Scared of cars and vacuum, how to de-sensitize? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 11 Old 10-08-2010, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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13 1/2 week old puppy. We are still working on walking on a loose leash, and today we got to the end of the driveway. However, he freaked out about the cars, we don't live on a busy street, so about five or six cars came by, so it is not a constant thing. I just stood there and gave him a treat after the car passed, trying to get him to sit (he did most of the time), but the cars made him try and bolt and struggle to get out of the collar. So, how should I address this? Also, he hates the vacuum; runs from it, last time I vacuumed I had the door open so he ran into the yard. Should I vacuum while he is in his crate?

Thanks

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#2 of 11 Old 10-08-2010, 11:22 PM
 
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You're on the right track with associating the presence of scary things with yummy treats (you can also use toys/games if that revs up your pup ), but you need more distance from the scary thing. You want to find the "safe" distance for your dog and start there - when a dog is fearful they aren't as open to the conditioning you're doing, so finding the distance at which they can focus will speed your progress up. Slow is fast in these sorts of situations - the more you try and rush the process, the slower the progress to confidence.

If you need more detailed guidance I really like the booklet "Cautious Canine" - it's all about working through fears, though it is more slanted toward adult dogs than pups.

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#3 of 11 Old 10-09-2010, 07:17 AM
 
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My puppy is a bit younger (10 wks 2 days), but I'm working on this too. We live on a pretty busy road, so I've been letting him sit on the window ledge inside and watch the cars and people go by (that way, the sounds are muffled, but he still can hear and see). Also, we carry him for walks around the village so he can hear the sounds and get used to people coming up to pet him. Since your pup is older and walking on a leash, this might not be relevant, but might be helpful to anyone dealing w/ a younger one. You could try sitting next to yours and just letting him observe until he's more confident.

With the vacuum, I started out in a different room, but our house is small so he could still hear. A different day, I put the vacuum in the room where he was playing, but didn't turn it on. Just let it sit there and he sniffed it and climbed on it. Later that day, I put him in the room next to where I wanted to vacuum, with the door open but blocked. He could see and hear, but not get in. Eventually, I will vacuum with him in the room, but already he isn't bothered by the sound.

I had a dog in the past that was afraid of everything, so I'm working hard to avoid that situation again!
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#4 of 11 Old 10-11-2010, 01:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Update!!! Things are improving.

Not only did Oscar venture beyond the driveway, we had a great (short) walk on the sidewalk. He was calm when the cars came by, although he was on alert. He now understands the command walk and will walk. If he pulls I stand still and say nothing until he is ready to move on. So far I have only had to wait 1/2 a minute or so before he will walk in the direction I want.

Still have the vacuum to tackle and he won't get in the car yet.....

As I type this, Oscar is in heaven, munching on a buffalo tail!

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#5 of 11 Old 10-11-2010, 03:25 PM
 
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Yay! Gold star for you and Oscar both!

Erin
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#6 of 11 Old 10-12-2010, 08:19 PM
 
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Do you have any cafe's in your town with outdoor seating out front? One of the best ricks I discovered for socializing my pup to loud traffic was to go to such a cafe. After she got used to (but was still nervous of) traffic on walks in our neighborhood we started going to a great little restaurant downtown for breakfast. We got an outside table, put down a blanket for Merlow, and got breakfast. We'd give treats every couple of minutes. It took only three 45 minute breakfasts for the pup to become totally nonchalant about traffic.

We are working on the vacuum still, but it is going well. I started by giving her wet food in another room and running the vacuum at the same time. I did this every day, and each day moved her food closer to the room I was vacuuming. Eventually she started having her wet lunch in the same room while I vacuumed. Now I don't need to bribe her with food. She still doesn't trust the vacuum, but it doesn't scare her to death, either. She mainly hangs out in her crate while I run the vacuum.

Same technique for lawn mowing. Today she actually followed me around the yard, which was a big first!!!
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#7 of 11 Old 10-12-2010, 08:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by tinuviel_k View Post
Do you have any cafe's in your town with outdoor seating out front? One of the best ricks I discovered for socializing my pup to loud traffic was to go to such a cafe. After she got used to (but was still nervous of) traffic on walks in our neighborhood we started going to a great little restaurant downtown for breakfast. We got an outside table, put down a blanket for Merlow, and got breakfast. We'd give treats every couple of minutes. It took only three 45 minute breakfasts for the pup to become totally nonchalant about traffic.

We are working on the vacuum still, but it is going well. I started by giving her wet food in another room and running the vacuum at the same time. I did this every day, and each day moved her food closer to the room I was vacuuming. Eventually she started having her wet lunch in the same room while I vacuumed. Now I don't need to bribe her with food. She still doesn't trust the vacuum, but it doesn't scare her to death, either. She mainly hangs out in her crate while I run the vacuum.

Same technique for lawn mowing. Today she actually followed me around the yard, which was a big first!!!
We have plenty of cafés in town, but none are in a reasonable walking distance unfortunately (great idea though), and as he won't get in the car, I can't drive him anywhere. To be fair I haven't really pushed the car yet, but will try and entice him in with treats and take things slowly. Oscar is an English Mastiff, so we can't take him for long walks until he is a year old at least. We went on another walk on our street today, and he was okay with a large van and two loud motorbikes, so he really is getting better. I am a bit lax on the housecleaning front so haven't vacuumed for a while. I need to do that. We had the guys moving the lawn on Saturday, Oscar and I were inside, but he watched from the window without issue.

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#8 of 11 Old 10-13-2010, 04:14 AM
 
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Just as a safety issue, not a training one, if he's really freaking out/trying to flee when he sees cars, even sometimes, I'd walk him in a harness until he desensitizes. Dogs pop their collars off in situations like that quite often. A harness is not escape proof, but it is significantly more secure than a collar. I'd hate for him to pop his collar and bolt. A panicked dog can be very hard to locate and capture.
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#9 of 11 Old 10-13-2010, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Oubliette8 View Post
Just as a safety issue, not a training one, if he's really freaking out/trying to flee when he sees cars, even sometimes, I'd walk him in a harness until he desensitizes. Dogs pop their collars off in situations like that quite often. A harness is not escape proof, but it is significantly more secure than a collar. I'd hate for him to pop his collar and bolt. A panicked dog can be very hard to locate and capture.
Thanks, but he is doing really well with cars now, not trying to flee at all.

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#10 of 11 Old 10-13-2010, 11:47 AM
 
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Oscar is an English Mastiff, so we can't take him for long walks until he is a year old at least.
Why? I'm just curious. Glad he's making progress. :-)
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#11 of 11 Old 10-13-2010, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Why? I'm just curious. Glad he's making progress. :-)
As a giant breed, he is susceptible to hip dysplasia.

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