Lunging at Traffic
What a dear little dog Pogo is. He is of indeterminate breed – there is probably both Collie and Terrier in there somewhere. Like so many of the rescue dogs I go to, he comes from Ireland and nobody knows his past. He spent a month in a foster home before joining his new family who have had him for just under two weeks.
He is a biddable and lovely natured dog, not overly nervous generally, but certain situations scare him out of all proportion. There are obviously things he has never encountered and one of those is moving cars. He goes frantic when a car passes, lunging and barking, although he is perfectly fine with stationery vehicles and with being inside a car. High prey drive may contribute also.
Pogo also barks frantically at the washing machine while it is filling with water. He had a bark at the large bag I carry with me. I feel he’s not been exposed to enough different things in his life, and lead walking beside roads is something he probably has never done before.
It is tempting to be cross and vocal when a dog behaves like this, but it does no good at all – in fact the contrary. Nor does ‘reassuring’ or treating which will only validate how he is feeling. Pogo needs to be slowly and gradually habituated to these things. It is an established fact that forcing a dog into situations he can’t cope with will most likely make things a lot worse, as does punishment, scolding and tight physical control which will result in discomfort. In his past a newspaper has obviously been used on Pogo. If a paper is lifted he cowers and runs.
A psychological approach to curing fears is altogether different, if slower, with permanent results and a confident, fearless dog.
Soon Pogo should be chilled around the washing machine – if his owners patiently follow my plan to the letter. It will be the same around traffic if the walking strategies are followed. He has landed on his feet with this family – and they are very fortunate to have such a wonderful little dog.