Being sensible in traffic means both getting used to traffic, and responding to commands that help keep your dog safe. Traffic can be overwhelming for pups, and for dogs not used to busy roads, like country dogs who move to towns or cities. They may cringe, flinch away and tremble, or get overexcited and try lunging. It's easier to get a pup used to noisy traffic than an adult dog, but adults do eventually get used to it. Start off training at quiet times of the day, or on quiet roads. The aim is to have your dog focusing on you, and what you are asking him to do, rather than the traffic. How much you expose your dog to depends on how well he copes - backtrack to move forward again if it gets too much. It's the long-term progress that counts, rather than daily setbacks.

Even at quiet times, some traffic is especially threatening to dogs, like big heavy lorries, and loud motorbikes, especially if the motorbikes come close to the dog, or are started up near him. Motorbikes can be very scary for dogs, so special training with them can help. You can let your dog sniff a stationary bike, and talk to a biker with a helmet on, who offers him tidbits. (Make sure your dog doesn't pee on the bike, or your biker helper may lose the urge to help you.) Wait until your dog has got used to bikes at a distance before exposing him to the sound of a bike being started up near him.


There may never be a quiet time in a city, so just keep walks short at first, building up the time the dog has to cope with traffic noise as he gets more confident. Dogs tend to cope better with scary surroundings if they are doing something, rather than just sitting, but when your dog is ready, you can also try sitting somewhere near traffic, with your dog on your lap or by your side. Give him a tidbit or a cuddle now and then as a reward for paying you attention.

Traffic can make inexperienced dogs panic and try to slip their collars, so always check his collar is secure, and use a short lead rather than a flexilead in traffic - short leads are much safer.

Some people sit their dogs at the kerb, Others put them in a stand. Sitting a dog at a curb makes it easier to keep the dog still, but standing may be better in heavy traffic and with a lot of passers-by who might tread on your dog's tail by mistake. Standing is safer at traffic islands because dogs' bottoms and tails can extend a long way into the road, and standing dogs are much easier for traffic to see. You can use a command like 'road' to cross the road and 'path' as you reach the other side. so that the dog knows to get off the road and onto the path. An advantage of teaching these commands with a 'stop' or a 'stay' is that you can use them at a distance. A stop whistle, and then 'path' command could be a life saver.