Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
Fence aggression is a very common trait in dogs. Mail carriers, delivery men, newspaper boys—they all may have a story to tell. It basically stems from a territorial nature; in other words, most likely if the dog could talk, its barking would simply translate to ''Get off my property''.
Of course, dogs do not know exactly where their property ends, so they will bark at anything over the fence, because either they think they own property over the fence or because simply they do not want anybody too close to their territory.
These deterrent qualities are often appreciated by those owners that want a dog to guard a property; however, fence aggression can turn out being a big ordeal if the dog cannot be properly contained.
Inspect Your Fence Regularly
Some dogs can be so fence aggressive that they eventually make it through the fence. It may happen suddenly, out of the blue, that dogs jump over the fence or squeeze through it. It could also happen gradually; day after day, the fence may weaken in certain spots until it eventually breaks up. For this reason, owners of fence-aggressive dogs should inspect their fencing routinely to identify weakened spots. An ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure!
But what makes the difference between a fence-aggressive dog and a guard dog? Both behaviors ultimately stem from the same purpose: protecting property. However, fence-aggressive dogs are particularly focused on the fence area more than other areas. They are almost obsessed with guarding the fence more than the whole property.
Fence-aggressive dogs are often frustrated by the barrier because it prevents them from getting to the other side. Often these dogs are found aggressively trying to manage ways to make their way through the fence. This frustration causes the dog to pace back and forth, barking out of anger.
What Triggers Fence Aggression?
A main trigger of fence aggression is boredom. Dogs will often resort to barking at people and animals at the other side for the main purpose of entertaining themselves. They particularly get a kick out of scaring people away. Or at least that is what they think they are doing . . .
For instance, a dog barks at passersby. Because these are people going from point A to point B, after a few seconds, they will eventually leave. In a dog's eyes, these people are not leaving because they were simply passing by the property; rather, they are leaving because they have heard him claim his territory. This even is enforced more by people jogging, trucks driving quickly by and cyclists. They simply think everything is leaving because of his barking. What a great confidence boost, indeed!
This is perhaps why mail personnel are so targeted by dogs, these people come and go every day and the dog is frustrated by their behavior, sort of ''I've already told you so many times to stay away from my property!''
So what can owners do to keep dogs from becoming fence aggressive?
How to Keep Your Dog From Becoming Fence Aggressive
A good way is to limit exposure to the outdoors. The more the dog is exposed to the fence, the more he will feel the need to protect the area from outdoor intruders. A privacy fence may help in some ways because it takes away the dog's chance of seeing beyond the fence. However, sounds and smells still may abound.
Fence aggression should be treated as any other form of aggression: a serious matter that may turn tragic if the dog is left unsupervised. It is better to be safe than sorry and discourage obsessive fence guarding behaviors before they settle in and become more difficult to manage.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 14, 2019:
John, you will have to look at what the rules are in your apartment complex. Some places have strict rules about dogs barking sadly.
John Eden on March 18, 2017:
I live in an apartment that has a fenced in doggie area. One of the maintenance people drove by in a golf cart and the dog barked at him like most dogs do.
I get a phone call from the apartment management complex telling me I had better do something about my aggressive dog.
The dog is a shelter rescue about 7 years old, looks like a hound dog.
Wtf is wrong with this picture? The apartment is hopefully only temporary
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 24, 2017:
Miked39, This article is from 7 years ago, and I have many more updated ones. Ideally, you should see a behavior professional for this type of problem. But, yes, preventing rehearsal of problem behavior plays a big role in behavior modification and is one of the very first big steps. If your dog is territorial, these below tips may help, but have a professional guide you through, for safety and correct implementation! https://hubpages.com/animals/Why-is-My-Dog-Territo...
miked39 on February 24, 2017:
So your advice to stop fence aggression is bring the dog inside and away from the fence? Very insightful.
Lee on February 06, 2017:
I thought this article was helpful because it took a dog's eye view of the "passing parade". Our young Lab was a barker- but very social, so the agression issue was not a problem- but the barking was!
We found adressing the bordom issue helpful- and also upping the excercise- we now take our dog to "doggy day care" where they have great excercise yards where dogs can socialise and excercise together safely.
We also have taken the advice to crate her at night- very successful, even thought we sometimes have to get up early. Very early! The only barking issue we are left with is that if she is out at night going to the tiolet and she discovers a hedgehog she still goes for gold. :( Luckily this doesn't happen often. I wish she could be kenneled outside but she just woke the neighbours. I have seen anti-bark collers on the market... has anyone tried them?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 10, 2015:
This article is on how to prevent it, while you may be looking for how to solve it, please see the links for more info. Please consider that there is no easy fix and you may need the help of a professional.
jason on August 10, 2015:
i agree with other commenters, article is useless
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 17, 2013:
Sarah, this title is "how to prevent fence aggression" while you are perhaps looking for "how to solve fence aggression" this link may be helpful, if you have a particular question, feel free to ask.
Sarah on August 16, 2013:
This article is terrible... It's titled "How to prevent fence aggression in dogs" and then just discusses what fence aggression is and why it occurs. There are no training tips or anything!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 13, 2012:
I did point out to not leave thr dog outside alone and to invest in a privacy fence. If you must let the dogs go potty take them on leash to prevent rehearsal of unwanted behaviors. You may find my other hub on this more informative:
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 21, 2012:
wtf, if you do not limit exposure, the dog rehearses the behavior over and over and will never stop. You can try to see these hubs for more tips:
wtf on May 21, 2012:
the article says how to prevent it and your solution is to limit exposure? derp
Gypsy Willow from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand on July 08, 2009:
Very good point I shall need to address, thank you.