisible fence or no type of restraint. It only takes a second for an accident to happen and your dog could pay with it's life. So if at all possible make sure you have a safe and secure fenced area for your Aussie! Update: Since I first wrote this about invisible fences, I know of a few more Aussies who were killed while being "contained" with this system. PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT RELY ON UNDERGROUND FENCES TO PROTECT YOUR AUSSIE'S LIFE! Too many have died as a result.
WHAT KIND OF FENCE?
So, with that said, what kind of fence is best? Really, so much of that will depend on your situation, budget and other factors. Since we live in the country and have acres of land, and we like the less intrusive look of welded wire fence (as opposed to chain link), that is what we use. If you look closely, you can see it behind the dogs in the photo at the top. I chose 6 foot tall welded wire, so there is far less chance a dog may decide to try to jump than if the fence was shorter. My Aussies don't climb fences and I like it that way. I figure by starting with a tall fence to start with, and not giving them a reason to climb, they learn early on to stay in the yard. Climbing fences can result in tragedy in many ways, as the dog could get hung up, or after getting out it could get hurt or killed.
Some dogs dig at the base of a fence, so we use more fence fabric laid flat on the ground, and connect that to the upright. We use rocks, stakes or logs to hold it down until the grass grows up and holds it down naturally. It keeps dogs from trying to dig under and is far easier to install than digging a deep trench and burying the fence a few feet. It is also far cheaper than laying a cement barrier. Since we fence in very large areas, this is a fast, easy and economical way to give our dogs a huge, natural looking play area.
For people who live in town or areas where the type of fence is regulated, you may have to go with privacy fences or ornamental fences. Bear in mind if they are shorter or less secure fences, the dog may learn to challenge the barrier. Not leaving your dog outside unattended and bored will go a long way toward preventing it from learning bad habits. Another option could be installing a more secure temporary kennel area inside the fenced yard. This would be a place the dog could be left outside if needed, and you can lock the gate to keep the dog from being stolen (sadly, THAT happens too!) Then when you are home and playing outside, the dog can have access to the big yard.
In the photo above at the top of the page, you can see how welded wire fence blends in with the surroundings. I like this since we live in a pretty, natural area.
"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow."