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Car ride gone wrong

September 1st, 2011, 02:18 PM
Well to some this would be no big deal...but seeing that its never happened, before I wanted to know if someone could give me advice as to how to "help" my dog ruby whose first sight, and hearing of a harley Motercycle in the passing lane...had her trembling and growling. (a fear , unsure of WHAT that is, and i dont like that kinda growl).

She LOVES to go bye bye. Will proudly "try" to climb into the car on her own (cant, she's too short, and bad back).
She enjoys her spot in the car, will look out the window.
HAD "NEVER" been scared of anything, (even as a pup).

But a harley davidson was in the lane next to us, and she was trembling and growling a fear growl.
I tried to talk her down, or refocus her with a treat, and get her to do "give me five" to get a treat...she wasnt having it.
she wanted nothing to do with the treat, the trick , or the motercycle.
she didnt "hide" or "run" from the sound.
But she was intent on "growling" it into going away. If that makes sense.

Any advice or suggestions???

(side note, she is petrified of thunder I thought maybe the sound of the harley was close to thunder sound, and thats what set her off)

I even thought maybe a motercycle party in the front yard, where she can get down and smell, and hear and ect..might help. Or is that a completely ridicoulus idea?

September 1st, 2011, 03:02 PM
The same thing happened with our Nookie. He LOVES thunderstorms, so that doesn't have anything to do with his fear. But I was walking him on Whyte Ave (a very busy, touristy area with TONS of people) when he was very young. I wanted to get him used to noise, crowds etc. A bunch of Harleys came rumbling up and he just freaked out!! I couldn't settle him at all. He has seizures from certain noise now, so I have no idea how to get him over it. I was told to take him around bikes slowly. Start with parked bikes, then the smaller ones and gradually work our way up to the Harleys again until his fear was gone. But... we haven't done that because I don't want to cause a seizure... and I don't know if his fear of them (or the noise itself) is bad enough or not :shrug:

September 1st, 2011, 07:52 PM
Well, maybe someone will answer our guestion as to how to get them over it. She usually isnt scared of anything . I mean...even her trip to the vet, she just walks into the clinic like "hey, who are you, nice to meet you"..."whats that thing....hold on mom let me sniff the spot on the wall over here a few more mins"..."we going into THIS room...ok...hey it smells funny in here". Or WORSE....."a dog...a dog, oh look mom its another dog, can I play...PLEASE". LOL.
The only thing she is scared of is THUNDER..and apparently harley's.

September 1st, 2011, 09:22 PM
I once had a dog that would bark and growl at men with long hair. She seemed to know the difference even from the back. Ladies with long hair there was no noise, but if it was a man, the growls and barks would start.

Who knows why they have this fettish.

take care

September 2nd, 2011, 07:39 AM
I think the Harley's and thunderstorms are the same. It may be the trembling feel. I don't think I would introduce the bike, cause I find some dogs "once afraid, always afraid" How do the experts feel?

September 2nd, 2011, 07:55 AM
do you know anyone with a bike? I wish we were closer, we've helped friends, we've taken weinners and with the bike turned off (helmets on because dogs tend to be scared of helmets) we toss bits of weiners, lure them to us, let them stand up on our legs while we treat them. we do that a few times (over a course of different days) then at one point the owner lets the dog see/hear us pull in and when its turned off we treat the dog again....over and over till eventually we can pull into their yard and let the dog see/hear the bike running while they are outside...

September 2nd, 2011, 11:20 AM
Hmmmm. Well if the "weiners" were on her allowed treat list...i'd say WE HAVE A PLAN...but. She can only have "two" treats. sweet potato chews, or the stupid tasteless, forget it mom im not eating it CRUNCHY treats from the vet.
She does get a dental chewie everyonce in a while. but...for the most part..its food, and a sweet potato chew (which she loves). I did find ONE other treat, one of the biscuits in rachel ray's line of foods. Its lower in all the stuff that it needs to be for her kidney diabetes.
BUT...she's not fond of crunchy the rachel rays are hit or miss.

I guess if it would get her over her fear and not completely comprimise her kidneys (ill ask the vet if we can just do it this one time), i may do this. Or perhaps a peice of cheese. This dog would do ANYTHING for cheese or penut butter. But she cant have the peanut butter anymore (too high in protein)

...I'd maybe think on calling someone we know that has a bike. Of course he may just think its ridicoulus to "help a dog". he's ,kinda a turd.

However I am begining to wonder if she was just afraid because of the noise, the ground rumbling, (which made the jeep rumble)...or if it was just the sight of it.
(maybe all combined).

Dogs.....they keep us guessing dont they :P

September 2nd, 2011, 11:31 AM
Does your dog know "off" or "leave it"? Imo, distracting a dog from the problem won't fix the problem, but telling the dog to ignore the problem does work because then she understands that you've got it under control and it's none of her business.

September 2nd, 2011, 07:06 PM
Well, she knows "antttt" ( a lower pitched tone sound thing I do, when she's doing a no no, or I want her to stop doing something).

But I guess, I'd feel like that her 'stop that your doing something naughty" command, and I dont want her to feel like she's doing something naughty , just because she is scared.

And usually if she does go to barking, or growling at something (rare for her)...I tell her "hush". (again in a low pitched tone). She "usually" listens.
But my whole point is not to "discipline" her. (as those are her discipline commands)...I want to "reasure" her that she is Ok, and the big bad ole motercycle (and man on it) are not going to come thru the window and eat her. (or us).
The growling didnt bother me, I just know she was "upset".
and I want to teach her motercycles are ok. is a good point you make. So I may try "hush" if she has another motercycle fear episode.

September 2nd, 2011, 07:32 PM
If you reassure your dog, in her mind you are praising her for her behavior. You are telling her it is ok to be scared.

She should associate the word with "quit doing what you're doing" not "you're being bad". She should understand that her fear is not an acceptable reaction. "Hush" may be the better command to use in your case given how you've trained the words.

September 3rd, 2011, 03:09 PM
Yes, I agree...if I do correct her gowling at the bike, "hush" would be appropriate.
I am however on a mission. I'm going to call a local harley shop..and see if anyone would be interested in getting her "over" the fear of bikes.
I will take her outside around them and walk her around, and let them pet her, and her get "used" to the sight/sounds.
If she growls or show fear...I will just say "hush" and carry on as if nothing is a big deal.
when she grows more comfortable (provided that she does)...I will then have her do her tricks and such for she truly does LOVE showing off what she knows how to do..and of course the sweet potato treat that a added bonus.

I do however wonder now, if she was "growling" out of "protecting" us. from the motercycle and not just fear. I assumed because she was "trembling' and it wasnt her "normal" growl (not that she growls often)...that it was fear. But It may have been pure adrenelane...and she may have actually "thought" she was having to protect us.

I may have the person that vollenteers to help me...pull up beside us on a non busy road, roll the window down..have a chat...have him feed her a her (if she dosent prove agressive to him that is).

But my "gut" says..shes gonna remain this way about them. Just like she has thunder.
But...I guess it could be worse. Its not like a harley is going to pull up to us every day, or very often. lol

September 3rd, 2011, 11:58 PM
First thing first.

#1 - you need to work on counter conditioning exercises (Get real chicken or something your dog LOVES to death, no cheating on this)
. Go on You tube ( ) and PLAY the sound of the bike on LOW, very low so the dog can BARELY hear it, feed her a treat. If she's okay with that (no problems or hesitations) inch the volume up a bit and feed a treat. Repeat this until you notice her start to become fearful, THAT is her threshold - work on that level for 1-2 weeks then continue this louder and louder. Soon her emotional response to the loud sounds will change.

In the meantime when a LOUD bike goes by. LAUGH, don't look worried, don't say anything. Just laugh. There is NOTHING you are able to do in the moment of your dog's fear, once the trigger is gone and when the dog starts to calm again, then YES she will listen but until then, you're pretty much tuned out.

The sight of the bike most likely did not cause the fearful reaction especially since you say she is scared of thunderstorms as well, so going up to a parked bike at this stage will not do much.

September 4th, 2011, 10:45 PM
I am not meaning to disagree with you , but somehow i think an ACTUAL harley will be a better solution. Because although the sound on the computer may be a good idea in theory...It dosent replicate the sight , and the vibrations it makes. She does react to sights of things , without having a sound or vibration.
I realise that I cannot just take her up to a parked harley and her get over it. Thats why I am wanting the vollenteer to help me do stages, parked, on, actually riding around in our front yard...pasture. Ect....
I think the "threshold" theory you have is excellent idea, but I want to do it with an actual harley...not a computer speaker. LOL

In all fairness though....I may do this with the thunder. I cannot CONTROL when the thunder can come, and when it will be turned off, or on (wish i could sometimes) a recording of thunder that I can turn on and off..and adjust the volume..may be an excellent idea.


September 5th, 2011, 10:44 PM
If we talked about a scale :

10 -A Harley outside accelerating,vibrations & sights right beside you (2 ft away)
9 - Vibrations from being close to a Harley (which can hurt a dogs ears)
8 - A running Harley 10 ft away
7 - A running Harley 15 ft away
6 - A running Harley 20 ft away
5 - Sight of a Harley off 5 ft away
4 - Sight of a Harley off 10ft away
3 - Sight of a Harley off 20 ft away
2 - Sound of a motorcycle on high volume in a environment that your dog is comfortable in
1 - Sound that is close to a Harley on low that you can start conditioning to

1 being the most least stressful scenerio. and 10 being well what your dog's reaction is. Your dog's threshold is most likely somewhere inbetween a 3 and 6.
So yes of course if your dog is scared of the sights work with that, which I don't think you'll have a problem with. But what happens is she'll be fine with sights, then if all the sudden you turn that bike on even from a distance, she'll go into fight or flight (dogs can't think in this state unless you've conditioned an alternate response - which you haven't or you've done systematic desensitization which then the dog would never be able to get to the fight or flight mind state).

Here is a great link on how to desensitize your dog, it uses thunderstorms as a example

September 6th, 2011, 07:55 AM
Well, You raise a good point. I guess from that perspective, I will try playing it on the computer first. And definatly will do the thunder too. Although I really do wonder why dogs dont stop the flight response after hearing several hours of thunder. Nothing has happened to them in that time span, so why are they still scared. But I guess playing it on low, and then inching it up is a great way to help her. I will work on this in steps (thunder and harley).
I've not called yet, been too busy packing up the house. Had fires on all sides of us, and wasnt sure if we were going to be evacuated or not. So good. LOL.
THANKS again. Hopefully soon her "fear" will be gone.