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puka
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Location: Budapest, Hungary
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04-03-2017, 12:48 AM

Stressed, frustrated, upset and running out of ideas...

Hi everyone,

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)
D
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Besoeker
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04-03-2017, 10:37 AM
Is there a park or anwhere else you can walk without being in traffic?
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chlosmum
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04-03-2017, 11:21 AM
Originally Posted by Besoeker View Post
Is there a park or anwhere else you can walk without being in traffic?
She's already said that she lives in the city centre and although there are quiet parks, the problem is getting there through the noise and traffic on the streets!

sigh....
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Trouble
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04-03-2017, 11:28 AM
Hey pat yourself on the back, You are making progress.
How big is your dog? and how fit are you?
Do you know anyone with a laid back dog that you could walk with? Usually when one dog is really calm it passes the vibe on to the one freaking out.
Is it the sight of the vehicles or the sound?
Most pups get a bit freaked out by busy roads but hers is obviously much worse than that.
Just thinking out loud really but keep taking her through busy streets isn't going to help much because although she needs to get over her fear she needs to be able to do that from a safe place or distance and gradually get closer.
The reason I asked how fit you are is you could run with her through the hectic parts of the route and get them over quicker. You'd remove her desire to pull as you'd be running. Keep it fun, try not to focus too much on her walking nicely but make the emphasis her not freaking out.
Try taking an alternative route to the park, walking mainly on back streets and keep the busy roads to a minimum.
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Chris
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04-03-2017, 01:00 PM
Walking in quiet areas and building up confidence is the way to go, but do you have a quiet area (garden preferably) where you can work on basic training? If so, try working on the very basics, ie sit, down, stay, walk quietly on lead etc so that she builds up the ability to concentrate in the big outdoors.

Once she starts to realise that the outside World isn't such a bad place, then you should start to see slow improvements in her overall confidence which should help her immensely.

Also, instead of trying to work on both traffic and lead work on the street both at the same time, try to find quiet streets where you can work solely on loose-lead walking. Once that's achieved, half the battle is won
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Besoeker
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05-03-2017, 08:20 PM
Originally Posted by chlosmum View Post
She's already said that she lives in the city centre and although there are quiet parks, the problem is getting there through the noise and traffic on the streets!

sigh....
Yes, I did read what she posted which is why framed the question the way I did.

If the dog is small enough she may be able to carry it to a park.
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puka
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06-03-2017, 01:50 AM
Originally Posted by Trouble View Post
Hey pat yourself on the back, You are making progress.
How big is your dog? and how fit are you?
Do you know anyone with a laid back dog that you could walk with? Usually when one dog is really calm it passes the vibe on to the one freaking out.
Is it the sight of the vehicles or the sound?
Most pups get a bit freaked out by busy roads but hers is obviously much worse than that.
Just thinking out loud really but keep taking her through busy streets isn't going to help much because although she needs to get over her fear she needs to be able to do that from a safe place or distance and gradually get closer.
The reason I asked how fit you are is you could run with her through the hectic parts of the route and get them over quicker. You'd remove her desire to pull as you'd be running. Keep it fun, try not to focus too much on her walking nicely but make the emphasis her not freaking out.
Try taking an alternative route to the park, walking mainly on back streets and keep the busy roads to a minimum.

Hey, thanks

She's small-ish, about 9kg now. I've actually tried to run a few times with her and it definitely made getting places a little bit easier, but I'm not fit enough to be able to keep it up for the whole time! Plus, when I start running, she takes that as her opportunity to go even faster and we can never go at a nice jogging pace, it has to be like crazy sprinting for me to keep up! (which isn't great for side streets with foot traffic and people coming in and out of buildings!)

I've thought about trying to walk her with another dog, but I don't know anyone who could walk with us. I have a friend who is planning to get a dog soon so hopefully she'll get a super calm one and we can try that suggestion!

The dog park that she likes is pretty near us, but to get there we walk a really kind of roundabout way to avoid the quicker main route. Unfortunately though, even the side streets are pretty busy. I find the best times to bring her out are like 9/10pm on weekend evenings, especially Sunday. The level of noise is always lowest then and she seems a little calmer.

Good question about whether it's the sight or the sound. I think it must be the sound, because sometimes if we're inside the apartment and a particularly loud truck or bus passes our window (and she can't see it) she has a reaction. Nothing like her reaction outside, but she will sometimes stop in her tracks and look in the direction of the sound.

On second thought, it's probably also a little bit about the sight. Because I took her out last night and there was a bus parked (with the engine off) and I thought it might be a good opportunity to bring her close to it, so I knelt down and encouraged her to come nearer to the bus and she was really hesitant, but made a few steps towards it and sniffed a bit. I probably looked crazy to people walking by! I hope it's little things like this which will eventually desensitize her to it all...

Thanks for your response. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the trainer has to say next week. I'll hopefully remember to post an update!
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puka
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06-03-2017, 01:54 AM
Originally Posted by Besoeker View Post
Is there a park or anwhere else you can walk without being in traffic?
The biggest park is actually on a big island in the middle of the river, which would be perfect, but to get to the island, you have to cross a REALLY busy bridge. Buses and trams are rumbling across is pretty much non-stop.

She's about 9kg so I can carry her short-distances but it's not ideal
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puka
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06-03-2017, 02:00 AM
Originally Posted by Chris View Post
Walking in quiet areas and building up confidence is the way to go, but do you have a quiet area (garden preferably) where you can work on basic training? If so, try working on the very basics, ie sit, down, stay, walk quietly on lead etc so that she builds up the ability to concentrate in the big outdoors.

Once she starts to realise that the outside World isn't such a bad place, then you should start to see slow improvements in her overall confidence which should help her immensely.

Also, instead of trying to work on both traffic and lead work on the street both at the same time, try to find quiet streets where you can work solely on loose-lead walking. Once that's achieved, half the battle is won
Thanks

She's got quite a lot of the indoor basics learned. I've had four dogs over the course of my life and she's the quickest learner of them all. She will learn tricks etc. so quickly, but once we step outside the front door, all bets are off.

I can sometimes get her to 'sit' outside, but mostly even that's off the table.

I wish I had a quiet garden or something but I don't. There's an outdoor courtyard downstairs in my building and maybe i could try working on getting her to do her basic commands there...

On the very rare quiet nights when her fear levels are much lower (no shaking and tail tucking), she still pulls like crazy on the lead, almost like it's just a learned behaviour at this point. So if I can work on getting no pulling when there's lowered fear, maybe that would help somewhat.
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Besoeker
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06-03-2017, 11:35 AM
Originally Posted by puka View Post
I wish I had a quiet garden or something but I don't. There's an outdoor courtyard downstairs in my building and maybe i could try working on getting her to do her basic commands there...
Is enclosed and reasonably quiet? If so, it could be a plan.
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