How Can I Control My Aussie's Fence Fighting?
(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!