Dog Fence Aggression and How to Stop it

Dog Fence Aggression

By nature, dogs are territorial animals, some are even bred and born to protect a certain area they picture as their property. Unfortunately, that instinct can sometimes lead to dog fence aggression, which can be both stressful and dangerous if not taken care of.

Most canines see it as their job, a way to exercise their right to protect and serve, to stand as a wall between an external threat and the people they love. Sometimes this is a sought-after trait, especially with guard dogs. But more often, it’s unwanted behavior and challenging for both owners and their furry friends.

So, before we jump into how to stop fence aggression, we need to understand why it happens in the first place.

What Causes Fence Aggression in Dogs?

Dog fence aggression (also known as barrier aggression) is when a dog displays aggressive behavior towards people or other animals if they’re confined in a fenced area. This aggression can manifest in various ways, including your dog barking behind the fence, growling, snarling, and, in severe cases, attempts to bite or attack.

According to an article published by PetMD, the main cause for fence aggression is defending food, objects, people, and of course, ‘their’ property. Because of their inherent need to protect, dogs often bark excessively or even exhibit aggression towards the approaching stranger they perceive as a threat, even though it might just be your mother-in-law at the door.

Other causes of barrier aggression in dogs can be:

  • Fear or Anxiety — Dogs who are fearful or anxious can become more aggressive when they feel trapped or cornered within the confines of a fenced area. 

  • Lack of Socialization — When your dog barks at neighbors through the fence, or your pooch and the neighbor’s dog bark at each other at the fence. This typically means insufficient exposure to other dogs, or people, in their early stages of development are to blame. 

  • Previous Negative Experiences — Dogs that have experienced negative interactions with other people or animals near a fence may develop fence aggression as a defense mechanism.

Boredom or Frustration — Dogs barking behind a fence can be a sign of sheer boredom or a dog barrier frustration. If your dog lacks attention or isn’t exercised properly, they will find a way to entertain themselves — by giving the mailman a small heart attack and a run for his life.

Recognizing the Signs of Fence Aggression Dogs?

Identifying the signs of fence aggression in dogs is crucial for early intervention when looking for ways on how to prevent it. Typically, these include:

  • Your dog/s barking at the fence excessively.

  • Pacing or running back and forth along the fence boundary line.

  • Raised hackles on your pooch and a stiff or tense body posture.

  • Attempts to lunge at or bite anybody who comes too close to the fence.

Aggressive behavior such as dogs fighting through the fence. Or snapping/biting if somebody should reach over the fence.

Dealing With Dog Fence Aggression

Preventing your dog from barking at the fence or becoming too aggressive toward strangers can be managed. Here’s how:

Socialize Your Pup 

Ask any dog trainer how to fix dog aggression towards strangers, and they will recommend you increase the socialization of your pup. An ideal way to combat barrier aggression in dogs is more exposure to different environments, people, and animals.

Socializing from a very young age is very important. Start when they’re just puppies and continue during their late doggy years. Also, consider preventing your pet from greeting people at will. Training your dog to "sit" in the other room while your guests settle and then allowing them to say "hi" might be just the right thing to address your problem.

Try arranging controlled interactions in your yard or the fenced area with other dogs and people walking by. And, gradually expose your pooch to different situations while always maintaining a calm and positive atmosphere.

How to Stop Dogs From Fence Fighting

Supervise Your Pooch in the Fenced Area

If your dog is exhibiting signs of fence aggression when left alone in the yard, supervision may be necessary. Even the best-behaved pooches can become aggressive when they are behind the protective barrier of a fence.

Recall training can be a lifesaver — basically, calling your dog back when you hear excessive barking or growling. Eventually, your dog will expect to be called back if they start being aggressive.

Intervene whenever your dog starts displaying aggression towards any distractions.

Positive Reinforcement Training Techniques

Rather than scold your dog when they show signs of aggression, reward your pooch with treats, praise, and signs of affection when they exhibit non-guarding behavior and remain calm behind the fence. 

So, if another person or animal is passing by and they don’t bark or growl, show your pooch this is the desired behavior with words of praise and the occasional dog treat.

Make the Barrier a Positive Environment

Make the fenced area a pleasant and engaging space for your pooch to play. In doing so, they’re more likely to be redirected away from the physical fence and any distraction. 

Eliminate Boredom Which May Cause Barrier Aggression 

Some dogs are happy to be left home alone for hours while other pooches may need more attention. Dogs that don’t like being left alone are more likely to be aggressive when left unattended behind a fence.

Dogs need to be stimulated both physically and mentally. Sometimes a walk in the park or a simple game of fetch is not enough, especially for working breeds that need mental stimulation as well. Introduce a form of an agility course in your yard, you don't have to go crazy, a few weave poles will do the trick. Give them a task, watch them solve the problem, and award them with a treat afterward. 

Remember to occupy your pet even when you're not at home. Leave them something to play with or gnaw at. If your dog likes toys, be sure to give them a different one each day. This can give them something new to look forward to and will prevent them from getting bored too fast. 

More stimulation and exercise will deplete some of that stored energy and prevent the dog barrier frustration directed at people and cars passing by your fence.

How To Keep Dogs From Barking at Fences

Besides dog fence aggression, compulsive barking is another normal occurrence, especially if it's followed by a wag of the tail. That said, it also can be a sign of frustration and indicate a much deeper problem. Some dogs bark when they want attention, or if they’ve figured out they will get what they want if they’re very vocal about it.

Setting some ground rules and going through basic obedience training will help tremendously when dealing with a dog that’s picked up bad habits. Pick a command and train your dog so that he’s allowed to bark at passing strangers until you issue the command. 

For instance, let's say you chose "hush" for your command. Let your pet bark a few times, then issue the command in a clear but normal tone. Reward them every time they obey, this way they will quickly learn to associate the treat with obedience/good behavior.

How To Stop Fence Aggression Between Dogs

A neighboring dog may also be the source of your pet's frustration. If you have a chain link fence separating your yard from the neighbor's property, it can be tempting for your dog to indulge in a one-on-one barking dispute that can last for hours — and even end badly with the dogs fighting through the fence.

Sometimes it doesn't even matter if your pet is well-socialized, they can still be provoked if they’re greeted with aggression from the other side. You can resolve this in two ways — either discuss a meetup with your neighbor and try getting your pets acquainted, or resort to blocking visual contact with a privacy fence.

While the latter might not work since they can still hear and smell each other, an informal introduction on equal ground (such as a nearby park) might do wonders for you. 

We recommend going slowly and only consider off-leash activities when you’re absolutely confident that both dogs are comfortable with each other’s presence. Pay close attention to their body language, wagging their tail compulsively is good while lifting their upper lip and growling is a clear sign that things are about to go South. 

Give it some time and be patient. Think of it as a peace treaty that's been long overdue. In the end, the two sides might never reconcile, so switch to plan B or talk to your neighbor about determining a set period of time so your dogs are never outside at the same time.

Fence Management To Prevent Barrier Aggression

Although the training techniques above can help prevent dog fence aggression, another useful tip is to limit your pooch’s access to the fence boundary. In theory, if you don't let your pooch get so close to the fence they can’t be distracted and become aggressive.

Installing an invisible fence system allows you to control the zones in your backyard — preventing them from getting too close to the fence and causing the mailman any distress. Or, you could try creating barriers using visual deterrents such as frosted glass or wooden panels.

Removing any visual stimulus can prevent triggering aggression and stop dogs barking at fence boundaries.

Dog Fence Aggression Conclusion

Although it can be challenging, hopefully, some of the tips we’ve shared with you can help both you and your pooch enjoy a calmer and quieter life.

Dog fence aggression can be quite scary — especially for those on the receiving end who don’t know your lovable pooch, or even next-door’s little pup who may be threatened by an overly aggressive canine near their territory. Learning to control your dog’s barking and aggression when in the yard will provide a safer and calmer environment for visitors to your home and your family too.

How To Stop Fence Aggression FAQs

How To Stop Your Dog From Jumping Against the Fence?

One of the risks of extreme dog fence aggression is your pooch attacking the fence and managing to escape from the area. They may one day be able to jump the fence, squeeze through a gap, or even weaken the fence in spots until it eventually breaks up.

To prevent this, you could install a smaller shorter boundary before the fence. This prevents them from getting too close too easily. Or you could install a railing on top of the fence. For example, Coyote rollers or some PVC piping can also prevent your pooch from jumping at the fence!

Can Bark Collars Be Used to Stop Dogs Barking Through Fences?

The use of corrective bark collars should be avoided when trying to stop dogs barking at fences. Although in the short term, they may seem to work, long term they can intensify your canine’s protective nature and make their behavior less predictable — you may even see a rise in their aggression levels.

Can Medication Be Used to Help With Dog Fence Aggression?

In some more extreme cases, veterinarians may prescribe medication to manage anxiety or fear-related aggression in dogs. Typically medication would be used in conjunction with a training and behavior modification program.

Will Physical Exercise Help to Reduce Fence Aggression?

Regular exercise can reduce overall anxiety and stress in dogs, potentially decreasing their aggression near the fence. However, increased exercise should only be part of your strategy for eliminating barrier aggression in dogs.

What’s the Best Fence for Fence or Gate Aggression Dogs?

The best choice of fence for those pooches that growl at anything passing by — cars, people, dogs, or even the odd squirrel — is a classic wooden fence. A solid privacy fence rather than a slatted fence can block out the sight of the street or next door’s garden. Strong and sturdy, pressure-treated wood privacy fences can also minimize the noise of any distractions.

Although chain link or wire mesh fencing may be the most cost-effective, it's very easy to see through, which allows your dog to bark at everything that passes. Aluminum may be more durable and look more sophisticated, but can still have the same problem of too many visual triggers.