Last in a series
A Feud Gone Wrong
“Blue’s” backyard was separated from the neighbor’s by your average chain link fence. Some dogs ignore this contrivance but for others it’s a formula for disaster. Think about Blue if your dog engages in through-the-fence displays of aggressive madness, aka fence fighting. If these dogs were actually fencing, I’d be less concerned.
Dogs communicate almost continually. They’re genetically programmed to protect territory as well as to connect socially. Fences get in the way and often lead to trouble.
The natural response to the approach of another dog is body signaling that conveys their intentions. These greeting rituals require freedom of movement for sizing each other up, along with rear end sniffing for identification. A clear sign of a budding friendship is competitive urinating.
Blue and the golden retriever next door had a long history of running the fence, growling, barking, and snapping. Unable to interact like normal dogs they became intensely frustrated by that @#%&* “artificial” barrier! The signals they swapped were bizarre and provocative. Their people had assumed that all this racket was just an annoyance, until Blue’s leg poked through the fence. The golden on the other side grabbed it instantly, hard and fast, literally tearing it off. This could have ended much worse.
Never believe that events like this can only occur once. Even a hint of trash talking at the property line absolutely must be prevented. For Blue and the dog next door to abandon their mutual enmity it was imperative that they never see each other again. Avoidance of the arousal trigger was the only legitimate solution. Finger pointing between neighbors could have driven the discussion but these folks loved their pets and were ready to work together. I advised them to combine resources to eliminate the risk. Fence covers are available on the Internet. A block wall would be even better.
Everyday there are opportunities to solve problems with cooperation and compassion. Blue is now safe, active, and playful on 3 legs. We hope he has forgiven his neighbor, a dog he never sees.
For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.
Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet behavioral or physical questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.