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Dogs fighting through a fence can turn into one of the biggest neighborhood headaches. There's nothing like moving into your dream home only to be constantly bothered by endless noise from fighting through the fence between your dog and your neighbor's.
No one wants their pets to be at odds with neighboring pups, yet this kind of fighting can be very common. Here are a few ways to understand what's happening, tips to curb the behavior and ideas to find some peace with your neighbor
What Is Dog Fence Fighting?
Not sure what's happening when you see two dogs fighting through a fence? Are you worried that your or your neighbor's pet has suddenly become aggressive? The good news is that fence fighting has more to do with being territorial than it does with being aggressive.
Often times, a dog's territorial behavior stems from fear or anticipation of a possible threat. In other words, by barking at the dog next door, your dog is asserting their claim over your property. However, they're also feeling anxious that the neighboring dog is attempting to come over into their territory, and this is where it's important to watch out for aggression.
If this situation goes unresolved, one or both of the dogs may become aggressive if they are able to escape past their own territorial lines.
Is Fence Fighting the Same as Playing?
If your dog seems to get along with your neighbor's pet when they're together, you might assume that fence barking is another form of play.
Most likely, it's not. Some dogs may yip or whine a bit if they want to get over the boundary to play with their furry best friend, but there is a significant difference between whining to play and barking to protect one's territory.
Curbing Dog Fence Fighting For Good
"Luckily for most owners, 'fence wars' are just habits that can be broken or even prevented through proper training," says Nicole Ellis, a certified professional dog trainer, in an article for the American Kennel Club.
Think about the dog obedience training you did with your pet. There are many useful commands that can help during a fence battle. For example, "sit" and "stay" can help if you see your dog start to stalk off to the fence to fight. If you notice your neighbor's dog come outside while your own dog is walking the perimeter of your property, call him back with the "come" or "heel" command.
The ASPCA suggests that "This high level of motivation [to protect their space] means that when territorial barking, your dog might ignore unpleasant or punishing responses from you, such as scolding or yelling."
So, what would motivate your dog? Consider different activities, such as going for a walk away from your house, fetching a ball or playing in a dog obstacle course. Your dog may also respond well if you lead with treats for good behavior.
Approach Your Neighbor For Help
If listening to dogs fighting through a fence is the soundtrack to your day, keep in mind that you don't have to handle this problem alone, even if your dog seems to be the instigator. Talk to your neighbor about ways you can work together to curb your pets' behaviors.
This might be as simple as altering the pets' outdoor schedules so your dogs aren't spending the same time outside every day. Or, you may decide to socialize your dogs as much as possible to see if they calm their fence fighting once they're more comfortable together. For more serious dog fence fighting, you and your neighbor may want to split the cost of hiring a dog trainer who can work with both pets together at the territory lines. You may also have to come to a resolution that one or both of you puts an interior barrier in your yard to keep your dogs from getting so close to one another or putting them on a leash or dog run when you let your dog outside.
Taking action is especially important if you notice damage to the fence because of this behavior. By damaging the fence, one or both of the dogs are taking their aggression up a notch. The damage to the property suggests that the pets may be attempting an escape to attack the other animal, or as they may think of it, protect their space.
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Instagram @ErinOllila or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.