How To Help Dogs Overcome Their Fear of Cars/ Traffic

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It’s normal and natural for dogs to fear the city's loud noises, like zooming cars and blaring horns in traffic. In the event that your dog must travel via car or is passing traffic on a walk, its important fido feels safe and isn’t panicking. So, how can we calm our pups down? We must reinforce and create positive associations in order to reassure your dog that passing vehicles, loud noises, or even strangers won’t inflict harm. 

 

The common and classic fear of passing/ loud vehicles is shared amongst most dogs. But hey, how can we blame them. An obnoxiously loud horn even catches us off guard sometimes, which is no coincidence why our dogs may negatively react as well. If we show hesitation or signs of fear in the event of a truck passing or after a horn is honked, our dogs will pick up on this anxious energy and create associations with cars. So, it’s important to remain calm in these situations in order for your dog to learn the innocuous nature of vehicles. Another way to help your easily scared pup is to avoid flooding. Flooding is a technique used in behavior therapy that fully immerses and exposes an individual (or canine) in their fear. For example, forcing your dog to fully confront his fear of traffic would be traumatizing and extremely disadvantageous. This technique would most likely instill a greater sense of fear in him. Instead, try using a cheerful and playful tone when crossing the street or passing traffic. Positively reinforce your dog after he has calmed down and shows signs of improvement. Do not negatively reinforce or scold your dog for being scared, as this will only intensify the fear.  Slowly and gradually immersing your dog is the most beneficial way to ease his fears. For example, start at home by opening your windows. Fido will hear the sounds of traffic and pedestrians outside. By doing this during feeding or play time, he will begin to associate the stimuli with positive experiences, which will slowly diminish his fear. Another good idea is to expose your dog to people, cars, and everyday life at distance. Once a day, take your dog on a walk or to a part of your backyard that’s far enough for your dog to tolerate yet close enough to hear and see. It’s the small victories that count so reward your pup with treats each time a car passes and he remains calm. Increase exposure time after each session in order to improve your dog’s progress, but you should wait until he shows no signs of fear or anxiety before moving forward.

 

It’s important to know your dog’s first signs of fear and how to relax him. You must know what triggers your dog and when first signs of anxiety manifest in order to properly train him. Fear displays itself in many different ways but the most common signs are shaking/ trembling, panting, barking, whining, and drooling. If you see these signs, it’s important to be patient and wait until calmness has been restored. Chauffeur your dog around the town to dog parks or exciting places associated with pleasure. Eventually, fido will adjust and look forward to the great outdoors.