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Sudden fear of truck noises

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Our border collie, Charlie, is 11 months old and, aside from a ball fixation, has been a happy and easy puppy. Two weeks ago, the propane truck showed up to fill the tank and she decided she was terrified of it. She ran to her crate and was shaking.


Now she's decided to be scared of all truck noises, such as the trash truck and trucks going over the bridge near the riverfront park she's walked in for months.


Does anyone have any advice? We've tried to ignore it and be encouraging. But treats and tennis balls don't work as a distraction.


Our worry is that we live near a small racetrack and drag strip, which will start running again in a months or two. She's not had an issue with the noise before, but we're guessing it's going to be a problem this year.


Thanks a bunch.


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Your pup is in her second fear period. Pups can sometimes become fearful of sounds or people or experiences that they were previously comfortable with so her reaction is not uncommon.


I think you are on the right track with positive reinforcement, but I would expose her to the scary trucks at a distance where she is not fearful. If she goes too close, she is over threshold and is so scared that treats or distraction won't work because all she can think about is what scares her. She needs to be at a distance where she knows that the scary thing is there, but is not so scared (not over threshold) that she can not respond to treats etc.


You may also find the LAT and BAT exercises in "Control Unleashed: The Puppy Book" to be very helpful - as many other owners have.


Also check the archives here for discussions on fearful puppies for additional advice.

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We found that being in the car and seeing/hearing the same noises made Callie less fearful than if she encountered them outside or even in our living room outside the window. She was terrified of the snow plows this winter, but once she was in the car with a clear view of them and knew the car would protect her, she'd growl and bark at them like a brave thing. If we opened the windows, she cowered.


Maybe yours just needs a safe place and distance to absorb the truck noises. Cal is largely over her fear of the plows and will still get nervous, but she doesn't bolt or cower anymore.

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I thought my dog was going crazy at first, before I realized it was a fear period at that age, because Cal started getting spooked by EVERYTHING. Literally everything from unexpected shoes to grocery bags in the wrong place. She's still super particular about where things belong, but she's not scared of random items like she was for a while.


It was so frustrating trying to make her feel okay about everything, but it paid off because now when we say "it's ok" and show her something, she trusts us enough that it really isn't going to hurt her that she'll come over of her accord and investigate. Not only did she get over a lot of fears, but she also learned to trust us in a very open-ended way.

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