How Can I Control My Aussie's Fence Fighting?

by Eliza4u2
(San Diego, CA, USA)

I adopted a brilliant, male Australian Shepherd at eight weeks. He is now 14 months and neutered. He’s been very socialized since puppyhood, and gets plenty of daily mental and physical exercise. He’s always loved playing with other dogs and gets along well with most of them. He is an alpha male. I’ve managed to train him fairly well so far, but for the first time I have a problem that I cannot get under control. He’s become increasingly out of control with his loud and fierce barking and slamming his body weight into the wood fence that divides my property with the neighbor’s. This happens only when he goes into the backyard and hears the neighbor’s dogs at the fence line - or running towards the fence line - once they hear that my dog is outside. The neighbor’s yard is huge, probably at least an acre, but my back yard is very small. My dog doesn’t have much room to move around or play without the neighbor dogs coming up causing my dog to bark.

Since my dog was eight weeks, he’s encountered these dogs and children hanging out near the fence. I never gave it much thought until lately when I noticed how much more aggressive he’s become when they come near. This is the only time he barks ferociously like that. It’s definitely a territorial/protective type of bark. Something about those dogs and kids set him off. I don’t think it’s right for me to tell them to stay away from the fence because it’s their property and I don’t know if I have the right to do that, although I’ve heard their dogs butt and scratch the fence, and bark to get my dog’s attention. The kids sometimes climb up the trees near the fence line, causing my dog to go berserk. My dog probably interprets this as a “dare” or “tease”. His reaction might even be appropriate, given that he perceives a threat and he’s protecting his property and pack. But I cannot let this kind of behavior continue because it disturbs other neighbors and I hate to see my dog agitated and riled up. I’ve also heard the kids tell my dog to “shut up” several times and the parents holler towards my house because they hate my dog barking at them. I always pull my dog away as quickly as I can when this happens and tried everything to get him to stop. The neighbor even called Animal Control and continues to threaten me with calling AC again if “I don’t get my dog under control”.

My dog rarely goes outside now. I’m beginning to think he’s getting confused where he is supposed to go potty. I’m reluctant to let him out because I never know when the neighbor’s dogs might be lurking by the fence, and don’t want any verbal altercations with these people for the entire neighborhood to hear. I am in no way planning on knocking on these people’s door, trying to resolve the problem because of the rude way they have reacted and the things I’ve heard them say. They feel I am totally at fault because, according to them, “I cannot control my dog”. They have done nothing to help discourage their dogs from coming to the fence.

I’m wondering if anyone’s had a similar problem like this and what was done to resolve it. I know I must find a solution soon because it’s no fun living in confinement. Any advice or comments would really be appreciated!

Comments for How Can I Control My Aussie's Fence Fighting?

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Our male Aussie has similar issues
by: Dave

First of all I think your assessment of why your dog does this is spot on. He has protection bred into his bones! Ours doesn't care for other dogs getting too close to us and has lashed out numerous times. We have been working on him with a training collar and have made some progress in that he really tries hard to suppress the behavior he knows displeases us. Part of the problem with our dog and possibly yours too from what you describe is that he doesn't do well in tight quarters and tends to lash out with a painful to the ear bark and a lot of fang too! It is very difficult to walk him on a leash because of this. When he is off leash or outside of the car he has maneuvering room and seems to do much better, even playing with other dogs on neutral territory. I would suggest getting a training collar and use it when he is outside in the backyard . Our collar is the type that has 3 different signals. A beep usually gets his attention and he drops what he was doing and a treat usually follows. The next signal vibrates right on his neck. I use that as a warning warning . He almost always drops whatever behavior brought the unpleasant vibration and pays attention. The last signal is when I must get control over him and nothing else has worked. Then I shock him, but in reality I have only had to do this a couple times. Once when he started a fight with another dog. He really hates the shock and the few times I did he healed the whole way home. I know this may seem like a cruel thing to do but if you need to do it or else lose your dog I highly recommend it. Just use the shock feature very sparingly and be smart about it. Timing is everything.

by: Anonymous

Is this a solid wood fence with no spaces between the boards? In other words can your dog see the other dogs and the kids or just hear them? Does the fence belong to you or to your neighbor?

Reply to Dave
by: Eliza4u2

Dave, Thank you for your reply, and thanks for the suggestion of the shock collar. Would you mind telling me which one you've used? There are so many on the market, I wouldn't know which one to buy. Then if it doesn't work, I'll get more discouraged and don't want that to happen! Right now, I usually put on a prong collar when he goes outside and stay with him, but I'm telling you, even with that I can barely control his urge when those dogs are lurking. He is the strongest dog I've ever had! No, I don't think they are cruel, only if intentionally misused. If that's what it will take to control him, I will give it a try. Thanks again!

Reply to Question about the fence
by: Eliza4u2

The fence separates my backyard from the neighbor's backyard. It is a common wood fence that we share (own) equally, standing about 6 feet high. Yes, you can see through/between the boards when up close and you can see movement while standing back at a distance. My dog can also hear when the neighbor's dogs are at the fence or on their way there, if he's inside or outside of the house. I believe there is some type of "dog" communication going on that we are not aware of. I can only hear the collar jingle when they are coming toward the fence.

Thank you for your response!

Training collar make
by: Dave

Eliza4u2, the one I use is called Petrainer with 3 modes, Tone, Vibration and static (shock). I have had it almost a year and it is still going strong and that's saying something because our Aussie is hard on everything! It is waterproof too which is a big deal because ours is a swimmer. Hope it works for you, just remember that timing is everything when you use it.

Comment to Dave
by: Eliza4u2

Thank you so much! As soon as I finish here, I will check around to see if I can pick up one at the local pet store. Something else you mentioned I didn't think of and that is the "water resistant" issue. I take him to the beach a lot, although I don't have any problems as long is he is free and confined to a limited space like in the backyard. But it would be a good idea to put on anyway. You are right that the feeling of confinement in a small boxed-in space appears to make him more aggressive. I've even took notice at dog parks. The smaller the park, the more aggression! Dogs are aware of their boundaries and seem to do much better in the open unrestricted areas such as dog beaches.

Check back. I'll let you know how the collar works. He seems to be paying closer attention to me when he runs towards the fence. He looks back and kind of surrenders. Just so he stops the bark when I say so.

No Shock Collars
by: Anonymous

Please don't use shock collars. Spend that money on a positive trainer instead because they can evaluate the situation and figure out a positive way to teach your dog how you expect them to behave around the fence. You really will be more pleased knowing that you fixed the problem with your Aussie's intelligence and not a shock collar and with love.

If your dog is a swimmer
by: Dave

And you do go with the training collar approach make certain the model you pick out is the "water proof" and not just "rain proof" (the brand I mentioned comes in both). They are a little bit more money but well worth it to keep peace with the neighbors which is very important. Angry neighbors can sometimes be very cruel and I have heard too many times about people actually laying poisonous bate for dogs that disturb them.

Response to No Shock Collar
by: Anonymous

I appreciate your comment and taken into account all you've said. I agree that teaching the dog to use his mind is best. I haven't quite decided what method to use. A trainer isn't a bad idea. Years ago I went though this with another Aussie for a different aggression issue. I had to get a private trainer which did help a lot.

Response to Dave
by: Eliza4u2

Thanks for pointing out the two different water proof kinds. Appreciate it!

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