Barrier Frustration is a Common Issue

We see lots of pet dogs who struggle with barrier frustration. In most cases, this shows up either as leash reactivity or as fence fighting.

Fence fighting is what happens when a dog is kept behind a fence and sees or hears animals or people on the other side of the fence. A combination of frustration, territorial aggression, and over-excitement can lead a dog to charge the fence, barking and growling and putting on a big show. The behavior gets even worse when another dog is on the other side of the fence, and that dog joins in and replicates the behavior.

dog fence fighting barking

Being stuck behind a fence can be frustrating!

This kind of behavior is best solved by stopping it early because it is very reinforcing for the dog to build a habit of doing it. If you notice that your dog is having issues around the fence, don’t wait for it to develop into a serious issue before you contact a trainer to solve the problem. If your dog is already doing this behavior, do not worry, there are ways to solve the problem.

Here are some of our top tips for dogs that like to fence fight.

  • Watch for warning signs in your dog. Dogs who are leash reactive tend to have issues with other barriers. Breed types that are commonly developing this issue are terriers, herding dogs, and guardian breeds. Terriers are bred to be tenacious and to dig and fight to get to stuff. Herding dogs tend to want to control things in the environment, and guardian breeds are likely to have territorial tendencies.
  • Make sure that your dog has a really good recall. Grabbing a dog away from a stimulating activity can lead to redirection, so it is better to call the dog back to you than grab their collar. Teaching and proofing a solid recall can also help prevent this issue because it teaches your dog that you are the most important thing in the environment.
  • Make the backyard a dual purpose area. It can be an area for playtime, or it can be an area for work. Doing obedience such as heeling or stay in the area that your dog wants to fence fight helps build impulse control, as well as giving them a much more productive “job” to do in the backyard.
  • Involve your neighbors. If dogs on both sides of the fence are going at it, you should try to see if your neighbor would be willing to also work on training. Stopping the behavior from both sides will make the peace stronger, and ensure that your dog is not getting any bad vibes from the other side of the fence.
  • Maintain the training. Your dog developed the behavior for a reason, and it can creep back into their mind if you let it. Randomly do recalls and heeling around the area. Have a friend walk by with their dog as a controlled “test” of how your training is going.

If you follow these tips, you should find that your dog much better behaves in your backyard. If you are struggling with fence fighting or other types of barrier frustration, give us a call and let us help.