Life kind of got away from me, so the updates stopped. But I wanted to post here as I adjust my plan.
Now that it is cold and dark out, I have really stopped working on Ida's traffic sensitivity. She is still stressed out by the car, but that stress is not affecting her class performance anymore. She is still more timid in new locations than in familiar ones, but she is WORKING!
There are a lot of concerns we need to address still, things that mainly seem to be anxiety rather than flat-out fear. Seeing other dogs, confinement, riding in the car.
These past few weeks Ida and I...
... started a second agility class. It doesn't seem to have affected her performance in our other agility class (which also just ended).
... continued taking walks around the cul-de-sac. I tried an afternoon walk and Ida did okay, but there was more noise than at night and she was definitely more wary of the entry to the cul-de-sac.
... attended an agility fun run at a place a 45 minute (highway!) drive from our house, surrounded entirely by strange people and strange dogs in a place we'd never been to before. And you know what? Ida worked. She jumped, she ran, she did tunnels. Our first run was definitely rough (and we didn't finish the course), but I don't even care. It is such a relief to know that right now, no matter what kinds of stress she's seen in the hours leading up to a run, she'll still try.
... at the fun-run Ida was quiet in her crate when it was covered, even when other dogs were barking. At one point, she was pretty much the only dog in the building not barking.
... her barking at others dogs is becoming somewhat operantly conditioned (oops). She will bark 2-3 times at another dog with less intensity/panic and then look at me. A bit annoying, but that's okay. Her choosing to bark at the other dog is better than her emotionally barking at the other dog.
In the future I plan to...
... Try to stick to walks before bed nightly (more or less). At least, you know, on days when there isn't an extreme cold warning. I'm going to give up on trying to walk out to the street for a while. It is very clear that she has some kind of negative feelings about it (probably because I screwed up the counter conditioning). I'm going to switch from doing loops around the cul-de-sac to doing C-shaped walks, avoiding the entrance to the cul-de-sac for a while, and then gradually moving closer to it on either side.
... take a break from classes, once the current session is done. Driving anywhere in the car puts her over threshold, and I can't counter-condition her to car rides if she's constantly over threshold. She needs a break to work on it, and there's nothing that we're working on in classes that I can't work on at home.