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Hoping for some insight and/or training tips for a car-obsessed BC rescue, neutered female, 3-5 y.o. Any ideas for better bonding/training/behavior conditioning, books, youtube videos, etc., would be tremendously appreciated. I fear that if I cannot make more progress on this, I may have to return her to rescue as she is right now at high risk of being killed or causing a traffic accident --- I just cannot be vigilant enough to guarantee she will never have an opportunity to escape the leash/yard/front door.

 

I previously raised a BC from a working line from puppyhood, who loved anything in motion but had no reactivity to cars. I live in a suburb with a fair amount of traffic and traffic noise from a nearby 4 lane street. My new BC rescue (11 weeks since adoption) is highly reactive to cars moving within 50 feet, and wants to eye/stalk/chase. She also becomes extremely agitated (panting/eye stalking) when traveling in the car.

 

She has lunged hard enough at passing traffic to break the leash clip open on one occasion (she now has a chest harness with a heavy duty clip). She is even highly reactive to traffic noise from a nearby street. She has twice escaped from her lead/the house and made a beeline for this heavily trafficked street although there was no car traffic visible to her at the time -- then sat/lay down on the median and watched as if herding. She has NOT actually tried to chase the traffic, but I live in fear that she could cause a serious accident to drivers on that street.

 

I am also at risk of being pulled off my feet when she lunges, which is dangerous because I have early onset osteoporosis.

 

After working on clicker counter conditioning for this reactivity with a trainer over the last month, she is LESS reactive -- I can break her off the stare/drop down/chase sequence to look at me with treats in hand -- but she will not listen if no food is around. We have also done lots of training for "watch me," which also works only to a very limited degree once the treats are gone and she sees a car moving within 50 feet.

 

She has ZERO interest in toys/tennis balls/tugging or chase games with flying objects, and is generally low energy (for a BC). She will actually turn her head away in avoidance if a toy is presented to her. She previously was in a foster family with a farm for 3 months, where she could ramble daily over 50 acres, but showed zero interest in herding their sheep. Because of their relative isolation from traffic, the foster family did see her car reactions, and did not report any reactivity to cars before I adopted.

 

She has no instinctive recall either, nor any inborn circling pattern, and although I am working on it, I don't anticipate that she will ever have the recall that some BCs have that are raised properly from puppyhood, or just have as a genetically bred for trait so that they can do their job for a farmer.

 

 

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You can train a good recall, so don't give up on that. If you have only been working with her for 11 weeks, it is too soon to think that you cannot get a solid recall. It takes a long time with some dogs.

 

Have you tried the exercises in the book "Control Unleashed"?

I would also recommend the book "Click To Calm", which teaches you how to recondition a dog that is very reactive. It deals mostly with dogs who are dog-reactive, but the methods will work for any kind of reactiveness.

 

Until you have made more progress on the training, I strongly recommend that you do not take her for walks anywhere near where there is traffic. Find out of the way places to take her where she will not be constantly looking for and triggered by cars.

 

Most of all, remember that these things take time. It has taken me as much as two years of diligent, highly consistent training to get certain things solid with some dogs, and this applies most to the cases in which I was changing a behavior that was 1) self-rewarding and 2) long-standing in the dog before the dog came to me. That is your situation with this dog.

 

The way I looked at it was this: The time was going to go by anyway. I could either spend it being diligent and training the dog, and then end up with many more years of a dog trained the way I wanted, or I could give up and never have the dog trained. It seems to take forever while you are doing it but it is worth it. At 11 weeks of having the dog you have only just gotten started. If she is making progress after a month of training as you say then that is good progress. Keep at it.

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D'Elle -- thanks so much for the encouragement and real life success stories...training has been very limited per day because she has exhibited the problem as well of anxiety from regular training causing (unpredictable) bouts of house soiling. She was perfectly house trained for the first 3 weeks, then as soon as we started working on counter conditioning she had 2 accidents in a week. Cut back drastically on training time per day/car counter conditioning after that. I'm hoping we are past that and will start avoiding the car heavier areas as well.

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What D'Elle says is exactly what I was gonna say. Only I probably wouldn't have been as articulate.

 

What I can add is don't let the backslides or surprises get you down, and celebrate those wins. Sounds like you're responding well to the bumps in the road. More updates and photos are always welcome.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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D'Elle -- thanks so much for the encouragement and real life success stories...training has been very limited per day because she has exhibited the problem as well of anxiety from regular training causing (unpredictable) bouts of house soiling. She was perfectly house trained for the first 3 weeks, then as soon as we started working on counter conditioning she had 2 accidents in a week. Cut back drastically on training time per day/car counter conditioning after that. I'm hoping we are past that and will start avoiding the car heavier areas as well.

Not knowing how you are doing things, I am going out on a limb with this, but if your training actually is causing her anxiety then it is possible that you could improve how you are doing things. Training, if done right, should be really fun for the dog and the dog should enjoy it. What are you doing to "counter-condition" your dog?

 

And, if at all possible, avoid any area where there are any cars at all. work with her in the back yard, in the house, or in a park away from streets, or take her outside of town....anything so that she is not around traffic of any kind.

 

Also, there is the chance that it is not the training that is causing the accidents inside. You might want to get her checked by a vet.

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I know it was breifly mentioned, but 11 weeks is a very small amount of time. Rescues can take many months to settle into a new home, let alone begin a training regimine. Our adult rescue crumbled under pressure of training and we had to use some creative ways to bond and take the pressure off... Took 3 months before he felt safe and comfortable enough to handle "normal" training pressure.

 

I agree with others start by not being where there is a possibility of cars and begin smaller. I absolutely believe you will be able to conquer this and have a solid recall as well as stop the car chasing! Give it more time. :)

 

Also our adult rescue was a car chaser too! Very bad one at that, now that we have a solid bond and foundation (took 6 months to get the car lunging gone) he "sits" when we see a car instead of lunging. .... And this is a dog that when we got him peed himself in fear if we touched him. It just takes time and love!

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Also we worked with a trainer who was experienced in fearful timid sensitive dogs. She gave us a ton of great tricks to start with that work for a dog that can't handle pressure, please let me know if you want any ideas.

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Hi, Thanks so much to everyone for the encouragement and tips. Here is a pic of Winnie hanging out with my other pup Teddy. https://goo.gl/photos/JAVLzszA9QTqKHJHA

 

A few more Qs and updates...

 

On the follow up Q -- Winnie is much calmer around cars we see on walks but she is extremely aroused if we have to go anywhere by car. She practically hyperventilates as soon as we pull into traffic and stays on high alert. Any thoughts or suggestions to allay this reactivity?

 

Updates and more info: FYI, a couple of folks wondered if Winnie had been checked out for any medical issues re: training/counter conditioning being correlated to some house soiling. She was checked out AOK for UTI etc., full blood panel, etc.

 

No accidents now in 10 days...

 

Counter conditioning. Working with a positive trainer to pick a locale "under threshhold", we chose a location in the neighborhood to practice no more than 10 minutes a day where cars would turn up an intersection 30 feet away and drive slowly up the street where Winnie is allowed to sit/stand/lie down. As soon as she sees the car, the sequence is "click"/Treat-treat-treat until the car passes out of sight. Very high value treats like chicken.

 

It has been so hot we have done little or no counter conditioning recently. Thanks to folks who suggested backing off for a while re: any training pressure. She has gradually been able to calm down a lot in relation to cars we see in the neighborhood on walks. She will still react and try to pull toward them at times, but at other times ignores them. BIG PROGRESS.

 

Unfortunately, my suburb has few places where we can walk and never see a car. There is also quite a lot of traffic noise in my backyard all day, although this does not seem to bother Winnie and she likes to chill on the deck and does not get agitated.

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Dear Doggers,

 

The OP asks "Winnie is much calmer around cars we see on walks but she is extremely aroused if we have to go anywhere by car. She practically hyperventilates as soon as we pull into traffic and stays on high alert. Any thoughts or suggestions to allay this reactivity?"

 

She isn't reacting to your car, she's reacting to all those carobjects hurting at her and you. It'll drive her nuts. Crate her in a solid sided crate in the car. Safer too.

 

Donald McCaig

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Dear Doggers,

 

The OP asks "Winnie is much calmer around cars we see on walks but she is extremely aroused if we have to go anywhere by car. She practically hyperventilates as soon as we pull into traffic and stays on high alert. Any thoughts or suggestions to allay this reactivity?"

 

She isn't reacting to your car, she's reacting to all those carobjects hurting at her and you. It'll drive her nuts. Crate her in a solid sided crate in the car. Safer too.

 

Donald McCaig

Yeah that was going to be my suggestion also.

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I have no experience with cars specifically, but I use counter-conditioning for my dog's dog-reactivity. I think if you find your dog is getting wound up by training sessions (especially to the point where she's house-soiling) you want to decrease the intensity of sessions, to the point where she is relaxed and bored during them. Then move forward very very slowly.

 

They learn the most from a counter-conditioning session when they experience only very mild stress, which is rapidly relieved. If your dog is anxious throughout the training session you may be inadvertently sensitizing your dog to the stimulus, although it sounds like you're making great progress so this may not be an issue.

 

It's great news that Winnie can sit in the backyard and ignore the sound of traffic. That's what you want to build off of!

 

And I definitely second the idea of putting her in a crate where she can't look at other cars while riding in the car. If you can get her comfortable this way, maybe you can drive her to a local trail for some car-free walks?

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Hi, Thanks so much to everyone for the encouragement and tips. Here is a pic of Winnie hanging out with my other pup Teddy. https://goo.gl/photos/JAVLzszA9QTqKHJHA

 

A few more Qs and updates...

 

On the follow up Q -- Winnie is much calmer around cars we see on walks but she is extremely aroused if we have to go anywhere by car. She practically hyperventilates as soon as we pull into traffic and stays on high alert. Any thoughts or suggestions to allay this reactivity?

 

Updates and more info: FYI, a couple of folks wondered if Winnie had been checked out for any medical issues re: training/counter conditioning being correlated to some house soiling. She was checked out AOK for UTI etc., full blood panel, etc.

 

No accidents now in 10 days...

 

Counter conditioning. Working with a positive trainer to pick a locale "under threshhold", we chose a location in the neighborhood to practice no more than 10 minutes a day where cars would turn up an intersection 30 feet away and drive slowly up the street where Winnie is allowed to sit/stand/lie down. As soon as she sees the car, the sequence is "click"/Treat-treat-treat until the car passes out of sight. Very high value treats like chicken.

 

It has been so hot we have done little or no counter conditioning recently. Thanks to folks who suggested backing off for a while re: any training pressure. She has gradually been able to calm down a lot in relation to cars we see in the neighborhood on walks. She will still react and try to pull toward them at times, but at other times ignores them. BIG PROGRESS.

 

Unfortunately, my suburb has few places where we can walk and never see a car. There is also quite a lot of traffic noise in my backyard all day, although this does not seem to bother Winnie and she likes to chill on the deck and does not get agitated.

Hey. My border collie is 9 months old and does the same thing when he rides in my jeep. He'll stare out the front window and watch as cars approach then turn his head as they pass. EXTREME focus.

 

However he does not chase cars. And pretty much ignores them. For just a short while on the dirt road we used to go to everyday during farm season. He would trot after cars if he was with in 50-100 feet but WOULD NOT do it if I was watching because I had taught him to not go near the road or cars.

 

Some one told me they seen him. So I snuck and watched him and sure enough every once in a while (not much) if I wasn't around I would he would follow sort of run a truck on the road.

 

I immediately would go out and tell him no, if he did. If he watched the car but didn't go I would immediately go out and tell him good.

 

When I was out side and a car would go by. I would say his name firmly and when he looked at me I'd say good boy. I did these things for a few weeks.

 

Even though he never actually really started chasing cars I knew I didn't want him to start because it will grow to an obsession like your dog. And to be honest I don't think he was actually chasing cars but I acted as if he was obsessed haha. Either way I broke what little car affection he had (hopefully permanent)

 

I haven't seen him trot a car in 2+ months and now instead of ignoring 90% of the time it appears to be 100% of time.

I really hope you can solve this as this is a killer. Also she's a pretty BC. Keep posting pictures. I never get enough.

 

 

PS: I still sneak and watch and say his name when cars go by if we're near the road and tell him good. I don't want any set backs.

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He would trot after cars if he was with in 50-100 feet but WOULD NOT do it if I was watching because I had taught him to not go near the road or cars.

 

No. At that point you had taught him not to go near roads or cars when you were watching. -_-

 

Good that you're lurking to catch him in the act when he doesn't know you're watching. When you never catch him doing it anymore when he's not aware you're around, then you will have taught him not to go near roads or cars. B)

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