Fence Reactivity, Arousal and Noise Nuisance

Fence reactivity and arousal like barking, lunging and fence fighting is common dog behaviour. It can be difficult to live with and like most dog behaviours, the owner may not be aware their dog behaves in this manner when they are not home.

A dog can display 2 types of barrier reactivity.

Defensive reactivity. Which comes from the dog’s natural territorial behaviour and can translate into "get off my property". The postman or another dog may trigger this behaviour.

The other is barrier reactivity, which stems from over arousal and frustration.

If a dog is alone for long periods of time, especially in a fenced yard. The dog can become frustrated and bored. This can cause them to be easily aroused by other dogs that are nearby.

The frustration usually stems from one dogs inability interact with any other dogs. That frustration can often turn into over arousal which can become more serious.

Over long periods of time. Any activity behind the fence can cause over arousal and reactivity.

Barrier or fence reactivity can also lead to redirection. An example of redirection is when 2 compatible dogs are running the fence line side by side. They are doing this in response to another dog either passing by or in your neighbour’s yard on the other side of the fence. Then a fight breaks out between the two dogs. Both dogs become aroused and then redirect their arousal on each other.

Another example is when a human interrupts a dog's high-arousal fence-running behaviour. The dog could redirect their arousal on you, inflicting a serious bite.

The Best Defence - A good fence

We investigate hundreds of dog attacks each year. Some, where no injuries occur and somewhere significant injuries are sustained. Regardless of injuries, an attack is still a dog attack.

There are many circumstances can result in a dog attack. The most common being a dog escaping its property or not being under effective control.

A common complaint received is injury (and in some cases even death) of an animal because of bad fencing.

You and your neighbour are responsible for making sure the fence is adequate. Adequate fences prevent the dogs from escaping or causing harm through the existing fence/ barrier. 

Whilst having a solid fence is important. It is also important that your dog gets regular exercise, provided with enrichment and is socialised.

Two dogs on leashes with their tongues out

This may prevent fence reactivity when unattended in the yard for extended periods of time.

It is important that neighbouring dogs can co-habit without causing nuisance to residents or a risk to each other.

Pet owners have a duty to provide and maintain proper fencing and enclosures. Council’s Subordinate Local Law No. 4.1 (Animal Management) 2002 provides the minimum fencing requirements for dog owners as following:

Weight of dog

Minimum fence height

10 kilograms or less

1000 millimetres

10 kilograms or more

1210 millimetres

10 kilograms more, when the dog has previously escaped, or is a risk of escape

At least 1800 millimetres

Regulated dog

At least 1800 millimetres

A fence should be strong and build with suitable materials. This will prevent a dog from being able to escape over, under or through it.

If your dog displays fence reactivity/arousal, a fence with a visual (window may stop this behaviour).

If you live in a rental, you are still responsible for ensuring the fencing is secure. You can ask for help from the landlords or property managers. However, it is the dog owner who must ensure their pet can’t escape or cause a risk to people or animals through the fence

Check your Fences

Dogs who show fence reactivity/arousal can be very determined and may make it through the fence.

Your dog may just jump over the fence or over time weaken the fence by trying to dig under or squeeze through a weak spot, day after day.

Over time the fence will weaken, until your dog is able to push through.

It is important that you inspect your fences on a regular basis. This will prevent your dog from escaping either completely or partially.

Barking Nuisance

Barrier/fence reactivity, or high arousal barking nuisance can often go hand in hand. Dogs will continue to bark or lunge until the other dog / perceived threat cannot be seen. This can be challenging if you have 2 dogs barking at each other.

The sound of the dogs can be quite confronting and of concern to surrounding residents.

Whilst we understand that dogs bark, this is how they communicate. We are obliged to act on a complaint. We will consider that a barking nuisance. If a dog barks for more than 6 minutes per hour during the day or more than 3 minutes during any 30 minute period at night.

It can be quite confronting as a dog owner to receive advice that your dog is causing a potential nuisance. Our dedicated team are experienced at dealing with barking nuisance. We will assist you in finding solutions to resolve barking behaviour.

We encourage any dog owner presented with this scenario to contact us. We are here to assist you in resolving nuisance barking behaviours.

Useful Resources

You can find useful information online through our libraries specific to dog behaviour and management. We recommend

Tools that include training material by:

  • The RSPCA
  • Dr Sophia Yin, DVM, MS
  • KONG and other enrichment training.

For more information contact our on 3412 3412 or email at council@logan.qld.gov.au