Springer Spaniel Terrified of Trucks

by Barbara F Smith
(San Juan Capistrano, CA)

We have a very sweet 7 month old Springer Spaniel female from reputable California breeder of field dogs.

Our main concern with her is her fear of even the sound of a truck. When she was about 4 - 5 months old, she was frightened when a trash truck appeared outside our son's yard.

Since then, even the distant sound of a trash truck coming up our street sends her into hiding. We have tried taking her out on a leash and comforting her while the truck is on our block...to no avail. Now even the "beep-beep" of a backing up truck sends her into hiding.

The problem makes it very difficult to walk her and we have now concluded we can no longer let her run in a big lawn area near our home...an activity she really loves.

When she is off leash chasing down balls and happily playing with other dogs, and hears the distant sound of a truck or 'beep-beeping," she takes off running away and will not stop. Luckily she runs to where our car is parked, but we are fearful of losing her.

Any ideas for desensitizing her?

From Anna@love-springer-spaniels

Hi Barbara
This sounds really trciky as you have been doing all the right things. I really hope one of our members can help you out.

Sorry I cannot personally do more to help. Good luck

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Jul 26, 2011
terrified of trucks
by: Anonymous

I had another thought, what about taking her out with a friend who has a very calm dog, who doesn't react to trucks or anything else, they do get reassurance from other dogs

Jul 26, 2011
Thought for the Day
by: Muppethead2

When we decided to get our ESP for our son a fourth grader. I too purchased from a reputatable breeder. I also looked into the medical history of ESP;s. I looked at Springer at a kennel, and was very close to purchasing him. A month later I was at the vet to get shot's updated and such, and saw the springer from the Kennel. The vet told me I was lucky I didn't purchased him because he has a neurological problem and the owner would have issues ranging from not listening to complete breakdown. So just for for kicks, check in with a good vet, I was lucky mine owns ESP's and just adored our James Puppy. I wish you the best of luck with yours.

Jul 26, 2011
behavior modification
by: Gregg

The way I had to work with my springer was on leash in front clip harness. We would go outside and when a truck would pass make her sit down and remain calm. When she remained calm and didn't bolt she got a treat, ear scratches, and praise. If she negatively reacted she was made to sit and calm down. It took over a month as her terror of all trucks was huge. She doesn't mind trucks now.

Jul 26, 2011
scared springer
by: Anonymous

We have a four year old rescue who was terrified of gunshots and we walk near a clay pigeon shooting ground. He would be like velcro to my leg when I first got him, but like the other posters, we ignored it totally and kept walking. After a while he got braver and braver and now ignores it altogether. I don't think he notices it at all now.

Jul 12, 2011
Scared of trucks...
by: Kirsty Higginson

Hi, The breeder we got our ESS from was excellent and talked us through lots of stuff. He had also written a guide (which was more like a book!) to help ensure that people did things the right way (i.e. ensuring everyone was happy).

One of the main things about them scared is not to comfort if they are petrified as this can reinforce their fears. Maybe go out (on lead) when it is a bit quieter and talk to the dog normally or go out with someone and have a conversation and try (and I know how heartbreaking and hard this can be) ignore the fear and KEEP WALKING, no matter how hard.....OR sit the dog down (on lead again) holding his collar, keep saying 'leave it' whilst holding out a treat - I'm not sure it will work but when our dog gets excited we use this technique and if he remains calm he gets his treat. 95% of the time if works...it just doesn't happen over night.

I'm not saying the above recommendations work for everyone but when we first got our ESS he shook in fear of everything, he was such a loveable softy, but we persevered and I didn't acknowledge his fears and he is fine with everything now.
We had to walk past a massive rubbish truck this morning and he was fine........good luck, please keep me posted.

Jul 12, 2011
by: Shara ( Torwind Spaniels)

We had this with one of our girls to a lesser degree, when she was a young pup and found out that I had been doing the wrong thing by reassuring her, when the lorry went past, when she was 8 weeks old and that whatever fear, a dog might have, that reassuring it, when it is scared is not the best way as it can reinforce the thought that its a scary situation.

I was advised with this 12 week pup, and advise the same to all my pup owners to be, that if pup is scared, you walk on, confident as if its no big deal and reassure praise, when it has gone past or handled it.

In this situation, your dog has been scared for longer and could take longer but still, as with the above comment, praise and positve calm confident actions and encouragement.

I have also seen tried, not with trucks but other situations, where Dogs have a fear, that for example, every time, it sees or hears a truck,give a treat, as in piece of chicken, so if on telly, it hears or sees a truck, give chicken, cheese or whatever and say 'Truck' or whatever, and then from a distance, when a truck is heard, say truck and give treat, till it gradually builds up and becomes desensitises!

You might only need to do the confident walking and praise after its calm after its handled the situation but if very deep rooted, then the treat and gradual desensitastion to sound of the truck might help too.

Jul 11, 2011
ESS and Trucks
by: Lynn

Hi there

We had a similar problem with our one dog but its wasn't trucks but childrens buggies. She would try and leap away or into the road if she saw one coming and was like it until it had passed.

Eventually we thought that we weren't going to let the dog get a complex about it and used our daughters toy pram and pushchair to train her and reassure her that all was ok. We reassured her when she walked past her but not OTT and praised her when she made more progress and used a treat system.

All the best in trying to curb your dogs nervousness.

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