Got Hit by Car with Dogs: Helping them Recover from car suspicions?
  • While me, Kumatora, and our new brindog Pyrrha were biking to the dog park we were waiting for a car to pass, the car had paused for a good moment so we decided to ride past him thinking he saw us and he jutted out and hit us even though we were right in front of him and he could clear see us. Luckily the guy was nice enough to help us out and were getting everything settled. With the bike totaled we now have to walk to our favorite places until the bike is repaired. Kumatora came out with a road rash on her leg, pyrrha was fine and I had flew off the top of the car and landed in the street. Kumatora for the most part handled the stress and the reintroduction to walking on the sidewalk the best and amazingly well. She is suspicious of cars but nothing some treats and daily walks can't fix so she can get back to ignoring them and pulling me. The best thing for her is for me to be stern and not let her go into protection mode getting aroused, keep calm and composed.

    Pyrrha is a Dutch ShepherdxHusky, she is definitely a husky with weaker nerves than kuma, flighty, barky when restrained, tends to try and bully kuma even though once kuma stops tolerating her puppyness she will get hurt (as much as I keep them separated with food items Pyrrha LOOVVEESS tempting fate,) but at this point I figured I need to let them sort it out and intervene when it gets to the point Kuma is going give Pyrrha another bloody lip, since pyrrha needs to learn the signals when a dog has had enough. Other than that they get along fairly well and Kuma will protect her little sister at the dog park when she gets too big for britches and harasses a dog that doesn't take well to very rough play. They love playing together and really its like the ex-Miltary older sister (kuma) paired with the egotistical little sister (pyrrha).

    However I must say, Pyrrha is the biggest pain in the ass to train. She's very punkish, she's hardheaded but in reality a big chicken (she acts tough but when it starts getting rough she flees). She wants to do things her way and even with doing positive training she wants the easy way out which she never gets. LOL We do a mixture of very light corrections as our negative marker since she'll easily ignore NO as the marker and give her rewards when she stops the negative behaviors and then does the positive behavior (like if she barks, either goes quiet, or she sits down). Thus when we were working on adjusting to walking pass cars during the slowest time of day she would fight and buck and thrash, we try to sit down to get her to calm down, wait for the number of cars to decrease and then walk once calm enough, I give praise, she would be fine and then would start the thrashing again.

    I would be fine if she did this by my side but she likes to leap in front of me and I typically try to walk past her and ignore the behavior. She did this alot when learning to walk and I learned its better to ignore her and keep walking because the reward is gonna be going to where she 'WANTS' to go, when she goes back to her designated side she gets some praise, thus she walks pretty good on a leash, and we will start training some better heeling commands soon. There were a few times where she got so aggressive leaping in front of me that I have accidently stepped on her paw or mowed her over getting too close to my legs like today. Kumatora is obviously annoyed, she has the most unimpressed look when Pyrrha does this like "Its not a big deal, just walk normally, your slowing us down getting to the park." Since kuma is the most balanced out the two I have them coupled together just so that in case pyrrha tries to run off she'll get a tug from Kuma to keep going and that I can more easily deal with getting calm her down rather than getting tangled.

    Any advice on at least getting her to stop bucking? If I can get the bucking in front of me to stop the flightiness (shying away) will be easy to deal with.
    Post edited by Knichtus at 2014-11-10 19:23:17
  • Wow, that's pretty awful! Glad everyone is relatively ok, but very scary.

    @TJbart17 had this happen when she was walking. It took a long time for her Kai to feel comfortable walking, esp. in the area it happened. Maybe she'll check in with some comments, though she's not on the forum a lot these days.

    The big thing is, that was a significant trauma for a dog, and you have to consider it's going to take a fair amount of time to get past it. her bucking shows that she's very scared. She can't learn anything when she's past threshold anyway, and it sounds like she's very past threshold at those times. I would think you're going to have to do a lot of counter conditioning before she ever gets to that point, and I think you need to do it as training with her alone, not as part of a walk with Kuma. You need to see when she is starting to get scared of a car, starting to react to it, then stop, give her some really really good rewards, then move forward a little bit, etc. There's a behavior modification training game called "Look at that!" which basically rewards dogs for looking at the scary object, then looking back at you and getting rewarded. You can google it, but it starts with looking at non scary objects, then works up to the scary ones. Another type of behavior modification involves the reward being moving away from the scary object after the dog has looked at it. It's basically a variant of BAT, and I found one quick link that explains them:

    Obviously, though, these are slow processes--you have to get the dog not to be so scared of the thing (cars) and you have to do it at a pace the dog chooses, which may be very slow indeed. Pushing her past her threshhold isn't going to help and could make things worse (it could reinforce her idea that yes, cars are terribly frightening).

    And I also think if you find her difficult to train in general, maybe the issue is you haven't found the right reward? Praise is probably the weakest reward there is, but especially when you're dealing with huge fears like this, it's going to have to be something really good to reward her with for approaching the scary thing. (And you'll have to keep her under threshold).

    Anyway, it's probably going to take awhile, so be patient with her. She's experienced a huge trauma--even if she wasn't physically hurt, she saw her canine companion and YOU hurt, and now she probably legitmately thinks cars are dangerous and scary. Can't blame her there! And good luck!
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2014-11-11 12:53:22
  • @shibamistress Thanks for the advice, were working on it slowly but the treats were using right now are these gingerbread treats, they smell great and they love them, I've tasted them and they are really good. Pyrrha isn't a lover of raw meat. But while both of them are food motivated, that isn't necessarily always the reward they will respond to, pyrrha is not toy motivated either, most of the time her interest in toys stems from the fact she wants to bully kuma away from it so she can add it to her pile and then ignore it. (Another behavior we discourage haha)

    Pyrrha is difficult because she's smart, like kuma is, but she's impatient and not very focused, she's also flighty. If pyrrha doesn't want to do it, she'll run/avoid, have a hissy fit or try to push kuma out of the way of the treat she gets for performing the correct behavior (like a toddler). If kuma doesn't want to do it, she typically will look me in the eyes and give a very akita like huff or pout when it comes to trick training, maybe head back to my bedroom to go chew before coming back and giving me the 'honor' of training her this trick again (like a teenager). She enjoys it much more than she did in the beginning when it comes to kuma and training. Pyrrha lacks the patience and will pitch a fit not getting what she wants fast enough, most of her training right now has been based on learning to be patient and increase her focus, that the treat and praise is worth going through this process. She's getting better, and this is necessary with teaching her better manners.

    For kuma, going to a new/favorite place is a fun reward since she gets to smell or play. She also loves water so we go to places with water. She likes to pull me during walks which we use to train bike-jor commands when shes attached to my waist, which has made her walk better normally when the leash is in hand. With her, she understands if she obeys a command (typically hike, on-by, or ignore) we'll get to the fun place faster and she gets a tasty treat. So with the cars, if she starts slowing and staring I either tell her to keep going, or we'll stop and stand still until ready. She gives me a particular look if we take too long getting to the park, the praise and food is nice and all but where is that park with all squirrels??? The closer we get, the less important food and praise can get.

    Pyrrha likes exploring, but shes very prissy and doesn't like getting too dirty, smelling is nice. She's more reactive to, I'm thinking maybe with her just letting her sit down and watch cars pass be a better start, just so she can get used to the noise. Huge trucks passing by make her leap out of her skin, while smaller cars she'll buck or bolt, but not as bad, the noise and suddeness is what seems to startle her the most.