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I received a 300-foot dog yard fencing system from PetPlaygrounds at a discounted amount in exchange for my honest thoughts on the system. My partner discovered the PetPlaygrounds system when he was searching for an alternative to an electronic fence earlier this year. We have five dogs and our newest addition, a Golden Retriever / Husky mix, has proven to be an adept escape artist. We added cameras to the outside of the house and I can't tell you how many days I had to drive home (an hour trek) midday to secure him in the yard, and eventually the house, because we'd see him OUTSIDE the dog yard.
We've known that the dog yard needed to be replaced for years. Over the years, we've used the rolled green fencing you find at the hardware and farming stores to increase the height of the originally 3′ post and rail fence and while this worked for four of our dogs, Apollo laughed at our attempts.
We decided to go with the PetPlaygrounds system because it wasn't an electronic system. This isn't to knock anyone who has gone this route. After losing Blue (also an escape artist) after he got out of the yard and was hit by a car as he followed deer across the road, my negative judgement of electronic fencing systems vanished. If we had one, would we have lost Blue? Some say yes, because there are dogs that aren't bothered by a small shock or tingle (as they're described to deliver). Some say that an electronic fence can save a dog's life.
So, why not go with an electronic fencing system now?
- PetPlaygrounds is an effective alternative to electronic fencing systems (difficult to dig under, climb under, or chew through).
- PetPlaygrounds allowed us to build a new yard affordably.
- PetPlaygrounds is easier to install than traditional fencing systems.
- The PetPlaygrounds dog fencing system is made to better contain dogs and can be a good fit for escape artists.
- This fencing system is designed to keep predators OUT of the yard as well as keep our dogs IN the yard.
In this review, I'm going to cover our experience building the PetPlaygrounds system.
Weighing the Pros and Cons of Electronic Fencing for Dogs
The electronic fence options we briefly considered were the Invisible Fence system, that helps us create a boundary without a fence and when a dog comes too close to the boundary of their property or yard, they are delivered a “correction” through their collar. Another option would be to use an electronic fencing system used by farmers to keep animals in a fenced area. In this option, a wire is placed along the length of the fence and if an animal touches that wire, they receive a sharp “correction.”
Both of these options are seen as effective, however, my issues with them include:
1 – I don't like the idea of using pain to get my dogs to behave. In this situation, I'm not personally delivering the pain, it's coming from a third party. Although that makes me feel like my dogs won't connect me with the pain, it doesn't alleviate my guilt. I haven't personally experienced the Invisible Fence, but I have touched an electric fence. I was told that I would feel a tingle like when putting my tongue on a battery. Ummmm, that's not what happened. Yeah, maybe that's what it felt like as I touched it for two seconds. But if I leaned against it accidentally, I felt a jolt through my entire body. Ummm, no. It did NOT feel good.
Now, this is not a judgment against people who use training collars or an Invisible Fence system nor do I want this review to turn into a debate over the pros and cons of such equipment. If the PetPlaygrounds system wasn't an option, we would have seriously considered temporarily using an electronic fence to keep Apollo in the yard and avoid the heartbreak of losing another dog this way. We would have also invested in training.
Not So Fun Fact: some of the farmer systems don't offer the ability to turn down the shock level if it's too strong.
2 – I don't know how effective an electronic system would be with Apollo. Apollo is a strong-willed dog and I didn't know if an electronic system would be a deterrent or when given the right motivation, he'd blow through that with the same glee that he climbs over (or through) our former dog yard fencing system. It would suck to invest money in an electronic fence that makes four of our dogs miserable while the fifth dog ignores it. That's exactly what we DON'T want to happen.
3 – Will an electronic fence increase our dogs' anxiety? All of our dogs have anxiety and fear at varying levels with Rodrigo and Zoey being higher than the others. I worried that turning their safe dog yard into a place where they get shocked would make them fear the yard. Every time we put them in the yard, we would be punishing them because this is the place where they feel pain. We need them to love their yard, especially since we'll both be returning to work after COVID.
These were my main concerns as we were weighing the pros and cons of an electronic fencing system, which, by the way, is easy and affordable to install (the ones used on farms, that is).
The Cost of PetPlaygrounds Dog Fencing System
The PetPlaygrounds website takes you through the steps of ordering your system and tallies the cost on each screen. The size of the fencing system, the number and size of gates in your system, and whether you want to install it yourself or higher professional help is all considered. Johan and I decided to go with a 300-foot system with one gate and we chose the DIY option. We did price out fencing systems from local hardware and farming stores and PetPlaygrounds was significantly less than what we could have purchased retail. If you add in the cost of professional installation, there's no comparison.
With a few exceptions, the PetPlaygrounds system arrived with everything we needed, including fencing poles, cables, the fencing material, a hog ringer and staples, and more. It's practically ready to install right outside of the box.
My partner hails from DIY royalty and does 99% of the work around our property. I mow the 5 acres, I water the flowers, I occasionally help water new trees, and I'm in charge of the dogs (nutrition, exercise, training, medical care, etc.). I share this because we have nearly every tool known to man and didn't need to purchase much when we prepared to install the PetPlaygrounds fencing system. Here is a list of things you'll need if you don't already have them.
- 34″ sledgehammer (or approximately this size) – you can pick one up for $30-$35
- wire cutters (the ones that came with the system weren't effective) – you can get a nice pair for $9
- 25′ tape measure – $10 (or less)
- 100′ open reel tape measure – $25
- Screwdriver – $1
- Hammer – $6
- Staplegun and staples – $12-$20
- U-nails – $5-$8/packet
- an apron or tool belt to carry supplies (tools, staples, etc.)
I also suggest buying a different wire cutter (less than $12). We used the ones we have (Johan has so many tools), because the wire cutters that were sent with the system didn't work very well for us.
These are things that made our work easier and it's not an exhaustive list. For instance, I used the screwdriver to tighten the rings around the fence poles and drive them into the trees (which we also used as fence poles). It makes it a lot easier. As you can see, the additional supplies don't add up to much and most people have some, if not all, of these on hand (or know someone who can loan them the tools).
About the Hog Ringer Tool
A hog ringer tool is a stapler that makes circle staples and it's used to tie the fencing to the cable and tie the levels of fencing to each other. This tool was frustrating until I figured it out and to save you some time, here are some tips:
- keep it full of “staples” – when it begins to run low, the staples start to jam and won't attach to anything.
- if it's full, but won't staple, simple slap the hog ringer against your thigh and that should make it unjam.
- if you notice a staple is causing a jam, you can pull the trigger repeatedly and it'll drop out eventually.
Is the PetPlaygrounds Dog Fencing System Easy to Install?
One of the things that attracted us to the PetPlaygrounds dog fencing system is that it's easy to install. You can read reviews of retired people installing a system over a weekend. If a retired woman can do this, than surely I don't have to be intimidated by the prospect of installing an entire dog yard. Right?
This is where I'm going to be 100% honest about this system. My partner tried to warn me, but I wouldn't listen and there were days when I was frustrated and disappointed in myself because several weekends had passed and we hadn't finished the installation. For us, it's not easy to install and it's 100% on us and I want to explain why so that you can consider a few things when you go to install this system.
1 – So much rain. Western Washington is still experiencing spring weather. We haven't had this much rain in eight years. We're both working and only have evenings and weekends to work on the dog yard and complete other chores around our property, which created delay after delay. So it's important to be realistic about how much time you have and not beat yourself up if you can't get a large yard up in four days (a long weekend).
2 – Our ground is rocky and hard. I could only get the sleeves (they go into the ground to hold the fence poles) into the ground for about 6″ on my own. Johan is more experienced and was able to get the sleeves in deeper, and, flush to the ground when he didn't encounter a rock. Installing the sleeves took several hours one day and that was a great workout. I learned that I have zero hand/eye coordination and it took a lot of time for me to learn how to use the sledgehammer and have it connect to the die each time as we were hammering in the sleeves.
For us, hammering in the sleeves was the hardest part – everything else was cake, sometimes tedious cake, but easier nonetheless.
3 – I misunderstood the instructions. The PetPlaygrounds system comes with one rule – read the instructions AND watch the instruction video straight through. I decided to read the instructions and watch the video as I was working and I made one crucial error that made me lose a day of installation time. I was able to go back and correct my mistake, however, this corrected resulted in me using too much of the cable and I had to buy more cable to finish the last wall of the fencing system. You can order more supplies from PetPlaygrounds, however, with the shipping delays, it's easier to go to the local farm supply store and pick up what we needed.
4 – We had to demo the existing dog yard. Our new fencing system was going to incorporate the existing dog yard and we were trying to build the system, while keeping the old system intact until the last minute. Eventually, Johan tore down the old yard and began prepping the yard for the new fencing system. As we were going through this process, we hit another roadblock. We realized that we needed three gates of varying sizes to allow us to access the yard from different sides and the gate we ordered with our system wasn't going to work. We don't buy gates, we make gates and by “we,” I mean Johan. So we lost more days as he built gates for the dog yard.
5 – Hanging the fencing is a two-person job or a slower job. My task through all of this was hanging the wire and the fencing material. We chose the 6′ MAX fencing option, which comes with three layers of fencing to deter biting through the fence. All of the layers are easy to work with and hang. I measured out what I needed, adding a couple of feet just in case, and got to work. The reason I think this is a two-person job is that when you're finished hanging, you'll need to go back and attack each layer together and it's helpful to have someone holding the fencing taut to keep the fencing smooth.
6 – The gate we ordered didn't work for us. When we reached a portion of the fencing where you assemble and install the gate, we realized that the gate we ordered didn't work for us. As we were installing the fencing, we had several design changes (discussed below) and this was a big one. We realized that we wanted to be able to access the dog yard from different spots, which required three gates of varying sizes. We didn't want to wait for new gates to be delivered so Johan built three gates. This allows us to keep the farm aesthetic while still using the PetPlaygrounds system.
7 – We don't have a level yard and the grade changed several times. This wasn't a problem because the instructions explain how to deal with barriers and grade changes. The trick was to learn to go slowly when hanging the fencing. I had to take down fencing a couple of times and start over because I wasn't paying attention to the grade change. As I stated above, hanging the fencing for a 300-foot yard is a two-person job. One person can do it, and I did most of it, but it helped to have Johan's help when he was able to take a break from building the gates.
8 – There were several design modifications made for esthetic purposes. Victor assured me that this is normal and many people change their design. You come across challenges, you change your mind, or you come up with something better. Before we began the installation, we shifted the dog yard over by 50-60′. We changed the shape from a square to a rectangle. We added three gates. And we tore out a portion of the rock wall to make a smooth incline (we don't want our dogs jumping from the rock wall daily).
Building Your Own Gate
I can't tell you how to build your own gate, however, I'm certain that you can look on YouTube to find a few videos. I didn't take video of Johan building our gates because I was hanging fencing. If you're experienced in making gates and would like to know what materials/tools Johan used when building our gates, here you go:
- 10 2x4x8 pressure treated wood per gate
- 2 4x4x8 pressure treated wood used as gate posts (2 per gate)
- 3 bags of concrete per gate
- posthole digger and digging bar
- gate hardware (hinges, latches, handle, closure)
- 1 box of outdoor decking screws per gate
- 3′ level
- impact driver with a lithium battery to drive screws in easier/faster
- compound miter saw
- galvanized hog wire 4×4 fencing*
- 4″ angle grinder with a cutoff wheel to trim fencing
*We also used stainless steel pet playground fencing.
5 Things to Make Installation Easier
1 – Mock up the layout of the yard using stakes and string before ordering so that you have a clear understanding of what you need. While Johan can envision something and then make it so, I'm terrible at visualizing plans. I need to see a mock up first. Using strings and stakes, we were able to make sure we didn't go over the 300′ yard we had planned, we identified barriers, and we understood what changes we needed to make to the existing yard.
2 – Have a clear understanding of where your water, gas, and other utilities attach to the house so that you don't make an expensive error. As part of this system, we are installing 2′ sleeves into the ground. In Washington State, we can call 811 to learn where the utility lines are located. For our property, there was a risk of digging into the septic line. We avoided this error by using existing trees in the yard as fence posts instead of installing the ones provided by PetPlaygrounds in that area.
3 – Print off and read the instructions twice and watch the entire video before starting. It's best to make sure the instructions are fresh in your mind and that you have them handy (the printed instructions and a fully charged smartphone to watch the video). I made the mistake of reading the instructions and watching the videos as we installed the yard. Bad idea. The instructions for the MAX fencing system, which is what we have, are at the end of the main instructions. This mistake cost us cabling; I used too much. I was able to purchase extra at a local farming store.
4 – Be honest with yourself about the time it will take. If there is an existing yard that needs to be demolished, if the grade of the yard needs to be changed, if you have obstacles in the yard, then you need to set aside time to address all of these issues. I could have saved myself a lot of stress if I would have been prepared for these delays/obstacles. Johan didn't bat an eyelash.
5 – Organize all of the parts and tools that are delivered. Several times, we thought that we were short various parts only to find them in the garage. I quickly figured this out and set up a canopy to protect all of the supplies/tools from the rain while keeping everything organized so that we could quickly find what we needed as we worked.
Addressing Challenges to Installation
Victor, owner of PetPlaygrounds, has been a dream to work with on this system and is on hand to offer suggestions and clarify the instructions. Here are a few things that we did to tackle challenges to installing the PetPlaygrounds dog fencing system.
1 – When dealing with a property that isn't level, I found that it's best to install the fencing slowly so that I can track how it looks along the cable, along the ground, and in total. There are points where the dig guard fencing (the fencing that partly lays along the ground to prevent digging) wasn't touching the ground. In some instances, I took the fencing down and started again, and in two instances, I used the remaining fencing to add a dig guard to the areas.
2 – If there are barriers (large rocks, stumps etc) in the path of the fencing, you can either lay the fencing on the barrier or, in the case of our rock wall, you can split the fencing (cut it up through the middle) to allow for the height change. Each of the fencing styles provided is easy to cut using wire cutters.
3 – If you run out of supplies, it's not the end of the world. I made a mistake when we first began installing the cabling and, as a result, I had to buy 200′ of cable to complete the project. Not a big deal. Each 50′ roll cost $7 and they were available at our local Coastal store. And on my many trips back to the store, I found a lot of things that I could use if I ran out of supplies. We were under a clock once we got rid of the old fencing because we didn't have a dog yard and our property was unfenced, so we didn't want to risk ordering anything from PetPlaygrounds because shipping is slower right now due to COVID. So it's nice that we could get a few things locally despite preferring to get it from PetPlaygrounds.
When we were finished, we had leftover supplies because (1) we used trees as fence posts, we didn't build the gate, and our yard was about 5-6′ short of the 300′ that we planned. We used a lot of these supplies within the current system. For instance, Johan extended one of the fence poles by using the gate posts, making it taller to account for a sharp grade change due to a rock wall. And I used remaining fencing materials to improve the dig guard in areas where the fencing wasn't low enough to the ground.
Introducing the Dogs to their New Yard
All the noise made tearing down the old yard scared Rodrigo and Apollo. The rest of the dogs were curious about what we were doing and Scout insisted on going out there daily to check out all of the changes. After a few days, Zoey joined him, then Sydney, and then Rodrigo. Apollo took a couple of weeks to warm up to the new yard, only going out the door a couple of feet the first time (after I carried him out there). A few days ago, he went as far as the large gates and on Saturday, the day we finished, he was playing in the yard.
Final Thoughts on the PetPlaygrounds Dog Fencing System
Getting started was hard and it took forever to find the time to fence the installation given our working schedules and the weather. But we finally got it done and I love it. It looks great. Even our neighbor came over and was impressed with the work we did; he had nothing but good things to say.
The hardest parts for me were:
- hammering the sleeves into our hard/rocky soil.
- hanging the fencing at first, but I quickly figured out a routine that made this go quickly.
- working with the hog ringer tool – that thing was a pain in my neck (well, actually my hand as it gave me two painful blisters).
The easist parts for me were:
- hanging and securing the cabling.
- hanging and attaching the fencing, once I developed a solid routine.
- securing the dig guards.
- securing the fencing to the gate posts.
I was surprised by how much I was able to accomplish on my own. I had my doubts about it being so easy, but it was easy. Given the changes we made and the need to prep the property and remove the old fencing system, I don't think we could have finished this over a long weekend even if we took time off from our day jobs. So many things changed as we were working that took a lot of time. If we eliminated the endless rain in May and June, I think we could have finished the job in a week (seven days) if we could have worked on it daily.
And the cost? The gates tacked on an additional $1,500 to this project, but this was our choice and not something that is required for this fencing system. The money we paid is still less than what we would have paid had we hired professionals to install a fence. Coincidentally, I spoke with an installer while out running errands Saturday afternoon (after we finished our fence) and he told me that he would charge at least $6,000 ($20/foot) to install a fence – that's just labor.
I would recommend a PetPlaygrounds dog fencing system to anyone who needs a dog yard or kennel. Whether you're working within a budget or not. Whether you're a DIYer or not. It doesn't matter. So far, I think this is the best deal in town and I couldn't be happier with how our yard turned out.
But, this is day one and we're now in the honeymoon phase – drunk off the success of completing a project successfully as a team. I'll write a final post in a couple of weeks to let you know how the fencing system holds up to five dogs.
Read More About Raising Dogs
- Keeping My Dogs Safe by Using a Natural Slug Repellent
- PetPlaygrounds Review | A DIYer's Dream Project
- Building a Secure Dog Yard with PetPlaygrounds
- How Much Does it Cost to Build a Dog Yard?
- When Racism Overshadows Dogs
This is a sponsored post. I received a discount off of a 250′ PetPlaygrounds dog fencing system in exchange for sharing my honest thoughts on the system through a series of blog posts and social media updates. All thoughts shared on KeepTheTailWagging.com and related social media channels are true and reflect my experience with my dogs and the PetPlaygrounds system.