Training Dogs Afraid Of Loud Noises
When doing behavior modification for fear, it is crucial that you understand that Charley’s behavior is not voluntary and she is not being stubborn or defiant. Fear is a survival state and is thus treated differently than regular training. If food is used, it plays a different role(that of creating a positive association rather than as a reward for a voluntary behavior that is offered by the dog). Charley has clearly demonstrated a deep fear of going for a walk. The fear starts with the leash, then going out the front door, and peaks outside. This is a classic example of a negative association created with a scary experience and the events that led to that experience (which now are predictors of something scary. If you press to get the leash on her and coax her to do something she is afraid of (even when you try showing her there is nothing to fear), you risk sensitizing her to the situation and making her more afraid. What is desired is de-sensitization, which must be done gradually to be effective. A good explanation of the concept can be found here- https://positively.com/
It would be best to enlist the help of a force-free trainer that is knowledgeable in science based behavior modification to help you design a program to help Charley overcome his fear. Make sure the trainer does not employ any kind of flooding technique (making a dog “work through” scary situations) because of the risk of overwhelming and sensitizing that I mentioned. You can do a search for a trainer near you through this site – https://apdt.com/trainer-
My advice to you would be to temporarily suspend your desire to take Charley for a walk and find ways to exercise her with games and enriching mental activities (lots of examples can be found on Youtube). Start with desensitizing very gradually (without eliciting avoidance) to the act of leash clipping leash (with professional guidance). If she runs away at the mere sight of the leash, that would be where you would start, not with attaching the leash to her collar. If she is not afraid of car rides, try taking her to a different neighborhood or a park for walks, but only if she enjoys it.
Fear is best addressed with a willingness to make her sense of safety be your top priority. Being assertive is counterproductive because this is not a disobedience issue. When an animal (or person) is so afraid that she trembles, the mind is not in a state to learn. Survival mode has kicked in and that primal state will overshadow “logic” or obedience every time. That is why helping her feel safe while you train in small baby steps is so important. http://somuchpetential.com/
Hope this helps steer you and Charley in a positive direction.