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5 Clever Ways to Unchain Your Pooch

By Colleen Williams
published: February 11, 2015 - updated: November 20, 2019 • 2 min. read
dog jumping fence
Some pets are master escape artists; adding a fence extension deters jumpers. Image via Creative Commons license on Flickr.

February is Unchain Your Dog Month! We understand that some pooches are just crafty escape artists worthy of a Steve McQueen movie, but there are safer, more comfortable ways than a long leash. 


1. Stop jumpers with a fence extension.

If Fido’s got a gold medal in the high jump, consider adding to your fence. Not the cheapest option, but definitely a permanent solution, a fence extension stops escaping dogs in their tracks. 

This method isn’t necessarily about increasing the height of the fence, just preventing your pooch from climbing it. Dogs tend to scramble up fences or use nearby objects for a boost. Your fence extension should be angle inward at around 45 degrees to thwart escape artists.


2. Create a dog run.

For pets who enjoy the great indoors as well, allow house and yard access with a dog run. The complexity and price tag of dog runs varies according to your pet’s needs. If you have a deck and a front yard, remove a few rails and lay down a small ramp into the fenced area.

Another version of the dog run is basically a shed for your pet; some have wire or solid wood walls, while others connect to a dog house or a different area of the yard. A dog run gives your pooch some room to run around without the cost of fencing your whole yard.



dog digging under fence
Diggers can be especially destructive! Deter them with pet-safe shrubs, or block the gap with large rocks. Image via Creative Commons license on Flickr.

3. Deter diggers with obstacles.

Dogs who dig under fences are the sneakiest and most destructive. An easy fix for digging dogs is to bury chicken wire several inches deep near the bottom of fences. Another method is to place or bury large rocks in the fence’s gap.

Planting pet-friendly bushes or shrubs may also keep Fido from digging out. Camellias, hydrangeas and Heavenly Bamboo are all pet-safe shrubs good for backyards.


4. Try a pet pulley run!

A pulley run, also called a dog trolley, is basically a zip line for dogs – except all four paws stay firmly on the ground! The dog is tethered to a long line with a pulley, so he or she can run up or down the length of the line. 

This is good for short periods of time, especially for dogs who are jumpers but can’t be supervised 24/7. 



dog chained
If you suspect an animal’s treatment is cruel or violates anti-chaining laws, call your local Animal Control Department. Image via Creative Commons license on Flickr.

5. Be a pet hero.

In most states, it’s illegal to chain a dog, especially for an extended period of time. Check your state’s anti-chaining laws and keep a lookout for pets suffering in your neighborhood. 

If you suspect an animal is being chained – excessive whining or barking, scratching, or clinking noises – call your local animal control department immediately. For emergencies, where an animal may be ill or injured, call 911. 

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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