18 Months of Road Work = nervous dog

So this summer, our city has begun completely re-doing our street - this includes new gas and water lines, regrading the road, adding sidewalks, curbs, sewage lines, and drive aprons. (like we need more concrete :evil:)

Walter is already freaking out, as just this week, all the heavy machinery has been loaded into our front yard and all the surrounding yards. He's been barking at the drop of a hat, and seems nervous.

I've been trying to sit with him in the yard watching the construction, treating and petting to reassure him. I just don't want the next year and a half to go by with a skittish, nervous dog who won't go outside or anything.

Has anyone had any similar situations? Home construction, etc? Other suggestions besides the desensitizing?

Respond to this topic here on forum.oes.org  
I have no suggestions...

My parents live above a pretty busy street that can get noisy at times and their sheepdog doesn't like it. But then they did all sorts of pipe work and construction on the street and the dog was inconsolable. She went and hid in her crate the entire day while they were working.

she was fine when they weren't working, so there wasn't any 'permanent damage' done to her psyche, but definitely was scared while they were. (She also HATES thunderstorms and fireworks)
I would ignore his behavior or tell him no, not reassure him. Reassuring him may be telling him "Ok I'm right to be anxious about this situation"

I made that mistake with Dancer...
Willowsprite wrote:
I would ignore his behavior or tell him no, not reassure him.

Good point - I guess to clarify, I am trying to reassure and praise him when he's just watching, not when he's barking or running around. I hope I'm making the right distinction. Thanks, I will definitely pay close attention to what I'm doing.
As others have said, let him know that it's no big deal to you and hopefully he'll pick up on this. You probably already know this but whatever you do, don't coddle him. You might try brief but frequent periods of time outside to experience the "bad" thing that is causing the stress. Reward for calm behavior. If there is a particular thing he enjoys doing (like swimming in a kiddie pool, playing ball, etc. you might do these "normal" things with him to help him focus on something else. Hopefully, if you do it enough he'll see it's okay and not a threat and it will simply become background noise to him.

The Blue Angels were here last weekend and it was Panda's first experience of the area's summer festivities. Though she isn't a dog easily startled, this particular noise was completely foreign to her and I could tell she was unsure (they fly right over the house :roll: ). So I kept her outside with me and cajoled her... the others were playing despite the noise. By the time we went in she understood the US Navy wasn't going to harm her and that the noise was okay.

Most often in books or literature regarding dealing with a dogs fears and the majority say don't coddle them.

I agree with certain things, such as when they are young pups and visit an offleash park for the first time. As pups they are just learning good social doggie manners and may do inappropriate things like bite another dogs ears. The others will dicipline the pup and the little fellow may race over to you - crying his little heart out. I feel this is the time when you shouldn't coddle as he is learning good doggie social manners from the others. It was difficult not to feel a tug at the heart when Merlin was kiaiiing his little heart out but observing the interaction I knew he wasn't hurt so I ignored it. He would stop and then resume his play.

In cases dealing with their fears, I do coddle but not overly so. It's so true dogs can pick up any sense of fear, urgency, apprehension in you, so it's important for you to keep a calm voice and manner throughout.

I recently watched a documentary regarding a Bloodhound that although she was an excellent candidate for police work - her fear of thunderstorms caused her to fail. It showed her going to a trainer whom developed a bond with her and then showed him sitting on his porch holding her tightly and speaking reassuring to her during a thunderstorm. This suprised me as until then - I had only heard of not coddling them. The dog lived with this man for several weeks and each time a thunderstorm would arrive, the man held the dog, eventually sitting close to it, patting it, then just speaking to it softly. The dog went on to eventually be fine except for an occasional whine which it would then stop if spoken to reassuringly by the man. At the end of the program it showed the dog being in demand by several police forces as she had successfully overcome her fear.

Panda had a list that would be several pages long of his fears, loud noises, traffic, lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners, fireworks, firecrackers, the garbage truck...ect. I've mentioned several times on here I would sit in a park across the street from someone mowing their lawn and watch them all the while patting Panda and speaking reassuringly to him. Same with the vaccum, turning it on briefly , patting him and then always ending on a good note. Everything always ended on a good note! Even if it was for a few seconds the first time, I'd pat and praise but do it Before he appeared agitated. It might be a brief period the first time and then it becomes extended each time.

We did the same with traffic and cars. Sitting a distance away to observe. With each day and extended periods , speaking softly, pat and praise, then approaching closer each time. I now walk beside a very busy high traffic areas and Panda is not at all stressed. He use to lunge at park cars even, and skateboarders and bikes made him go crazy so I was always on guard to move him away.

I must admit that since getting Panda in late March 2004, I have always remained consistant and do things on a daily basis for most things. His fear of fireworks and firecrackers was so great - he literally went into a frenzy, raced around vomiting, barking, crying..ect. I stayed home Canada Day, New Years, and other holidays to be with him. The first time, Canada Day in 2004, meant staying in the darkened back yard with him (couldn't have him in the house as he was vomiting every few steps.) I remained calm and just sat in the grass, not following him but would pat him and speak to him when he approached me. The fireworks would start up again and he raced around in his frenzy and then come over to me and sit beside me. I didn't approach him but let him come to me and my presence was reassuring to him.
The second year, he no longer vomited but would race around the house and bark frantically. I would call him over to me and that calmed him down, more so than the previous year.
This past Canada Day (July 1st) and the third time we have gone through this holiday...YEAH ONLY ONE LITTLE BARK!!

I think my background working with special needs children has prepared me for working with Panda..LOL. With them, sometimes things don't happen as fast as with other kids. It's repetition, over and over again, and a celebration of even the smallest milestones. Things are broken down to even the smallest steps towards the final goal with lots of praise. An example would be trying to get a child to sit still in a classroom. The first time may only be a min...and you might have to do that for weeks. Then 2 mins..then five...takes patience. Eventually you reach a goal which is attainable. I think it's the same with dogs.

In your case I would try going a short distance from the noise (perhaps a near by park) and sitting there with Walter. He would be able to still hear the noise and with distractions (fun stuff ) or sitting there just speaking to him he would eventually get used to the background noises. Eventually, move closer and closer to the noise until you are back in your yard again. Granted this won't happen all in one day and you have to be consistent but even a few mins a day may help him to overcome that agitation.

The good thing (although very bothersome) is the noise may not be something you have to deal with for the rest of his life, unlike thunderstorms or other noises which he may incur during his lifespan. Hopefully this is only a one time thing that the construction is so close to your home.

Marianne and the boys
We live near a small airport...in the early AM & PM we see/hear small commercial jets
bringing business travelers to & from Atlanta.
I say BIG Birdie & all 3 LOOK up...funny puppers!
I guess it's just what they get use to seeing!
After 2 years, Brody, our Neardie rescue, has finally
stopped jumping off the sidewalk & into the bushes/yards
when a big truck comes past.
His time on the street must have been pretty scary 8O
We just kept on walking & praised him for staying on the sidewalk :phew:
:idea: Come to think of it...wearing a gentle leader seemed to help him turn the corner.
Good Luck...just takes some patience & time
each time a thunderstorm would arrive, the man held the dog, eventually sitting close to it, patting it, then just speaking to it softly

That is sooo cool!
If you are into herbals, you could try St. John's Wort or Valerian Root to help calm him as he adjusts to all the commotion outside. It can be purchased at health food stores or drug stores like Walgreens, etc.

I used both the week leading up to July 4th for Simon, my basset who is deathly afraid of fireworks. It did seem to help. Much less anxiety.
Good luck
We live near a small airport...in the early AM & PM we see/hear small commercial jets
bringing business travelers to & from Atlanta.
I say BIG Birdie & all 3 LOOK up...funny puppers!

We are not far from an Air Force base/commercial airport...in fact just 5 miles out from one runway end (thank heavens commercial jet engines are now quiet)......anyway,

For awhile the base was doing more helicopter training. They'd fly out the the mountains west of town for training and then return in formation. Well, one large helicopter is noisy but a half dozen to a dozen can be heard for miles. At first the dogs were crazy with the noise. I was actually watching the helicopter coming in and soon noticed the dogs were mimicing me. Somewhere along the way I also started humming the Wagnerian opera overture as to that move years ago. This became a ritual. With the dogs hearing greater than mine, they'd come to me, look up and then look back at me, "they are coming Mom, start singing."

Youngest brother was visiting one day when the dogs cued me in.........I started singing and gradually the thunder from the helicopters became audible. Brother shook his head, "You need to get a life."

Jasper barks like crazy the entire time machines/large trucks make loud noises. Thursday mornings, we know exactly when the garbage truck runs because he barks. We live pretty much right next door (one house between us) from the ambulance station - they have one here since we're 30-40 mins from the closest hospital. When it starts with the sirens, Jasper barks. Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, the church bells ring twice to announce Sunday school/Bible study and then the start of services - he barks at them. Today, our neighbors had someone at their house doing work - he barked nearly all day at that machine, and he also barks at the city grass cutters when they're cutting beside the road. We live next to an air force pilot training base, so he used to bark at the jets all the time - I think he's gotten used to them now though unless he is outside when they go over. So yeah...he doesn't much like those noises either. About the only big thing he doesn't bark at is the school bus when it passes by during the school year.
Your kids must be too little to go to school?? Our dogs learned that the bus meant the kids were coming home! and they went nuts in excitement. With their great hearing, I always knew the bus had turned on to our gravel road (about 3/4 mile away from our house) and the kids would be home soon! :D
Living in a construction zone for the last month has been a real eye opener for me and the doggers. We were the first family to move into the single family homes here. (there were townhomes already occupied by a few hardy souls) Every morning between 6- 7 am the workers start arriving....then at all H*&^ breaks loose. Saws, hammers, big trucks, people yelling in French! and alot of heavy machinery. Drives me nuts! BUT...guess I didn't let the dogs know and proceeded to establish a new routine (new house, new schedule) For all of ours this was their first move ever. If we want a walk we get up before the workers start so we can get down the "street" (no road yet...mud and dust yick) before the trucks try to run us down. We go out for another potty when it's break time about 9:30 am...then out for another walk at noon (lunch break) then out again at about 3:30 when everyone leaves. It has gotten to the point that when it is quiet outside the dogs know its time to got out! I wonder if that hasn't been a good thing. They are around the big stuff when it is quiet too. They pee on it...sniff it and know that it hasn't hurt them. Plus the workers get several "parades" a day. Cheap entertainment. :D

I figure by the time this is over that the dogs will be used to ANYTHING! Talk about crash course socialization.

The only one nervous of thunder in our house is the one that came to us a little older (Josie). She's getting much better. I love thunder storms...guess I just passed that love on to my "kids".

I feel your frustration with this. And it would break my heart if my kids were afraid of all the noise going on....mainly because there isn't a thing I can do about the noise. I'd try rescue remedy if nothing else works BUT..do try the "everything is alright...and normal" approach. It has worked for me...and I have skittish afghan hounds.
I was advised that the best thing to do is to take the dog outside and let him/her explore the thing that is making all of the noise. I have also found that my dog responds to perceived threats better when the hair over her eyes is trimmed and she can see everything clearly.
Didn't find exactly what you're looking for? Search again here:
Custom Search

[Home] [Get A Sheepdog] [Community] [Memories]
[OES Links] [OES Photos] [Grooming] [Merchandise] [Search]

Identifying Ticks info Greenies Info Interceptor info Glucosamine Info
Rimadyl info Heartgard info ProHeart Info Frontline info
Revolution Info Dog Allergies info Heartworm info Dog Wormer info
Pet Insurance info Dog Supplements info Vitamins Info Bach's Rescue Remedy
Dog Bite info Dog Aggression info Boarding Kennel info Pet Sitting Info
Dog Smells Pet Smells Get Rid of Fleas Hip Displasia info
Diarrhea Info Diarrhea Rice Water AIHA Info
Sheepdog Grooming Grooming-Supplies Oster A5 info Slicker Brush info
Dog Listener Dog's Mind Dog Whisperer

Please contact our Webmaster with questions or comments.
  Please read our PRIVACY statement and Terms of Use


Copyright 2000 - 2012 by OES.org. All rights reserved.