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Thread: |:. FRUSTRATED .:| 11mo Bulldog scared to walk outside near traffic!!

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    Bully Bootie Duty ajwhitt44's Avatar
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    Angry |:. FRUSTRATED .:| 11mo Bulldog scared to walk outside near traffic!!

    Hi all,

    I havn't spoken much lately about my bulldog, Brembo, as everything's been cheery. But like all of us, we're more likely to comment when something goes wrong rather than when things go right, so alas here I am.

    Brembo is 11 months (picture below from when he was 7mos) and is weighing in around 55lbs. He's EXTREMELY active, able to go on 4 mile hikes, play for hours in the sand and snow, and has an unbelievable temperament. He's graduated puppy class, good manners 1, and good manners 2. My goal is to eventually have him pass the Canine Good Citizen test so he can start to become a service dog.

    Anyway, up until about 2 months ago, I was able to take Brembo for walks around my house. I live in a residential area that gets a good amount of traffic (i.e. usually no more than 30 seconds will pass until a car goes by). Usually the traffic on my road is strictly cars and SUVs, but occasionally we'll get a UPS/FedEx delivery truck, mailman, or some loud car with a fart can.

    Brembo used to walk just fine, as I would constantly treat him, teaching him to always look up to me for guidance and confirmation he was doing the correct thing. This also helped eliminate distractions (i.e. cars/loud noises) to help get him better acclimated to being outside in the thick of things.

    I can't watch him during the day, so my girlfriend (who works nights as a nurse) usually takes care of him and takes him for walks on days when he's not at daycare.

    One day she took him out for a walk and Brembo encountered 2 "trauma" incidents:
    • #1 - was shaken and stirred by the loud noise of a jackhammer starting up right near him
    • #2 - directly following jackhammer incident, was rushed at by a gigantic german shepherd in an electronically fenced yard (obviously Brembo didn't know the dog couldn't get to him)



    The subsequent problem:
    Now because I was not there during this trauma, I was unable to help my girlfriend and Brembo to forget about it and continue with the walk. Now, ever since this incident, Brembo will NOT leave the backyard of the house. I can walk him to the end of the driveway and around the front yard, but the second I attempt to walk him down the sidewalk, he freezes. He puts on the brakes, and after a couple seconds of 'braking' will turn and try to pull me back towards the house. I have tried using his normal treats to goad him into following me, but at the slightest sound of a car he'll kind of freeze and I'll have trouble getting his attention.


    If I put Brembo in the car and take him to the park/beach/friends house/etc, he is 100% fine. He can walk off-leash next to me, is responsive to my commands, and looks forward to the treats he receives as he walks correctly. It is only when he is in an area where there is traffic and commotion that he freezes up.

    I have tried several things to fix his behavior. First, I know NEVER to coddle him when he's being scared, as that's a sure-fire way to compound the problem.
    • I have tried taking him out late at night when there is little-to-no traffic = no success
    • I have tried leading him with his favorite treats = no success
    • I never pull him and instead try different tactics to get him moving (i.e. walking around him in a circle, being really excited when he makes eye contact, etc.) = no success.


    So what should I do? There are several suggestions I have received:
    • Option #1: Use a high value treat (peanut butter, cooked chicken/hot dog) and try to lead him up and down
    • Option #2: Withold feeding him ANY treats, period - only give him his kibble - and only give kibble when you go for a walk down the street (this would tell him that if he doesn't walk, he won't eat). Do not feed kibble inside the house.
    • Option #3: Purchase a THUNDERSHIRT - this will wrap around his body tightly giving him a secure feeling and as a result he will act less afraid and more confident (I know this can work well but I'm hesitant to purchase one).
    • Option #4: Drag (yes, you read that right), drag dog down the street kicking and screaming until he gives in (this was recommended to me by a dog trainer who also uses prong collars (which I don't use), so I would NEVER like to attempt this method)

    I have tried Option #1 during dinner twice and was able to get him up the street, but as soon as he realized where he was he wanted to jolt back to the house. Also it's tough to hand feed him when it's 5 degrees outside!!

    Please help! I am not sure that at 11mos he'll grow out of it, and I don't want to keep avoiding the street by taking him to the park, yet I don't want him to get more and more scared by trying to force him on the street!!!! I have tagged some of you who have helped me in the past, so please either share your input or tag someone else that may be able to help.

    Brembo is such a good, well-socialized pup that it doesn't make sense that he should be so afraid of loud noises/cars, but here we are!!

    THANKS!



    @desertskybulldogs, @BruceP, @Vicaroo1000, @RaRett, @ChanelnBrutus, @Libra926, @JAKEISGREAT, @JeannieCO, @gobronco, @kazzy220, @2BullyMama, @Baconator, @Fontanafox, @roanne9145

    UPDATE #1 (2/16): I was able to get Brembo up to the top of the street (about 8 houses) and back down using some peanut butter on the end of a wooden spoon. I simply had the spoon down next to me (where I ask him to 'HEEL') and led him with it. I'm not sure he even realized we were outside LOL.

    Then, when I felt we had gone far enough, I made it MY idea to turn around and head home, and I did not use any PB when walking him towards home until a small truck came, and then I gave him a little bit more.

    All in all I'd say it was a success and I look forward to trying again this evening.

    And OF COURSE, a car went by us, stopped, then reversed to talk to me about him! D'oh! It's like you can never win, something unusual will ALWAYS happen when you're walking a bulldog, LOL.

    Last edited by ajwhitt44; 02-18-2013 at 11:32 AM.

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    Not going to be much help but all I can think of is positive energy and if the option #1 is working a little I would continue it without force.

    Once you see the fear make it your idea to return home and not his. In other words as soon as you see the fear you lead him back home instead of him leading you

    Damn that evil jackhammer for scaring Brembo!!!


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    Default Re: |:. FRUSTRATED .:| 11mo Bulldog scared to walk outside near traffic!!

    Brembo is super handsome, and good luck getting service dog certification!!! Perhaps you could carry him out past your yard, and then set him down, maybe if he sees nothing bad (like jackhammering) is happening he might be able then to walk around with his person and earn some treats! I think getting him through the barrier is the big step here, I wouldn't drag him, but get him out there and remind him it's not so bad?

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    Default Re: |:. FRUSTRATED .:| 11mo Bulldog scared to walk outside near traffic!!

    Well..I would rule out the dragging part for sure! He needs to TRUST that you will get him by those menacing spots. Dragging would destroy his trust and compound his fears. I would walk him in increasingly bigger area. I would take him in the car to a neutral area. Maybe a park. Just a nice relaxing walk. Take what he gives you. If needed..nothing wrong with treats. Especially since he has been treat oriented already. After a couple good outings, I would slowly get back to his normal route. He is a very handsome guy..I'm sure he will come around. Just needs good experiences to push away the negative memories..

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    Default Re: |:. FRUSTRATED .:| 11mo Bulldog scared to walk outside near traffic!!

    Actually I would rule out all 4.

    First of all, don't let your girlfriend take him for a walk for a while unless you are with them both.

    Set off with confidence, assertiveness and a sense of purpose. Keep trying that, and wipe all thoughts of what happened from your mind. He will take his lead from you. If he senses any nervousness or anxiety from you then it will transfer to him.

    I'm going to tag @Vicaroo1000 too .....

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    Lola is a big wuss too. we used to carry her a few houses down to start the walk and then she walks ok. carried her shorter and shorter and soon enough she walked out the door and down the steps

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    Default Re: |:. FRUSTRATED .:| 11mo Bulldog scared to walk outside near traffic!!

    Holy Cow reading this is like a chapter from my own life! My male Wilbur is the same...when he was about 9 or 10 months we went to get ice cream. We live in a small village and everything is walkable. Unfortunately, a motorcycle club came roaring through (not being jerks, they were going nice and slow and had gorgeous bikes) BUT the noise fried Wilbur. I will mention that Layla, his littermate, was also with us and didn't care at all ( she just wanted ice cream!)
    since then, he is super skittish around all loud noises. The lawn mower, the vacuum, pots and pans, fireworks, everything. During the incident itself I was very conscious to keep on as if nothing was wrong, calmly continuing on our way, knowing that if I coddled him it would just reinforce the fear. But no use...he is still refusing to go on the street where there is traffic. If we walk towards the forest path he is fine, but he is a statue if I try to go to the Main Street.

    so interesting that Wilbur and Layla have always been exposed to the same things at the same time, and yet are so different in their reactions.

    I will follow this post...I need help too. I have already tried these suggestions, and I just can't bear the all- out panic in his eyes when I try to take him walking on the street. It is hard enough to manage getting a baking sheet out or vacuuming!sometimes he hides, but other times he freaks and barks....poor little boy

    Glad to know I am not the only one with this!
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    Default Re: |:. FRUSTRATED .:| 11mo Bulldog scared to walk outside near traffic!!

    Quote Originally Posted by kazzy220 View Post
    First of all, don't let your girlfriend take him for a walk for a while unless you are with them both. Set off with confidence, assertiveness and a sense of purpose. Keep trying that, and wipe all thoughts of what happened from your mind. He will take his lead from you. If he senses any nervousness or anxiety from you then it will transfer to him.
    Quote Originally Posted by JAKEISGREAT View Post
    Well..I would rule out the dragging part for sure! He needs to TRUST that you will get him by those menacing spots. Dragging would destroy his trust and compound his fears. I would walk him in increasingly bigger area. I would take him in the car to a neutral area. Maybe a park. Just a nice relaxing walk. Take what he gives you. If needed..nothing wrong with treats. Especially since he has been treat oriented already. After a couple good outings, I would slowly get back to his normal route. He is a very handsome guy..I'm sure he will come around. Just needs good experiences to push away the negative memories..

    These ladies have you going on the right track.... I would even try walking in the opposite direction out of the house to start off, if possible
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    My first thought was food but you've already done that and most everything else that I would do. The only other suggestion would be to a friend with a dog that Brembo likes to come over. Maybe even a friend from his puppy classes come over and take a walk with him. 1) dog friend might serve as a distraction to take his mind off his fears and 2) he might decide if dog friend isn't afraid then maybe it is okay. Good luck! Hope he'll be walking proudly through the neighborhood again soon,

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    Default Re: |:. FRUSTRATED .:| 11mo Bulldog scared to walk outside near traffic!!

    Wow....first off, Kudos to you. You are on top of it and I admire you. I'm wondering if you load Brembo into the car and have your gf drive the two of you out past the "scary" part of a road and walk him back home. Some times changing the direction of your walk will settle him.

    He associates that part of the road with the horrible and scary sounds. Kinda like the "jack in the box" effect. You know it's coming but it still scares the crap out of you. He knows that part of the road is coming and he fears it.

    Good luck! I hope you find something that works for you!

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    Default Re: |:. FRUSTRATED .:| 11mo Bulldog scared to walk outside near traffic!!

    My Daisy is almost 11 months old now, and she's skittish on the street too. Noises, and especially moving objects such as a swinging shingle sign just freak her out. I'm having some success with her using the "down" command. Of course, you have to have already trained your dog to "down" before this will work. When she freaks, I immediately get her down, and I keep her down while praising her. It seems to clam her some, and then we can go on with minimal trouble. She is getting better as time goes on.

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    Default Re: |:. FRUSTRATED .:| 11mo Bulldog scared to walk outside near traffic!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Libra926 View Post
    Wow....first off, Kudos to you. You are on top of it and I admire you. I'm wondering if you load Brembo into the car and have your gf drive the two of you out past the "scary" part of a road and walk him back home. Some times changing the direction of your walk will settle him.

    He associates that part of the road with the horrible and scary sounds. Kinda like the "jack in the box" effect. You know it's coming but it still scares the crap out of you. He knows that part of the road is coming and he fears it.

    Good luck! I hope you find something that works for you!
    i was thinking the same thing. If you can get him to walk past that area in the other direction and go straight home. Maybe next day turn around when you are just passing that area followed by going straight home. Each day going a little further before you do the turn around thing. If everything works out you may be able to turn around, when you get to your house, and pass that are without any problem. If you don't find a way that works maybe find a good trainer. He may pay more attention to the new trainer than his fears.

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