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Discussion Starter #1
Saw this on another thread and didn't want to derail it so posted this.

So what exactly is barrier aggression? Does the term imply that if there was no barrier there, the dog would not be aggressive? Is it used to describe a situation where a dog is more aggressive because a barrier is between him and whatever is causing him to be aggressive? Like a leash makes some dogs more reactive?

Just curious.
 

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There are some dogs who display what looks like terrifying aggression behind a barrier but are fine when the barrier is removed. For example, lots of friendly dogs look like monsters in "their" cars. There are some dogs, when crated, that bark and carry on defending their crate but are fine out of it.

In shelters, some dogs bark like crazy in their kennels or runs but are sweet when the door is opened.

I had a boxer who did fabuous therapy dog work who looked totally evil in a car or a kennel. In fact, my vet would not remove her from a run. However, if you opened the door, she was the sweetest dog alive.

Barrier aggression. Not sure why it's labelled "aggression." It's really more territorial behavior.
 

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I've read that it stems from frustration, being unable to reach the dog/human/whatever on the other side of the fence/leash/window. The way I understand it, it could start out very innocently in puppyhood, with the dog expressing excitement when seeing another dog or a person on the other side of the barrier. With repeated exposure and mounting frustration at not being able to reach the stimulus on the other side, the dog is conditioned to feel a frustrated response whenever seeing the stimulus, and it becomes barrier aggression (also known as, aptly, barrier frustration or barrier reactivity).

There's also the territorial response that others have mentioned. I wouldn't call that true barrier frustration though.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That makes sense. And is barrier aggression the same thing as fence fighting? Have to admit, that term makes me laugh. We used to pass by a yard on our walk in which the dog routinely attacked the fence every time we walked by - he was literally fighting the fence! The fence had no response. :) I know he just wanted to get at us, and that was not funny at all, but the term sounds funny to me.

Poca is such a watcher, I've haven't seen this kind of behavior up close very often so it's interesting to me.
 

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Fence fighting is awful. The dogs get so frustrated that they can turn on their own pack members out of frustration. I have a pug that runs my fence. My dogs get so jazzed that it's dangerous for them to be together because I can have fights within my own pack. Frustration is key.

I hate it. It is very easy to desesitize a dog to it, but it requires the availability of the outside dog. Without access to the offending dog, it is hard to change the behavior.

A dog that is fence-running could very easily end up very injured if he/she ever gets close enough to be grabbed.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So that's a whole other dimension I hadn't thought of. Redirected aggression. Easy to see how that happens.

Am I understanding correctly when you say you need the other dog to help fix it by using some sort of desensitization routine? Would you not have to do it with a variety of dogs so he gets desensitized to any dog on the other side of the fence? Or are you just concerned with a particular dog?

Have to admit, I am really glad this is one problem I have not had to deal with.
 

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It can also be a fear based response. The dog will display all that aggression but only does so because it knows it is safe behind the barrier and whatever it is that it is displaying this to cannot get to them. Can happen on a leash as well, and if you drop the leash it stops.

Kinda like the tough guy who puts on a big show as long as his buddies are holding him back and he knows he won't be called on it..

Kaya is very prone to it, and redirected aggression just isn't going to happen with her.. ;)
 

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In my unfortunate case, the pug is the problem. My dogs are fine with other dogs, but the pug has buzzed the fence so many times that my male dog's hatred for THIS PUG is epic. My dogs are great with almost all other dogs, but this pug (actually puggle) blasts them right off the charts. There's no use using other dogs to work on this because my dogs don't react to other dogs... At all.

Ironically, I have had the puggle over for a play date in an attempt to end this. I let him play with my females and it's just fine, but I don't dare let my male out because I think it might end badly. When the puggle is (rarely) chained in his yard, I walk my male by the house and my male does not react in the least. It's just about the fence and the puggle buzzing it. And peeing on my male through the fence... It's great.
 

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In my case, there is absolutely no fear at all. My dog wants the puggle. Desperately. No bravado in the least. My dog's tongue curls, jaw bounces, muscles tighten, and he lets out high-pitched predatory YIPES. It's awful. My dog (I swear) gets a foot taller when he sees this dog. I actually put up privacy slats all along the main fence line to stop this, but then the puggle started running the back of my property (where there are no slates) instead. I have more than an acre fenced. It's almost two grand to slat the whole thing. I have done 1/3 and may have to buck up and do the rest. Makes me mad. The puggle has to cross a street to run my fence. Somedays I wish he would just get hit. I don't mean it, but sometimes... He buzzes my fence about 4 times a day. If he ever sticks his legs through, I am going to have decisions to make about reporting my own dog or digging a damned hole...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Interesting. So fear, frustration, a particular dog or situation can all lead to it. The bluff/bluster explanation would explain a number of situations I've seen where a somewhat fearful dog seemed to be acting out of character.

Not sure what I would do about the puggle situation. That has got to be frustrating, esp. the marking. I can see how that would make another dog bonkers.

Like I said, I'm very glad not to have to deal with it. I would be at a complete loss other than avoidance.

Thanks all for the info.
 

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I Kaya's case if I let her do it I'm sure the dog on the other side would be out for blood after a while and develop a hatred. So I stop her and teach her not to. She would never act that way without a fence between her and the dog.

My last dog fence fought because the neighbor girls brought their dog over and egged it on, and teased my dog with sticks through the fence. One day she had enough, jumped the fence and tore the dog a new one. No fear involved there on her part, maybe on the other dogs part but I doubt it.. She hated that dog with a passion.
 
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