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I've been watching this forum for a long time now, and it's helped me out hugely with so many areas of dog training and health. I think I've read all the existing threads on fear of traffic, but I'm wondering if anyone has any further suggestions as I just feel like I've hit a dead end with this one.

My dog is now 1 year old, she's a female shepherd-collie cross. She's been a great dog to train in many ways, and she's now quite reliable working with various distractions around. When she was about 6 months old she became quite fearful of bikes, children, things with wheels, and started to bark and lunge. I worked on variations of LAT and basic obedience with her so that now after a lot of hard work she now tends to respond well to these things and often doesn't seem particularly bothered by them.

While it's very relieving that this seems to be going well, she doesn't seem to have improved at all in her fear of walking along streets with traffic. She has always been particularly fearful of this, and just becomes very unhappy when we walk along streets - tail between legs, head hanging, trailing behind. The same technique that worked with the things that she tended to bark at doesn't seem to have much effect with the cars - I've spent many hours standing far away from roads giving treats whenever a car goes past, trying to distract her etc. She just seems really miserable whenever we're near traffic - and now there is only a 300m long stretch of road from the house that she is 'ok' (ish) on.

Does anyone have any tips, success stories, coping mechanisms, or suggestions of things I might be doing wrong? My existing plan is just to try and find an ideal location where she can be far enough away from a road to be under threshold but also the road is visible so that I can try and do it really incrementally (getting to said location might be difficult though - I only have a car half the time), or I also thought I could take her out in the middle of the night and then gradually change the time until there's a little traffic, and then a bit more, etc.
 

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Samson isn't a fan of traffic either.He deals with it now if he has to but he will never be 100% convinced that being close to a large noisy truck is a good idea.Two things that really helped were sitting along a busy street on a bench calmly and quietly until I could see that he was visibly relaxed then a jackpot of awesome treats were offered and consumed.Then we left immediately.Relaxation = Fantastic Reward.
The second thing was walking from a quiet street onto the busy street just for a few seconds and back again.I would give him his favorite treats when moving toward the traffic,never when moving away.And never any love the top excited praise,just kept it calm and chill.
Eventually we could go an entire block before turning on a side street and so on.He's since graduated to a busy grocery store parking lot while I push a noisy cart around.He's not thrilled to be there but will focus on me and take direction.
Anyway, that's what helped him to learn how to calm himself when he's a bit stressed and feel safe.Hope this helps!
 

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Is she more nervous when she is being walked with the traffic coming up from behind her .? I found that my boy was more comfortable walking against the traffic so he saw what was making the noise. It helped quite a bit. Also, and this is just a novice suggestion, but when I want to make our walks a little more interesting periodically, I will turn and face him and walk backwards. He perks up and all focus is on me. Maybe you can try that as it might help keep her mind off a car and more on you.

Also to help desensitize him to unexpected noise , I would take his favorite ball wedge it in a bucket and throw the bucket as I would a ball while playing fetch. No pressure from me for him to fetch it, that was his choice. At first he was leery, but curiosity and play helped him get over the noise issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Samson isn't a fan of traffic either.He deals with it now if he has to but he will never be 100% convinced that being close to a large noisy truck is a good idea.Two things that really helped were sitting along a busy street on a bench calmly and quietly until I could see that he was visibly relaxed then a jackpot of awesome treats were offered and consumed.Then we left immediately.Relaxation = Fantastic Reward.
The second thing was walking from a quiet street onto the busy street just for a few seconds and back again.I would give him his favorite treats when moving toward the traffic,never when moving away.And never any love the top excited praise,just kept it calm and chill.
Eventually we could go an entire block before turning on a side street and so on.He's since graduated to a busy grocery store parking lot while I push a noisy cart around.He's not thrilled to be there but will focus on me and take direction.
Anyway, that's what helped him to learn how to calm himself when he's a bit stressed and feel safe.Hope this helps!
Thanks for replying, those are dead helpful suggestions. I think I've definitely been taking the wrong approach with car = reward rather than relaxation = reward. The last few days I've started giving her treats whenever she sniffs the ground near traffic, and I'll take her out to sit on a bench tomorrow and see if she manages to achieve anything approximating relaxation!
 

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Is she more nervous when she is being walked with the traffic coming up from behind her .? I found that my boy was more comfortable walking against the traffic so he saw what was making the noise. It helped quite a bit. Also, and this is just a novice suggestion, but when I want to make our walks a little more interesting periodically, I will turn and face him and walk backwards. He perks up and all focus is on me. Maybe you can try that as it might help keep her mind off a car and more on you.

Also to help desensitize him to unexpected noise , I would take his favorite ball wedge it in a bucket and throw the bucket as I would a ball while playing fetch. No pressure from me for him to fetch it, that was his choice. At first he was leery, but curiosity and play helped him get over the noise issues.
Thanks - I don't feel like the flow of traffic makes loads of difference, but I'll watch out for this. I haven't really thought about it as noise sensitivity before, I think I've got some working out to do to figure out what it is she's actually scared of. And yes, that's a good tip about turning round and walking backwards, I'll see how that goes!
 
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