Ok, so Blue and I went on our walk yesterday morning...same route as usual!
Well, as we were waiting for the light to change...there was this banner attached to a steel post blowing...suddenly, Blue got spooked by it...started barking and began to back up. Well, the next thing I know, she got out of her collar and ran down the street...I was freaked because there were cars on and she ran onto the street. I think she almost got hit...anyways I stop and call her back to me..finally she stayed on a corner and waited for me.
I got her collar on and we walked back home...some lady who witnessed all of this drove around to make sure she was alright.
I'm happy to say she is her old self and was playing around like nothing happened but me freaked out for the rest of day.
This was exactly what happen with my sister and Bobbie except our ending wasn't so happy - Bobs got hit by two seperate cars on a duel carridgeway and it's only pure luck that my sis and her boyf didn't get hit aswell as they just ran out after her.
Lucy was a collar-backer-outer too, so I quickly switched to a Martingale once I realized this. Now I walk her with a GL head collar mostly, so the Martingale is a moot point.
Lucy was easily spooked by everyday objects when I first brought her home. She was about ten months old and had been kept indoors and in the back yard of the home where she had previously lived before being given up to the shelter. She was afraid of: Mailboxes, garbage cans, parked motorcycles, drinking fountains, flags waving in the wind, landscaping boulders, statues, and the list goes on. Each day was a new adventure discovering what else Lucy was afraid of.
I worked with her using desensitization and counterconditioning techniques gleaned from various authors and a trainer in my area, as well as a consult with a veterinary behaviorist. Now she's okay with all of those things. If it's dark and she can't see well, a strange shape lurking in the shadows might trigger avoidance, but I think that's understandable. To her, a shadow lurking in the darkness probably looks an awful lot like a mountain lion ready to eat her for dinner.
She is a Border Collie mix (mixed with I don't know what, but very BC like in most aspects), and so she is very visually oriented. When we went to see the vet. behaviorist, Lucy's gaze was fixed upon the framed print hung high up on the wall. It was a picture of a cat sitting on a window sill. The vet. behaviorist commented that Lucy was the first canine visitor to even notice the artwork on the wall, which showed that Lucy is exceptionally observant of her environment.
Anyway, if you want to work on flapping banners, something that I did with Lucy was walked her to the local post office, where they have a flag right outside the entrance. We started out at a comfortable distance (comfortable for Lucy, meaning that she wasn't noticing the flag) using Dr. Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol, which we had a lot of practice with at home before using it away from home. Over time, I was able to decrease the distance to the flag pole, until we were right next to it, and Lucy was ignoring it.
Don't make the mistake of forcing your dog to get too close to the object of their fear, then trying to make them sit/stay. This is NOT desensitization.