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How can I stop my dog jumping the fence and running away?

Dog looking through fence
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If your dog is jumping the fence and running away, the first step is to work out why. When you identify the reason(s), you can take steps to address the issue.

Dogs jump fences for different reasons. They may be bored, lonely or scared to be left alone. They could be looking for you, following someone friendly or chasing something. These reasons generally mean that dogs’ mental and physical needs are not being met at home.

Ask yourself:

  • Is my dog getting enough daily exercise?
  • Is my dog getting enough daily attention and social company?
  • Does my dog have enough mental stimulation at home? (e.g., fun tasks and toys)
  • Have I made home the place my dog most wants to be (e.g., an interesting environment with everything they need like food, water, shelter, a toilet area, and a comfortable place to sleep)
  • Is my dog desexed? Undesexed dogs are more likely to run away to search for mates
  • How long is my dog being left on their own?

Minimise the time your dog is left alone. If possible, organise some companionship and/or dog walks to break up the solitary time. Dogs can suffer from separation anxiety (severe distress when left alone). If your dog is escaping or showing signs of anxiety or distress, talk to your vet for advice.

In addition to ensuring all your dog’s needs are met and ruling out other underlying causes (e.g., an undesexed dog searching for mates, separation anxiety), you could also modify your fences* to prevent your dog being able to jump over. Consider which options are safest for your dog and your circumstances.

  • Fence topper – top your fence with PVC piping or rubber tubing to prevent your dog from gripping it
  • Roller bar – suspend a roller bar (smaller diameter PCV piping inside a larger diameter pipe) above the fence to prevent your dog from gaining a foothold
  • Netting – place netting along the fence at an angle to prevent your dog from gaining a foothold
  • Interior fence – erect a shorter interior fence two to three feet from the exterior fence and plant shrubs in the middle to create a buffer zone

The information above is general only and is not suitable for all situations. You should seek expert advice about your individual circumstances, what is safest and best for your dog, and ensure that you adhere to all legislative requirements.

*RSPCA Australia is opposed to the use of any electronically activated or other devices which deliver electric shocks, such as invisible boundaries. Such devices are inhumane as they inflict pain, involve punishment and can be used to abuse animals.

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Updated on February 9, 2023
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