Stressed, frustrated, upset and running out of ideas...
I'm so stressed out with this problem. My rescue puppy is about 7 months old (I've had her for about 4.5 months).
The backstory is that she was found in a box with her siblings on the side of a busy road.
She is terrified of traffic noises; buses, trucks, trams, cars, motorbikes. We live right in the middle of a city with all of those things passing pretty much 24/7.
In the beginning when I tried to walk her she would run into every doorway available trying to escape. I sometimes had to pick her up because she would literally tremble with the fear and I would feel awful. For weeks she would not do her business outside either, she was too tense, and so as soon as we arrived in the door she would go right on the floor in the hall.
Over time she improved to the point of not running into doorways and being able to eliminate in the dog park nearby, so that made things a bit easier.
However...and it's a big however, the walks are still a nightmare, maybe now more than ever, because she has started to pull on the lead full force to get away from the noises. She lowers her body as much as possible, puts her ears back, tucks her tail and just pulls and pulls.
She mostly pulls TOWARDS the traffic, which seems counter-intuitive to me but that's what she does. For example, at traffic lights she won't pull away from the road, she'll try to pull INTO the road. But traffic lights or not, she just pulls anyway, all the way down every street. If I stop her and bend down to her level she will be shaking and a nervous mess.
Occasionally she will flip out and pull backwards so crazily that at one point she wriggled out of her harness and I completely freaked out for fear that she would run away terrified.
There are so many great dog parks nearby, but there is only one where she feels comfortable and it's like she knows she needs to get through the scary thing to get there so she pulls like a maniac. Even to the point of making hacking noises from the pressure of the collar on her neck (so I switched to a harness, which at least means she's not damaging her neck now).
I've noticed she is calmer if another person accompanies us...which makes me think either I am the problem, or it's just natural for her to feel more secure between two people. If I am doing or have done anything to cause the problem, I will happily take the blame, I only want her to get better, for both our sakes, but especially for her to be able to enjoy her walks and have fun.
I've tried taking treats, but as soon as we step outside the front door she has no interest in taking a treat. Even if I cook something amazing like bacon for her, she won't touch it outside.
It's so hard dealing with this because we live in an apartment in the centre of the city. There are so few quiet areas, and anyway, to get there, she has to go through loud areas. It also makes things like desensitization really hard to do, because it's loud as soon as we go outside.
Inside the apartment she is a different dog. She is such a quick learner, so intelligent, so happy and playful. She has a whole array of party tricks to show people. But one foot outside the door and she turns into a nervous wreck.
She also has no separation anxiety at all. When I go out, she watches me leaving calmly and then sleeps until I get home and greets me happily.
I just ordered some Adaptil for her and an anti-pull harness. I am assuming the harness will have little effect since the pulling from what I can tell is fear-related, so a harness can hardly fix it?
I feel awful and stressed and just generally so hopeless about this. I really don't know what to do. I don't even know what I'm asking here, just ANY advice you can think of. I'll try anything to help her. Or even hearing about other people who have had and solved a similar problem would make me feel less isolated in this! It's so frustrating looking at all the dogs around walking happily and calmly while my little one thinks the world is a terrifying place to be
I have booked a two-hour session with a behaviourist, but the appointment isn't for another couple of weeks, so we're stuck like this in the meantime.
Thanks for any tips or advice! (I'm sorry this was so long)