Nervous dog around roads

Posted by Paulo
Jan 17, 2011
I have a 15 month old Malinois cross GHD who is very nervous. She is a rescue dog and was in kennels for the first 6 months of her life, which I think has given her a very nervous disposition around all things. However she is extremely nervous around roads which is making it very difficult to walk her along them. Whilst I appreciate it's good for her to be aware of roads and the danger for her if she was to go into them, it's got to the stage where when walking along any road if she hears a loud noise like a van drive past she cowers away pulling into nearby gardens to get away, making walking along busier roads almost impossible. She has been nervous of roads for as long as we've had her, but this got a lot worse after an occasion when she escaped from a friends house and we believe got clipped by a car. Whilst she wasn't hurt this has understandably made her even more nervous.
I have tried to get her used to the roads by consciously walking her along them but she doesn't enjoy this and always pulls away, and I don't want to make her situation worse by pushing her into a stressful situation.
Any helpful advice gratefully received.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 17, 2011
Hi Paulo,

Has your dog's separation anxiety got any better?
I hope she has outgrown peeing/pooping in the bed due to her nerveousness.

As for her fear with walking on the roads, all you can do is to gradually desensitize her. Encouraging her is good but forcing her might backfire.

Can you choose quieter streets, and hopefully walk her along with another confident dog? One bad experience can cause dogs to become afraid of something but on the other hands, they can learn and get used to things with good experience too. When you see any subtle sign of her nerveousness, even before a van approaches to you and your dog, turn her attention to you by saying "watch me!" and give her a lot of treats (tiny pieces are fine but just dish them out to her) as the van drives by.

Also, walking other dogs (not fearful dogs, though) will help her becoming more comfortable with walking on the streets.

By living in kennels for her first 6 months, she has missed a lot of experience with living in our world so ordinary things such as sounds/vibrations of cars are totally new things for her. However, dogs are resilient so I am sure she will improve in a year or two. Please just be patient and give her plenty of time to get adjusted.