Posted by Bronte
Feb 19, 2008
My 6 month old springer spaniel has never liked traffic and her dislike is getting worse. We have a desensitisation disc and she shows no reaction to that at all, so it appears to be the size of the vehicle rather than the noise. She is ok with most cars, but anything else causes a bad reaction, particularly lorries and buses. Sometimes she will lay on the pavement. Other times she will bolt on the end of the lead, the typical freeze or flight responses.

We live in the country, so it would be possible to avoid traffic for the rest of her life, but we did want a dog we could take anywhere and that is just not possible at the moment. Strangely, she loves going in the car and shows no concern about other traffic whilst travelling.

For her afternoon walk I have been taking her to fields reached by crossing a road. I hoped that she would get her reward for being brave at the curb, but it doesn't seem to be making a lot of difference. I would be grateful for other suggestions.
Posted by Blue
Feb 20, 2008
Hi there,
Do you ignore her behaviour when she is behaving badly towards lorries and buses?
If you don't you could try ignoring the bad behaviour (no eye contact/praise/reprimands - nothing) and rewarding her for her good behaviour around other cars etc with treats/praise. If you catch her behaving well around a normally "scary" vehicle, make sure she gets an extra good reward for it.
Perhaps she'll learn in this way that good behaviour is rewarded while the bad behaviour gets no attention at all.

Posted by 1whisper
Feb 21, 2008
Hi there, My dog too, seems to be afraid of traffic but mostly when it is coming from behind. We have tried to ignore her reactions by continuing to walk on and praising her when she doesn't react (that doesn't happen too often). She, unlike your dog does not like the car. She will get in OK if on the lead but will run and hide if she knows were she is heading before the lead is put on. At the end of the journey and often before we get there she will be sick.
It will be interesting to hear if you get any ideas on what to do to sort out the traffic problem as I have run out of ideas myself.:confused:

Good luck
1Whisper x
Posted by Bronte
Feb 23, 2008
Thanks for your replies. Yes I do ignore her and just behave as if everything is as usual. I believe the theory is that if you pet them, they can sense that you are worried and sympathising, which worries them even more! I will give the treats a go, whilst cars pass and hope it gets better. She too is worse with things coming from behind and is much less fearful when she can she can see them ahead of her. I am more convinced than ever now that it is something to do with size, as she was completely spooked by 2 very quiet, but very tall horse being riden along the road (approaching from behind) the other day. As an aside, I have a labrador, who was not good in the car. She was very sick on the journey home from the breeder at 10 weeks and hated the car after that, having to be lifted in. We had to start with 2 minute runs around the block and extend the time slowly, so that she was never sick. It worked eventually and she is fine now. If anyone has cured their dog of traffic nerves, I would appreciate some light at the end of the tunnel!
Posted by Blue
Feb 26, 2008
If you can, you should try desensitization, have someone with a lorry/horse come by you a few times while you are with her, until her behaviour improves - you could probably even rent a lorry for a few hours to try this!

It might not help with buses - but it may indeed improve her behaviour even around them, if she knows she hasn't come to harm with large objects while being in proximity to them.

I know that may not be what you're looking for, but your situation is definitely a challenging one, and as of yet (touch wood) I've not had any problems with traffic and my dog! (we live in the she sees traffic all of the time).

Alternatively - you could try taking her into the city to desensitize her, perhaps even with some mild anti anxiety drugs like chlomacalm from your vet? I'm not too sure about this, so you'd want to confer with an animal behaviourist first.

Hope things are improving,