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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20277
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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How can we stop excessive gate guarding and barking whilst

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How can we stop excessive gate guarding and barking whilst in the garden?


Our dog barks (defensively I think) at our neighbours opposite, anybody who walks by, or visits - until they actually enter the property. Once inside the gates, he is thrilled to see anybody and never aggressive.

He is especially protective about other dogs coming near the garden. This is the only time we see the real hackles up, tail up state.

I have read that such defence can be an alpha behaviour, so have tried calling him to me and making him sit to remind him that he is not the boss, so that is not his job. This has helped a bit - but only so much, and only when we are right there to call him immediately. Has not affected his behaviour.

We adopted our dog at 3 years old and do not know his full history.

There is nearly always someone here with him, and he is walked once or twice every day, 30-50 minutes each time including leashed road walking and free running around fields and dirt tracks.

We live in the country and have a garden that runs round our house that is just perfect for him to run round in and now the weather is getting better he loves to be out there. However, we do not wish to be antisocial and disturb our neighbours (or scare passing ramblers!)
Hi Ben,
My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
How is he with people and dogs when he is outside your garden?
Can you tell me what you have tried so far?
How large of a perimeter do you have?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi, thanks for the reply.


He is generally a lot better when outside the property, but will sometimes get defensive towards other dogs.


He has never shown aggression towards people when we take him out.


We have tried calling him to us, making him sit, then sending him indoors away from the situation. Helps, but only when we are there (ie, has not affected his actual behaviour)


We have not tried bark collars or sprays, and would rather not.


Garden is around 1000m2 (1/4 acre), but the fence he guards is about 50m.



Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful. It sounds like your dog is experiencing what we call barrior or fence aggression. It starts innocently enough as normal alert barking but as time goes by, the dogs get frustrated and aggression develops. One way of reducing that aggression is to keep the dog off the fence lines. Some sites suggest putting up a second fence within the first that keep the dogs off the property boundary. This is frequently not a viable solution since fencing can be quite expensive.


However, there are a couple of other ways to accomplish this. One method is to use a pet hot wire fence and t-posts or fexible plastic posts along the boundary. However, a few T-posts or other fence supports every 10 feet or so with a few strands of the electric wire on it are usually enough to keep a dog off the fence line. I have clients that keep several shepherds and pit bulls contained with just 3 strands. I have a strand within my kennels and my front fencing to keep my dogs off


.. The following site has the main unit though the next site sells complete kits. Many hardware or feed type stores sell these as does many places on the internet. Usuall it only takes a dog touching this wire once to stop them from getting close to it. I also always recommend that an owner touch the wire themselves. This will let them know that it is the unexpectedness of the correction that stops the dog rather than the intensity.


Of course, another good option is using the underground or instant fence system. Dogs with barrier aggression seem to do better if they are kept off the fence line. Once the dogs are used to the electric fence, they learn not to get close to the fence and the aggression naturally is reduced.

The alternative which I will recommend even if you decide to erect another barrier within your current one is one on one training with him. Part of the problem with this method is that someone has to be outside with him every time he goes out until he learns not only not to bark but to stay off the fence line. What you do is put up some inner boundary flags where you do not want him going past . Say 5 feet from the front fencing. Keep your dog on a leash. Walk him up to the boundary and walk him along the inner edge of the marked line. Move off the inner boundary. Now give him a little leash and if he goes to move past the inner boundary toward the front fence, give the leash a short tug and a firm NO. You will likely have to give this correction multiple times before he hesitates and stops before going past it. when this happens, reward him immediately with a tasty hot dog (vienna sausage) slice or raw chicXXXXX XXXXXver sliver. Calm praise should also be given as well. Once he is not going past the inner barrier, you need to then add distractions. Perhaps you have someone that can help by walking past the gate or hanging around across the street. Use the same technique to keep him on the house side of the inner barrier. It isn't a quick fix but this training can teach a dog to stay off the outer fence and thus barrier aggression is reduced. You can read more on this though it deals more with other dogs.


Bark collars are often effective for excessive barking but I do understand your reluctance to use one. Many people dislike the idea. I usually only recommend them for cases where the owner is not present to correct the situation. You can use a technique similar to the one used for keeping him away from the outer fence. You will have your helper walk up to the gate or walk past, giving a verbal NO reprimand for barking beyond a single alert bark and rewarding the desired behavior of not barking excessively with the treats. I do suggest speak and quiet training first as it can help when teaching your dog what barking is acceptable. It seems easier to teach the quiet command after the dog has learned the speak command. The following site explains teaching speak and quiet commands.


If you consistently order him to be quiet and reward him when he is, he will learn to not bark inappropriately. Remember to always give more treats and more praise when he is not barking when he otherwise would be.


The other thing that helps is to have your visitors also reward him (when he isn't barking) with some tasty treats. Even strangers passing by if you can enlist their help. This helps the dog see that they are not a threat and start associating them with good tasty treats. You definitely want to see if the neighbors across from you will come and interact more with your dog. He may not stop barking at them all the time, but you should be able to reduce it significantly and they will be more comfortable with the situation as well. Most dogs won't bark at specific people as often if they are well socialized with them. You can still correct it without their help, but it will go quicker if they cooperate.


I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .


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