5 Considerations When Choosing a Dog Fence for the Yard!

Most dogs, especially the more active breeds, absolutely love being outside.

While regular walks and trips to the dog park are great ways to make sure your dog gets enough mental stimulation and physical exercise, sometimes you just need the convenience of being able to let your dog out into the yard.

Choosing an appropriate fence to keep your furry friend safe is important.

Without one, your dog could escape, which could have severe consequences, especially if you live near a busy road. 

We’ve put together a list of 5 things to consider when choosing a dog fence for the yard. Here’s what we found to help dog owners choose the best fence for them!

5 Things to Consider Before You Purchase a Dog Fence for Your Yard

1. The Height of the Fence

Dog looking over fence
If you have an escape artist, a high fence can prevent your dog from leaving your yard – and prevent other animals from hopping in!

Naturally, the most important feature of any good dog fence is its ability to keep your dog contained.

If it’s not high enough, your dog will be able to climb or jump over it, defeating the entire purpose of the fence.

When planning your fence and choosing materials, consider the physical size of your dog and its jumping abilities.

Each dog is different, and they all have different jumping tendencies. While certain dogs are more docile, others will attempt to jump over obstacles whenever they encounter them.

Read our related article… What Are the Best Ways to Keep a Dog in the Yard? We explore various ways to keep your dog safe at home (you may haven’t thought of these!)

Recommended Heights

For very small dogs, a dog fence should be at least 4 feet high. That said, this is definitely not enough for the larger breeds.

Even for smaller breeds that are really energetic, like a Jack Russel Terrier, a fence that’s only 4 feet tall may be a waste of resources.

For larger dogs and active breeds, we recommend a fence that’s 6 feet high or taller. Smaller breeds, especially docile ones, are usually safe with a fence 4 to 5 feet tall, but there’s nothing wrong with being cautious and going higher.

See our related article, How Tall Does a Dog Fence Need to Be? for fencing tips, tricks, and how to measure your dog to determine fence height!

Keeping Other Dogs Out

While preventing your dog from escaping should be the main consideration, you should also remember that a secondary purpose that your fence will serve is keeping other dogs out.

Even if you have a small dog that can’t jump very high, you don’t want a strange and potentially dangerous dog to get over the fence.

This is why we always recommend building the fence taller than you need to keep your dog penned in your yard and prevent any unwanted visitors.

2. Material and Your Budget

Puppy peeking through fence
Determining your budget and planning ahead of time can prevent unwanted expenses down the road.

Once you’ve decided on an appropriate fence height for your dog, you’ll need to determine what type of material you want to build the fence out of.

When choosing a type of fence, you have quite a few options, and each will have its benefits and drawbacks.

For many people, the most important consideration when choosing fence material is budget. It goes without saying that certain types of fences are more affordable than others.

To make things easy, we’ll take a look at the top options for dog fences and compare their average costs.

To come up with our price estimates, we used HomeAdvisor’s national averages for fence construction in the United States.

Chain Link Fencing

chain link fence against blue sky
Chain link fences are one of the more affordable fencing options and are popular amongst dog owners.

Chain link fences tend to be the most affordable option.

The national average cost for installing a chain-link fence around a typical yard is just $1,900.

While they can certainly do the job of preventing your dog from escaping, they’re susceptible to corrosion and offer very little privacy.

If you’re looking for a dog fence for the yard that can keep your dog safe (without breaking the bank), a chain link is a budget-friendly option that should do the trick.

Wood Fencing

close up of wooden fence
Wood fencing looks great, creates privacy, and is one of the best ways to ensure your dog won’t escape your yard. However, they can be expensive.

A wooden fence is durable and works well for preventing dogs from escaping.

While lumber prices have gone up in the past few years, the national average for installing a wooden dog fence around a typical American yard is about $3,000, so it’s not an outrageously expensive option.

One of the best things about choosing a wood fence is that it can increase property value, especially if installed to a professional standard.

CAUTION: Make sure you don’t space the wood slats too far apart, as the slimmer breeds can slip between them.

You’ll also want to make sure that the wood fence extends down to the ground, or even into the ground a few inches, as you want to eliminate the possibility of your dog digging under it.

Aluminum or Steel Fencing

aluminum fence
Aluminum fences are one of the most expensive to install in your yard, costing more than even wooden fencing.

Aluminum or steel is a practical option for a durable fence material with a classy appearance.

They’re easy to install and have low maintenance requirements, but they can be expensive.

The national average tends to be around $3,700, so they’re usually more than wooden dog fences.

While these fences are more expensive than chain-link fences, they are far less susceptible to corrosion and discoloration.

Unfortunately, they also offer very little privacy, but they’re a great option if the appearance of your fence is the most important aspect to you.

3. Choose a Secure Gate

garden fence gate
Fence gates naturally open to let you walk in and out of your yard. A gate that isn’t secure can spell disaster for the owner of an adventurous dog.

Even if you choose a fence durable enough to last and high enough to keep your dog safe, the entire fence will fail to serve its purpose if the gate isn’t secure.

Unfortunately, gates tend to be the most vulnerable part of a dog fence.

Not only can they swing open if the latch isn’t secure, but your dog might also be able to escape underneath it if it doesn’t extend to the ground.

The Direction of the Hinges

Another consideration is how the gate is hinged.

The safest option is a gate hinged on the inside, so it swings inwards towards your yard.

This configuration will prevent the gate from swinging open if your dog is pushing against it and you forgot to latch it properly.

Self-Closing Springs

Another security measure you can choose to add to your gate is self-closing springs. As the name suggests, this simple upgrade ensures that the gate automatically closes behind you.

By installing self-closing springs on your gate, you can avoid costly mistakes.

This low-cost upgrade to your gate can also be incredibly beneficial if you have kids.

Children can be forgetful, and the last thing you want is for a simple mistake to end up being the reason why your beloved pooch was able to run away.

A Reliable Latch

Choose a gate that has a reliable latching mechanism.

REMEMBER: The gate tends to be the least secure part of any backyard fence.

A strong gate held shut with a reliable latching mechanism will ensure that your dog can’t escape the yard, even if nobody is constantly monitoring the family pet.

4. The Durability of the Fence

Dog looking through gap in fence
Whichever fence you choose to install, you want to make sure that it’s durable enough to resist bad behavior from your dog, weather conditions, and more.

Even the most well-trained dogs can be destructive, so it’s important to consider durability when choosing a dog fence for your yard.

No matter what type of material you choose for your fence, you have to ensure that you install it properly; otherwise, it will be far more likely to collapse.

Ensure that all of the fence posts are in deep enough holes. For added durability, it often makes sense to secure them with cement.

Even if you have a smaller breed that couldn’t possibly knock down the fence on its own, you must remember that high winds and other conditions can destroy a fence that isn’t installed correctly.

While it can increase the total cost of your fence, having it professionally installed can make a significant difference.

Most professional fencing and decking companies will offer free quotes, so it doesn’t hurt to reach out to the professionals, especially if you’re not too handy.

5. The Area You’ll Be Fencing

Fenced in backyard
Determine how much of your yard needs to be fenced in. Would you prefer that your entire yard was private or do you just need a reasonable space for your dog to play?

If you plan to install a fence around your entire yard, you won’t have to worry too much about deciding how large you want your fenced area to be.

However, if you own a large rural property and you’re just looking to fence off a particular area for your dog, you’ll have to decide how large you want that area to be.

Consider the size of your dog as well as its energy levels. In most cases, energy levels are even more important than size.

For example, Great Danes are one of the largest dog breeds, but they’re surprisingly lazy, so they don’t need as much space as you’d think.

On the other hand, Australian Shepherds are considered medium-sized dogs, but they are incredibly energetic. Like other herding breeds, they need a significant amount of outdoor space, as they love to run around and play.

The layout of your fence is an incredibly important consideration, as it will determine your material requirements.

While a small pen can be installed for a low price, fully enclosing your backyard with a dog-friendly fence can be a significant expense.

Make sure that you plan and budget accordingly!

Should You Consider Installing an Invisible Dog Fence?

dog in an open yard
Invisible fences are great options for large yards. They don’t block your view, are simple to install, and keep your dog in a designated area.

In recent years, invisible fences have become increasingly popular, especially for those with large properties.

Essentially, an invisible fence is an electrified system buried at the limits of your property. The buried wires of these hidden fences communicate with a device your dog wears on its collar.

A radio frequency communicates with the collar device as the dog approaches the boundary. It will then emit a warning sound, informing the dog that they’re approaching the boundary.

The closer the dog gets to the underground dog fence, the louder the warning noise will get.

If the dog ignores the warning noise and proceeds beyond the boundary marked by the invisible fence, it’ll experience a shock.

Ideally, the dog won’t have to experience many shocks as they will learn to turn around when they hear the warning signal. 

Most people also put down visual cues, like small flags, which mark the boundary after the invisible fence is installed to help during the training stage.

Read our related article, How Deep Do You Bury Invisible Fence Wire? If you plan to install, yourself, this guide is a helpful tool!

Are Invisible Fences a Good Idea?

While they can certainly work for some people, we believe that nothing beats the security of a traditional fence as a pet containment system.

One of the arguments against invisible fences is that they can’t keep other dogs out of your yard. Unless a dog is wearing a transmitter on its collar, it won’t even know that a barrier is there.

Some people also find the fact that they cause pain somewhat cruel. Not only are the shocks painful, but the training process can also be traumatic for dogs that are prone to high levels of anxiety.

Invisible fences are also fairly expensive, especially if you have to pay for professional installation. Once you install them, they don’t tend to increase property value, which is usually the case with a well-built and attractive yard fence.

If you plan on selling your property, you may want to opt for a traditional fence, as you can usually recoup a significant portion of the cost if you sell your home with a wooden fence or picket fence.

Ultimately, the choice is yours.

That said, we recommend a well-built, traditional dog fence over an invisible fence, especially if you have concerns about other dogs wandering onto your property.

Read our related article, Can a Dog Run Through an Invisible Fence? See if an invisible fence is really the best option for you and your dog!


Before opting for an invisible fence, we recommend obedience training and taking the time to understand and carry out the process.

Training your dog can prevent the potential stress of an invisible fence collar, and focuses on positive cues to reinforce boundaries. 

While invisible fence collars aren’t painful, for certain dogs they can cause potentially severe emotional distress without the proper training.

Brain training techniques are a science-backed way to help prepare your dog for new boundaries without the use of force or dominance!

Other Considerations When Choosing a Dog Fence for Your Yard

Dog looking through a fence
If you already have a fence on your property, but it’s not dog-friendly, there are ways to improve it to create a safe backyard space for your furry friend.

A few other things can influence your decision as a dog owner, beyond the considerations we highlighted above.

For starters, make sure that you’re not violating any neighborhood regulations regarding fence construction.

Some Homeowner Associations (HOAs) have strict rules that specify what fence types you can build in the neighborhood.

Another consideration might be a pre-existing fence on the property.

If your property already has a fence, but you worry it’s not dog-proof, there are upgrades you can make to improve safety.

Tearing down an old fence and building one from scratch is far more expensive than just upgrading the old fence.

In most cases, you can add chicken wire to fill gaps and holes in the fence, which is a very budget-friendly solution.

Privacy is another consideration.

While the primary concern should be the safety of your furry friend, you should also choose a solid fence that creates a visual barrier if you’re someone that would like to have a more private yard.

A chain-link fence can contain your dog, but privacy fences make your yard a more intimate space.

Finally, you should only install a fence that you like the look of. After all, if you surround your yard with a fence, you’ll have to look at it every day.

You don’t want to resent the look of your fence, so it could be worth spending extra on something you like.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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