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Pitbulls have a lot of skills, from their capacity for looking incredibly endearing when they lie on their backs with goofy grins to their incredible loyalty and love for their family.
However, some of a Pitbull’s skills, like jumping, may be considerably less desirable. If you have a fenced yard and you want to let your Pitbull exercise outside, you may be wondering how likely it is that they will jump a fence.
Most Pitbulls can jump fences since they’re extremely athletic and powerfully built. Although not every Pitbull will choose to jump a fence, their bold and brave personality means they won’t hesitate to jump a fence if they’re interested in what’s on the other side.
If you’d like your Pitbull to enjoy your fenced yard but are concerned about fence jumping, we’ll cover everything you need to know including how likely your particular Pitbull may be to jump, how to dissuade your Pitbull from jumping the fence, and what to do if the worst happens and your Pitbull escapes by jumping a fence.
Why Would Pitbulls Jump A Fence?
Most Pitbulls can jump fences, although not every individual dog will display this behavior. Pitbulls may be more prone to fence jumping than some other dogs, for a number of reasons:
A Powerful Build
Pitbulls are built for power. Their strength can make them superb jumpers. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a Pitbull will jump the fence. Many Pitbulls stay contained in their standard 4-foot chain-link fence enclosures or privacy fenced yards throughout their lives. However, it is important to note that a Pitbull is physically capable of jumping just about any fence that you set up.
A History of Escape
Many of the pet Pitbull Terriers in America are rescued. This should come as no surprise, since Pitbulls end up in animal shelters in very large numbers, particularly in the south. Unfortunately, many of these Pitbulls come from less than ideal backgrounds.
Some Pitbulls may have histories of dogfighting in their pasts. Others may have been kept in backyards with little or no interaction with humans, as guard dogs or status symbols. Many of these Pitbulls may have looked for ways to escape their imprisonment, either because they are not fed sufficiently and are looking for sustenance or because they are longing for human companionship or trying to escape cruelty in their home environment.
One way or the other, once the intelligent Pitbull has been driven to escape, they are unlikely to forget how to get away. Even if your Pitbull is very happy at home with you, when left alone in a yard, they may remember their old techniques for escape.
Can be Prone to Dog Aggression and/or High Prey Drive
Historically, Pitbull terriers were bred to attack bulls and other large animals in pens. When this cruel practice was made illegal, they were bred down with terriers into roughly the same shape they have today for the purpose of fighting with other dogs.
Although the vast majority of Pitbulls today are loving family pets, unfortunately, some are still used to fight other dogs, despite this practice being both cruel and illegal. The instinct to show aggression to other dogs may still be present in some Pitbulls, whether or not they have ever been made to fight.
Aggression towards other dogs is more common with unfamiliar dogs than it is with family dogs most of the time. Pitbulls can also be very prone to a high prey drive, much like most other types of terriers. Dog aggression and prey drive can both be powerful reasons for a Pitbull to jump over a fence. Some Pitbulls can become quite frantic in order to get to the target of their aggression, causing them to do whatever they can to escape their yard, including jumping the fence.
Pitbulls are extremely intelligent dogs, able to learn a wide variety of skills and compete in all sorts of different dog-related sports. They have even been trained to excel as police dogs and personal protection dogs.
Because Pitbulls are so intelligent, they can become bored when left alone in a yard. A bored Pitbull may begin to look for ways to get out of their containment and find opportunities to entertain themselves elsewhere.
Bold and Brave
Pitbulls tend to be very brave dogs. In fact, the average Pitbull often doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything. This boldness may eliminate some of the hesitancy that other breeds would feel about jumping over a fence, particularly if they can’t see what’s on the other side.
Whereas many dogs would be worried about jumping a fence unless they had been on the other side of it in the past, Pitbulls may be less worried about taking the leap. Most Pitbulls also aren’t concerned about the potential of injuring themselves when trying to jump over the fence.
Not Enough Exercise
Most adult Pitbulls need 45 minutes to an hour of exercise every day and if a Pittie isn’t the exercise they need that energy still has to go somewhere! For some Pitties, that means jumping the fence exploring the world around them.
Can Pitbulls Climb Fences?
Not only can Pitbulls climb fences, but they may be particularly good at it. even the United Kennel Club breed standard for the American Pitbull Terrier mentions that this agile breed is one of the best fence climbers in the dog world. The chances are that if your Pitbull can’t jump a fence, they’ll probably be able to climb it.
How High Can a Pitbull Jump?
Competitive jumping Pitbulls can jump as high as 13 ft up a straight wall without grip. While jumping ability like that takes some training most Pitbulls won’t have trouble jumping 10 feet or higher if the situation calls for it.
Here is a Pitbull doing just that:
After watching that, it should come as no surprise that a Pitbull can easily clear a standard garden fence, even a privacy fence, without anything to grip onto.
But it isn’t safe for a Pitbull to jump to these kinds of heights as they may injure themselves when landing, which is why professional handlers either catch the Pitbull on the way down or have them jump into water. However, your Pitbull is very unlikely to be concerned about injuring themselves when they jump a fence.
Why Don’t More Pitbulls Jump Fences?
When you consider how easily a Pitbull can scale a fence, it may come as a surprise that they don’t do it more often. If you’ve ever walked past a Pitbull barking frantically at you, who seems like they would like nothing more than to get to you, but they only have a 4-foot fence between you and them, you may wonder why they don’t just go ahead and jump. The answer isn’t completely clear, but it is likely founded in one of the following:
- Training. Pitbulls are very intelligent dogs. If they have been trained to stay on one side of the fence, most are likely to do so, even if they would rather jump over it and if they are physically capable of making the jump.
- Barrier reactivity. Many dogs display barrier reactivity, which is when they growl, bark, and generally act very excited when they are behind a barrier. Many of these dogs will not display this behavior on the other side of a barrier, and may even choose to put a barrier between them and the target of their apparent aggression.
How to Keep Your Pitbull From Jumping a Fence
If your Pitbull is a chronic fence jumper, you may find that it is very difficult to keep them from jumping the fence.
A Pitbull that has been rewarded for jumping a fence, whether it was when they were with you or in a previous life, has a very strong reason to try fence jumping again. If your Pitbull hasn’t jumped a fence before but you would like to make sure that they don’t do it in the future, you have a much better probability for success.
However, it is best to only allow your Pitbull in a fenced yard when you can observe them and react if they attempt to jump the fence. Any Pitbull may decide to give fence jumping a try at any time, even if they have never done it before.
That said, here are a few things that you can do to reduce the likelihood that your Pitbull will jump a fence.
Before Trying to Prevent Fence Jumping…
Before you even think about training your Pitbull to not jump over fences, make sure that you take some preventative measures in case they do manage to jump out and you find yourself trying to recapture your escaped Pitbull:
- Microchip. Some shelters have very strict policies in regards to Pitbulls. Some even euthanize healthy, friendly Pitbulls as soon as a short stray hold is over. Therefore, it is essential that your Pitbull is microchipped so that any shelter that picks up your dog will be able to contact you.
- Collar. Not only does a collar carry identification so that your Pitbull will be returned to you, but it may also make it more likely that people will help capture your dog. Individuals who see your Pitbull running loose are much more likely to help if they see your dog wearing a collar. I recently wrote about my favorite collars for Pitbulls if you’re looking to upgrade your Pittie’s current collar.
Provide Plenty Of Enrichment
A Pitbull that has lots to do within the boundaries of a fence and home is much less likely to try to jump the fence.
But you don’t need anything too fancy. A simple KONG toy, like this one Amazon, can give your Pittie pump hours of entrainment. You can also check out plenty of other exercise options for your Pittie including Jolly Balls which are one of my favorites in this article.
Providing plenty of enrichment makes it much more likely that your Pitbull will choose to stay in the yard and enjoy their entertainment rather than seeking out whatever might be on the other side of the fence.
Discourage Frantic Activity at the Fence Line
A Pitbull that is allowed to bark, lunge, and race up and down the fence line may be more likely to try jumping the fence than a Pitbull that isn’t. Whenever you see or hear your Pitbull reacting to something on the other side of the fence, hurry to call them inside and give them a high-value treat like cooked chicken or peanut butter so that they will always come to you when called instead of trying to jump over the fence to get to what’s at the other side.
Use a Tall, Opaque Fence
A fence that your Pitbull can’t see through will make it less likely that they will be interested enough in what’s on the other side to take the leap. Although a Pitbull can scale a 6-foot privacy fence, they are less likely to do so than they are to jump over a 4-foot chain-link fence.
Since chain-link is relatively easy for a Pitbull to grip and climb, a chain-link fence of any height may still be scaled by your Pitbull, whereas a privacy fence that your Pitbull cannot grip is less likely to enable them to climb.
Don’t Provide a Clear Shot to the Fence
In order for a Pitbull to work up enough speed to run up a 6ft privacy fence, they typically need some room. Pitbulls who jump competitively generally run for at least 20 or 30 ft to build up the speed and power that they need to propel themselves up the wall.
Therefore, putting obstacles in your Pitbull’s way to prevent them from building up speed to make the jump can prevent them from being able to. Shrubbery, a lower fence, a water feature, and more can all be good options to prevent your Pitbull from working up enough speed to jump over a fence.
What About Coyote Rollers
Coyote rollers are rolling bars that can be placed on the top of the fence and prevent any animal, including your Pittie, from sitting on the top of the fence.
Of course, dogs don’t typically “sit” on top of a fence but coyote rollers can still disrupt the jump and climb technique that many dogs use. While these work well for many dogs, including bigger breeds like Rottweilers, Pitbulls are such powerful jumpers that even a coyote roller may not stop them in some cases.
They can actually jump over the coyote roller once they figure out it’s there. Still, many Pitties will give up after one interaction with a coyote roller.
However, I’d suggest putting coyote rollers at the bottom of your list of things to try since they effectively cause dogs to fall from the top of the fence during their climb which can be quite dangerous for a bulky Pitbull.
What If My Pitbull Can Still Jump Over a Fence?
If you have done everything you can to prevent your Pitbull from jumping over the fence but they are still managing to make the leap, you may need to accept that your Pitbull cannot be loose in the yard.
This can be hard to accept since Pitbulls require quite a lot of exercise and a fenced-in yard can be a great way to give them the opportunity to burn off some steam.
However, some Pitbulls are able to jump a fence faster than you can stop them, even if you are supervising them. Pitbulls can be a serious threat to themselves and others if they manage to jump over a fence.
Despite their growing popularity, Pitbulls have an undeserved negative reputation with too many people, they may be treated with hostility or injured by anyone they encounter once they make it over the fence. If your Pitbull is aggressive to dogs or animals that they perceive to be prey, like cats, they could be a threat to other pets in the community.
It is better to play it safe and not allow your dog into a fenced yard if you know they may be able to jump before you can stop them. Luckily, there are some good alternatives to exercising your dog and providing enrichment even if they can’t be loose in the yard:
- A long line. A long line can enable you to play games like fetch with your Pitbull in the yard and provide them a lot of freedom without being worried that they will be able to jump over the fence.
- A flirt stick. A flirt stick is like a giant cat toy for dogs. It enables you to allow your Pitbull to chase after the lure, jump, and maneuver, all while on a long leash or even inside.
- Jog or bike with your dog. Jogging or biking with your Pitbull is a great way to help them to run off energy and indulge their desire to explore, all without having to worry about them escaping over a fence.
- Allow your dog to pull you. Teaching your Pitbull to pull you while you are on a skateboard, rollerblades, or even a cart designed for this purpose is a great way to allow them to explore and perform one of the other skills Pitbulls are best at: pulling.
- Feed from food distributing toys. When you need to leave your dog alone in the house or in a crate instead of in the backyard, you can provide all of their daily food from a food distributing toy to offer enrichment and entertainment.
- Try dog daycare. If your Pitbull is friendly with other dogs, consider seeking out a dog daycare that has only inside play areas or a roof over outside fenced areas so that your Pitbull can run off some energy and play with other dogs without the risk of escape.
What if Your Dog Jumps Over the Fence and Runs Off?
There are few things more frightening than seeing your dog vanish over the fence and not being able to get them to come back to you. Pitbulls are generally very trainable, and most can be taught to have good recall and come back when they’re called with practice.
However, if your dog doesn’t come when you call right away, you may begin to panic. Here are some things that you can do if your dog jumps over the fence and begins to run away:
- Call repeatedly in a high-pitched voice, while running the opposite direction from your dog. The last thing you’ll likely want to do when you see your dog running away is run in the opposite direction, but this is actually a powerful cue for your Pitbull to chase you. Using a high-pitched voice repeatedly is also a strong trigger for your Pitbull to come to you. You’ve also got no chance of actually catching your Pittie just by running since even the slowest dog is still faster than most humans.
- Toss a ball ahead of your dog while calling to them. Sometimes, a toy-oriented Pitbull will decide to chase the ball instead of continuing to run away, and then they may be able to be lured back to you if you call and run away as described above.
- Follow at a distance. If your dog is refusing to come back to you, do not chase them. Most dogs love to play chase games, and if you chase your Pitbull, they will likely be more likely to continue running than to allow you to catch them. However, you can follow at a distance, using a bike or car if your Pitbull is traveling very quickly and hopefully be able to call them back once they have got over the initial spurt of excitement.
- Post in local social media groups and local pet finder groups. If your attempts to call your dog back have failed and you’ve lost sight of your dog, it is essential to post in local pet finder groups as soon as possible. Many pet lovers follow these groups and will likely try to join in the search or attempt to call your dog if they see them. Local groups are also full of people who may be paying attention in your area and may be able to call you if they see your dog.
- Notify your local animal control. Animal control is unlikely to send an officer to help find your dog, but alerting them can ensure that they will notify you as soon as your dog is found, and they may alert their field officers to keep an eye out for your dog as they go about their daily activities.
- Leave the gate open. Be sure to leave the gate to your yard open so that if your Pitbull comes home, they can find their way back in. Leave out familiar things like their bed and toys as well.
- Keep searching. It can be exhausting to try to find your Pitbull when they have run away, but continuing to search provides the best chance of success. Ask people that you meet along the way if they have seen a lost dog.
- Post flyers. If the day is passing and you still haven’t found your Pitbull, it’s a good idea to post flyers so that anyone who isn’t on social media but may have seen your dog will be able to contact you easily.
Be Wary of Jump Fencing Pitbulls
Many people are stunned by just how quickly and easily a Pitbull can scale a fence. This can be a common way to lose track of your Pitbull. It may be especially likely if you have adopted your Pitbull from a shelter and are unsure of their past since Pitbulls who have jumped fences before are much more likely to do it again. Always exercise caution and observe your dog when they are in a fenced yard to play it safe and make sure your Pitbull won’t jump a fence.