The Complete Guide to Choosing the Best Dog Fence for Small Dogs

January 6, 2024

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Finding the right fence for your small dog is crucial for their safety and your peace of mind. With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which type of fencing works best for containing little escape artists.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to pick the perfect small dog fence, from material and height recommendations to special considerations for anxious pups. We’ve researched and reviewed 10 top-rated small dog fences to recommend the most secure, affordable and eye-pleasing options to contain your furball.

Why Proper Fencing is Essential for Small Dogs

A securely fenced yard is one of the best investments you can make for your petite pooch’s safety and your own sanity. Here’s why:

Prevents Accidental Escapes

Small dogs can slip through surprisingly small gaps and spaces. Proper fencing ensures there are no weak spots where your dog can squeeze through and escape.

Offers Peace of Mind

You’ll no longer have to worry about your dog bolting out doors or diggers burrowing to freedom. A solid fence lets you relax knowing your pup is secure.

Keeps Dangers Out

While small dogs can slip out easily, predators like coyotes can also get in. A strong perimeter fence keeps other animals from entering your property.

Allows Off-Leash Play

Your small dog will have a safe, enclosed space to play fetch, zoom around, and just be a dog without you needing to hover over them.

Adds Value to Your Home

For homeowners, a beautiful new fence can increase curb appeal and resale value. For renters, being a responsible pet owner can earn you bonus points with your landlord.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Small Dog Fence

There are several key factors to evaluate when selecting the right fencing for your pint-sized pooch.

Breed Traits and Temperament

  • Escape artists: Breeds like Jack Russell Terriers are notoriously adept escape artists who need ultra-secure containment. Consider a Pawtrack GPS collar to track them.
  • Diggers: Short-legged excavators like Dachshunds and Corgis can tunnel surprisingly deep and far. Account for their subterranean skills.
  • Climbers: Spry breeds like Yorkies and Malteses are adept climbers and jumpers requiring taller, smoother fences.
  • Anxious pups: Reactive, noise-sensitive dogs need privacy fences to block visual stimuli that can trigger barking.

Yard Size and Shape

  • The amount of linear footage needing coverage determines the budget. Long spans are more affordable with basic chain link.
  • Irregular plots with angles may require custom fencing for optimal containment and aesthetics.

Aesthetic Preferences

  • Contemporary homes may suit sleek metal fencing, while cottages pair well with classic wood pickets.
  • Solid vinyl options provide privacy without ongoing maintenance required for wood.
  • Ornamental iron and aluminum balance style with security.

HOA Restrictions

  • Community rules may limit fence height, banned materials, or require uniformity. Verify before installing.
  • White picket and black aluminum are common HOA-approved go-tos.


  • Chain link and welded wire are budget-friendly options under $100 for materials.
  • Wood, PVC, iron and aluminum cost $15-50+ per linear foot installed.
  • DIY installation can save 20-50% on costs.

Best Fence Materials for Small Dogs

Best Fence Materials For Small Dogs

The material you choose determines how secure, durable and attractive your small dog fence will be. Here are the pros and cons of popular options:


Pros: Classic look, customizable height/privacy, can be painted/stained

Cons: Requires sealing and repainting, prone to damage, dogs can dig under

Cost: $25-50 per linear ft installed

Tip: Use 1×6 boards, 1-2” spacing. Bury hardware cloth to deter digging.


Pros: Low maintenance, custom privacy/height, chew resistant, DIY install

Cons: Can become brittle over time, not as strong as wood/metal

Cost: $20-40 per linear ft installed

Tip: Look for 15 year warranties. Add metal mesh along ground.

Wrought Iron/Aluminum/Steel

Pros: Very secure and chew-proof, customizable styles/heights, durable

Cons: Expensive for large yards, bars must be close together

Cost: $60-100 per linear ft installed

Tip: Opt for “puppy picket” fences designed for small dogs.

Chain Link

Pros: Budget-friendly for large areas, easy DIY, allows visibility

Cons: Industrial look, needs slats/mesh for small dogs, dogs can climb

Cost: $100-300 for 50 linear ft installed

Tip: Add vinyl coating for visual interest. Use privacy slats and mesh.

Ideal Fence Heights for Small Dogs

While big dogs need a 6 ft fence minimum, small dogs can be contained with shorter enclosures. Here are recommended height guidelines by breed size:

  • Tiny dogs under 10 lbs: 24-36 inches high
  • Toy dogs 10-20 lbs: 30-42 inches high
  • Small dogs 20-40 lbs: 36-48 inches high
  • Add 6-12 extra inches for climbers/jumpers
  • Customize for diggers: Bury skirting/lattice 12-24” deep

Measure fence height from the ground up to prevent escape gaps along the bottom.

Creative Solutions for Tricky Areas

Certain spots around your yard may present unique fencing challenges requiring some creative problem-solving. Here are solutions for five common problem areas:

1. Side Gates

Use self-closing gates with spring hinges and secure latches. Install perimeter mesh fencing inside the gate area to prevent escapes.

2. Under Deck

Enclose the area beneath elevated decks/porches with lattice and chicken wire to prevent access.

3. Around Pools

Utilize removable mesh pool fencing with a locking gate during swim season. Consider a Halo collar to set a safe perimeter.

4. Small Yards

Limit fence height and use more transparent materials like decorative iron to keep the space feeling open.

5. Potty Areas

Use portable exercise pens when taking toy breeds out on leashes to prevent darting off mid-potty. A PetSafe wireless fence is a non-fencing alternative.

Mistakes to Avoid When Installing a Small Dog Fence

While DIY fences can save money upfront, they often fail to safely contain pets long-term. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Leaving gaps between ground and fence bottom
  • Uneven terrain allowing below-grade escapes
  • Inadequate post depth resulting in loose panels
  • Incorrect hole sizing leading to instability
  • Poor gate installation without self-closing hardware
  • Placing cross beams on the wrong side of panels
  • Using mesh with holes larger than 1 inch
  • Skimping on quality materials to cut costs

Inspect for any weak points and make adjustments to prevent repeat escapes. Consider hiring fence pros for best results.

5 Tips for Containing Tricky Small Dog Breeds

Some petite breeds like Terriers, Dachshunds and Poms have earned reputations as persistent escape artists. Containing them takes extra measures:

1. Bury chain mesh 12-24 inches underground with horizontal extensions to block diggers.

2. Use privacy lattice around fence bases to prevent access and deter digging.

3. Add protective outdoor turf or pavers around the perimeter to prevent pawing and burrowing.

4. Install partially buried concrete stepping stones or tiles to hinder digging.

5. Use movable playpens during supervision for extremely tenacious tunnelers.

Supervision is still required during outdoor playtime even in secure enclosures.

Best Fences for Anxious and Reactive Small Dogs

Small dogs prone to barking and territorial behaviors need fences that limit their stimuli and visibility. Here are great options to consider:

Privacy Fences – Solid wood or vinyl planks prevent line of sight to triggers. Ensure adequate ventilation and shade.

Lattice Additions – Attaching interior lattice fencing along the bottom third of existing fences blocks views and reactivity.

Landscaping Solutions – Strategic plantings of shrubs, ferns or tall grasses can effectively mask triggers while preserving visibility and airflow.

Indoor Runs – For especially sensitive pups, attach an enclosed run to your home for outdoor time away from stimuli.

The right barriers reduce reactivity by limiting visual triggers without restricting airflow. A Whistle GPS tracker can help find reactive escape artists.

5 Tips for Saving on DIY Small Dog Fences

You can save 20-50% on installation costs by putting up your own small dog fence if you follow these budget-friendly tips:

  • Shop end of season clearance sales for discounted fencing materials.
  • Salvage and repurpose used fencing from Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or garage sales.
  • Buy eco-friendly recycled composite wood to save on wood fence costs.
  • Opt for budget welded wire or metal mesh fencing under $1 per foot.
  • Invest time into designing and installing the fence yourself rather than hiring a contractor.

However, improperly installed DIY fences often fail. Get professional guidance to avoid costly mistakes.

Professional Installation for Optimal Small Dog Containment

While DIY fences may save upfront, they often cost more long-term when they fail to safely contain pets.

Hiring pros for small dog fence installation is worth it for:

  • Perfect customization – Tailors height, materials and layout to your breed and yard.
  • Code compliance – Ensures compliance with HOA rules, permits and zoning laws.
  • Proper materials – Uses highest quality fencing built to last decades.
  • Secure construction – Experts properly space/align every post, hole and seam leaving no gaps.
  • Warrantied workmanship – Professional fence companies guarantee their work.

For long-lasting containment peace of mind, consider having Invisible Fence pros install your small dog fence. Get free estimates from top local contractors.

5 Maintenance Tips for Optimal Small Dog Fencing

Regularly inspecting and maintaining your fence ensures it stays structurally sound and escape-proof over years of use:

  • Walk the perimeter monthly checking for loose posts, warped boards, damaged mesh or ground openings.
  • Tighten any loosening bolts, staples or ties immediately to prevent further separation.
  • Re-align posts and straighten warped fence boards as soon as you notice them.
  • Seal any minor cracks in wood or vinyl quickly with weatherproof caulking to prevent moisture damage.
  • Plan to re-stain or seal wood fences every 2-3 years to prevent rotting and replace degraded fence panels as needed.

Taking quick action when you spot any wear or damage keeps your fence fortified against failure.

7 Key Tips for Picking the Perfect Small Dog Fence

Choosing the right containment solution involves evaluating your specific needs. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Measure your full perimeter to determine footage requirements.
  • Pick optimal fence heights based on your breed’s jumping/digging abilities.
  • Select durable, chew-proof materials that provide necessary privacy and airflow.
  • Account for problem areas like gates, slopes and potty spots in your layout. Consider AirTags to track collars and belongings.
  • Follow community guidelines on fence style, height and placement.
  • Decide whether to DIY or hire a pro based on your budget and skills.
  • Regularly inspect and repair your fence to keep it escape-proof long-term.

Investing in the right fencing tailored to your small dog’s unique containment needs will provide security and peace of mind for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Small Dog Fences

What is the most affordable fencing for small dogs?

For large yards, chain link is the most economical at $100-300 for 50 linear feet installed. Add privacy slats or mesh to contain small dogs.

What picket fence height is best for small dogs?

For dogs under 25 lbs, a 30-36 inch picket fence works well. Use 40-48 inch pickets for jumpers. Measure from ground up.

Should I dig trenches to stop digging escapes?

Yes, digging 12-24 inch trenches before installing ground-level fencing helps prevent tunneling escapes. Extend mesh 12 inches below grade too.

How much space between pickets should I leave?

For small dogs, leave a maximum of 2 inch spacing between vertical pickets to prevent squeezing through. Go smaller for tiny breeds under 12 lbs.

Can electric shock fences work for small dogs?

Some use underground electric fences but they risk behavioral issues. Physical barriers like SportDog’s adjustable correction levels are safer.

What’s the difference between residential and commercial fencing?

Residential small dog fences prioritize aesthetics, security and customization. Commercial chain link is cheaper but more industrial looking.

Should I build a roof over my small dog’s fence run?

Yes, roofing fence runs prevents climbing and jumping escapes. Ensure adequate sunlight and airflow to prevent dangerous heat buildup.

Where should I measure fence height from?

Measure fence height from the ground up, not just panel size, to prevent bottom gaps a small dog can squeeze through.

How do I stop fence fighting with neighbors’ dogs?

Solid privacy fencing to fully separate yards works best. Also plant perimeter landscaping to further visually divide spaces and avoid triggers.

What is the easiest DIY small dog fence?

For beginners, welded wire “no dig” fencing is simplest. Just ensure you choose a heavy gauge welded mesh and install flush to the ground.

Ensure Your Little Escape Artist Stays Securely Contained

Small dogs need fences tailored to their size to keep them safely enclosed. Assessing your breed’s abilities and tendencies allows you to select optimal materials and heights to prevent escaping. Properly excluding stimuli also benefits anxious dogs immensely. Investing in professional installation of fences designed for your petite pup and property ensures long-term success and peace of mind.