Are fence windows bad for your dog?

dog looks through a wire grate in a fence

Windows give humans a connection to the outside world. We find it relaxing to see horizons and landscapes. But do our dogs find looking out windows relaxing? Turns out, not so much. Yes, dogs like looking out windows, but the percentage of dogs who find this activity soothing is low. 

Looking out the window for dogs is a more alert activity and just because they may be holding still doesn’t mean that they are relaxed. Watching activity outside is interesting and stimulating for dogs, but you need to be careful about this form of stimulation. Dogs who look out the window might start obsessively playing watchdog and can learn some really unfortunate behaviors, like barking. 

Ever wonder why the mail carrier is a common nemesis for most dogs? They come every day, the dog barks, and they leave. Every. Time. Dogs don’t understand that the mail carrier is going to leave whether they bark or not. All the dog knows is that when they bark, the person goes away. 

Giving your dog a fence window so they can watch the world is well intentioned, but will cause more stress to the dog in most cases. As humans, we love a good landscape. Looking at a calm view, seeing happy people walking around, children playing, and community can make us feel safe. This is written in our ancestral DNA. But for our dogs, these views often don’t read the same. To the vigilant watch dog, every animal and person outside could be a threat. And if you live in a quieter part of town, sudden changes can stress your dog out.

dog looks out a window

Many dogs feel the need to alert to changes, especially when perceived threats enter their territory. If this happens enough, dogs can become more on edge and start to obsess at windows. Being a constant sentry can cause stress. The dog can start looking for the next threat to bark at and make go away, always wondering what will come around the corner.

For sociable dogs, we see a different form of stress arise. Dogs who are behind a window can see all the fun stuff they want to do and people they want to go greet. Not being able to access all these fun activities can cause dogs to throw tantrums. 

dog with mouth open wide and showing all teeth

As the dog tries to solicit attention through the window and people or animals ignore them and move on, emotional stress builds. And what started out as friendly soliciting can turn into meltdowns and frustration. 

Dogs who are in such a high emotional state can easily flip from a positive experience to a negative one. Unfortunately, animals do not make good decisions when in the midst of a tantrum. Depending on how active your neighborhood is, your dog may not calm down fully from the frustration before the next person walks down the street. This is exhausting and not in a good way. 

You may be wondering what the difference is between having a window in your fence for your dog and having a window in your home. The biggest difference most times is dogs are in the yard by themselves without their humans to help them. This influences most dog’s reactions. 

When dogs are inside, humans can go to the window with them to look at what is causing the disruption, call the dog away from the window to give them a different task, or tell them everything is okay. Dogs who are obsessive at indoor windows also need assistance and would benefit from training to help them deal with their intense emotions. 

Dog looks out a window from inside while on a dog bed

If there’s a fence window and your dog is alone or with their other housemate dogs, they may feel the need to be the watchdog of the yard. If they are trying to solicit attention and feeling frustration build, it’s difficult to go through that process alone. 

The trend of putting windows in fences for dogs is a disservice to our canine pals. Again, every dog is an individual, but thinking that giving your dog a fence window will be relaxing is misguided. It can cause more problems, stress, and create unwanted barking behaviors. 

dog looking through fence

If you already have a fence window, take some time to look at your dog’s reactions to it. If you start noticing stressed behaviors, it might be best to replace the window with an opaque panel or put a covering over it. 

Even if stressed behaviors aren’t happening at the fence window directly, if you notice your dog is getting more on edge in situations they used to cope well with, it might be time to see if covering the fence window makes an impact on your dog’s overall behavior. Sometimes stressors build up and having a fence window could be the last straw for your dog. It can take some time to see results, but if you test it out through trial and error you may find the answer you’re looking for.

Giving your dog other forms of enrichment is possible. Letting your dog explore the world on a walk or hike is much more beneficial. You can also bring your dog new smells and things to their yard to explore. If you need help thinking of enrichment ideas that are appropriate for your dog, talk to your trainer about options. Just like with humans and their hobbies, enrichment activities can take some trial and error to find the right one.

Dog smells in grass

If you’ve been on the fence about giving your dog a fence window, our advice is to forgo it altogether. There are too many negative impacts to make it worth it. Your dog may thank you for it.

Does your dog stress at watching the world go by inside or outside their home?

Dog ears forward as seen from behind

We can help.

At Really Good Pets, we help families and the dogs they love get back to the adventures they long for.

Having a dog who stresses while out and about can make meeting their exercise and enrichment needs difficult, not to mention going to places like the vet.

We specialize in bringing relief through training so you can get back to what you love doing with your dog.

Message us for your free consultation and start your training journey today.