Letters from readers:
Jack Russell an escape artist
A fence this high would not contain a chihuahua, let alone anything larger.
Can you help please? I have a little Jack Russell terrier who keeps getting out of the yard when I am not present, but he never does it when I am in the yard. I am desperate as he could be hurt on the nearby road or attacked by a larger roaming dog. I cannot find where he is getting out of the fence. What do you suggest? Marlene, Oregon
These little dogs are very nimble, very quick in their movements and very able to work out a plan of action. He knows he is not supposed to go out of the yard and that he would be stopped if you knew how he was doing it, so he is careful never to show you how!
First, you must make sure that there is no loose fence post or paling, or that he has not dug himself a hole somewhere (behind a tree or shrub, or anything in the yard that would hide it from view is where to start looking) as these little dogs are notorious diggers. Cover every inch of your fence line and test every piece of fence. If that reveals nothing you need to think seriously about whether someone is deliberately letting him out. This is always a possibility that nobody wants to think about, but it could be a neighbour’s child letting him out to play.
If those two options prove negative there is only one left he is going over the top of the fence. Many of the smaller more active dogs are much more able to climb fences than we give them credit for (and some of the larger ones too). There is one new development that comes to mind that may help if climbing is what he is doing it is called the Coyote Roller. Basically a mesh fence with a detached strand on top of the fence line threaded through a light pipe. The dog can not grip the pipe as it keeps rolling around the top wire strand. Neither can any predator get inside the fence for the same reason.
Of course, if this dog is simply jumping and clearing the fence then the only thing that will stop him is a higher fence (I had a little fox terrier X shi tzu once who could clear a 6ft fence with no difficulty). Don’t ever try the disgusting electronic collars they will destroy your relationship with your dog and make him neurotic and fearful, possibly aggressive.
I think with this little fellow the main target is to identify the source of his escape and prevent him using that route in the future. To do this you may have to spend a whole weekend watching him from inside the house, making sure he is always in view. It would be worth the time to get him sorted. - Ed