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Old 01-11-2014, 01:27 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Training Tips to Help Lessen Fear of Cars Going By

Hi everyone,

I was wondering if anyone had any good training advice to help my five month old German Shepherd/Doberman mix puppy be less afraid of cars when she's out on her walks. We hired a trainer, but to make a very, very long story short she wasn't as good as I'd hoped she'd be. I tried using treats to distract Zoe from the cars at first, but that didn't work as well as I thought it would. She still shakes and pulls whenever we walk around the corner or go to cross the street.

I vaguely remember my Bichon Frise Esme doing something similar as a puppy, so I have a feeling it's just a matter of Zoe getting used to the sights and sounds, but I just feel bad that she's scared and would like to help her get over her fear. Esme eventually outgrew her skittishness around cars, so I'm hoping with some time and effort on my part, Zoe will too.

--Amanda
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Old 01-11-2014, 03:52 AM   #2 (permalink)
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My golden was like that and with age he has gotten much better. We are now able to sit and watch cars pass, he still does not like garbage trucks, but he loves the garbage man that gives him treats I got him to be able to stand next to the truck without issue that way.
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:52 AM   #3 (permalink)
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One thing to try is stamping you feet as you go.

Do it a little at a time and build it up. Change speeds and run a little, then try going slowly. Practice turning, crossing the road etc.

Basically start making the walk challenging and the dog will have so much stuff to think about it will stop focusing on the noise of cars.

Do realize that dogs ears are more sensitive and powerful than ours so the noise you are exposing it to may seem harsh to the dog.

Also their vision is closer to the ground than ours so they can't actually see where trafic is coming from like us.

Also check out Tyler Mutos leash techniques and place command building up to working under distraction.
Tyler Muto - YouTube
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Old 01-11-2014, 10:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Can you work with your pup a little farther away from the cars? If you can work with her on things far enough away from the cars that she isn't afraid, and then gradually get closer, maybe that would help.
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Old 01-12-2014, 05:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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My puppy reacted to cars as well. If given the chance, he'd lunge after them too. I taught him "sit" and when I saw a car approaching, I'd stop walking (placing myself between him and the road) and ask for a sit, and then keep him in that position until the car passed us. I didn't use treats for this, because he wasn't interested in food rewards outdoors, so it was verbal praise only. Good luck - my pup eventually learned to ignore cars and doesn't want to chase them anymore either. Yay.
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Old 01-13-2014, 12:33 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thank you for the advice everyone, it's really helpful! I'm going to incorporate it into our walks this week.

MadLab-you know, it's funny you mention stomping one's feet as a distraction. On a whim when I was walking Zoe this morning I acted as if there were squirrels in the tree at the corner and asked her to go get them as a distraction because she gets all excited when she sees one and starts prancing because she wants to go look for them--I figured it'd be a good way to keep her mind off of the cars on the street. I felt bad about tricking her, but it worked--she was so intent on looking for a squirrel that she forgot all about the loud noises. I'll check out the YouTube link tomorrow as well, thanks for that too.

I figure she'll eventually grow out of it, but I'd like to do whatever I can to help ease her out of her fear, especially since I live right near a busy street that we need to cross when we go for walks. I'd change the route if I could, but there's no way to avoid it so I want to do what I can to make her comfortable with the noise, etc.
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Zoe: German Shepherd/Doberman/Beagle mix. Also known as the baby direwolf.

Esme: Bichon Frise. Also known as the fluff pup.
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