Distract and treat for timid dogs afraid of cars

Category: ,

As Seen With - Cathy Rosenthal

Encourage Kindness to Animals!

Highly-acclaimed children's books for your child or organization

Distract and treat for timid dogs afraid of cars

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy,

My son, who lives with us, has a three-year-old 106-pound female German Shepherd/Boxer mix. She is a very sweet and loving dog, but very timid. We have a large fenced-in yard, which is where she typically goes, but we live at the end of a cul-de-sac and when we take her for a walk, she often gets afraid if a truck passes the cross-street and refuses to go. Often this will happen even if no vehicle passes, but you can see her looking down the block as if anticipating a truck coming by.

When we ask her if she wants to go for a walk, she gets very excited and runs to the door, but may stop within a few feet of the doorway once we get outside. Sometimes, she can be coaxed by raising her by her harness and walking her for a few steps, and as soon as she passes the cross street, she is fine and will walk as far as we can go. If we drive her past the cross-street and then take her for a walk, she is fine as well. She is also good at dog parks. She is somewhat sensitive to loud noises. Can you suggest any solutions? I hate to have to put her into a car and drive her each time we want to go for a walk.

– Scott, Oceanside, NY

Dear Scott,

Your instincts on how to handle this problem are right so far. Putting her in the car and taking her to a park is a good accommodation for now. Walking her at the quietest time of the day – very early in the morning or later at night – and introducing some training may also reduce her stress at that cross-street.

The goal is to distract her and keep her moving. Take her out when the traffic on the cross-street is fairly quiet. When she balks and stops, gently turn back towards the house, using her name and saying “heel.” This will take her mind off the street for a moment and onto you to see what you are doing. Give her a treat to reward her for “heeling.” Then turn again and head back to the street. Repeat this process every time she balks. Before reaching the cross-street, turn and go back to the house on the first few days of training.

When the number of balks reduces, walk her to the cross-street, but turn back towards the house right before you reach the street. Take a few steps, turn again and approach the cross-street at a quick pace. Use her name and give her treats as you walk through the intersection. Give her treats until you get her to a place where she feels comfortable again.

Not every dog gets past their fears, and sometimes you must make accommodations. But since this is only one intersection, I think a few days or weeks of distraction work will help her learn there is nothing to fear.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

Was this article helpful? Share with others!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

DSC_4602

Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

Other Articles You Might Enjoy

Oral hygiene options for your dog and cat

Dear Cathy, My dog is six and a half years old and had to have her teeth cleaned about a year ago. Since then, I ...
Read More

How to stop puppy from being so destructive

Dear Cathy, We adopted a boxer/pug/bulldog named Magento. He is three years old. Our problem is that he is systematically eating our backyard from top ...
Read More

Obama family down to Labradoodle or Portuguese Water Dog

President-elect Obama announced this week that their family has narrowed down their dog choices to two possibilities – the Portuguese Water Dog and the Labradoodle. ...
Read More