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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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You have listed the qualifications of your trainer. this person has given you very sound advice and I CAN understand that you are worried about this seemingly unexplained change in your girl but WHY, after taking the advice of one trainer, would you want to come on list and tell it all again. how does this make your trainer feel? If you were my client and you went to Fran, Fran would tell me and she would tell you that she had told me.

This is very embarrssing for trainers. The good ones will diagnose your problem , correctly and help you through. The bad ones will take your money and run.
Do be careful that the good trainers end up not helping you.

You have completely misunderstood my intention here and in my view have not read my note correctly. Do not rush to judgement. I merely asked if anyone else had had a similar problem, not if my trainer had given me bad advice. I put on her credentials simply because I didn't want to be told that there were trainers out there who didn't know what they were talking about which I have read before in response to other people's posts. I have absolute confidence in her or I would not go to her, nor would I rent out my land to her so that she can run agility and outdoor obedience courses at my home.

I have re-read my note again to make sure there is no implied criticism of my trainer, and I can see that there is not. I was merely asking for support and confidence building as Bella is my first pup. I have taken great things from this website, reading about people who are going through similar things with their dogs (lead pulling, car sickness etc) and thought this was one of the reasons why this site is used. Fran seems to have understood this, sadly you have not.
I did read carefully before I replied and you may have felt you were seeking "suuport" but inadvertently you are saying "this is what my dog is doing - have you had it and how did you deal with it" If your trainer has gvien you a programme to follow until she comes back from her Easter break then please follow it. dont be diverted by support from other owners.

Most of all dont meet her on her return and tell her the advice she gave you is working "ish". Most of us are too polite to tell you that its you that is working "ish"

As I said, I can understand first time owner anxiety but most first timers on this list seem to have a lot of time to worry on the computer. I would like to see them chop half an hour off their keybioard time to spend it perhaps clicker training or working their pup.
It's really important for new owners to have the support of others (otherwise it's like raising kids, you never know if you're doing ok or not)! In my experience (and yes, Ossian, I do have some), taking it steady as your trainer suggested is the way to go. Good luck
I have done as you suggested and stepped away from my laptop, but it was to calm down rather than get my clicker out.

I do not want to get into a tit-for-tat argument, you don't know me or the amount of time I devote to Bella so I shall give your judgement of me all the weight it deserves. She is being clicker trained, we do training sessions several times a day which she loves, obedience classes twice a week, and she receives constant feedback from me as I am with her pretty much all day apart from selfish trips to the supermarket and such like. We have now added small car park/ roadside sessions into our day, either as part of our walk or as a seperate trip out in the car as thankfully I don't live near a carpark. My husband also devotes time to her in the evenings and weekends so that it is not just my voice she hears and so I can do things without my gorgeous dog. Bella is far (!) from perfect but my Trainer and I are both pleased with how she is coming on for her age, surprisingly she has even praised me on it. We have discussed doing agility work when Bella is old enough so that will also add some new skills and entertainment value into the mix. So what is Bella missing? Oh yes, play.... we do that too and she is a big fan of being chased around the lounge whilst clutching a fluffy pink boot. Do I sound defensive? Perhaps a little, sorry.

I am persevering slowly and sticking to my Trainer's plan, and it is working "ish" and until she gets back that is all I will do. I am not seeking an alternative plan, I was merely asking about other people's experiences to satisfy my own curiosity as to whether there were other Setters out there who displayed similar behaviour changes. I would also like to think that any Trainer would be open minded enough to have a client that is allowed to ask others what they have done in the circumstances and not to see it as a judgement or that I would opt for advice over the internet from a stranger over what she has to offer. If the current plan doesn't work then we will come up with a new one together after our one-to-one. If I don't listen to her, respect her advice and follow it through then I am completely wasting my money and my time, as well as hers.

I took the time out this afternoon to have a coffee and go online whilst Bella was having her afternoon nap after a good walk. Bad me, I consider myself fully chastised. She is currently in the garden with my husband doing some recall work (one of her areas of weakness) whilst I type this up, trust me she isn't being neglected.

Thanks Deb for your comments, when we were planning and thinking about getting a dog we worried about housetraining and settling in, both of which were a doddle, it seems Bella has her own set of challenges. You are right too, sometimes you feel like you can't do right for doing wrong when you are learning, like even asking a question it would seem.
I sent you a friend request Elizabeth. Hope you accept. Thanks! I can't private message you till you do.
Elizabeth, I had a similar problem with Reuben initially though not quite as extreme as bella. But I live in a town and the route to fields involves lots of roads, so Reuben became accustomed to traffic quite early luckily.
You are doing a fantastic job and sounds like you do far more time training with your pup than I do with Reuben. Reuben has to fit around my family and in a way this is easier as I can't worry too much about what I should be doing with him (tho I still do probably) lol.
I take Reuben training once a week to a formal class but don't get the opportunity to ask the trainer lots of questions. I find that as and when I want advice/experience this forum has been my biggest help by far. Especially as these setters seem to be a breed so special and different from any others! I also think that it is useful to hear and debate on peoples different views and then choose what you think is helpful and discard what you don't. I am also aware that I prob bore the tears of other people talking about Reuben and feel a real kinship to other setter owners on this site who don't mind me rattling on! Of course the trouble with forums (like emails) things get misconstrued and taken the wrong way. Some people don't have to say much but what they do can be a tad offensive. I know asgot quite defensive myself in the past and completely understand how you feel, grrr....
However remember that it never hurts to talk about things/ask advice etc especially when you need reassurance as it is what forums are all about in my experience. Especially when you are first timers like us as we don't have hindsight to help and need a big dose of confidence every now and again.
I am pleased that bella is developing nicely and I am not the only one with a few recall issues. What is it they say- 2 steps forward and 1 back? Reuben is now a nine month old pony, testing his boundaries but makes me laugh an awful lot!
Keep up the good work and we can go bonkers together for the next two years, yikes!
Louise x
Well said Sue!
Hi, It sounds as if you have a wonderful trainer you are working with. It is hard to find someone who you can get along with and who is open to new ideas if what you are doing is not working.
Even though Hawk is my second Irish I am a new setter owner. I have not had a car issue with Hawk but he did decide the chickens on our walk that we pass everytime were suddenly scary so we just stood there for a few minutes and then he has been fine since. He was does have a hard time being comfortable around horses and I have been working on taking him out to the stable. Hawk is a very confident boy sometimes too confiident. I joined this group to learn more about this wonderful breed and I do not think anyone should be criticise for asking questions. Otherwise how are we going to learn.
Good luck with your girl and let us know how she is doing
Hi Elizabeth,

You are doing a great job, and don't worry, whether we have experience or not, we all feel insecure at times and need to ask a whole community of people. This is what the forum is there for. And I re-read your text and don't see that you offended your trainer. The opposite, you take on her advice, step by step, and you want to do a one-to-one .What a great honour to a trainer's expertise!

Our Anton had developed a fear of roads, but he had a reason. He was hit by a car (running out the open gate of our dog park). Lucky dog, he was unharmed! But from then on he freaked when he saw a car passing by . He wouldn't sit by the kerbside and recoiled when he heard car engines. Anton is a foodie, believe me. But he would not eat any tidbits. He was too scared. It was hard, as the way to our local dog beach leads across a busy road.

Without knowing, we actually did what your trainer suggested, got him re-used to traffic bit by bit. We went to the shopping Centre car park, to other car parks, along quiet roads, adding more and more stress factors (cars). It took some months, but he is fine now, sits at the kerbs and doesn't even flinch when a bus passes by. It takes time, and patience.

And don't worry when you feel critisized on the forum. I had a similar problem when we got our new puppies, and it took a while before I wanted to go back into the forum. You just feel so vulnerable! But I guess some people only want to help, thinking they contribute with their own expertise, which can come across quite offensive. It is the downside of a public forum, that's why it's good to stick to a certain net-iquette.

I hope you still enjoy the forum anyway. Good luck with Bella. She will be fine.
I am not going to take sides here, but I have trained a lot of dogs to very high obedience-levels and have also helped plenty of others.

I think the main problem is that owners generally dont spend enough time using the solution they have been offered. We are used to quick-fixes and if it does not work after the first three times...well its obviously not a good training method (according to lots of owners).

Dog training takes TIME! And lots of it!
In my oppinion the worst you can do is try all sollutions on your problem...unfortunatly none of them long enough to give the desired effect.

All roads may lead to Rome, but you cant keep changing directions every 5 minutes or you will never get there...:-)
Couldn't agree more sue!




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