My Smart Puppy

with Dog Expert, Sarah Wilson

Barking: Outside and Along the Fenceline


Dogs barking outside are not just annoying to you, but can be annoying for many people in the vicinity.

In many cases, the short answer is: bring the dog inside.

A dog has a limited number of ways to amuse himself and for some, barking is a favorite pastime. He barks when he’s happy, sad, bored, excited — just about any time. It is simply unreasonable to expect some dogs to stay quiet outside. Many dogs just don’t find it all that interesting to be outside alone and would prefer to be inside with you. Even if you think you’re doing your dog a favor by giving him time outside, pay attention to what your dog actually thinks about it.

Things that can help:

Increase his exercise – Which means that you either take him for walks or to the dog run if he is a social dog, or do something with him outside such as fetch, tricks, obedience, etc. Sticking him out back by himself “to run” does not count, as few dogs do more than trot around a bit, pee a few times and then lie down or else bark to be let in.

Get him a hobby – One of the many food dispensing toys can be a great distraction for these dogs. Throw away the food bowl and feed your dog from one or more of these toys. We suggest using one of the many easy to clean versions, as water and bugs can get inside these, making them nasty if they cannot be properly cleaned.

Limit his access – If one corner of the yard or spot on the fence line really gets him going, set it up so he can’t get to that spot. An extra section of fence or an underground fence system used as a liner and definer of a larger area, can all help to lessen barking.

Special Note:

Dogs who bark at the neighbors and other dogs through the fence need supervision. Remember, for dogs, running the fence and barking hysterically is exciting, very possibly the most exciting thing in their whole day.

Also, dogs are not kidding when they do this, and every time they do, they are practicing aggressing at that target. Many a postal worker and delivery person knows what happens when the dog is suddenly no longer behind the fence.

Do NOT allow your dog to practice threatening people, children or other dogs. If you cannot control this yet, prevent it by walking your dog on leash when both inside and out of the fenced area. It’s also important to prevent this behavior during the training process, so that you build good habits rather than reinforce bad habits.

If your dog hits the fence with force or seems to want to bite his target, please seek the help of a qualified professional. If you are going to lessen that behavior, training has to become fun…really fun and relevant to the dog.


When all is calm, walk your dog, on leash, toward where he normally barks. Back up and call him to you. If you need to, squeeze/pulse the leash as you back up. Keep at it until he starts to come your way, then PRAISE him as he approaches. When he arrives, reward him with really good treats. Give him a few – one at a time- praising the entire time.


When all goes well when things are calm, do the same thing when the distractions are present. Note: The goal is to act the moment your dog starts to get distracted, not to get all the way to the fence line. So if your dog rushes ahead of you when you are twenty feet away from the fence, then you back up then and call him. You want to work him around distractions, not to reach the fence line.

by Sarah Wilson,

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