TOP #5: How to Keep Dogs Safe Using Pet Fences With Martin Havrilla

For our fifth Theory of Pets podcast episode I'm bringing you an expert on pet fences to discuss yet another important part of dog ownership: keeping our dogs safe when they're outside and how can we do it easily, effectively and for cheap.

Martin Havrilla, office manager at Easy Pet Fence, has a vast amount of knowledge about everything related to designing and manufacturing safety pet fences many dog owners use for containing their canines inside of their backyards. For a lot of us out there, this is an important household addition to ensure that our dogs don't run away and stay safe.

Aside from the importance of containing our pets in yards, me and Martin also chat about the dangers of electronic dog fences and pros of physical barriers. You'd be surprised how many pet owners don't even start considering pet fences only until their canine companion runs away or gets into trouble.

Listen to the episode in the video above and find the full podcast transcript below. For more, visit this episode’s post on the official Theory of Pets website.

How to Keep Dogs Safe Using Pet Fences
(podcast transcript)

How to Keep Dogs Safe Using Pet Fences With Martin Havrilla

In this podcast I try to talk about all things dog and pet-related, and one of the things that I feel many pet owners don't know enough about is fencing. I know it sounds a little silly to make an entire show about dog fencing but it's really important for a dog's safety and I find that most people don't understand the reasons behind fencing or all the options that are available.

I think a lot of times when we hear fencing you think of either these adorable little white picket fences that couldn't keep in a hyperactive or a really large breed dog; or we think about these chain link barriers that are ugly and unattractive and nobody likes the way that that looks in their yard.  But there are so many other options and I wanted to bring those to your attention, and I also feel like we know a lot of people who have tried to do dog fencing on their own, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Oftentimes if you have a small breed or a dog that really doesn't try and escape the yard very often it's easy to be able to do that fencing on your own, to figure out the type of fencing and install it by yourself because you don't need a super strong fence or a very tall fence to keep in a small breed, and if your dog's not going to try to escape you know you don't really need to make it super secure.

So oftentimes I do see that work, but we also know a lot of people who understand the fact that they need dog fencing because if they do have an escape or if they have a dog that won't stay in the yard they don't want to tether it to anything stationary or put up a dog runner or anything like that, they want the dog to have a nice big area to roam around in so they think of pet fencing.

And then the first thing, and really the only thing that comes to their mind is that chain link fencing that some people don't mind it but a lot of people don't like that big bulky look, it takes up so much of your yard and it's just kind of an eyesore especially if you really pride yourself on the landscaping and the look of your yard, that's something that you don't want there.  So that's something that we hear a lot from people as well, “You know we really should fence them in but we don't like how big and bulky and ugly fencing is.”

There are so many other options, and if you have a dog that is trying to escape, if you need that pet fencing and it's really a safety issue you really should work with a professional, and I would advice not to work with a professional fence company but to actually work with a company that makes fences specifically for dogs, and the reason that I say that is because professional fence companies know how to install fence, they know how high and how wide and the look of fencing and they're great with that stuff but they don't know dogs, so you really needs somebody that knows a little bit about both, and that's.

I'm doing an interview and you're going to hear that in just a minute with a man from a company called Easy Pet Fence, and that's one company, there are certainly others out there, but you want to work with a company that has knowledge of both fencing and dogs. And the reason that I say that is because dogs can be tricky, they're very unpredictable, they can escape a lot of regular fences that we love the look of, like for example those nice lovely picket fences, there are spaces between the slats on those fences that dogs can… if your dog's small enough, he can maneuver through the thing, he can get paws through and knock those loose and be able to get out.

Sometimes those fences aren't high enough to contain a dog that really jumps or climbs, things like that.  Some dogs are…we refer to them in our family as “Houdinis” because they can try to get out of everything, they can try and climb over, they try to dig under, they try and go through, whatever they can do to get out of that containment they will do, and you really need to work with a company who knows both aspects of that, the fencing and the dogs.  So that is my recommendation and that's why today I spoke with a representative from Easy Pet Fence so that we can get some more information about those specific fences that are created for dogs.

If you have any questions about whether or not you think that you need a fence, you know it really comes down to safety, that's the biggest thing, can you contain your dog in your yard without a fence?  That is up to you, nobody knows your dog and nobody knows your situation.  We live in a more rural area so, not that I want my dogs to escape the yard, but if my dogs do wander, there's a lot of wooded area, we live on a very back road, we actually live on a back road that's off of another back road, so we live way out in the middle of nowhere; and again, I obviously want to keep my dogs contained but are there major safety issues for them if they wander off for a little while?

Probably not, certainly not to the extent that there would be if you live in a urban area, if you lived on a main road, if there's cars going by, if you lived like say around any area where you have lots of neighbors, there are other things…a lot of people think cars immediately when there are dogs, but you also have to think about other dogs, there might be other aggressive dogs in your neighborhood that stay in their yard but if your dog wandered into their yard then they'll be aggressive.

There are issues about what your dog's getting into, do you have neighbors that maybe they can… your dog can maybe find a way to get in their garage and get into things like chemicals, anti-freeze, different things that would poison them? Are they going to be getting into somebody else's trash, eating chicken bones then having their stomach punctured, or getting into some poisonous material or toxic material in the garbage? So there's a lot of other safety concerns that don't necessarily focus on your dog getting hit by a car or just kind of wandering and getting into trouble. So that's something to think about as well.

I spoke with Martin Havrilla, and he is the office manager at Easy Pet Fence, and Easy Pet Fence is one of those companies that I was talking about, they specialize in fences for pets, not just dogs but cats and chickens as well. So they've worked with pet owners who have had all of the same questions that you're probably having about how to contain their dog, and some of them probably have more easy-going dogs that aren't going to try to escape and they just put the fence up for a safety measure, but some of them also have climbers and diggers, and thing like that. So Martin's going to talk a little bit about that and I will jump right into that and I'm going to let you guys hear that information.

Interview with Martin Havrilla

Samantha: I'm speaking with Martin Havrilla and he is from Easy Pet Fence, they offer all kinds of different options for different pets, from dog fencing to chicken fencing, and today we're going to talk a little bit about fencing, the different options that are available and the humane fencing that Easy Pet Fence offers. So thank you Martin for your time today and for joining us on the podcast.

Martin: Yes. Thanks for having me Samantha.

Samantha: No problem. So we talked a little bit before I started recording just about how pet fencing is sort of one of those things that you think about when it pops up and you need it, but obviously everybody thinks about pets escaping the yard and that's why they would want to fence them in, but there are a lot of actually good reasons to fence in your dog. Can you tell us a little bit about why people look for fence for their pets?

Martin: Yeah, there's lots of great reasons that people need to consider fencing when they get a new dog or move into a location or they have just a dog and need to kind of upgrade what they have.  The fence that we sell is a physical fence that you put up around the property, and we really like that solution for a number of reasons.

In comparison to some of the other options out there our fence, when you put it up it is a physical barrier that provides a safe and secure environment for a dog to play and be active, and one step that a lot of people don't think about with a physical barrier like that that it also keeps out predators and other animals, unwanted animals, so if you have smaller dogs that's a really big consideration that you should keep in mind.

Samantha: Oh yeah, absolutely. Great, and you guys, you have… go ahead.

Martin: I'm sorry. So yeah and also one of the bigger parts, their exercise is huge for dogs and you need to make sure that they have a place that they can safely go out and exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, even longer if you have older dogs they can get out more and kind of stretch their legs, helps build strong muscles and bones really helps with the longevity and quality of life for the dogs.

Samantha: So when people are thinking about a containment system for their dog, do you have specifications? I'm sure there's different things for large breeds compared to the small breeds.

Martin: Yeah exactly, that's one of the bigger factors to take into account is the type of dog you have and the size of dog you have because there is different strengths and different sizes and heights available, all suitable for different types of dogs.  And then another thing to consider is energy level, as we all know all different breeds have different kinds of energy levels, some will run around all day long, others just need a place to kind of trot around and we have solutions for all of that.

The third consideration is really going to be kind of the attitude that your dog has and really the kind of things that they're into.  Some dogs like to dig so we have solutions that'll keep dogs from being able to dig out and escape under a fence; other dogs like to chew, so that's another important consideration when you're putting a fence up as well.

Samantha: And do you ever have dogs that can like jump over or climb over fencing?

Martin: In rare cases you see, or we've all seen pictures of dogs you know… and can escape through a lot of complicated fencing systems, but we have a couple of combinations that we can make for dogs that can climb as well that include arches and things that make it really difficult or impossible for them to get out over the top of a fencing system.

Samantha: Wonderful. And I know a lot of people, the look of that physical barrier they don't want that so they try the electronic fencing. What are the differences between the physical barriers and the electronic fences that some people opt for?

Martin: Yeah. So at Easy Pet Fence we don't have any of those electric fencing options because we prefer to go with the more humane solutions, it is a physical barrier which means that it is possible to be seen, unlike those electric fencing options but it comes with a number of trade-offs. So we view the electric fence options as kind of more of a training-by-punishment technique, in other words, there's an invisible barrier for the dog as well and you have to kind of learn and associate this noise and this shock with kind of the end of a boundary environment, and to our way of thinking that creates an environment for the dog that's not necessarily as healthy as it can be, it allows them freedom to move around freely, yes, but they also may be potentially don't know their  boundaries and it also has issues involved with escaping dogs that then cannot return back to their own yard, they're essentially prohibited from being able to gain entry back to their own yard, so the dog does break…

Samantha: Right, if they cause that one to come back in.

Martin: Right. They go out and then all of a sudden now they can't even get home, so you've got a dog that wants potentially to come back in and can't. So we put up a physical barrier, humane fencing and what we really like about it is that it does provide the dog a visible knowledge of its area, in other words, its domain, its territory, it's there, it knows exactly what it’s got. And then from there it allows for a couple other advantages, one that we really like again is the potential to keep out the other predators and animals; but also one that like a lot of people don't consider as well is that people like to socialize as well, they like to interact with other dogs.

We can have a physical barrier like our pet… system, you can bring other dogs over, while they can play, I compare it to some of these electric fence options where if you have a neighbor's dog that wants to come over as well and it can't because it can't go and play in the backyard, there's no contained area for both to play…

Samantha: Yeah, that's an excellent plan, and I know there are different styles of fencing, I did browse through your website which is, and I will link that in our podcast notes as well so that our listeners can jump on there, but there are different styles of like the hexagon-shaped webbing, and then the square-shaped webbing. Is there a difference between those different styles?

Martin: Yeah, there absolutely is. So the square mesh is poly-propylene material, it's recycled plastic material that you can put up, and that works really well for kind of the more laid-back dog, so dogs aren't going to chew on the fence because it is a plastic fence, if there's a dog likes to chew eventually that could become an issue.  So as a solution for that sort of thing we do offer that steel hex fence that you described there, and that is a steel wire with a PVC coating on it so it's black and looks really great but it prevents the dog from being able to chew its way out and try to escape that way.

We do also have welded wire options available which is kind of a more finished metal look, a little bit beefier, a little bit stronger if you've got really active dogs that really want to try push those limits….

Samantha: Yeah. And what about installation, because that's like been one of the questions I hear a lot from pet parents is that these electronic fences you either have the little box that's in your house or you do the underground wire and you snap the collar on and you're good to go, and they're worried about the installation of a professional… I mean a physical barrier fence.

Martin: Yeah, sure. We take in as many steps as we can to make installation really super easy for pet owners, basically our system comes with a sleeve that you drive into the ground, you're not getting… you're just right there at ground level… you just drive that sleeve in and it kind of self-fits right in your post that you're going to put your fencing on, and really it's… fencing along those posts that you create for your barrier and you've created a protected area. It's a really nice hazard system because it's… with the sleeves, which means if you want to set up an area that you only need for certain times of the year for certain areas you can then pull the fence up when it's not in use if you don't get it year round or if you don't get into certain areas all the time or you want to create an area further back on your property that you… think of the kind of modular aspect that makes it really easy to use and maintain.

Samantha: Yeah, I think that's one thing that I had never thought about but now that you bring it up we have friends that have dogs that need to be fenced in and one of their problems is if they move then that fence that you install, if you do a traditional chain link fence or a nice wooden fence, either you have to dig that fence up and move the whole thing, which is really… could be a hassle, or you have to spend that money to put a fence at one house and now you're moving and have to put up a second structure at the new house.

Martin: Yes.

Samantha: That's a great benefit.

Martin: Yeah, it works really well for that. We use a little time to create a really special dog area, your dog runs, if they've got really big properties like if they have a backyard that they have to work in and they don't have to fence all the way through, they can create a really nice large area at a reasonable price on the back half of their property and then they have bigger fences in other places.

Samantha: Sure. One of the things I notice on your website too that it struck me as funny because we live in a rural area and we do have cats but they come and go kind of as they please through a cat door, you guys offer cat fencing too, and I think that was… like at first it struck me a little funny, but for people that live in more urban areas I'm sure that that's actually a very popular thing, and their cat and get some outside time without having to worry about running off or going into the street or things like that.

Martin: Yeah yeah. Cat fence is actually really big for us, there's kind of supply the market across as well, they really like the way that it provides an opportunity for the cats to get outside because that's truly one of the bigger challenges, but it has this really great extender system that kind of comes in over the fence, and basically the philosophy there is as the cat tries to climb it, this metal at the bottom keeps them from chewing it, and then they get to the next phase which is the… which is a little more loose and floppy and it kind of gives a little as you're climbing, and then they hit this extender which pushes them, kind of back it up over their heads to try to escape, and they don't like that so they don't tend to touch that… that's a means to get out. And it's great because it kind of… and catch a really nice opportunity to get outside to exercise most importantly, but also you know explore.

Samantha: Yeah absolutely, like I said, we being in a rural area that's not really an issue for us, but absolutely once I thought about it, a cat fence certainly would be a great option for some pet parents living where their cats can't just roam free.

Martin: Yeah. Well and for a lot of areas like yours that are rural we found people are actually taking the fence and kind of adapting, what they're doing is they're taking those extenders that's normally facing to keep those cats in, flipping them around and now you can keep cats you do not want in your yard or in your garden, so a dog-free… you get to use that to kind of keep them out of the yard as well.

Samantha: Oh interesting. Wow that's great! And I know there's pricing information and all that stuff on your website, and as I said I'll go through and make sure that I link that in the show notes so that people can… I know it differs on what kind of fence that you want and how big you need it and things like that, so that's kind of a hard issue to talk about, fencing. But are your fences safe for pets? I know some people worry about like if their dog jumps up on it or something like that, that the fences aren't going to be safe for their animals.

Martin: Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah the fences are designed in such a way that they're going to be safe for the animals, they don't really have any sharp edges or anything like a metal like a chain link does or potentially can do at the top, there's kind of a sharp points or anything like that, our fences all have concave finished edges that don't have anything like that so if a dog were to try to get up there and put his paws up towards for the top of the fence… for paws or anything like that either.

Samantha: Excellent. So they're safe, they're affordable, there are so many different options. And again I'll link that with Facebook so people can check that out on their own. Is there anything else that we haven't touched on or talked about that you would like to make sure that everybody knows?

Martin: Just I think it's really important to know that it's important to have a safe area for dogs to play, and that we prefer going with this really humane method and don't really opt for the electronic fences, we really like something that's there that'll provide a safe environment for play and exercise just for the health and emotional well being of everyone's pets.

Samantha: Absolutely. I do… I worry too about those electronic fences and we don't use those with our dogs. I think one of my worries, like you said, when they cross over that boundary then they are now being punished to come back home. We always see… and I know they are few and far between, but sometimes those systems will have a flaw and your dog can get hurt wearing that collar, it will send a signal to him when he isn't even near the fence and things like that, so there a lot of different issues that pop up with those electric fences.

The only thing that I can think of, I know some people that like rental properties and things aren't allowed to have a physical barrier fence that you can see or it has to meet certain stipulations and things like that; if you have like a home-owner's association, so I know some people don't have much of a choice for the invisible fence, but if you can avoid those at all costs I recommend that as well.

I need to thank Martin for being here again. That was a wonderful interview and I got a lot of my questions answered, hopefully it answered a lot of your questions as well about pets and thing.  I loved chatting with him about the dangers of electric fences as well, and I know we make those very apparent but a lot of pet parents don't have the option, like I mentioned, if you rent or you lease sometimes you're not allowed to put up any physical barriers, any visual barriers, so that's tough.

There are options for fencing out there that are a physical barrier but they are hard to see from a distance, so those fences are a good thing to check into too if you're thinking about fencing, but you can't… like a Homeowner's Association for example won't allow any visible barriers, you can try those pet fences, they're certainly not invisible fences but they are about the closest thing to it and it does allow you that physical barrier so you don't have to have the electric fences.

As we mentioned, the worry there is that if your dog does happen to cross the line then he's blocked from coming back across the line which will actually punish him for coming home and that can be a really negative thing.  The other thing that you want to keep in mind with those is that they'll keep your dog in but they won't keep other animals out, and those physical barrier fences the nice thing about those is that it will keep other dogs or other critters and other things from coming into your yard and hurting your dog.  So there are a lot of benefits to physical barriers that electronic fences just really can't match.

So hopefully you guys, like I said, got some great information out of this, and if you're thinking about fencing or looking into fencing, this gave you a great starting point.  Again the show notes are available on our website which is, you can find those there, there's also a comments section there and you can leave a comment or ask any questions. There's a place where you can record your questions, so that will if you record your question, I might use it on a future podcast, so keep that in mind if you're interested in that.

I would love to hear from you guys, but you could also type your questions and your comments as well and I'll certainly try and answer all of those for you guys. I don't want to leave any question up in the air, you know the whole goal of this podcast is to unite us all as pet owners and pet lovers and get us all on the same page. If there's a question that you're asking, chances are there are other pet owners out there asking the very same questions, so don't be shy.

If you're not comfortable enough to record your question, that's completely fine, you can type it in there and I will make sure to get that answered. And again I might feature it on future podcast so if you would be interested in that, that would be wonderful, if you're not interested in that make sure you just mention that when you leave the comment or question, that you don't want it aired and then I will make sure that I don't do that if you're not comfortable with it.

Next week I have a really exciting interview to share with you guys.  I spoke with a member of the Embark team, and Embark is a company that does dog DNA testing, so I know that sounds a little bit crazy to some people and kind of silly, but it's actually extremely beneficial. I'm really excited to share that with you guys and talk about that with the representative from Embark. So that will be next week.  I hope you guys will tune in for that and I will talk to you all very soon. Thanks for listening guys, have a great afternoon.

Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.