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Any advice please

in Pets & pet care
6 replies 894 views
I don't know if this has been asked before.
I often dog sit for my son as he works strange shifts, he has a Jack Russel crossed with a Lakeland Terrier which is almost 2 years old.
The problem I have is that when I am taking the dog for a walk if a wagon, tractor or a large motorbike comes along the road she cowers in fear or tries to get as far away from the road, if I see or hear a wagon coming I try to reassure her but she is terrified and almost shaking in fear, this is totally out of character as she is normally OK with most traffic.
Any advice would be appreciated.


  • FosterdogFosterdog Forumite
    4.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    How long has this been going on? Has she always done it or is it more recent (as in since the recent thunder storms)? How often does this happen on walks? Daily, weekly, on rare occasions?

    Does she react the same way when your son walks her?

    If she is that nervous she really needs some work to build her confidence and desensitise her.

    If possible try to walk her where there is no chance of coming across these things, even if only temporary, Google trigger stacking in dogs it explains how levels of fear build up over time and the effect they have on the dog, ideally you want to get her down to 0 and start with a clean slate to work with her.

    Be careful with how you reassure and comfort her as you may inadvertently be praising her fear reaction so she thinks that's how she should react.

    To desensitise her it needs to be done gradually, when you can hear or see a trigger in the distance praise and reward her for calm behaviour then remove her before the "threat" gets too close. Over time she should be able to get much closer to the "threat" while still remaining calm and this reaction should always be rewarded (doesn't always have to be treats, a little fuss, a toy or even just a good girl is a reward). This can take weeks or even months to get there and there is no quick fix.

    I'm not at home right now to look up proper links to help and advice but I'm sure someone will come along soon, if not when I get time tonight or tomorrow I'll get more info for you.

    I've been lucky that I've never had a dog react to traffic like this but I have had to desensitise a dog afraid of steps and stairs and a few dogs with fear reactions to other dogs and quite a few who have never lived in a house before and every thing inside scares them. It takes time but it can be done.
  • Thanks for the quick reply my son has moved about 4 months ago and does not live near any busy roads now.
    She had the fear of noisy/big traffic when she was a puppy for the first few weeks then seemed to grow out of it, this has only started to happen again over last 3-4 weeks and I can't think of anything that has triggered it to start again.
    I have noted your comment about me reassuring and praising her and her accepting this is how to react. As you say ther is no quick fix and it wil take time, but will follow your advice and see how it works out.
  • edited 25 July 2015 at 5:41PM
    elsienelsien Forumite
    29K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    edited 25 July 2015 at 5:41PM
    It could be the specific type of noise as well. Generally speaking, Gitdog is bombproof around noise. Fireworks, thunder, everyday traffic, no problem.

    Cars and bikes which are really loud (the ones where they've been messing to sound impressive), chainsaws and hedge cutters send him doolally. As do loud rhythmic noises as I found out to my cost last week when we went to watch the dragon boat races and the drums set him off. All similar loud more vibratey type noises - perhaps it's something similar with yours, the tone and frequency of the engine noise rather than general traffic.

    It's hard to desensitise because without a friend with a chainsaw (or something) you can't predict when you're going to encounter it.
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • ljonskiljonski Forumite
    3.3K Posts
    ear muffs?
    "if the state cannot find within itself a place for those who peacefully refuse to worship at its temples, then it’s the state that’s become extreme".Revd Dr Giles Fraser on Radio 4 2017
  • trolleyruntrolleyrun Forumite
    1.4K Posts
    When I first got Pipsqueak, she was terrified of cars and wanted to attack them. We worked together and the problem seemed to go away to a certain extend. She was still wary of lorries and loud motorbikes.
    In the last few months, her fear has come back. I don't know why, but again we're working on it. I think it's been my fault as we've mainly been doing walks in fields away from any kind of traffic for the last few months. When we walk along the road, she just stops and tucks her tail under and won't move until the vehicle has passed. In a way it's a good thing, as I know she won't run into a road if she should somehow get loose.

    It was rather funny recently when we were walking down a quiet street and Pipsqueak decided that a parked mint coloured Vespa was very threatening and wanted to pick a fight with it. I wish I'd filmed it - it made me giggle for ages :D
  • RuthnJasperRuthnJasper Forumite
    4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Photogenic Combo Breaker
    All dogs are different - but I used to look after a similar breed to the OP's; a Norwich Terrier called Teazle, who was enraged at traffic. Snarling, foaming at the mouth, leaping and twisting in fury every time a vehicle passed us.

    I used to hold her firmly on the ground, so that she couldn't twist or snarl herself into a worse frenzy, and give her a tasty edible treat at the moment she started to calm down - following this up, of course, with plenty of cuddles and reassurances once her breathing was back to normal. It took a few months but it did work.

    Anything more extreme or apparently unsolvable ought to be checked out by a vet though; for example, the dog may have an ear problem which makes the noise of passing vehicles painful...

    All the best - hope everything turns out well. x
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