How to Build a Dog Fence for Cheap

building a dog fence with wire

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 dog fence cheap.

​How to Build a Dog Fence for Cheap

Your focus should ideally be on building something 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 that are 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 fence and some that of an invisible fence.
  4. The final, perhaps our favorite, is ​an inexpensive dog fence 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. Our focus for this article is on how to build a dog fence for cheap.

how to build traditional dog fence

Considerations to Building a DIY Dog Fence

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 do it yourself, 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 the DIY approach to building a cheap dog fence, but it does take time to build. The average time required to build 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 fence in about three days. However, depending on the size of your fence and your skill level, building time may vary widely.

​Our 4 Favorite Cheap Dog Fence Ideas

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

1. Traditional Dog Fences

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

​Upsides: ​A traditional wood or metal fence is strong, sturdy, and protective. Aside from your dog digging under it or jumping over it, it will be sturdy and last a long time. A wood/metal fence is also very stylish, and will add a nice touch to your house's yard.

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

​Build Process: ​​​​​​You'll need fence posts, fence boards, and 2x4 support boards, along with screws. We'll outline the process to build a traditional dog fence for cheap out of wood, but you can substitute the materials for metal fairly easily.

  • Determine the height you want your fence, and ensure your fence posts are tall enough. You'll want to sink your posts 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.
  • Plan your fence by staking out your corners, and marking every 8ft for your fence posts. Check to ensure your angles are correct with a plumb line and a t-square.
  • 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.
  • Fill the holes with concrete and install your fence posts. Some recommend going even further by adding gravel below the concrete, although we don't find that necessary. Once the concrete sets, fill in the holes with dirt.
  • 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.
  • Install your 2x4 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 boards.

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.

the invisible fence option

Photo credit: David Jones on Flickr / CC BY

2. Invisible 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 within.

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.

​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 a 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 about 70% of the times. The wire on the ground cannot distinguish which side of the wire 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: Invisible fences are incredibly easy and fast to install, especially in comparison to building your own fence. In addition, you don't notice an invisible fence because, well... its invisible!

​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.

​Build Process: ​Go buy your invisible dog fence, and follow the instructions for install. Its 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.

Whatever system you choose, you will have to install the system and then take some time training your dog to get used to the deterrent system.It's best to keep your grass trimmed and well kept with a lawn mower during this time to ensure that sight is clear and your dog can visibly see his boundaries. the  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.

how to build a dog fence cheap

3. Pallet Dog Fences

If you're looking to build your own dog fence, then the first two options 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 fence, 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.

Related: Build a doghouse for your pup from pallet wood too - click here to see the entire process.

However, keep in mind that a pallet fence may be too low for some dogs. It may not look as good as a store-bought fence. Pallet fences are also vulnerable to termites and pests. But, overall, they are a good and durable solution if you are working on a low budget.

​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 look and feel you get from this pallet project.

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

​Build Process: ​Follow the same instructions for building a traditional wood fence, but instead of adding 2x4's and fence boards, use pallets. Make sure to take account of the pallet width measurements​​​​​​​​​​ and use those as your set your posts.

If you're really looking to build ​an affordable dog fence, 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 in flexibility, and also save 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.

​Downsides: ​The deer netting is not a solid material - it is a plastic netting. 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.

​Build Process: ​Depending on how large of an area you are building a dog fence for, this is a relatively easy ​project to do in an 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.

  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 working your way down, using the zip ties to fasten the netting to the t-post. Use cable ties instead of zip ties 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 how to build a dog fence for cheap. ​​​

how to build an easy cheap dog fence

Conclusion

The bottom line is that the type of fence you choose is completely dependent on your budget and space within which you intend to contain your dog.

If you are seriously interested in learning how to build a dog fence cheap, first decide on the type. Then, apply some of the ideas outlined above. It completely depends on your goals, your timeline, and your budget.