Dog Fence Ideas – How to Build for Cheap

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If you are a dog owner, chances are you are looking for a pawsome idea to contain your dogs. This is probably because you want your dogs to have their off-leash time, stay close, and be active, healthy, and safe. If these are some of your goals related to your dog, you may want to learn how to build a cheap dog fence. Thanks to our suggestions, you do not need to worry that creating such construction will harm your home budget to a large extent. You may choose the variant that meets your requirements and suits your financial capabilities best.

How to Build a Cheap DIY Dog Fence

Tools and materials for building a cheap dog fence

Your focus should ideally be on building a DIY dog fence that is simple yet durable. You want something easy to install and maintain. Broadly speaking, there are four types of containment systems available that we’ll review:

  1. First, the traditional fences, made of wood or metal. These are rather common and easily recognizable.
  2. Second, invisible fences. These have quite a few aesthetic appeals but also have a few risks built in.
  3. The third is the hybrid system, with some features of a traditional homemade dog fence and some that of an invisible one.
  4. The final, perhaps our favorite, is ​an affordable dog fencing made from deer netting. 

Having said all this, there are thousands of options available catering to a wide range of budgets, fencing philosophies, property types, property sizes, and your personal taste. In this article, we focus on the most inexpensive dog fence ideas.

Cheap Dog Fence Ideas

How do you determine which of the four fence options to go with? Here are the considerations you should look at:

  • The first consideration is obviously the cost to purchase, install, and maintain. Fence costs can add up quickly, but most of the cost is in hiring someone to build and install it for you. If you’re willing to construct a DIY fence for dogs, you’ll save a lot of money.
  • ​The second consideration is the height of your fence. ​Carefully research what your specific dog breed is capable of jumping over. Additionally, make sure to take into account what you know about your specific dog. You don’t want to go to all the effort of building a fence, only to find out after the fact that it is 1ft too short.
  • Lastly, take an honest stock of how much time you have. We recommend choosing one of the DIY dog fence ideas, but it does take time to build. The average time required to construct such a fence of about 200 yards is ten to twelve hours.

If you are ready to spend about 3-4 hours each day, you can build a beautiful looking DIY dog fence in about three days. However, depending on the size of your project and your skill level, building time may vary widely.

A cute spaniel dog sits in front of a wooden fence

4 Cheap Dog Fence Options

Here is a rundown of the most common ideas and systems for building ​an inexpensive dog fence. 

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1. Traditional Wood Dog Fences

Traditional fences are made of wood or metal and are generally considered to be good options if you want a ​standard dog fence that will be really effective. But, there are some considerations associated with such a project.

​Upsides

A fence made of traditional wood or metal is strong, sturdy, and protective. Aside from your dog digging under it or jumping over it, it will be durable and last a long time.

A wood/metal fence is also very stylish and will add a nice touch to your house’s yard.

A dog sits in the snow in a fenced yard

​Downsides

For starters, this is the most expensive style of a dog fence. While you can save some money in the way you build your project, it will still add up quickly. Also, the labor involved is fairly time-consuming.

​How to Build​​​​​​

You’ll need fence posts, fence boards, and 2×4 support boards, along with screws. We’ll outline the process to create a cheap construction out of wood, but you can substitute the materials for metal fairly easily as well.

  1. Determine the height you want your fence, and ensure your posts are tall enough. You’ll want to sink them so that 33% of the total post height is in the ground. So, an 8ft post will drop 2.5ft into the ground, leaving you with a fence post that is 5.5ft high. This will work for a 6ft high fence.
  2. Plan your fence by staking out your corners and marking every 8ft for your posts. Check to ensure your angles are correct with a plumb line and a T-square.
  3. Dig your holes for the fence posts​. ​This will take a decent amount of time, and you might want to research tools to help you dig faster, such as a post-hole digger, especially if you have hard ground.
  4. Fill the holes with concrete and install your fence posts. Some recommend going even further by adding gravel below the concrete, but we don’t find that necessary. When the concrete sets, fill in the holes with dirt.
  5. Add a plumb line or masons line where your support boards will run across. We recommend at the top of your fence post and a second line 12″ off the ground. You can also use a laser level if you have one.
  6. Install your 2×4 support boards, and then screw the fence boards into your support boards. Use a table saw as necessary to refine the width of the edge fence board.

You will want to stain or finish your wood fence to help it last longer. At this point, you should have a fence that is beautiful while also standing up for a long period of time.

A dog sits with his paws on a pallet wood fence

2. Invisible Wireless Dog Fences

Invisible fences refer to the containment system where you don’t see a physical fence. The way it works is that you place a wire around the area where you intend your dog to stay.

There is a transmitter box, usually located in your house or garage, and an electric collar that is attached to the dog. Every time the dog nears the boundary, a warning beeps to keep the dog away. If the dog persists in moving forward, the dog is shocked with a mild static delivered through the collar.

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​Invisible fences may sound like the greatest option there is. But, it comes down to your philosophy on how comfortable you feel with buzzing your dog with static when it crosses the boundaries you intend for them to stay in.

While some think it’s perfectly okay to use mild shocks to train the dogs and keep them safe, others are horrified at the idea. They think it’s inhumane and may have lasting effects on the dog, including being in a constant state of fear.

Other than ideological grounds, invisible fences are reported to be effective in about 70% of cases. What is more, the wire on the ground cannot distinguish which side of it the dog is on.

In case a dog decides to take the electric zap and jumps over the wire, it will be zapped every time it wants to return. This may make the dog actually go further away from home.

Upsides

These products are a good suggestion for someone looking for easy dog fence ideas. They are amazingly straightforward and fast to install, especially in comparison to building your own fence. In addition, you don’t notice an invisible fence because, well… it’s invisible!

Plywood stacked together

​Downsides

It isn’t 100% secure, as there are always stories of dogs getting through it. ​There are other issues, such as technological failures, that make this a risky solution if your dog is especially prone to escaping.

Set Up Process

Go buy your invisible dog fence, and follow the instructions for installation. It’s that simple!​​​

​If you do want to go the electric or invisible fence route, you may want to review a few systems available before you zero in on any specific type.

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Whatever system you choose, you will have to install the system and then take some time training your dog to get used to it.

It’s best to keep your grass trimmed and well-kept with a lawnmower during this time to ensure that sight is clear and your dog can visibly see his boundaries. It usually takes about two weeks to train the dog to associate crossing the boundary with the unpleasant zapping. 

Once trained, you can then test the electric correction system and enjoy leash-free play with your dog.

Woman painting wood pallets

3. Pallet Dog Fences

If you’re looking for cheap dog fence options to build by yourself, then the first two suggestions aren’t really going to work. However, an easy way to try out your DIY skills ​in the backyard is by building a fence from pallet wood.

​A pallet fence is very similar to building a traditional wood structure but cheaper and easier. You can save money by picking up the pallet wood for very cheap or free. Pallets are durable, ​inexpensive, and versatile​.

​The biggest advantages of pallet fences are that they are ​very affordable, they are easy to build, they are sturdy, and they can be moved easily.

However, keep in mind that a pallet fence may be too low for some dogs. Apart from that, it may not look as good as a store-bought fence, and it may be vulnerable to termites and pests. But, overall, they are a good and durable solution if you are searching for really cheap fence ideas for dogs.

​Upsides

A pallet dog fence is the ultimate in how to build a ​cheap fence for your dog. Plus, if you’re into the rustic DIY look, ​then you’ll really love the design and feel you get from this pallet project.

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Downsides

The wood is not high in quality, and the finished product can look cheap. Moreover, depending on your dog and pallet, the fence might not be tall enough.

How to Build

Follow the same instructions for building a traditional wood fence, but instead of adding 2×4’s and fence boards, use pallets. Make sure to take account of the pallet width measurements​​​​​​​​​​ and use those as you set your posts.

If you’re really looking for cheap dog fencing ideas, this is a great option. You can add some class to the finished project by painting or finishing the wood.

Building a dog fence with wire

4. Deer Netting Dog Fences

We saved our favorite dog fence option for last. Using a flexible fencing material like deer netting or garden netting gives you the ultimate flexibility, and also saves you a bundle of money in the process. 

​Upsides

A fence made of this flexible material is mobile, meaning that you can take it down for winter and put it back up in the summer. It is a lot cheaper because the bulk of the material is ​made from affordable deer netting. It is also very easy to put together and do yourself.

It is also a lot easier to install than a chain link fence. Cutting chain link fencing is difficult and requires specialized tools.

​Downsides

The deer netting is not a solid material – it is made of plastic. Thus, a crafty or persistent dog might be able to dig under it, or even go through it. Depending on your preferences, this style of fence might not be as stylish and good looking in your yard as you’d prefer.

A French Bulldog sits in a yard protected by a deer netting fence

How to Build

Depending on how large of an area you are building a DIY dog fence for, this is a relatively easy ​project to do in the afternoon. You’ll need deer netting or garden netting to span the ​circumference of your​​​ fence area. You’ll want to pick up or rent a post digger for the install. And, you’ll need studded t-posts, zip ties, and garden stakes.

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  1. Start by installing the t-posts with the post driver, placing them 4 ft – 5 ft apart.
  2. Roll the netting out on the ground by the t-posts, leaving 4″-6″ of netting to go “below” the t-post and be anchored into the ground.
  3. Attach the netting from the top and work your way down, using the zip ties to fasten the netting to the t-post. Use cable ties instead of zip ones for added stability.
  4. Once you reach the bottom, roll the remaining netting inwards, towards the inside of the fenced area. Fasten the fencing into the ground with the garden stakes (anchor pins for added stability). Use 3 per section.

​Final Thoughts

As long as you don’t have a persistent dog that likes to escape, this is a fantastic option for an inexpensive dog fence.

How to build an easy cheap dog fence

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Dog Fence?

The cost of a dog fence depends on the materials you use to build with.

  • Pallet wood can usually be obtained for free, so the cost is very minimal. You’re only paying for the fence posts.
  • Wood panel dog fencing usually costs between $6-$10 per square foot, with most of the cost going into the posts and fence panels.
  • Electric dog fences can vary dramatically in cost. Usually, they will start at around $1,000 for the wire, materials, and collar. Depending on your square footage, they can go up from there.
  • DIY dog fence from deer netting typically costs $2-$4 per square foot and is so affordable because deer netting is cheap.

Obviously, these are just rough estimates, but they should give you a good idea of how much each fencing type will cost you.

How Can I Improve My Dog Fence?

When you already have your fence built, you may think about adding some improvements to make it even more useful and dog-friendly. Check out our suggestions!

Dog Fence Windows

Many people think that a traditional wooden fence is the best choice because it provides the highest level of privacy. However, dogs may be very curious about what is happening on the other side, and it would be more fun for them to have some view.

For this reason, it is certainly an excellent idea to add a dog fence window, especially in the case of a small yard or one neighboring the sidewalk. They are not hard to make, as all you need is usually just a piece of metal mesh or a small hinged door. They can have various shapes – circles, trapezoids, or long rectangles will not only be a fantastic observation point for your pet but also it will enhance the visual design of your fence. Just remember to make sure to get rid of any sharp or hard edges and adapt the hole to your dog’s head size!

Digging-Under Prevention

The role of this kind of fence is to allow your dog to have a lot of fun outside and stay safe at the same time – you certainly do not want your pet to escape outside of it, as it may be lost or get harmed. Therefore, you should add a special barrier preventing your dog from digging his way out to the other side, especially if you happen to have a tunneling breed. To do that, you can use, for example, a gate plate or a net designed for chicken coops. Apart from making it harder for your dog to get out, it will also prevent rodents from getting in!

Why Should I Have a Dog Fence?

You may not be convinced why you should build a dog fence in the first place if you regularly walk your pet a few times a day or even take it to your running sessions. It is certainly an excellent idea for every dog owner living in a house because the more fresh air exercise your dog has, the better. You can find some reasons for that below!

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Slower Aging

Unfortunately, we can’t entirely stop our four-legged friends from getting older and older. Nevertheless, the same as in the case of humans, getting a lot of exercises helps to slow this process down and keep the body fit and the mind sharp. What is more, thanks to the proper amount of physical activities, it is possible to ward off certain age-related diseases.

However, it should be adjusted to the dog’s age – senior ones still need to remain active, but not to the same degree as when they were puppies. It is recommended to consult your veterinarian about the best amount of physical activities for a dog of a particular age and breed.

More Healthy Joints

With safe and age-adjusted exercise, your dog’s joints will be in better shape. Namely, your pet will have a healthy weight, so there will be less pressure on the joints. Apart from that, it provides better joint lubrication, at the same time making the supporting muscles stronger. A sedentary lifestyle is as bad for your dog’s body as it is for yours!

Less Anxiety

If you provide your dog with space for exercise, you will contribute to lowering its anxiety. Again, it works similarly as in the human organism – physical activities make the endorphins kick in, and the feelings of restlessness and anxiety noticeably become less noticeable. Dog owners who do everything they can to keep their pet friends fit are less likely to see a chewed-up couch at home.

Stronger Bond

With a special place for some leash-free fun together, you will be able to create a stronger bond with your dog. You can keep all the toys there, like balls or frisbees, and always easily grab them and start the playtime. You will not have to walk anywhere away, but just go outside your house and have some nice time in the fresh air that will do good to both your and your dog’s health and make you even closer friends.

Improved Safety

The playtime with your dog will not only be easier but also safer thanks to a fence. Namely, you will be sure that if you accidentally throw a toy too far, your little friend will not be able to chase it, suddenly running to the street where it could be hit by a car or another vehicle.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that the type of fence you choose is completely dependent on your budget and the space within which you intend to contain your dog. You should not give up the idea of building a fence simply because you are afraid it will be too expensive – it is a project definitely worth taking up because it will contribute to enhancing both your little friend’s health and safety, and it is not hard to narrow down the costs!

If you are seriously interested in building a cheap dog fence, first decide on the type. Then, apply some of the ideas outlined above. It completely depends on your goals, your timeline, and your budget. If the lowest cost is the thing you are most concerned about, then you should go for a DIY dog fence made from an inexpensive material, such as wooden pallets or deer netting. A traditional wood fence will probably be the most decorative (but it may depend on the personal taste), and an invisible solution will take the least time and effort to apply, although it may cause some ethical doubts. The choice is yours!

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Allen runs a popular home website, and understands what it takes to educate audiences through online content. Through his focus at home, Allen developed an insatiable appetite for home improvement projects that he could do for cheap on weekends. Over the years, he has gained valuable experience, which he shares in detail in articles like How to Build A DIY Dining Room Table. His ability to clearly share these DIY ideas is a huge asset, and he is a valuable resource to the home improvement community.