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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all.

This is my first post here, and although this isn't my first dog, I'm just looking for a bit of advice, particularly from anyone who considers themselves professional/well experienced trainers.

I have a 4.5 month old female Aussie shepherd - I'm in Australia, and from what I've heard, our Aussies tend to be a bit less 'full on' than the Aussies in the US. ;) I got her at 8 weeks from a good breeder- her Mum is somewhat timid though and I can see this coming through in Lumen and am doing work to build her confidence and trust that I'm not going to let bad things happen.
However, I think early on in the piece (10 weeks old maybe?) I made a bit of an error in judgement and took her for a short walk down the street- our street has no pavements, and a car came by. DUH - she freaks out, big scary thing, can't escape/run away, attached to lead, etc etc. Wait till she calmed down, went home. Sat in the drive and watched cars go by (again, error - should have done this much later when she wasn't still in freak-out mode) to try and let her 'get' that it's ok. I just hadn't anticipated that she'd be scared - my 9 year old boy is so calm with everything (of course, he's 9) and it just slipped my mind. She was born and raised to 8 weeks in the country too, so that doesn't help.

Over the next few weeks and months, I visited busy roads to just watch, sat in the back of the car and watch, go to a fenced-in oval with a busy road so she can just 'be at ease' and run around and play near traffic noise. I try just walking confidently when a car comes past, I've been doing LAT training, and just watched a video by the author of My Smart Puppy who would approach the scary thing to where she's comfortable, treat, then go away, approach, go away, etc.
I'm just worried that I'm making this into a bigger deal than it needs to be. She's OK with slow-moving cars eg. in parking lots, but get them going 'normal' speed and she'll freeze up and stare at them till they go away, or, in the case of something mildly louder, try and bolt. I obviously don't want to train her to the point where she loves cars and traffic so much that she'll wander into it, but I'd like to be able to walk her down the street without her stressing out or trying to run away.
I'd just like to be seeing ANY improvements in her from these techniques I'm trying- or hear from other people who have had similar issues and how they've helped their puppy overcome it.

I'm not chattering at her in a high-pitched voice, I have rewarded confidence/not stopping and freezing, I don't cuddle her, and we walk away on my terms, so I'm trying really hard to not 'reward fear' but I'm also afraid I'm making traffic INTO a scarier thing by trying to do all this stuff!

Sorry about the really long message and thanks in advance for any help and advice. :D (edit: this might have been better in the 'training' section. whoops...)
 

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She's OK with slow-moving cars eg. in parking lots, but get them going 'normal' speed and she'll freeze up and stare at them till they go away, or, in the case of something mildly louder, try and bolt. I obviously don't want to train her to the point where she loves cars and traffic so much that she'll wander into it, but I'd like to be able to walk her down the street without her stressing out or trying to run away.
I'd just like to be seeing ANY improvements in her from these techniques I'm trying- or hear from other people who have had similar issues and how they've helped their puppy overcome it.
I would say that you are not overreacting and you are already making a lot of progress. If possible, when there are louder or faster cars, could you two be at a greater distance from those cars and gradually work towards walking closer to them? Seems like she's doing great in slow traffic but there is quite a jump between parking-lot-slow and full on cars blowing past.

I'm no expert but the second dog that I had recently adopted grew up on the streets and was around 1 yr when I got her. She was extremely skittish of cars and would hit the end of the leash whenever one passed by. In quiet streets, I would reward her AS cars approached and continued to reward WHILE they passed us, giving her no time to pay attention to the traffic and be afraid of them. I also 'flooded' her by walking her on a sidewalk next to a busy, four lane road. This might have made things worse. But I also knew that she was EXTREMELY food motivated above all else, so I already knew that the distraction/reward of food would trump her fear of traffic. She did not freeze and refuse to move, but she did look 'deflated' when walking, for the lack of a better word. But because there was nothing else for her to do but get over it and walk (plus heavy rewarding from me), she got used to that high traffic area and eventually relaxed. I practiced in different areas and with different vehicles, like along bus routes.
This might not work for your dog and it might even make things worse, but if your dog is also highly food motivated it could be worth a try.

Also, I don't think your working on this problem will ever produce a dog that loves traffic and wants to chase it.
 

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The problem with being far away from busses/trucks/loud cars is that I can't necessarily predict when they're going past, and I don't want to increase the problem by hearing a loud car coming and 'retreating' (running away) every time it happens... So..I was thinking of going to a quiet/dead end street with my husband & his car, and getting him to drive past SLOWLY, and reward her for calm/confident, and then as she was ok with that, gradually increase the speed over a number of days until he's driving past at normal speed without a reaction. And there's a spot at the entrance of our dog park where I can be a good distance away from traffic - I might go there with a picnic blanket and a bone or chew-toy, and just sit there for 3-5 mins while she enjoys a bone and gradually decrease the distance.
She IS food motivated but in these situations I think she's been taking the food just because it's in her face, and her brain is still going in overdrive.
Thanks for the reply -- it's good to know yours got over her fear! :)
 

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She IS food motivated but in these situations I think she's been taking the food just because it's in her face, and her brain is still going in overdrive.
Her brain might be going in overdrive, but the fact that she IS taking food is a good sign. If she is shut-down-afraid, when you put food "in her face" she wouldn't take it. Food is definitely helping her. It isn't to say she will ever learn to like cars because of food. But she takes the food because she wants it. Food is a good thing. Cars might not be a good thing, but cars BRING good things.
And yeah, I guess where I am is different, since I could clearly see the cars coming before my dog even started to react.
Getting your husband to help is a good idea. That sounds like a lot of time and effort, but I can only see good things coming out of it. I also like your idea about letting her relax with a bone a good ways away from traffic.
Good luck :)
 

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How has your progress been so far? I mean has it gotten slowly better or slowly worse? Bella was extremely fearful of going on walks when she was a puppy. One time just the sight of a woman coming out of her house terrified her so badly that she scurried into a tire well of a car and I can to pry her out, she had dug her nails in and everything.

For me my progress got slowly better, and then regressed around 4.5 months (this time is usually a fear period in puppies). After that is got much better and then regressesed a little bit again around 10 months.
The method I used food and also did not react when she got scared. it's really important not to baby them when they get scared or add any excitement to the situation. Try to set an example for your dog and remain very calm as if you don't even know they are upset. I know that's not easy sometimes but it worked for me.

Another thing to keep in mind is genetics does come into play. Bella was socialized extremely well from a young age and it did help a lot, but she is just naturally cautious of anything out of the ordinary. So my advice would be to keep doing what your doing, the more exposure, the better. Stay calm and show your dog there is nothing to fear, reward progress with food. Good luck!
 

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You can't reward fear. Dogs can't feel two emotions at the same time, so if you give her treats, her emotions will change from fearful to "ooh, noms!"
 
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