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Help! My pup has severe (and scary) anxiety around traffic!

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  • Help! My pup has severe (and scary) anxiety around traffic!

    My 8 month old Border Collie x Kelpie x Lab boy (Alfred) is normally a pretty well behaved walker . though a little cheeky at times. He's never been bothered by traffic, trams, trains (travels on the train regularly) ..
    He suddenly developed an almost violent fear of traffic a few months ago - with no apparent trigger!

    We'll approach a busy intersection (no always with beeping light indicator) and he'll tense up completely. When it's time to cross, he'll start screaming (half bark, half howl - it sounds like he's being beaten!!). He'll lunge forward .. but then twist around, jump up, try to bite anything nearby (especially me). He barks and lunges at cars while we're crossing, and for a couple of blocks after we've cleared the crossing. He'll be on edge for ages afterwards.

    Aside from this being horrifically embarrassing (I get some horrid looks from strangers as though I'm abusing my beautiful dog) .. this is pretty terrifying. I'm worried he's going to hurt himself, or me, or someone else!

    We have a trainer working 1:1 with him - but only seems to be getting worse!
    He's such a sweet and loving boy - and it's not fair that he has to go through this!

    Does anyone have any suggestions of either a cause, or solution that could help?
    I'm at my witt's end!

    Thanks so much!

  • #2
    When you work with the trainer to help him overcome his fear, remember that dogs don't learn when they are too stressed. We can't avoid having them face the stress of the trigger (the traffic and cars etc.), but keep in mind that when he is too stressed he learns very little. When you say it seems to be getting worse, it could be 1) the training method is not working, or 2) the training method is excellent but he is just too stressed to learn. And you would assess this by checking is he often having an explosive reaction - that would be how you know he's too stressed. If that's the case, you could try doing the training a bit further from the traffic as distance from the trigger helps to lower stress. Ideally you want to be working with him when he's showing signs of anxiety - walking faster, panting, licking his lips, edgy and looking very alert, pricked ears, maybe barking once or twice, but not when he's barking and lunging like mad and biting you. Once he is in that state he's not thinking anymore so whatever you do during that time it's not going to get into his brain.

    How are you and your trainer working with him at the moment?

    As to why he's so terrified, it's hard to say. Has he ever had a traumatic experience? Is he a edgy dog in general? My dog gets more aroused and overwhelmed just by being in a high traffic area. For him its the louder noise, the fast movement all are things that attract his attention and I think of it as information overload for him. As a pup, simply being out for too long was overstimulation for him leading to a jump and bite reaction out of nowhere. Do you think it is the noise that upsets your dog more or the movement?


    If you didn't have the cross the intersection and you just walked beside the road, is he also stressed? The reason I ask this is to figure out where is the point his anxiety starts from - is he scared of stationary cars (you could throw him treats at a stationary car, let him sniff as much as he wants), what about one car moving slowly (you could sit in view of a carpark and let him watch from a distance cars moving slowly). If it is the noise he's scared of, you could play a video with traffic noises while he's having his dinner so he gets to associate the noise with something nice. I would start by working out what gets him a little upset, and what gets him very upset, and get him okay with the things he gets a little upset about first, before tackling the 'bigger' problem.

    Comment


    • #3
      For now, I would avoid busy intersectionwith him. That's a lot going on, and it is very hard for him to think and focus on you when he is so worried.

      Instead, try being around a more quiet intersection. Get him comfortable in that kind of environment with only a couple of cars and the like. Do some training at a distance or reward him for "existing" aka sitting, sniffing, looking calmly, looking at you. Rewarding those self-soothing behaviours that settle his mind. Do that for a few weeks and get him comfortable with this kind of situation, then gently test the waters with slightly more busy environment.

      Another method (you can switch depending ont he day!) You want him close enough he will look at the things that concern him at times, but not so close he is staring intently. You want him to feel relaxed enough to still look around, but when he DOES look at his triggers, calmly hand him a treat. This associates the triggers with good things and can help build his confidence.

      It is also okay to give him rest days, when he seems to be struggling a lot. This lets him recover, rather than risk his triggers stacking beyond what he can handle and then freaking out (barking, redirecting his biting etc). I wouldn't do this training every day, as it's asking a lot from him mentally.

      It could be without you realising, he had a bad experience (for him) during a critical development period and unfortunately has not recovered from it or maybe this is just how he is.

      Comment


      • #4
        eight months is a fear period..... need to start back at home and venture out slowly

        Look up the BAT dog training system.... Google it and buy the Ebook.... Could write a pile on here, but this book is great for fear period dogs.

        Nip it in the bud early and allow your dog some time to grow and not under so much duress.... Also look at your trainer, if things are getting worse, you can always look for a second or even third opinion.

        personally when I first started training, I wanted to see what the trainers dogs were like in situations.... not just obedience.... not saying you have a bad trainer, but if you say it is getting worse with the trainer I would check it out
        sigpicPets are forever

        Comment


        • #5
          Yes – Totally agree with all ‘newfsie' said ! Your pup is going through a fear period.

          I had a similar sort of situation with my little girl at 10 months old. Fear periods are very real to these pups ! They can get some silly ideas in their heads sometimes ! Things that they were OK with not long ago – they are now scared of.

          I found the 2nd fear period harder on my little girl – than the first one. For a little girl that loved getting in the car – during this fear period - she refused point blank. It took a bit of thinking 'outside the square' to sort her out !

          When my little girl hit this particular time - I got a triple whammy with her ! She had come on heat for the first time, became a ‘Terrible Teenager’ and went through a massive fear period. LOL – It was a hell of a lot of fun for all of us ! She pushed buttons we didn’t even know we had !

          http://k9protraining.com.au/2005/10/...ment-schedule/

          Teaching him a few new tricks at this stage/age is also very good for building up his confidence levels and the bond you have with him.

          https://www.youtube.com/user/kikopup

          I am not that keen on 1 on 1 training - because both of you miss out on the social/bonding with each other and others which happens when joining a 'Dog School'. You may think you and your pup are only there to learn obedience - but you end up learning a lot more than just that.

          So, I suggest you both enrol in a 'Dog School' and see how you go !

          Good Luck !

          Comment


          • #6
            I like to do a home visit with my clients first... I literally watch how the dog behaves in the home, "normal".... after that it is in Group sessions, unless extreme fear or aggression.... But I use my own dogs, so it is never a true one on one with my four girls as teaching dogs. I don't use my boy as he is my very own project of fear aggressive dog.... Now great with me, but I pick the dogs he is around.
            sigpicPets are forever

            Comment


            • #7
              I have a 10 month old GSD female. She is the same like yours. But, she started out with fear aggression with kids at 6 months old, due to next door little boy traumatising her. In february, I Got a behaviourist from the obedience club I was going to. Kid issue is getting a bit better.

              However in the last couple of months she suddenly developed aggression towards dogs and passing traffic. I use a dogmatic with a short leash, but even that doesnt help when she goes psycho over the passing vehicles and any dogs. Ive ordered a prong collar and hope that works. Shes lost her confidence and it needs to be built up again. Graduality is key, you need to start off with quiet spaces and eventually expose to noise over time.


              Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

              Comment


              • #8
                I see a border collie, behaving like a border collie.
                What others perceive as fear, just supposing....

                its prey drive? the instinctual urge to spot/chase/bite sequence of truncated behaviour pattern, in this case cars? This is what bc's want to do. Its normal. Ive trained 3, and all went off! chomping at anything nearby, sheer frustration, tethered and prevented, it may look like fear, but if the dog is lungeing 'toward' the car, its more likely prey drive.
                And the solution would be very different. By providing an outlet, for your dogs prey drive. Flirt poles, and games of tug etc. And repeating new lessons closer and closer to traffic.

                Id love an update, on what you are doing for this?

                Without being there to read the dog, this is a hard call for any trainer to 'call' on the internet.

                Either way, dog has to learn/relearn correct response traffic, in which ever method your trainer has you using.

                if its fear, new behaviour is trained, incrementally as described above.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I see a border collie, behaving like a border collie.
                  What others perceive as fear, just supposing....

                  its prey drive? the instinctual urge to spot/chase/bite sequence of truncated behaviour pattern, in this case cars? This is what bc's want to do. Its normal. Ive trained 3, and all went off! chomping at anything nearby, sheer frustration, tethered and prevented, it may look like fear, but if the dog is lungeing 'toward' the car, its more likely prey drive.
                  And the solution would be very different. By providing an outlet, for your dogs prey drive. Flirt poles, and games of tug etc. And repeating new lessons closer and closer to traffic.

                  Id love an update, on what you are doing for this?

                  Without being there to read the dog, this is a hard call for any trainer to 'call' on the internet.

                  Either way, dog has to learn/relearn correct response traffic, in which ever method your trainer has you using.

                  if its fear, new behaviour is trained, incrementally as described above.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    While I can’t offer any advice, I’m quite interested in hearing any updates or progress.

                    And may I know what sort of training your dog has been through since you got him? Do you know exactly what your recent trainer has done with him (which doesn’t work)?

                    Lunging at cars and biting the owner don’t sound like common reactions so I am a bit intrigued. I know a master trainer (who train other dog trainers) and your case is something I would like to get his opinion about if I know a bit more.


                    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                    sigpic

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by furbaby View Post
                      While I can’t offer any advice, I’m quite interested in hearing any updates or progress.

                      And may I know what sort of training your dog has been through since you got him? Do you know exactly what your recent trainer has done with him (which doesn’t work)?

                      Lunging at cars and biting the owner don’t sound like common reactions so I am a bit intrigued. I know a master trainer (who train other dog trainers) and your case is something I would like to get his opinion about if I know a bit more.
                      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                      I am sure you want to offer advice and guidance ! So, why don't you ?

                      Oops - What I highlighted above - really explains what you seem to know ! Please do heaps more homework on all of the different breeds of dogs that people on here may have !

                      BCs are and should be a very smart breed of dog. But this depends on : The breeder health testing their breeding stock before breeding and what you rightly said about training -

                      And may I know what sort of training your dog has been through since you got him?
                      Training is not the 'be-all and end-all to a solution to a dog's behaviour' ! It really depends on the type of training and relationship that a dog has with the owner ! There also maybe a medical reason ?

                      Or - it is just as simple as - this dog is going through a fear period.

                      Yes -
                      Lunging at cars
                      As far as I am concerned - that would make me class this dog as untrained !

                      Biting an owner
                      This comment of yours - is really looking at the bond and relationship someone has with their dog. I have never stopped any of my pups growling at me. To do this would mean - that I didn't understand the first 'warning' of a growl. Because if I had - then - Yes - I would have been bitten.

                      Have I have ever been bitten by one of my pups ? LOL - Has never happened with any of my pups !

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Use a dog calming harness they are around $80 and lots of positive recognition.

                        Comment


                        • #13
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                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Forcing your puppy to fully face the fear of visitors will be traumatizing and really disadvantageous. This technique would more than likely instill a better sensation of anxiety in him. As an alternative, try using a cheerful and lively sculpt when traversing the street or transferring targeted traffic. Positively strengthen your puppy after he has calmed down and demonstrates indications of enhancement. Usually do not negatively reinforce or scold your dog for being afraid, since this is only going to intensify the fear. Slowly and gradually immersing your pet is easily the most beneficial method to simplicity his anxieties.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              How are you and your trainer working with him at the moment?

                              As to why he's so terrified, it's hard to say. Has he ever had a traumatic experience? Is he a edgy dog in general? My dog gets more aroused and overwhelmed just by being in a high traffic area. For him its the louder noise, the fast movement all are things that attract his attention and I think of it as information overload for him. As a pup, simply being out for too long was overstimulation for him leading to a jump and bite reaction out of nowhere. Do you think it is the noise that upsets your dog more or the movement?

                              Comment

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