Advanced dog advice, positive feedback loop edition: Looking for advice on convincing our new rescue pup not to bark at our neighbors' even barkier dogs.
is Molly, our new rescue dog. She's about a year old, rescued by a mobile spay and neuter clinic that does rounds on one of the Native American reservations in New Mexico and then brings dogs backs to Denver. We've had her for about 3 weeks, and she's super well adjusted... except for one thing.
Our neighbors have barky dogs. Dogs that bark at us whenever we go into the backyard. Dogs that bark at other dogs barking. Dogs that insisted on throwing their entire bodies against the 6 foot fence and try to scrabble underneath it any time our older dog, Moose, deigned to walk in front of it and wag politely, because apparently he finds barking beneath him.
Molly has no such compunctions, and has gone from general curiosity and interest in the neighbor dogs in week one, to racing out of the back door each morning on the offensive, barking at the fence. We're working on that in all the usual positive reinforcement ways (treats for hushing! humans have got this! run through your other tricks!), and have had a lot of success at getting her to hush while she's inside the house and hears them barking outside. Out in the yard is a different story, though - if the neighbor dogs are in their yard but not near the fence, we can call her back to us and get her to settle (reluctantly), but if they're right there barking, both sides will rile each other up further.
So, I'm looking for advice on how to manage this. Neighbor dogs are outside a lot, so waiting until they're not there to let my dogs out isn't a good plan. I'm also trying not to limit Molly's backyard access too much in the nice weather, because she burns off a TON of puppy energy wrestling with my older dog out there. Right now they spend 4-5 30 minute play sessions outside, usually with me in and out of the backyard during that time.
Is there anything else I should be doing to train her out of trying to engage in this situation? Is there a point where I say screw positive reinforcement, and turn the hose (gently!) on both sides of the fence to get them to knock it off? Dragging our puppy away bodily seems to be barely putting a band-aid on the problem, and all our hard work on hushing seems pretty moot when neighbor-dog is hurling his entire frame at the fence to get to her.
For what it's worth, I don't think neighbor dogs are bad dogs, or that they're pissed off - just inherently territorial dogs whose people don't care that much. Whenever they stop barking, they're wagging. If I could train BOTH sides of the fence to shut up, I would.