Like humans, dogs are capable of feeling left out and frustrated. When your dog can see something that he finds interesting but is unable to get up close and personal, he may experience barrier frustration. Whether he's behind a fence, looking out the window or walking on his leash, your dog can suffer from the associated unhappiness and aggression. By working and playing with your dog, though, you can alleviate his frustration over time.
The primary cause of barrier frustration isn't just the barrier -- it's what is on the other side. If your dog can see a squirrel outside the window, another animal on the other side of your chain-link fence or a pet cat outside his crate, he may become frustrated and upset. In cases like those, give your dog privacy -- when he can't see what he's missing, he won't feel the same frustration. Closed windows, privacy fences and even a blanket draped over the crate are a few solutions that can help your dog cope.
By teaching your dog that being constrained by a barrier isn't necessarily a bad thing, you can train him not to become frustrated in certain situations. For example, some dogs experience barrier frustration when walking on a leash, and may tug and pull at the sight of another dog. When you're walking your pet and another dog comes within sight, offer your dog a small, special treat. Do this every time you pass another dog -- eventually, he'll feel happy anticipation when you see another dog on a walk, rather than frustration. Similarly, if your dog experience barrier frustration when you leave the house -- it is sometimes associated with separation anxiety -- offer him a special toy or treat that he only gets before you leave.
When you get frustrated with your dog, it only makes his own frustration more severe. If you want to help him cope with his barrier frustration, then, you need to remain calm whenever he's upset. If he barks at animals outside the window or tugs at his leash, for example, resist the urge to scold or yank at him. While you may need to implement the "no" command, showing the dog that you're exasperated will only worsen his own anxiety.
Dogs thrive on discipline, and a lack of direction and structure could be contributing to your dog's barrier frustration. By introducing discipline into your dog's routine, you give him something to focus on, and a clear system of good behavior and reward. For example, train your dog to remain by your side as you walk rather than pulling on his leash. Train him to perform tricks as a way of distracting him from what's happening outside the window or beyond the fence. While the extent and methods of his training may vary -- enlisting a professional trainer will help -- the end result is a disciplined and less-frustrated pet.
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