Some dogs, particularly high-energy breeds such as border collies, can easily get into the habit of running along the line of the garden fence in pursuit of something over the other side. This may be another dog, neighbours, passing pedestrians, or simply general noise from outside the boundary of the garden. This Holidays 4 Dogs article discusses fence running behaviour in dogs and offers some solutions on how to reduce it.

Fence running, which involves frantically running, or trotting, up and down the same route in the garden, – often accompanied by barking –  should not be regarded as ‘exercise’. Some dogs become so engrossed in this behaviour, that it is often impossible to distract them.

In addition, this behaviour can cause the dog a great deal of stress, not to mention irritation to any neighbours nearby. The more the dog engages in the behaviour, the more the behaviour is re-enforced and, the harder it is to eradicate. Dogs will obsessively fence run usually out of boredom, or territory protection.

What can you do to reduce, or stop, your dog from constantly running up and down the fence in your garden?


Training alone may not be the complete solution. If your dog can see through the fence, consider installing a high panel fence, so the dog cannot see beyond.

It may need to be tall enough to stop the dog from jumping up and looking over. If fencing is not an option, you could use green privacy mesh or a similar type of screening.

Supervision, management and prevention.

Dogs can quickly make their entertainment if left alone for long periods. Fence running is a classic example and it can quickly become a habit. High-energy dogs are the most likely candidates for this type of obsessive behaviour. Border collies are probably one of the most common breeds to engage in hyperactive behaviours like fence running.

Supervise your dog at all times when he is in the garden. From the beginning, always aim to teach your dog to, ‘check in’ with you, whether your dog is in the garden, or out and about off-leash. Do this by providing tasty treats and rewarding your dog for any sign of focus on you.


You should never punish your dog, or use aversive methods in an attempt to stop the dog from fence running. Positive, reward-based methods should be utilised and work very well in training situations such as this.

For a more in-depth understanding of how to get started with clicker training please see our other Holidays4Dogs article on the subject.

General obedience training will also be helpful, but if you have little or no experience in this, consider joining a good dog training club to learn the basics.

Make sure your dog has a good solid recall and train for this without distractions to begin with.

Practice around the house using high-value treats as a reward. When your dog is calm in the garden, call your dog to you and reward as above. You may find a long line helpful while you are training.


Engage in play activities with your dog when he is in the garden. This way, your dog associates the garden with having fun games with you. Make this LOTS of fun so that fence running becomes less stimulating to the dog.

For times when your dog is calm in the garden, provide him with a treat ball toy, such as a Kong. This will serve as distraction and give the dog something to do and chewing is calming for dogs.


In addition, try to exercise your dog as much as possible. High-energy breeds need both mental and physical exercise, so perhaps consider joining an agility, or obedience club, for example. Exercise your dog before you begin training in your back garden. A tired dog is less likely to be quite so enthusiastic about fence running.


Fence running behaviour in dogs can sometimes be a difficult problem to address and a quick fix is unlikely.

If your dog is particularly obsessed with running up and down the fence, or certain part of the garden, you will need to employ all of the above suggestions at the same time.

However, if you are patient and consistent, you are likely to find the behaviour will diminish over time.

If you are having issues with your dog behaving in an aggressive manner, it is essential you seek help from a qualified positive dog trainer, or behaviourist. and 4Dogs are participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commission fees by advertising and linking to the following web sites. Read our full disclosure agreement here.