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How to Stop Dogs From Fence Fighting

January 26, 2013

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

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Posts by Laura Neiheisel and Caitlin Lane. Guests posts occasionally by respected veterinarians and fellow dog owners. Please contact us if you would like to be a guest blogger!

2 Comments to “How to Stop Dogs From Fence Fighting”

  1. Joann Vulpi says:

    Hi Laura, first let me say Chip is a sweetie and kudos to both of you for such amazing behavior. I have a male Siberian Husky who loves dogs and a female, rescued Pit, who does not. They have had the run of our large yard for the past 8 years. There is a chain link between us and our neighbor on one side and woods on the other. My neighbor recently got a male, golden/shepherd mix who is only 9 weeks old. My worry is that when my dogs become aware of his existance, the Pit will feel threatened and attack the fence and my husky will never come in because he will want to constantly play with the neighbor’s dog.

    I have MS and cannot be outside with them at all times. How do I handle this situation? I am hoping when the puppy is 12 weeks, to walk them together as an introduction so they aren’t startled by the dog just appearing one day. What else can I do? I notice you have a stockade fence and the dogs cannot see each other. Is the chain link going to cause more problems? Do I have to go through the expense of putting up a stockade? I would appreciate any advice. Joann

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