Dont Fence Me In and Other Bad Dog Habits

The Resource for Everything About Dogs

Dont Fence Me In and Other Bad Dog Habits

by Kirsten Frisch

At first it seems obvious, your house, your dog, his yard, of course he is going to bark at someone passing by. You stick your head out the window and yell Quiet! He barks a couple more times and then quits. You feel like your dog sort of listened. He is, at least, quiet for now.

Dogs have an amazing sense of smell. This smell can be streamlined for use in explosive detection, weapon detection, and drug detection. What does this have to do with your fenced in yard? Everything.

From a dogs' perspective humans are a little dull when it comes to sense of smell. Have you ever been in the checkout line at a grocery store and the woman in front of you wreaks of perfume. You say to yourself ...and she left the house thinking she smelled sexy! You hold your breath until it's your turn to check out. When it's finally your turn to pay, you and the checker meet eyes with one of those agreeing disapproval looks.

Welcome to your dogs world. Yup, this is how your dog smells you. Remember this the next time you tell your dog he stinks like a dog. He is probably thinking...yeah, back atcha buddy.

Back to your fenced in yard. Humans think a boundary for a dog means a fence. We feel comfortable and safe knowing when we open the back door to let the dog out they are safely confined to a fence. We feel like we are following the rules of being a good citizen. It is not apparent at first, but after awhile your dog goes outside and starts patrolling, or guarding. We don't notice this behavior until they start barking at every little thing. Neighbors start to complain.

What we have really done, is told our dog okay, when I open this door, you're on your own. Guess what your dog relies on when he is on his own? You got it, sense of smell. And we are shocked when they use their sense of smell to dig a hole and escape. And if they can't escape? You know the behavior, barking, running the fence line, patrolling...

We don't realize that our fence is meaningless to our dog. A fence is not a fence to a dog. It is a thing that blocks him from all those amazing smells on the other side. Your dog starts to own the fence. If you can't beat it, join it he thinks. Besides, you said whatever happened outside was okay. You did this when you let them out the door and told him he was on his own.

This same thing happens inside our house. Except with less escaping. Why does your dog go crazy and bark out the window at a passerby? You haven't given boundaries. To your dog, your house is just a weird fenced in yard, with a difficult escape route.

Dogs need their human to teach them about boundaries. We can't rely on fences and walls to do this for us. People train dogs, not fences. Go outside with your dog and interact with him. Tell him you got it under control. Boundaries set by humans are more comforting to dogs. It lets them know you got it covered. They won't feel like they have to bark and protect and guard so much if their human interacts with them outside, and determines the boundaries.

Kirsten Frisch has worked with sled dogs for over 8 years. She has handled dogs in Alaska for mid and long distance races such as the Copper Basin 300 and Yukon Quest 1000 mile race. Her background also includes Veterinary Technician, sled dog rescue and foster, artist, and traveller. You can learn more about Kirsten and sled dogs at

Kirsten Frisch - EzineArticles Expert Author

Return to Index


Cannot find it here? Search the internet with the power of Google: