I receive many calls each month from frustrated dog owners dealing with a common dog behavior issue---Fence Fighting. The behavior occurs when dog(s) begin aggressively running along a fence and barking, jumping and biting toward another dog(s)/human(s) on the other side of the fence. The behavior can be mild (barking, and running) to VERY severe-- (Extreme vocalization, jumping over/damaging fence and obsessive behavior anticipating the presence of the other dog/human). I have had owners fret about having to sell their home because they had no way of resolving their dog’s intensity toward neighbor dogs/humans! It doesn’t have to go that far!
Here are some points to consider about Fence Fighting Behavior
- Many dogs are bored in the back yard and seek excitement (fun) through fence fighting. It is essentially a game with no intention of harm.
- Many dogs are territorial and feel compelled to protect their property. This is called “Territory Aggression”.
- Some dogs are frustrated with the fence barrier (want to engage with the other dog) and would not fence fight if the fence was absent! This is called “Barrier Frustration”.
Here are some important management and training considerations to address fence fighting:
- Seek guidance to determine WHY they are fence fighting! Behavior management may be more difficult if the dog is fighting out of territorial behavior versus barrier frustration. Get help! If you feel you have no control, then please contact a certified dog behavior consultant to give you guidance and help! This issue can be serious and dangerous!
- Don’t let them do it!! If they are allowed to fence fight—either because they are bored or territorial, they WILL CONTINUE TO DO IT! Use secondary barriers---create a simple second barrier----lightweight safety plastic fencing- 6-8 feet away from the original fence will diminish the intimacy of fence fighting.
- Give your dog enrichment! If your dog is bored, give him physical and emotional outlets so he has alternative options to fence fighting---dedicated daily exercise, puzzle toys, play dates, inside games etc. A tired dog has less interest in fence fighting!
- Train them! Teach your dog to come reliably when called and reward them with an alternative action---games, attention, food, if they decide to fence fight!
- Talk to your neighbors! Develop a plan if you can! So the dogs aren’t able to access each other and fence fight!
- If your dog is territorial fence fighting to a level where fence can be compromised and another dog or human could be injured, then purchase a large outdoor, secure kennel. Home Depot & Lowes sell very secure chain link enclosures that will contain your dog and prevent serious damage to property or injury to another person/dog! Kennels can be modified to provide excellent enrichment and relaxation for any dog!
I’m here if you need assistance! Stay safe and wag on my friends! -Emily