Fence running. Yep, I am going to address this topic. We all know "that one dog" (or maybe you own that dog) that consistently runs the fence line barking and growling at everything on the other side of the fence. It can be exasperating for everyone involved. If it's a person walking their dog on the other side of the fence, they are probably dreading EVERY TIME they have to walk by because it causes extreme stress to their dog and...well, it's just plain rude. To the dogs running up and down the fence, most of the time the owners don't realize that this "harmless behavior" can actually spiral into a myriad of unwanted canine behavior.
All dog breeds have different needs when it comes to exercise. Some need more and some don't need quite as much. BUT, all dogs need to be exercised. If they don't get their mental and physical exercise, they will eventually have to release their pent up energy and usually it will be with some unwanted behavior. Fence running can be one of those behaviors. If it is two dogs on each side of the fence running up and down, owners may think "Great! they are playing and getting exercise!" Often though, if the owner listens a little closer to their dog and watches their canine behavior, they will
soon find their dog isn't really playing. The two dogs doing the fence running are actually super frustrated and fighting. Signs of this frustration are : growling, snarling, showing of teeth and lunging at the fence. If the aggressive fence running isn't addressed, it can lead to a bunch of other aggressive behavioral problems and become compulsive. Every time the dog runs the fence with the unwanted behavior, the neurotransmitters in the brain are super activated and reinforcing the dog that this kind of behavior is wanted and needed. Eventually, the aggressive behavior will show in other situations outside of the fence, like when you are walking your dog or at the dog park. To understand a little more about canine stress and how to identify it, this article is a great read.
Aggressive fence running is a behavior problem that should be addressed as soon as possible with diligence and consistency. Usually, a dog trainer is recommended to help with the training and it takes a long time with patience. The first thing you need to do is remove your dog from the situation at the first signs of stress. The second thing you need to do is train your dog with Operant Conditioning. You will need to leash your dog with a long line in the area of high stress fence running.... and then sit and wait. When the object of stress (person or dog) approaches the fence and your dog starts "the chase", you must keep your dog away from the fence with the leash and keep the focus on you with a highly desired toy or super-awesome treat. Once you are the focal point, give your dog a simple command like "sit" and reward your dog with the toy and/or treat. You must reward your dog EVERY TIME until "sit" becomes the habit when your dog sees the other dog and/ or person on the other side of the fence. It may be recommended that your dog not be allowed to be in the fenced area unsupervised until the behavior is completely extinguished.
Here are a couple more links about fence running:
- How to Stop a Dog From Fence Running, by Applause Your Paws: http://www.puppytrainingmiami.com/blog/2014/04/15/how-to-stop-a-dog-from-fence-fighting/
- Better Designed Dog Fences Make for Better Dogs, By The Whole Dog Journal: http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/7_4/features/Best-Dog-Fences_5620-1.html