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Old 04-24-2015, 06:00 PM
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Default Non reactive to dogs behind fences

So this is just something I noticed with Tucker and was wondering what you thought might be the cause. Tucker, as you may know, is very dog reactive. On walks if he sees a dog being walked he will frantically bark, lunge, etc. and continue long after the dog is out of sight. With food he's usually able to keep himself under control but if I'm too slow to feed or I don't keep him calm enough with my behavior he will sometimes still lose it.

We have very few people with fenced in front yards so we have never encountered a dog in a fenced yard on walks before except for our next door neighbor but that dog is his friend so he's completely non-reactive to her. A few months ago some people moved in a few streets over (on our walk route) and installed a chain link fence for their two husky/husky mixes.

We've walked by many times while they are out and has never barked at them. The very first time we walked by it was especially strange because I actually saw fearful behavior from him, tail down, body held low, weird bouncy gate, hackles up, eyes big. Obviously I know his reactivity is fear based but this is the first time it hasn't presented as aggression. I fed treats as we passed and let him decide where to walk (he chose to stay on the other side of the street instead of trying to drag me to them like he would normally). By about the third time we passed them the fearful reaction was much less. He seems a bit nervous but not as much as the first time. He still has a bit of a response to them, he breathes harder, pants, kicks really hard after peeing on something, stuff like that. But he has never barked or pulled towards them. It's odd. I still feed him as we pass but I don't need to treat him nearly as often, it's not a struggle to keep him under control and I'm never worried that he'll have a meltdown. They've even barked, run the fence line, and "husky talked" at him. This last time we walked by he barely even looked at them.


So I'm wondering, do you think he's responding differently because they are behind a fence and he somehow understands they can't get him (perhaps because he doesn't have a history of greeting fenced dogs like he does on-leash dogs) or do you think it has something to do with my behavior? I do feel less tense in this situation for a couple of reasons. For one there is no owner there so if he did have a meltdown it would be less embarrassing. I also let him choose where to move more, I don't pull him over to the opposite side of the street because there is no danger to him getting close, they're safely behind a fence. Obviously I wouldn't let him go right up to the fence, but he's never chosen to get that close anyway.

Anyone noticed this reaction to fenced dogs in their reactive dog before?
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Old 04-24-2015, 06:28 PM
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I've experienced this, but I don't think it's been enough to tell its solely because of the fence.

It could be based on the movement of the dogs. Dogs pacing along a fence are a lot less threatening than a dog coming even indirectly at you, or moving irradically in an open field or whatever.
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Old 05-22-2015, 04:17 PM
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Zoe is like this, and I think it is definitely because of the fence. She even made friends with my mom's neighbor's dog, and it's the only dog she was comfortable playing with at all (running the fence together,) I think because with the fence there they didn't end up in body language situations that overwhelmed her.

She has a sense for "that dog belongs there, so it's okay," but I really think the barrier eases her mind. Once she knows a dog in a given situation will not approach us, she does so much better, and I think fences give her that.
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