The Australian Shepherd is a highly active and intelligent breed that is affectionate and playful and loves company. These traits can often result in them wanting to escape the yard
If your Australian Shepherd is jumping the fence to escape the property it can be a very serious issue. They could get seriously injured or worse by being hit by a car or other mishap. If they run away and don’t know where they are they may not be able to find their way home.
There are also legal issues that can arise. As a dog owner, you are responsible for your dog at all times, whether they are with you or not. If the dog ranger finds them before you it can result in a big fine and legal action. Or perhaps they bite someone and the person makes a complaint.
Why is your Australian Shepherd jumping the fence?
The obvious answer is to get to the other side. They are wanting to escape your property. Before you are able to find a solution to this problem it is important to understand the motivation and reason they want to leave the property in the first place. This can include –
- Boredom. This is one of the top reasons many behavior issues in dogs develop. The Australian Shepherd is an active and intelligent working breed that requires daily exercise and activities to release pent-up energy. Being extremely smart they also require exercise for the brain. If you are not providing the exercise and stimulation they need (both physical and mental) they will find their own ways to entertain themselves. Often it will also result in them being hyper and unsettled. See here for how to calm an Aussie.
- Loneliness. Australian Shepherds also require plenty of interaction and company. They are a very social breed. If they spend a lot of time home alone or without company they may want to go find other people or dogs to socialize with. Many Australian Shepherd owners consider getting another Aussie or dog to keep their existing company.
- Separation anxiety. Australian Shepherds bond very closely with their family and often to one person in particular. This makes them a breed that is prone to separation anxiety. They may be jumping the fence to go looking for this person.
- Age. If you have a younger Aussie they are likely to be more prone to wanting to escape. Younger dogs have more energy and the world is an existing place. They may want to go and explore and have some fun.
- Sex drive. An entire male Australian Shepherd may want to pursue a female dog on heat in the area. This is a very powerful motivation and often the best solution is to have them spayed. This drive to seek a mate can also occur in female dogs.
- Fear. If your Australian Shepherd gets frightened by fireworks or loud noises they can go into a panic and look to escape.
- To pursue something. If your Australian Shepherd spots or hears something they want to chase or greet they may jump the fence to do so. This can include cats, squirrels, or other animals. Alternatively, they may see someone they know and want to say hello to.
- Guarding. Australian Shepherds can be quite territorial and make excellent watch and guard dogs. If they notice someone or something they perceive to be a threat to their property or family they may jump the fence to investigate or warn the threat away.
How high can an Australian Shepherd jump?
High jumping is an instinctive trait of the Australian Shepherd. It is used as a defense against being kicked by the cattle they are herding. When they think a cow may be going to kick them they get into a ‘pounce position.’ Form this standing stand they can spring into the air and out of harm’s way as high as 4 feet.
Therefore, it is obvious that a 4-foot high fence would be no barrier for an Australian Shepherd. They can usually get over even a 6-foot fence by climbing or scaling the fence. It is little wonder that the Australian Shepherd is known as a master escape artist.
The age of the Australian Shepherd in question does have an effect on exactly how high a fence they get over. A younger puppy can not jump as high as an adult Aussie in their prime as they simply don’t have the muscular strength and explosive power in their legs just yet. As a dog gets into their senior years they also are unable to jump as high as they once did.
Solutions to stop Australian Shepherd from jumping the fence
When deciding upon a solution for your Australian Shepherd’s fence jumping issue, knowing the motivation or reason (see above) they are wanting to jump the fence is the best place to start.
Secondly, it is important to know exactly how they are doing it. This means catching them in the act. Potential techniques they may be using can include –
- Taking a run-up before launching themselves into the air.
- Using another item or structure to jump up on first and then scaling the fence.
- Grasping the top of the fence with their front legs and pulling themselves up.
Now you have established the reason and method your Australian Shepherd is jumping the fence you can decide upon a potential solution. Problems like this can have a hard solution and a soft solution. A hard solution is to make a physical change such as modifying the fence or making it so they are unable to get a good run-up. A soft solution is to modify the behavior with training, increasing exercise and enrichment, or having them desexed depending on the motivation.
Hard solutions to Australian Shepherd jumping the fence
Hard solutions tend to stop the dog’s ability to jump the fencing, but don’t necessarily resolve the actual motivation or reason they are trying to escape.
Remove any items being used for assistance
If your Australian Shepherd is using something to jump onto before clearing the fence, simply move it so they can’t. This can be various things such as their kennel, a bin, or even a hedge. Of course, this will not remove the reason for them wanting to jump the fence but will get them in the yard in the meantime.
Coyote rollers are rollers than attach to the top of the fence to keep Coyotes out. they can be just as effective at keeping an Australian Shepherd in. This is of course only if they are scaling the fence by grasping the top with their front paws and pulling themselves over.
If you are not able to find Coyote Rollers you can make something similar yourself using a steel cable and a PVC pipe. Thread the cable through the pipe and attach it to the top of the fence.
Alternatively, you can just attach a PVC pipe along the top of the fence. This won’t spin like Coyotes rollers but it will make it difficult for your Australian Shepherd to get a grip.
Increase fence height
You can make the fence higher so it is too high for them to jump. Alternatively, you can place netting or similar along the top of the fence at an angle.
Prevent them from getting a run-up
If your Australian Shepherd is getting over the fence by taking a run-up before launching themselves, simply remove the ability to do so. This can include things like setting up a smaller fence two to three feet inside the fence.
Alternatively, you can plant trees and shrubs along the fence line. This may not work as well as they may still be able to fit between the trees.
Use a jump harness
A jump harness limits a dog’s back legs preventing them from being able to jump. They can be useful as a training tool but short only be used in the short term. Ideally, they should only be used when you are there to supervise to avoid them potentially hurting themselves.
Soft solutions to Australian Shepherd jumping the fence
Soft solutions are more targeted at fixing the actual motivation or reason your Australian Shepherd is trying to escape. The solution you chose to use is based on the reason they are jumping the fence.
Have them desexed
If the reason for your Australian Shepherd’s fence jumping is a sexual behavior like wanting to pursue a member of the opposite sex, this is the simplest solution. It is a behavior that is more common in male dogs seeking a female on heat but it also occurs in females.
Increase exercise and enrichment
If your Australian Shepherd is bored and escaping to find adventure and activity, increase the volume of their daily exercise and provide more enriching activities so they are satisfied to stay home. An Australian Shepherd requires from one to two hours of exercise and activity a day but will always be keen for more. For exercise suggestions for an Aussie see here. For ways to provide enrichment and prevent boredom see here.
With a breed like the Australian Shepherd, setting firm rules and boundaries is essential. It is important they understand that escaping is not wanted behavior. Overall obedience training will not only make them better behaved in general. It will aid in them not wanting to leave the property without your permission.
Don’t let them see outside the yard
To stop them from escaping to greet another person or dog or even chase a cat, remove their ability to see what is happening outside the fence. Of course, they can still hear and smell what is happening outside so it may not completely resolve the issue.
Give them a safe area
If your Australian Shepherd is being spooked by fireworks or loud noises, make sure they have a safe place they can go. This can be a dog house or kennel in a quiet spot in the yard. The kennel should be big enough for them to stand up and turn around but not much bigger. If it is too big they will not feel as safe and secure.
Alternatively, you can bring them inside if you know there are going to be fireworks or construction going on next door.
Don’t leave them alone too long
Australian Shepherds bond very closely with their families and can be prone to separation anxiety. They require companionship and interaction and can become lonely without it.
If you can’t spend more time with them, consider alternatives such as doggie daycare or having a pet sitter or dog walker visit them during the day. You can even keep them inside at times you are not there.
Bottom line – Australian Shepherd jumping fence
Australian Shepherds are excellent jumpers easily being able to clear a four-foot fence with ease. For most adult Aussies, a six-foot fence is well within their ability. This is why they are known to be masters of escape.
The key to resolving fence-jumping behavior is to know the reason or motivation for their wanting to escape and decide upon an appropriate solution. Secondly, it pays to know how they are doing it. Are they grabbing the top of the fence and climbing, taking a long run-up, and so on?
Hopefully, the solutions we have offered here will solve this issue.