Do You Experience Fence Aggression?

Gracie  Gracie, our three-year-old Border Collie/Labrador, loves her back yard. She lies on the patio and looks over the yard as if surveying all she owns.

Fence Aggression picWhen she was a puppy, she dug holes in the flowerbeds and torn up the landscape fabric from under the mulch. Being a type-A personality, I guess she thought that was her job. It was a relief when her focus turned from the flowerbeds to a new game.

There is a paved walking trail on the other side of our back yard privacy fence. Many people use it to walk their dogs, run, or bike. As they go by, neighborhood dogs bark. Alerted, Gracie sights the people between the fence slats. Game on! She runs along the fence, around the pool, behind holly bushes, around the shed, springs off of the side fence, spins in several circles, and repeats the dance again.

The Problem

As long as she’s having fun… That was our reasoning until three months ago when she started holding up her back leg. The vet indicted rest for several weeks should heal the probable hairline fracture.

Fearing another injury, we tried to slow her speedy laps. As she ran toward us, we tried to capture her, but she darted around us. We called her, but she ignored us. To get her attention, we splashed water on her. She stopped dead in her tracks and looked at us as if to say, “What do you need?” It was then we realized she becomes laser focused—almost as if in a trance.

The following month, Gracie began to limp again. This time she had completely torn her toenail off with the flesh exposed. Ugh!!! After a 4-week recovery, a new nail appeared and she was back to routine. Yes… well… it was short-lived.

Gracie is currently recovering from a broken toe. Four to six weeks of weekly splint changes by the vet. No walks, no swimming, no dog-friend play dates—just chilling on a leash. She’s really bummed out.

After three injuries and lots of vet bills, something needed to change. Research revealed she is not actually playing a game. She is stressed. Fence aggression is the term for her behavior. She defies the limits of the fence to try to get to the stimuli on the other side.

Lessons Learned

I also said to myself, as for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. (Ecclesiastes 3:18 NIV)

As if awakened from my own daze, I began to draw correlations between Gracie and me. I want something on the greener side of the fence, but God has limited me for my own good. I don’t understand. Feeling constricted, I stress and mentally ram into the fence. Many times I get hurt because my trust in the Master is weak.

When the Master calls, the day’s distractions drown out His voice. Calamity strikes. My trance is broken. I fall on my knees and seek His help.

The Solution

Yahweh your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will bring you quietness with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy. (Zephaniah 3:17 HCSB)

They say in research that to break fence aggression, an owner needs to practice recalls with the dog:

  1. Tie a leash or rope to the dog’s collar. Call them and gently pull them toward you.
  2. Give praise with a happy and excited voice when they get to your side. Pet them and demonstrate your great love for them. This will quiet their stress.
  3. Offer a high-value treat like chicken or cheese.

Of course, we are not dogs, but if you will indulge me, here is the correlation:

  1. God gives us enough rope, but only to go so far. When we have hit the end, He gently tugs and says come to Me.
  2. God rejoices over us, brings quietness with His love, and delights in us with shouts of joy. Our stress melts away.
  3. He offers us a high-value reward—peace and joy through trust in the Master.




9 thoughts on “Do You Experience Fence Aggression?

  1. Doris Keen July 18, 2016 / 8:14 pm

    A wonderful way to compare God’s relationship with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Darla Haas July 18, 2016 / 9:48 pm

    What great correlations Cindy! Now every time I see Gracie I’ll consider these thoughts. Wishing her a speedy recovery and us more spiritual lessons she may teach us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dorothy Johnson July 18, 2016 / 10:35 pm

    I can sure relate to poor Gracie’s problems. I’ve had a broken foot and sometimes, I run around with my own version of fence aggression. She is so fortunate to have kind, gentle masters as we are to be cared for by a patient, kind Savior. Thanks for the great lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cindy Hansberry July 19, 2016 / 9:04 am

      We sure do have a patient and kind Savior! He’s a great Master!


  4. Dorothy Hill July 19, 2016 / 5:58 am

    This is such a wonderful reminder of God’s loving care of us. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cindy Hansberry July 19, 2016 / 9:05 am

      Thank you, Dorothy. You provided the inspiration for this post, as you know.


  5. Ginger Dorr July 19, 2016 / 10:24 am

    It was an excellent post describing how I have felt many times and yes it is exactly as you stated to go back and be quieted by the saviour.


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