Backyard chickens are vulnerable to many different predators, and when you also have pet dogs, the threat can come from even closer to home. Raising chickens in the same area that your pet dogs roam can be a dangerous combination, and it may be necessary to separate your flock. Dogs, especially those with hunting instincts, may want to prey on your chickens. Even dogs who are just trying to “play” can accidentally injure or kill your chickens and disrupt their egg laying patterns by creating a stressful environment for the flock.
In order to separate your flock from your pet dogs – without chaining, leashing, or caging your dogs – some type of fencing is required. A traditional wood, PVC, or chain link fence is a simple option, but a DIY electric fence is another alternative that you might want to consider.
On top of your own dogs neighborhood dogs present a significant threat to your livestock. If you have been struggling with a an uncontained dog you may want to educate your neighbor about the advantages and affordability of installing an electric dog fence which often runs at a fraction of the cost of a professionally installed invisible fence.
Let’s explore some of the pros, cons, and methods of using an electronic dog fence to protect your backyard chickens.
Advantages of Using an Electronic Dog Fence
One of the main reasons people choose an electric dog fence is that it’s more reliable than a traditional fence. If your dogs enjoy digging, they can easily dig underneath a traditional fence and enter the chicken run. When your dogs are particularly determined, they may also be able to jump over or break through a traditional fence to get to your chickens. With an e-collar and electric dog fence, your dogs will be simply unable to cross the boundary wire.
Another significant advantage of an electric dog fence is the cost. Traditional fences are expensive, and the total DIY invisible fence cost will be about 80% less. You can enclose an average size yard for less than $300 total, and the installation is simple enough for anyone to complete as a weekend project. Because an underground dog fence is not exposed to the elements and e-collars often use rechargeable batteries, there are little to no associated maintenance costs over the years.
Disadvantages of Using an Electronic Dog Fence
The main disadvantage associated with underground dog fences is that they alone do not stop outside predators or your chickens from crossing the boundaries. If outside predators are a concern for you, you may need to install a traditional fence. Traditional fences and electric fences, however, can be used in tandem to offer the most protection for your flock. An electric fence will not prevent your chickens from leaving their run, but this is not always a major concern considering your chickens probably like to stay close to home and will not venture into areas where they feel unsafe due to the presence of your dogs.
Create a Separate “Dog Zone”
There are several different ways you can use a DIY electronic dog fence to protect your flock. Because underground dog fences can be installed anywhere and in any shape or size, you have the ability to customize the boundaries. One method is creating a “dog zone” that is an area enclosed by the electric fence that your dogs will be confined to. This will prevent your dogs from having access to your full backyard, which is particularly great for their own safety if you have other livestock, machinery, or a pond on your property. This is an excellent method because it will make your dogs feel at ease to know they have an area of the yard that is their own.
Enclose Your Chicken Coop
You can also use an electronic dog fence to enclose your chicken coop. With this method, your dogs will be able to roam anywhere in your backyard except the chicken run. If you want your dogs to have maximum space to run and play, enclosing the chicken coop will ensure that your dogs are kept out of the flock’s own space. If you have limited space in your yard and no other hazards are present, this method might be preferable so that you can maximize your dogs’ area. You can view other ideas for the placement of your underground dog fence online – it’s a very versatile system that can be used in whatever way works best for you. Of course if you are dealing with other predators putting your property at risk and assuming you have sufficient property to cross or double fence you may want to look into installing an electrified net.
Choosing and Installing a Dog Fence
Perhaps the most important step in the process of installing a DIY electric dog fence is selecting your containment system. There are several different brands and types of fences, so it’s important to read plenty of online reviews and instruction manuals before making a purchase. The size of your yard, as well as the size of your dogs, may influence the type of fence and e-collars you need to purchase for maximum effectiveness. For average yards and dogs, the PetSafe YardMax is often considered the best choice. There are also wireless dog fence options that are easier to install, but they sometimes cost more and have a smaller size capacity.
A nearby power source is required for an electronic dog fence. If you don’t have an outlet available, you can purchase a solar panel for about $100. If you use an outlet, you can expect your electric bill to increase by only $1-2 per month. Installing an electric dog fence on your own will save you thousands in installation costs. The only outside help you’ll require is that of your local utility companies for marking the location of any underground wires, which is a free service you can get by calling 811. In most cases, the presence of underground utilities will not require you to change your plans for installing an electronic dog fence.
With an underground dog fence, your flock and pet dogs can peacefully coexist in your backyard. After you’ve installed the fence, it will take about 15 minutes per day for up to two weeks to train your dogs to understand their new boundaries and e-collars. Above all else, the safety of your flock and your pets dogs are most important, so always take whatever time is necessary to carefully choose and implement a containment method in your yard.