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Dog scared of big city life!

December 2nd, 2004, 06:36 PM
Hi, found this website and it seems like a good resource... so hoping you can all help me out a bit...

I have a 40-50lb hound mix (a long line of mixes the best I can figure is that shes a ridgeback/pitbull mixed with some other sorts of hounds) that I rescued about a year or so ago from the shelter.

The problem is this: I recently moved from a relatively quiet neighborhood and town in Florida to Seattle, WA. Shes always been a bit afraid of loud sounds and cars, but its never been much of a problem until now.

She is ok, most of the time... I take her to the dog park and she loves it. Shes great off leash in parks and woods (and I have recently found that she loves snow!) and has always responded well to training. Shes a little shy at times, but nothing too bad. I don't think she was ever abused, despite the fact that when I adopted her she was already a year old (she doesn't cower when you lift your hand). Shes also a little clingy and needy, but that usually goes along with having a shy dog and its always a bit of a battle to make sure I don't comfort her when shes scared...

But, down to the nitty gritty of the problem... When I try to take her on a walk around the neighborhood for exercise or companionship shes fine for a while... until a big dump truck/bus/semi goes by and then she starts to freak out. She gets a 'distant' look in her eye and really doesn't pay much attention at all to commands or anything else. After that point walking her back to the house is nearly impossible as she constantly pulls on the leash as hard as she can and panics at cars and everything else near by. I really don't know how to react to her at that point... I usually try to find a quiet corner and try to get her to sit down for a minute, but generally she won't calm down until I manage to drag her back to the house.

I have been trying to take her just on short walks around the block, and half the time shes fine as long as I don't make her cross a road and no loud cars go by. I have also started to try and sit at the bottom of the stairs at my house in front of a fairly busy road and just sit and talk to her as we watch the cars go by, but I don't know if thats a bit too close to 'comforting' her or not. But, she has yet to panic in that situation... usually its just when we cross a busy road or have a loud car go by with squeaky breaks.

I guess it just seems like nothing I am doing is helping much and I really want to be able to take her on walks for exercise without having to drive out of the city or to a park... I would much rather walk than drive... and I also live in a 'very' dog friendly neighborhood where many stores have dog 'rest' stations out front with water and doggy biscuits and I want her to be able to enjoy them with me!

Any suggestions would be greatly appriciated!

Lucky Rescue
December 2nd, 2004, 07:35 PM
until a big dump truck/bus/semi goes by and then she starts to freak out. She gets a 'distant' look in her eye and really doesn't pay much attention at all to commands or anything else.

This dog is shy, timid and insecure. When you walk her around town, is she out ahead of you?

If so, you need to have her walk at your side. That way she doesn't feel like she is the "leader" - obviously a position she is not suited for and which would increase her fear. She needs to feel that you are in charge and will handle the situation and that she doesn't need to take action of any kind.

You need to get to her before she gets that distant look and zones out with fear. When she is in this stage, she is panicking and it's already too late and she cannot react to commands or treats.

When you hear a truck coming, have her sit. If she doesn't know the command "Look at me" this is a good time to teach it. If she starts to look away or back up, give her a little short, sharp tug on the leash to bring her mind back to you and help her to sit again. Think of the leash tug as the same way you might tap someone on the shoulder if you are talking to them and they're daydreaming - just a little "Hey! Snap out of it!"

Don't bend over her, tighten the leash, or pet her.

I see you already know not to comfort her. Just make sure you never do this, no matter how fearful she is. Do not let her drag you away, or make you move at all. When the truck is passed, just continue your walk. Don't praise her or make a big deal. You want her to learn that it's NO big deal.

Let us know how it goes.:)