How to Reduce Fence Running Behaviour in Dogs.
Some dogs, particularly high energy breeds, such as border collies, easily get into the habit of running along the line of the garden fence in their 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 will address the issue of fence running in dogs and offer some solutions of how to reduce it.
Fence running, which involves frantically running up and down the same route in the garden, should not be regarded as ‘exercise’. Some dogs become so engrossed in this behaviour, it is often impossible . 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 run up and down gardens of fences 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 is able to see through the fence, consider installing a high panel fence that the dog cannot see through It may need to be tall enough to stop the dog 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 own 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.
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 of this, consider joining a good dog training club to learn the basics.
Make sure that 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 which will physically stop your dog from engaging in running, or barking. However, avoid pulling your dog towards you – this may only serve make matter worse.
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, so fill the Kong with fresh chicken, or liver.
In addition, try to exercise your dog as much as possible. High energy breeds need both mental and physical exercise, so you may 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 can be sometimes be a difficult problem to address and there is certainly no overnight cure. It is likely that 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.