- Walking her on my country road meeting the occasional car using food to counter condition- too scary, not good
- High level of exposure to individual moving cars-she can’t tolerate that much exposure
- Walking her ON leash in the scary fields- no way for her to retreat, not good
- Trying to use a recall with high level of food reinforcement to me after she saw a scary car- good bye recalls there and everywhere else for a while
- Taking her places to socialize on her own without a stable dog friend as support-really bad
- Trying to distract her using food and toys after she was in a fear scenario- useless at best and possibly counter-productive as when the toys and food appeared she was already frightened. Rewards = fear?
- Doing any kind of control training (stays, positions, static targeting) with her if there was even the slightest chance a car might arrive. If she had a fear moment when she was on a sit stay, she did not want to stay again in that environment for a while. Her ears would flick and she heard all sorts of imaginary cars.
- Trying to train anything when she was having a “moment”.
- Spending hours hiking and playing around fields on dog show weekends that have constant traffic sights and sounds.
- Foot targeting cars.
- Going out for occasional car “experiences”, but not flooding.
- Making her tug toy crazy.
- Making agility crazy fun- The catch 22 is that it's hard to make agility an “arousal activity” when you can't train agility.
- I never start training when she is in a fear moment-I always wait for it to pass, but she will train and tug now through a car arriving if I don’t let the arousal end before the car disappears or turns off its engine.
- Comforting her when she is afraid- If we are in the field when a car arrives and she is far away from me, I kneel down and praise her and she runs to me, or if I am next to her I just kneel down and cuddle her. We play the “you are such a brave girl” game. I cover her eyes and whisper right into her ears that she is the bravest girl ever. She can’t see the car, and my silly vocalization helps to distract from the car noise. I think:)
- Ignoring her if she does leave us on a walk, and I just loudly play with the other dogs making her jealous until she returns.
- Sending her to my friend Laura’s home for visits when I am out of town teaching- This really helped. The social experience was good since she missed out on much of that growing up. Laura and her dogs go for a few mile walk daily where they meet cars on a more regular basis than she does on my walks with her and she was with her best friend Brew. I think those visits made a huge difference.
- Letting her grow up and not really trying hard to be perfect in our agility training, but using agility NOW as something that can actually distract her from her fears.