Barrier Frustration in Dogs

dog aggression Feb 17, 2021
Metropawlitan Dog Training - Barrier Frustration

While barrier frustration isn't really a type of dog aggression or reactivity on its own, it's important to be aware of as the behaviour itself can look scary and threatening to those who don't know what it is.  Here are a few signs that your dog may be experiencing barrier frustration.

What it looks like

  1. Barking and lunging at the end of the leash or behind a barrier.  
  2. Frustration barking. This happens when the dog is excited/over aroused with seeing other dogs or people but are restricted from getting to them.  Barrier frustration is commonly seen in dogs that get excited/aroused by other dogs, in dogs that exhibit prey aggression, and in territorial dogs.  
  3. Barrier specific.  In milder cases, some dogs calm down and are neutral and appropriate with people or dogs when the barrier (i.e. leash or fence) is removed.


  1. Individual personality.  Just like with people, each dog has his own individual personality.  Some of these personalities are more prone to frustrate quicker than others in certain circumstances.  
  2. Learned behaviour.  This type of dog has learned to associate other dogs or people with excitement or arousal.  This happens typically when focus on socialization is too much on play and interaction with other dogs or visiting other people.
  3. Underlying reactivity.  Barrier frustration can often be a symptom of an underlying type of dog reactivity, such as over arousal, predatory aggression, or territorial aggression.  Because the dog is already aroused, it doesn't take much for these dogs to become easily frustrated in the process.

How to treat

  1. Treat the underlying cause.  If barrier frustration is a symptom of an underlying issue, it's important to follow a training plan that helps to address this underlying issue first.
  2. Obedience training.  For a dog that just shows frustration when restrained, but is neutral when they're no longer behind a barrier, obedience training will help to teach impulse control.  The goal is to teach the dog that calm submissive behaviour is the fastest way for him to get what he wants most, which is meeting the other people or dogs.

Got a dog that is showing some barrier frustration signs?  Email us at [email protected] to see how we can help you today!

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