Puppy's Fear of Trucks - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-22-2019, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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Puppy's Fear of Trucks

Hello,

I have an 11-month old GSD pup who is extremely afraid of the noise of semi trucks and basically any vehicle with a diesel engine. Many, many loud trucks (semi trucks and otherwise) drive by my backyard all day long as my backyard faces a very busy road. My pup is incredibly resistant to go outside to go to the bathroom so I have to force her to. Throughout the day, she is in the basement or an interior room of the house to get away from the noise.

I was wondering if anybody has had any luck counterconditioning a fear like this? The dog trainer I have been using recommends that I force her outside as she shouldn't be allowed to go to the bathroom in the house, obviously, and to reward her when she is calm around the noise. The problem is that she never seems to be calm around the noise.

She is fine around other loud noises such as the vacuum cleaner, thunder, the garbage disposal, etc. The fear is apparently specific to just loud trucks.

She isn't bothering anyone or anything by being in the basement or powder room all day, but I just feel bad she's in such a stressed state all day. Any advice would be great. I appreciate your honesty.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-22-2019, 07:12 PM
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I dealt with that......dog was fine with cars....but semis, FedEx, UPS, garbage trucks etc....she showed some trepidation as a pup.


I decided to walk her down the road where there was a busy 4 lane road with plenty of trucks but on these walks I'd bring the tug or her frisbee.....as soon as we'd get to a point where I noticed the slightest resistance/hesitation from the sound of the trucks...I'd whip out the tug or bee and get her engagement....and we'd just play for 5-10 minutes...and then we'd head back....no big deal...no coercion....just played with the pup. I probably did that on a daily basis for a few weeks as part of our daily trekking together......but each and every day....the threshold changed....she would go farther before showing the slightest unease.


This breed is smart and I knew she was still aware of the trucks but I think you can utilize a dog's drives.....but it's a balancing act of sorts......too close to a source of the perceived " boogieman" and the drive might not matter......the dog's mind is made up.......so you're kind of screwing yourself and losing any advantage the dog's drive(s) has to offer.


Eventually, we'd just walk to the intersection....I'd put her on a sit/stay and we'd just watch the trucks roar by.....the dog maintained because all along the way.....she had been living in this zone previously playing tug......I just subtracted the play.


Slow and steady....get the dog's engagement and take advantage of your dog's drives early.




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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-22-2019, 07:57 PM
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yea just take the dog out, close all doors/windows so there's no way back inside, and just play with the dog.
obviously since the dog is scared she will cower by the corner at first, but you can either keep playing with yourself (throw ball int he air and catch), or just get a book and read.
dog will most likely notice.
and come back in once dog shows improvement.
little by little i'm sure the dog will come around.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-22-2019, 09:36 PM
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My take on it may be a little different -- can you take her out when there is less of the dreaded racket? I do that and as soon as one approached pull out the tug/toy./favorite treat/etc. Once she's OK in that situation, then I'd move to maybe the street as someone suggested and later the noisy backyard... I'm relating to this as having had one dog who wanted to eat cars and trucks when she was a puppy. I worked her when there was little traffic - as soon as I saw a vehicle approaching, we'd move a bit away (driveways, cross streets etc) do a focused sit with a big reward - several tasty treats dispensed during the sit and a lot of praise afterward. It wasn't long before she was rock solid with even lights/sirens/horns of fire engines going past.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-23-2019, 08:11 AM
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My yard is right next to a busy road. Dump trucks, tractor trailers and sport bikes go by all the time. The trucks make those huge loud exhaust farts (sorry no better way to describe) when engine breaking. My existing dog is fine with it, I have a new puppy and he is exposed to it right away. He has not shown any fear but his ears perk up and he notices..so I just get the rag and play with him. Nothing is nothing.

I know it is harder with an established dog. My fearful pit that is now my BFs dog would not go out for a long time after we had solar panels installed (they were lined up in the yard like an alien invasion prior to going on the roof). I just did exactly as Super G described. Both with tug and food. I actually had my environmentally stable dog to play with in front of him while he watched from the door and the desire to participate overrode his fear eventually. Good luck OP.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-23-2019, 10:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your responses. Yesterday was a particularly bad day for her. Some days are worse than others. I must say she has improved slightly since late March. If I go to the sliding door, she will follow me out, quickly do her business, and sprint back inside.

My pup has heard a semi truck go by at least once a week since she was 8 weeks old. My apartment faced a loading dock where a semi truck would back in. I moved to the house with a yard on a busy road in January. I thought a semi truck would be the last thing she would be afraid of. Roxy is relatively unreactive to any loud noise when we are on a walk. My trainer suggested it could be context of the backyard itself, which is an interesting thought. Roxy didn't have a backyard until she was 7 months old, and most, if not all, of her experiences in the backyard during the day have had truck noises as the background music. She had been on a leash while outside since she was 8 weeks old so her being off leash outside is somewhat strange to her I suppose.

What is interesting is that when it's dark outside and the road is much quieter, she LOVES the backyard. I cannot get her out of the backyard at night.

I am starting to implement a high reward system per your suggestions. What I am still finding difficult is to identify when she is being calm. I will tell her "here" to have her cross the threshold from inside the house to the backyard, and I give her a high value reward and lots of praise. She appears to do this calmly, but after she gets her reward she will immediately cower back inside the house. Was she petrified the entire time she was crossing the threshold and I just reinforced the fear?
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-23-2019, 11:28 PM
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"I am starting to implement a high reward system per your suggestions. What I am still finding difficult is to identify when she is being calm. I will tell her "here" to have her cross the threshold from inside the house to the backyard, and I give her a high value reward and lots of praise. She appears to do this calmly, but after she gets her reward she will immediately cower back inside the house. Was she petrified the entire time she was crossing the threshold and I just reinforced the fear?"

Imo no you didn't reinforce the fear, you rewarded her bravery and courage to go past her threshold (comfort zone) to get what she wanted. Whether or not she was calm doesn't matter in the baby step stage as the being calm will follow in due time and with more repititions.

Next time you encourage her, have a mitful and dole them out slowly, or add a bit of tug and or ball playing along with the treats. Keep the door open so she knows the option to retreat is there if needed.

My guys issue with loud trucks as a pup wasn't full blown fear but he would startle. His recovery was decent so I helped him a little bit differently to extinguish the startle.

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Last edited by Heartandsoul; 04-23-2019 at 11:35 PM.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-23-2019, 11:58 PM
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I've still yet to remember the brand but I know people use certain brands of calming treats to work with this fear. It's been used with hunting dogs and gunfire and then a lab I think, that was terrified of water. The treats as I understand block certain nerve receptors and so the dog doesn't get a stress response in the face of the fear. So they aren't sedated, just not able to get stressed. Overtime you condition them to it and are able to ideally phase out the treats.



Others have suggested associating with good rewards and that is a great method on it's own or in conjunction with the calming treats if you aren't comfortable with them.


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