What To Do When Neighboring Dogs Don't Get Along

What to do when neighboring dogs don’t get along.

Imagine you find the perfect house with the perfect yard for your dog, but something is wrong. The soon-to-be neighbors have dogs and there seems to be frustration at the fence. While this can be serious, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker for the house. When your dogs run the fence barking at dogs on the other side, it is known as “fence fighting.” This is frustrating for both you and your dog. For the most part, this behavior is extremely stressful for your dog. If you share a fence with a neighbor who also has a dog, this problem quickly escalates into a bigger issue. Fence-fighting is a manifestation of barrier frustration (restraint frustration), the feeling your dog has when they can see an objective but cannot reach it. This stress can lead to bigger problems (even a type of obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD) and can be potentially dangerous to your dog. But, you have the power to manage the situation and bring peace back to your yard.

Install a solid fence. An expensive solution, but often the most effective. By blocking the dog’s visual access you greatly reduce the arousal to begin the undesired behavior in the first place. If you have a chain link fence, place a netting or other visual block so the dogs can’t see each other.

Interrupt the behavior at the onset. The instant your dog begins thinking about engaging in fence fighting, bring him inside. This requires you to be outside monitoring him. If you leave your dog’s outside while you are not home, be aware that the more your dog escalates and ‘practices’ this naughty behavior, the more difficult it will be to modify. When possible, the best solution is to keep your dog indoors when you are not supervising them in the yard.

Avoid using aversion techniques. Shock collars, hot fences and bark collars may stop your dog from barking temporarily, but it won’t solve the underlying issue. By adding a physical punishment of any sort adds to your dog’s stress and further conflicts him. A trainer can work with you and teach you how to utilize positive training techniques.

Designate an area of your yard for your dog away from the fence/neighbor’s dog. By putting space between the issue on the fence, you can reduce some of the tension and frustration.

If your neighbor’s dog participates in this behavior, approach one another on the issue and work out a plan to manage it. Sometimes a rotation schedule for two weeks will wind down the stress and anxiety between the dogs. Follow this up with a behavior modification program with a trainer and you can begin to get in front of the issue. Management is the key in this situation. The saying is true: Good Fences do Make Good Neighbors!

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