There is a saying that goes, “good fences make good dogs,” and that could not be truer than in German shepherd dogs. These large dogs need to spend a certain amount of time in the backyard to play, exercise and do their businesses. Therefore, a fenced backyard is an absolute must-have to make your shepherd’s time outdoor as pleasant and safe as possible.
However, since there are various fence types available, the question now is: which one should German shepherd owners choose? Solid six-foot fencing made from wood or vinyl is by far the best type of fence that a responsible shepherd owner can choose from to protect their shepherds from the view of outside observers and to give them fewer reasons to bark and jump over the fence.
Before you rush to your local hardware store, know that depending on what your budget and taste are, you may want to take a few minutes to evaluate and consider other fencing options.
Do German Shepherds Need a Fenced Yard?
Many dog owners might argue that a fenced yard is convenient, but it’s not necessary. This is probably the case if you own small dogs that you can keep most of the time indoors, but for big outdoor dog breeds like German shepherds, a fenced yard is necessary.
Now, imagine what would happen if there is no fence surrounding the yard, where your shepherd spends his time. People, including small children and other dogs, might tease or annoy him, someone could steal him, or he could run into the road and be injured.
Some people might choose to chain their dogs up in their yards, and that is a big no because German shepherds can become dangerously aggressive if kept this way. As a matter of fact, many fatal dog bites and attacks in the US involve a chained dog.
Different Types of Dog Fences
Although there are a number of different fencing options that you can have installed, not all of them are suitable for dog-occupied yards. Some fences are designed just for good looks, while others, such as picket fences, lack the sturdiness needed to keep your shepherd in.
Here’s the breakdown of different types of fencing options available to German shepherd owners:
1. Solid Fences
A solid fence can be constructed from wood, chain link, wrought iron, and vinyl (or also called PVC). It is the best option if you want the most privacy as they will conceal your dog from the lurking eyes of dognappers or other dogs and animals who pass by your home and pick a fight with your dog. On the inside of the fence, a solid tall fence like this will minimize the chance of your German shepherd jumping over the fence and wandering into the street or neighbor’s yards.
Many dog owners prefer a wood fence as it offers a sense of privacy and protection and arguably looks the nicest of the other solid fences. That said, wooden fences tend to be the most time consuming to set up yourself and to maintain. 6’ tall wood fencing averages about $15 (1)
Wood fences require the most maintenance out of all fence materials listed here. Here’s how to maintain it.
If you already have a wooden fence, inspect it for any hazards. Make sure that each section is not wobbly and there are no loose nails or screws. Hammer in or remove nails, screws, or splinters that are protruding from the fence. Replace areas with rotted wood. Sand any rough spots or peeling paint. Finally, be sure that the fence is low enough to prevent your shepherd from crawling beneath it.
Chain Link Fences
Chain link fences don’t look great, nor do they provide the utmost privacy and protection, but cost-wise, at an average price between $6 to $8 per foot, it is the most inexpensive option out there. It is also the easiest option to care for and can be installed quickly in a matter of hours.
Sadly, they might not work for most big dogs like German shepherds, primarily because these dogs can climb chain link fences. Usually, they won’t do this if they get enough exercise and stimulation. Still, you will never know if they will have a sudden change of heart one day, for example, when they smell a female shepherd in heat.
Pvc is the second most expensive fencing material, averaging at $20. The beauty of PVC fences is like wood fences, they give you the same privacy, but unlike wood fences, you don’t need to paint or stain your PVC fences, which means they are maintenance-free.
Having said that, you do want to do some simple maintenance to keep it looking fresh year after year. The quickest and easiest way to care for your vinyl fence is to give it a quick rinse with a garden hose every month or two.
Metal fences are comprised of a series of evenly-spaced metal bars that are connected by a pair of rods called pickets and rails. All parts of these fences can be made either from wrought iron or aluminum.
Wrought iron is the strongest and most durable for making solid fences. Yet, it is also the most expensive option, averaging from $20 to $30. Metal fences will rust over time, and thus you’ll want to touch up rust or scratches. Aluminum costs less than wrought iron and won’t rust, but it’s not as strong, so wrought iron is the better option out of the two.
2. Electronic Fences
Electronic fencing has become an increasingly popular alternative for those owners who want to maintain an aesthetically pleasing yard and don’t want to incur the added cost of building a physical fence.
The way it works is simple. Your shepherd wears a receiver collar unit that works similarly to a shock collar. When he approaches near the predetermined yard boundary, the collar emits an audible tone as the first warning. If he chooses to ignore the warning sound and continues to the border, he will receive a mild static shock from the collar. If he keeps getting closer, the stronger the shock he receives.
There are two types of electric dog fences: in-ground and wireless.
Wireless Dog Fences
A wireless dog fence is easier to install and set up (within 1-2 hours) than an in-ground dog fence because the former uses a portable system. You don’t need to dig a trench and bury any wires. To set it up, you just need to place the transmitter in a weatherproof location near the yard, and adjust the circular diameter range, plug it into an outlet, and you’re set. The transmitter will then start to emit radio frequencies or GPS signals to cover the pre-determined boundary lines.
The con of a wireless fence is the system’s range can fluctuate wildly and become unreliable. Another problem to consider is that it always has a circle for a boundary line. This means that suppose your yard is shaped awkwardly, it will be difficult to cover.
In-Ground Dog Fences
The installation of an underground dog fence is more complex than the wireless kind. To install these fences, you need to dig a trench around the predetermined perimeter boundaries, place the wires underground, and then bury them, making this approach labor-intensive and costly. Not to mention that if the wire breaks, it can be frustrating to repair.
The pros of this type of fence are that the system’s perimeter is relatively stable and can be easily customized for any yard shape or size.
Regardless of whether you prefer a wireless fence or an in-ground fence, both have the same drawbacks. First, some shepherds choose to be shocked than be kept in the yard if the temptation appeals to them too greatly. Second, even though your dog resolves to stay in his yard, other animals can still enter the yard, as can people.
Third, if your German shepherd is female and she isn’t spayed, any male shepherd in the neighbor can access your dog and impregnate her. Lastly, electronic fences can cause behavioral problems in your dog. After a while, he may become afraid or aggressive toward people or other animals outside the fence as something hurts him each time he nears it.
After considering the pros and cons of electronic fencing, my vote is for a real solid fence.
3. Kennel Runs
Kennel runs are worth considering, too. It is a safe place to keep your shepherd out of trouble for a few hours. If you prefer to safeguard your dog in a kennel run, make sure it is well-protected from heat, cold, and wind. Don’t forget to keep fresh water and toys available all the time and be sure to keep your dog’s time here to a minimum.
1. How High Should a Fence Be for a German Shepherd?
As a rule of thumb, no matter what kind of fencing you choose, make sure that it’s high enough. A fence height of 6 feet is the minimum I would consider for German shepherd dogs. Remember that having a higher fence installed initially is cheaper and easier than doing a total replacement later.