Railings are designed to protect humans from danger, not cats and dogs. In fact, cats falling from balconies is so common that there is a word for it: feline high-rise syndrome. And as much as you love your pets, you can’t deny that they sometimes lack common sense. So if your cat loves to climb on your balcony or your little dogs love to bound around your deck, you might be concerned about railing safety for pets. How can you ensure that Fido doesn’t slip through your rail’s posts? What sort of rail or protective device should you purchase to protect Sparky? How can you prevent Tiger from crawling along the top of your railing like a tight-rope walker? Let’s explore your options . . .
Railing Safety for Pets
Purchase a Quality Product (and Install It Correctly)
Especially if your pets enjoy jumping up on railings, it is absolutely essential that you choose a high-quality, durable product that will last for many years to come. It should be extremely sturdy and installed correctly to prevent unfortunate accidents. Don’t build your railing from scratch, and if you aren’t confident in your construction skills, hire a professional for the installation. In addition to the railing material needing to be sturdy, it should also have a powder coating, which will prevent playful puppies from chewing off any paint.
Ask your contractor for recommendations if you aren’t sure which railing material and brand will be the best fit for your home. The ideal railing material for a deck in a warm, humid climate will look different than the ideal railing material for a deck in a cold and icy climate. However, if you go with a versatile material like vinyl or aluminum, you can’t go wrong.
Choose Railings with Small Openings and Tops That Can’t Be Climbed
Design plays a huge role in railing safety for pets. In addition to finding a quality product, you may want to purchase a railing that has very small openings between the posts and below the bottom rail. If you have a small dog or a curious cat, small openings will deter them from slithering through the bars or crawling underneath the rail. Additionally, if your cat loves to climb along railings, purchase a rail that is too thin for him or her to climb.
Purchase Safety Barriers
Small children and pets are sometimes similar in size and intellect, so don’t be afraid to purchase a child’s safety net or guard rail to protect your pets. You could also purchase materials like chicken wire or acrylic sheets and attach them to your railing to create a permanent or temporary barrier. Cats are especially difficult to contain due to their dexterous climbing skills, but you could employ a high and substantial barrier, such as a catio.
Always Supervise Your Pets
Just like you keep an eye on your children when they play outside, you should also watch your pet. Never leave your pets alone on a deck or balcony. Small animals can fall between posts or crawl under them, and large pets might be able to jump over a railing. Sometimes a pet will panic due to the height, and other times, they will spot a squirrel and throw caution to the wind. In any case, it’s important that you’re there to spot and prevent potentially dangerous situations. If you do want to let your pet play outside for a few minutes unattended, put up a gate on your deck or patio.
Train Your Pets
One key rule of railing safety for pets: Don’t underestimate the value of training. Teach your dog not to crawl underneath the railing or climb through the posts. If your dog is intelligent and obedient, this could be an easy way to ensure that they remain safe whilst joining you on the deck or balcony. In fact, it is best to train your pet to avoid spending too much time on the balcony. This means you should keep his or her water bowl on a ground level and not the deck. If your home has a ground-level entrance to your backyard, use that to let your pet outside to go to the bathroom. If you never give your pet a reason to use your back deck, he or she will be less likely to venture that way.
Never Block the Steps
Aside from clumsiness and curiosity, one reason why pets stray off of decks and balconies is because they feel trapped. Let’s say your son or daughter left a pile of toys on the deck steps or you accidentally forgot to move your patio furniture away from the steps after sweeping. If Fido and Fluffy can’t travel along their usual steps to get to their bathroom, they are more likely to try and find a new way off of the deck. Just like you regularly check to make sure your backyard’s gate is shut, always make sure your deck’s steps are easy to access if that’s how your pet reaches the yard to use the bathroom or play.
Another way to make your pet feel free to roam (and not desperate to escape) is to add a pet door on your home’s lower level. This will also encourage him or her to avoid using the balcony or deck for entering and exiting your home.
Keep Furniture Away from the Railing
When it comes to railing safety for pets, furniture placement should be a top consideration. Even if your cat or dog doesn’t like to lounge on human furniture, the furniture can still pose a threat to their safety. Maybe your cat or energetic dog can’t jump over your railing from the deck’s floor. However, if you place patio furniture too close to the railing, it could give your pet a boost for the escape jump. Play it safe, and keep your patio furniture at least one foot away from the railing.
Finally, a quick warning: never put your dog on a long leash when it is on a balcony or deck. Also, don’t attach a short leash to an insecure anchor (like moveable furniture). If the dog jumps through the railing, the leash and collar will become a noose, and well . . . you get the idea. Don’t let such a horrific incident happen to your beloved dog.
Now that you’ve learned about railing safety for pets, you understand how crucial it is to choose a quality railing product and install it properly. If you’re interested in purchasing a new railing, do yourself a favor and check out MMC Fencing & Railing. In our online shop, we sell aluminum and vinyl railing in a variety of styles and colors. So no matter what you’re looking for and no matter what your budget, you’re sure to find something beautiful. Give us a call at 1-866-931-5002.