peace-at-the-fenceA lovely big fenced in yard is a playtime paradise for your and your a dog… but it can turn into a canine version of barking brimstone if another dog walks by outside the fence, or a not-so-friendly neighbor dog appears on the other side. Or maybe a squirrel family is using the fence top as a freeway! The good news is there are many things you can do to restore peace to your yard, and to you and your dog’s yard playtime. Read on to find out how!

The tips below were inspired by the above “Peace at the Fence” photo, and taken from the accompanying note posted by our friend over at Our Pack, Inc.  Pit Bull Rescue – their website has more great training tips, and you can see their well-trained dogs for adoption in their listings.

  • First and foremost, we suggest that you don’t leave dogs in the yard unattended. Many things could happen. Supervise when they’re outside. When your dog or dogs are out in the yard, you should be there – and be in charge.
  • Check your fences regularly. As they age, gaps in between wooden planks can appear.
  • A solid fence is the quickest fix: if you can’t install a block wall, install a solid fence covering on chain link and iron fences.
  • Some dogs will listen if you intercede before they’ve gotten all the way into an aroused state. Call the dog to you (if they have a solid recall) or physically prevent them before they charges the fence. If you miss the moment, go and calmly retrieve your dog, leashing if necessary. We wouldn’t let our human 2 year old children scream and yell at neighbors, and the same should go for our dogs. If your dog will not come when called in the yard, follow the training exercise below.

Our Pack’s Peace at the Fence Training Exercise

What works for many dogs is to practice when the other dogs, squirrels, etc. aren’t there. Practice calling your dog to you in the yard when it’s easy. Use high value treats especially at first (for folks who don’t like treat training you can fade them out very quickly as I do). Call him to you and surprise him with a treat. Don’t call him if you don’t think he’ll come to you, wait until you think he’ll do it at first. Have the treat sitting on something or hide it. Don’t hold it out and show it to him. Otherwise you might have to show him the money every time. Have your body in a natural position so you don’t have to have the same body position every time. Call him from different areas in the yard as he improves. Make him think that coming to is way more rewarding than going to the fence

Practice with more and more distractions as time goes on. Using our neighbor dog example, the minute you hear the neighbor’s dog come toward the fence and just as or preferably before your dog hears/sees it call him to you and reward.

If you wait until he’s too aroused he’ll go into the “Sorry, Fido’s not in right now” zone and he may not respond to you. This isn’t because he’s bad, dominant or trying to ruin your life. He’s probably just being a dog with no guidance as to what to do in that setting.

As he gets to about 80% reliable on the recall, start fading the treats down to where you only have to treat once in awhile. Always use praise and really tell your dog how good he is for coming to you. Build a working partnership with him, of course you can be senior partner in these scenarios.

If you have more than one dog, practice with each separately until they get it as above then 2 at a time etc. If you do have the neighbor dog scenerio you can try talking to your neighbor and if he’s game, train together or he might be willing to bring his dog in.

Hire a trainer to help you if you become unsure of what to do.

You really can control the fence happenings and have peace through positive management and being a good leader. You are in charge of your dog. As we always say in the Our Pack class, there’s a reason that dogs don’t drive cars or have jobs. 🙂 They really do rely on us for guidance and of course we love them for just exactly what they are.