HELP With Concrete Preparation for Dog Pen


Old 03-11-07, 10:55 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 2
HELP With Concrete Preparation for Dog Pen

Hi, First I want to say that I have done thorough research and cannot find the answers to my questions. And Second, I want to apologize in advance for the length of my message. So here is my plan. I want to build a dog pen that is 66' X 12' in perimeter. I have purchased all materials to put up a 6' chain link fence of this size, but have not started the preparation due to lack of knowledge of the concrete. The first question that I have is about the slope for water runoff. When should these measurements be considered -- when I am excavating the ground, or when I build the form? Do I first dig out the ground to be completely level, and then make the form higher (or lower) at one end (which would make the concrete not uniform in thickness)? Or would I actually excavate the ground at a 1/4 inch per foot slope(and pour a uniform amount of concrete over the entire [un]leveled area)? Also how far above the outside ground (grass that will not be excavated) should the slab be in order for the matter that will be washed off of it to not build up and stop the further flow off of the slab? This is important because the area in which the concrete will slope toward will not be readily accessable. My second question involves incorporating the fence into the concrete. For optimal integrity of both the concrete and the fence, at what point should the posts be set, and how? This is the most confusing part for me. Should I first excavate for the slab, then set the posts(with quikcrete) within that perimiter and have the slab poured over it(by a huge truck-that may not be able to maneuver around the fence posts). If so, how much farther out should I bring the slab from the posts when I make the concrete forms? I do not want the concrete to crack around the fence posts. With that in mind, I have one final question. Both of my dogs are avid diggers and chewers and from past experience, even the tightest tension wire will not keep them from going under the fence. The last pen was a slab with a fence actually run around the outside of it, but with the fence actually on the inside of the poles between them and the slab, and my escape artist duo had no trouble with it. That's why this time I want the fence set into the slab. Which, of course, brings another problem. I want to actually anchor the fence mesh itself to the concrete, but again want to aviod future problems the best I can. Should I pour the slab, and then run the fence over the top of it and secure the tension wire into the hardened slab with concrete anchors? Or should I complete the fence and then pour the slab (allowing the concrete to cure around the bottom diamonds of the fence)? This Is the method I would like to take, but I do not want the metal protruding into the concrete to cause cracking that would, in time, defy the original purpose of this project. ANY help at all will be appreciated. I have gone through one two many dog pens for the same reason (the lack of integrity of the bottom of a fence) and am now in search of the "Perfect" way to contain my dogs. The one thing that I am certain of with this project is that the fence MUST be connected to the slab somehow. I know my ideas are a little far fetched, but this is the only idea that I am left with (6 pens later -- all of them built differently) after so much trial and error with containing my 100 lb beasts. Thanks so much for any replies.
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Old 03-12-07, 04:39 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 1,396
The thing about concrete is that you can get it to do almost anything you want, so any of your ideas could be done. However, you personally may not be able to do them. Doing it the way you describe would pose a problem to even an experienced concrete man. Your slab is going to be a large one. I'm assuming here that when you said 66 feet by 12 feet in "perimeter", you meant in "area". In that case, you're talking about a 792 sq ft pad, which at 4 inches thick would equal over 9.5 cubic yards of concrete. That's a very big pour for a DIYer to tackle, and the posts and fence embedment would make it a lot harder yet. For one thing, you would have nothing to screed off of but a "wet streak", because the fence would be blocking the forms.
To answer some of your other questions:
1) You could level the ground and slope it with only the fill stone and forms, or you could slope the ground too. It doesn't really matter as long as the concrete will all be a uniform thickness.
2) I would leave the low side sticking out of the ground about 2 inches, just to be safe.
3) The concrete will certainly crack around your posts if they are set in the slab. If not immediately due to shrinkage, then eventually due to slab movement. If you do it though, set the posts about 8-12 inches inside the slab. If the chain link is stretched tightly enough, the added width may offer some added barrier to your dogs trying to get out. On a 66 foot long run, you should also place crack control joints evenly throughout the slab, about every 13 feet or so. If you and your dogs are not concerned about cracks, you can forget the joints as long as you've got the slab well reinforced with fiber, wire mesh, rebar, or any combination of them.
4) If it were me, I'd have the slab professionally poured first, then build the pen on top, anchoring the fence to the hardened concrete. With enough anchors, and a cable stretched through the bottom links all the way around the perimeter, the dogs would have a hard time escaping.
5) If you're actually going to try doing the concrete yourself, remember that good concrete is "placed", not "poured". If it is wet enough to "pour", it's much too wet and will crack a lot more. Good luck.
Old 03-12-07, 06:43 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 6,532
Upvotes Received: 3
Dog Pen

My thoughts on your plan:

If you imbed the bottom of the fence into the concrete, will that cause debris to get trapped in the wire when you wash out the pen?

Most chain link fences have a top rail to support the wire. Could you install a rail along the bottom, say 1 1/2 inches above the concrete, of sufficient strength to prevent the dogs from bending and attach the wire to this bottom rail?

Good luck and let us know the results.
Old 03-12-07, 04:36 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 1,396
Another thought. If you put the chain link fence up first, how are you going to get the concrete inside it? The truck chute is not nearly long enough to stick into the gate and reach 66 feet back.
Wirepuller's idea about the metal band at the bottom is a very good one.
Old 03-14-07, 05:14 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 2
Ok. Thanks guys. So if I go ahead and have the slab poured before putting the fence up, how will I go about anchoring the fence to the slab? Would I just stick the posts into the slab while it is still setting, or should I wait until it has cured and drill holes for the posts? Or would I just mount the bottom of each post to the concrete with a bracket? As for the rail idea on the bottom, sounds very good but do the manufacturers make fittings for a bottom rail? Or would I just have creativity on my side when trying to figure out a way to fasten the rail to the fence (and to the concrete as well)?
Old 03-14-07, 06:38 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 1,405
Sleeve the posts, and make sure they are set at least 4" inside the perimeter of the edge of the slab, if you go that route. Technically, you would want to isolate the post areas with a diamond shaped area that "pointed" to your control joints, but for a dog run, you probably don't need to be so anal.

If it were me, I would have 2" of drop on the narrow dimension, posts set just outside the slab, and control joints every 11'. I would only wire the bottom of the fence. I would also hard trowel surface, then run a wire broom over it, running with the slope. I would also use a hardner, sodium silicate, at least.
Old 03-14-07, 07:30 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: ontario canada
Posts: 381
dog slab

you are building a floating pad.....4 inch wire mesh or 3/8 rebar 2 inches below the surface and at 6" to 8 " squares is a must to prevent cracking (and if it does crack a littel) or lifting and seperating of the concrete when it "floats"
Old 03-15-07, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 1,396
If I were doing this job, here's how I would go about it.

1) Excavate, level, and compact the dirt (with a vibratory plate compactor). When excavating, allow for 2 to 4 inches of fill stone or gravel, and 3.5 to 4 inches of concrete.
2) Use an auger or post hole digger to dig the holes for your posts. If this were more than a dog pen, I'd suggest going down to the frost line. However, because it IS just a pen, I'd say about 2 feet deep would be sufficient. Set the posts and concrete them in place. Make sure they are plumb and set so that when the concrete pad is placed around them they will all be the same height above the slab.
3) Another day, form the pad (allowing for water runoff). Tscarborough suggested setting the forms 4 inches outside the posts. I said about 8 to 12 inches because if the dogs can push the fence out... say 5 inches, they are into the dirt and might be able to escape. If they can get 8 to 12 inches of slack in your fence, it was not installed properly.
4) Wrap the posts in 1/2 inch foam expansion joint material or similar to act as a combination "shock absorber/bond breaker". This will allow the concrete to slide up or down the post without binding should the slab ever heave or settle. Place this material only as high on the posts as the top of the slab will be.
5) Have the concrete professionally poured and finished. It is too large a slab for a DIY project. Ask the contractor for his recommendations about reinforcement in your area. I personally would use synthetic fiber mixed into the concrete at the batch plant, and 1/2 inch rebar around the perimeter (outside the posts), as well as a few strands of rebar placed in a grid inside the slab. In my opinion the comment about tying the rebar on 6 to 8 inch centers is extreme overkill. In over 20 years in the concrete industry, I've never seen that much rebar in a residential or commercial slab on grade. Only in some industrial work I've done.
6) Make sure the contractor places crack control joints. Scarborough was correct in saying every 11 feet. I must have been on medication when I said about every 13 feet. I'm obviously a poor mathematician. At any rate, be sure that the joint is at least 1/4 as deep as the slab is thick. That's 1 inch deep for a 4 inch thick slab, 1.5 inches for a 6" slab, etc. If they are less than 1/4 as deep, they will be ineffective. Expect cracks to form at the embedded posts, and try to lay out the joints accordingly.
7) Spray a cure-n-seal compound on the slab immediately after finishing operations are completed.
8) A few days later put up your chain link. I think that adding either a metal strap or taut cable at the bottom of the links would prohibit the dogs from getting enough slack to escape. For added stability, anchor the chain link (or metal band) to the slab every so often. The spacing of the fasteners depends on how much play is in the fence.
Good luck.
Old 03-23-07, 11:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Northwest
Posts: 19
Smile Dog kennel -bottom rail

Contact your local cyclone fence supplier as the fittings, etc. for a bottom rail (pipe) attached an inch or two above the slab surface will provide a place to secure the material and provide an impenetrable barrier. I have done this on a number of kennels, works great! They'll be more apt to go over the top using the doghouse as a launching pad when they find they can't push the bottom out. Keep in mind that possible expansion cracks will accumulate less s--t and pee than industry accepted inch deep control joints.

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