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Road Rage..... well more of a fear actually.

Bella (the) Ball is nearly seven months old and despite our ups and downs, tears (mine) and tantrums (hers) training has been going well, some things she grasps instantly, others she seems to be wilfully refusing to stop or do which can be frustrating but by and large she is growing into a lovely dog.  Our lead training has suddenly come on and I am no longer being yanked around, unless she spies another person she considers would be more interesting than me.

 

We live in a rural area and I have been mindful that Bella needs to learn how to behave when out on the streets in Town etc so since she has been able to be out and about I have regularly taken her into our small town to meet people, cars and buses etc.  I call this Urban Warfare, which if you knew how small our town is would make you smile.  Anyway this was all fine but in the last few weeks she seems to have developed an absolute hatred of roads and cars to the point where she is now completely freaking out whenever we are near one.  I cannot think of a particular incident that will have triggered this.

 

All of our walks involve a small bit of road interaction, either crossing from one reservoir to another, or nipping from the reservoir up to the canal.  Neither more than 50 metres and she has generally put up with this as a means to an end however today she was so unhappy she tried to jump into my arms and then pogo-ed around so much she was bouncing off the pavement into the road.  Clearly I do not want to put her in a position of danger, but neither can I never take her near a road again.  Certainly when we go to stay with my parents Bella will not have the luxury of road avoidance and I also do not consider it helpful to Bella in the long run if I don't address this.

 

I spoke to our Obedience Trainer (who is APDT, COAPE Dogwise; Animal Care College intro to Dog Psychology etc) and she has suggested that I take Bella to a quiet carpark and get her used to cars moving around us at slow speed, maybe sit near a quiet road and if she is not reacting then treat her, both of which I have done and Bella has been OK-ish though she is not remotely interested in treats at those points.  I am planning to do a one-to-one with my trainer so she can see our interactions etc and how to take this forward when she returns from her easter break, but I wondered if anyone had similar experiences and how they overcame them. 

 

I feel so sorry for her as when she knows the point in our various walks where the road is coming up she jumps up at me, wraps her front paws around my arms, and looks at me as if to say "come on, let's turn around and go back the way we came, no need to go near that nasty road"

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Thank you all for your loveliness, this was certainly not the debate I had intended to start when I asked the question and I am grateful to those of you who have rallied around and shared your experiences and stories. My husband gave me a nice dose of tough love last night and told me not to let people I don't know judge me and upset me, which is entirely true. He is happy, I'm happy, and most importantly Bella is happy with how we are rumbling along in general whilst we are all on this massive learning curve. Apologies to all for being a little defensive, this really isn't my style.

Ursula - I do appreciate that you are reiterating what Ossian has advised in a more diplomatic way but I think you too seem convinced that I was looking for a different way of tackling the problem. I'M NOT. I just wanted to know how people like Ilona got through this problem or if Bella was the only dog in the world who had suddenly decided she would be off-road only. I shall persevere, slowly, with the current plan, as was always my intention. If it doesn't work I shall discuss with my great Trainer (have I stressed enough that I think she is good?)

Sue also makes a valid point about getting spooked suddenly, Bella went through a stage of swerving away from fisherman's umbrellas whenever we encountered them but thanks to a few nice gents she now is wanting to find whomever may be sitting under it when she spies one by the reservoir.

Today I took Bella somewhere new, to the quietest village I know that gets a car about every 5 minutes and we managed a little bit of walking nicely on the Lead (as well as a good few villagers admiring Bella's gorgeousness, which she just lapped up - and she didn't jump up at anyone!) Typically when I was feeling like we were making a tiny progression this massive, noisy, agricultural tractory thing (technical term there) came through sending Bella to take refuge under a laurel hedge with her tail firmly between her legs. It seems I can't control everything within her environment unfortunately. Thankfully after only 15-20 seconds she emerged into the sunshine and we made it back to the car without further incident, though we had lost form on Lead walking. I shall let you know how we get on in the longer term.

I really hope that this "discussion" has not discouraged others from posting on ES as there are some great people on here who really seem to want to help all of us get the most out of our fabulous dogs. I know I have found it so useful to realise that I am not the only one puzzled that their bundle of mischief keeps puking in the car for example. I just think we (and I include myself here) need to make sure that we read each others messages carefully before we hit the keyboard.

It's all water under the bridge as far as I am concerned, the sun is shining and Bella is asleep in the garden having just dug a massive and unauthorised hole so I had better get that concealed before the boss gets home tonight.........
Finn, I did not want to reply to this discussion any more, but I just have to ask what your trainer ment about the thumb and middlefinger.
I actually can not make head or tail out of this...

And no I am not in to clickers.
Great for initial training but still not quite my thing...but I can see that it is a good method used propperly.
I had a trainer tell me this last week Ursula -it means snap your fingers!!
A snap can have the same effect is what was meant. Personally I like the click sound better than a snap. I suppose it's just my preference.
I can't snap my fingers, never been able to
Glad to hear I am not the only one. Kids have givin me a bad time about it for year.
If anyone honestly thinks that they can snap their fingers producing the exact same sound each time...and on top of that, with the same loudness as a clicker..
I would think that is quite a talent.

Thank you for straightening out that question-mark!
Small tiny steps of improvement are showing themselves. At the weekend we took Bella to Wendover Woods which was a complete dog-fest and another set of questions and stories in itself. I hadn't realised (having never been there before) that it got so busy as it was relatively quiet when we arrived but on the way back to the car we had to walk through queues of slow moving cars waiting for spaces in the car park. Bella did really well and walked next to David reasonably calmly with a few skittish glances around but no pogo-ing so I was very pleased.

This morning it was back to Wilstone Village for a walk along the canal and through the fields to get rid of our energy before hitting the tarmac and a visit to the local shop. We managed to not only walk down the street OK (admittedly only one car passed at that point) but once at the shop I decided to buy a bottle of water and sit outside watching the world and its cars go by. Bella sat, ate some freshly baked Liver Cake (when do you ever get used to puree-ing Liver?) and even lay down in the sun as the cars drove on by. At one point a car came and stopped outside the shop and she didn't even move until the driver got out and her curiosity was piqued. A few people came over to say hello and pet her and when the car started up right next to her she didn't flinch and just turned to me for another piece of Liver Cake. I think we are a long way from being able to walk calmly down the street, particularly as these country roads are 60mph ones around me, but she is certainly getting more comfortable with slower moving cars.

Sue - I think it is really interesting that your dogs have each behaved differently for you and helps make me realise that you cannot necessarily follow a standard training prescription for all dogs in all circumstances. Bella is definitely going through a period of skittishness at the moment as she is being more reactive to situations and people that she has dealt with before and seems to have lost a little of her confidence, I'm hoping that it is more to do with her age and hormones than something we have done wrong with her training because I do not feel like our behaviour has changed since we got her. As with all of this we will just have to wait, see and persevere.

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