You go to let your dogs outside and after a few seconds, you hear barking. Fence fighting starts by the dogs on either side being frustrated with their inability to properly sniff one another. This frustration causes the dogs to pace and lunge at the fence line. Sometimes, this builds up to further frustration that eventually leads to what we call fence fighting. This behavior can cause a redirection to another canine member of the family, or worse, the owner (usually when the owner tries to grab their dog).
So, what can we do to prevent this from happening each time we let our dogs out? First, begin with a long leash and a handful of treats while the neighbor dog is not outside. Start out by practicing with each individual dog in the family if you have multiple dogs. Each time your dog begins to show interest on the fence line, tell your dog to “leave it” and come to you. For many dogs, it has become a habit to run over to the fence line the moment they are let outside. If you need help forming a strong foundational “leave it” and “come” we can help.
After your dog is listening well with a low level of distractions, go outside again with a long leash while the neighbor dog is outside. Reward each time your dog is not paying attention to the other dog. The moment your dog begins to fixate on the fence line again, ask your dog to “leave it” and reward if the dog does. If your dog cannot listen at this level, you need to calmly remove your dog from the environment and start again with less distractions.
Eventually the goal is to have your dog able to listen off leash. Below is a video of my dog, Chip:
Chip is the most reactive out of my dogs, but has learned to control himself. Notice how each time he looks at me instead of the barking dog next door, he gets a reward. This has also calmed our neighbor dog down, which used to try and bite my dogs through the fence holes.
I hope this post is a helpful foundation for you to stop fence fighting. Please contact us if you have any questions!
Post By: Laura Neiheisel