Stress vs relaxation

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Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by Lotsaquestions » Fri Oct 20, 2017 3:26 am

Is there anyone Bax absolutely LOVES (other than you, ofc!)?

I tried the whole going slowly thing with Merlin, and he too wouldn't go past putting his front paws on the lip of the car. It just wasn't working for me, then a friend whose dog also was terrified of the car told me what she did, and it worked for Merlin too.

We had someone (the friend had an empty field really close by, but we didn't) go in the next street over, someone Merlin LOVED. Then, in one evening, we just drove up and down that road, stopping each time we got to the person who also gave him loads of cheese. After 3 goes (and this was a dog who paniced at the sight of the car) he hopped in himself with a waggy tail. We slowly increased the journey time over the course of a week. Unfortunately, we went away to the Lake District shortly after and undid everything we did before so Merlin is back to drooling in the backseat. BUT it worked until we messed it up.

Obviously this isn't advice from a professional, this is word of mouth from two first time dog owners which can be sketchy at best (even if it is me giving the advice!).

My IMDT trainer gave us loads of advice but none of it worked. She also told me to buy 'Dorwest Digestive Aids' for dogs to help with travel sickness. It didn't work for Merlin at all, but maybe it would for Bax?

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Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by Shalista » Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:55 am

Yeah thanks guys I guess I’m just really discouraged on it. There really isn’t anything Bax super super loves. He LIKES treats but not enough to overcome something super scary and I can barely get him to play with toys when he’s happy. We’ve just been working on it for so long I guess I was kind of settling for how far we’d come. Not vomiting IS progress and I guess I was settling for that?
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

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Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by JudyN » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:41 am

Yup - it's really hard when you're working on a problem that just doesn't seem to get better, and it sometimes feels easier to accept the way things are than try to change them. Been there, done that, and I certainly don't always practise what I preach!

I wonder if just putting paws on the car seems too much like a pointless trick to some dogs? Despite me stressing the importance of baby steps, it could be worth starting with treats, games and general quality time in the back of the car. You also need to make sure you celebrate every tiny step - if after a fortnight he is keen to get into the back of the car, celebrate with chocolate and/or champagne, but spend a few more days in the back of the car before trying to sit in the driver's seat. Measure your success not in terms of being able to drive him somewhere, but in these little tiny baby steps, just as you would regard a child learning to write his name as a success and not fret because he can't write a college dissertation :wink: It can actually be easier if you don't expect to succeed in the long run, because it takes all the pressure off and you can simply focus on the 'quality time' in the car and get quite excited when you can start the engine.
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Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by jacksdad » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:41 pm

Lotsaquestions wrote:
Fri Oct 20, 2017 3:26 am
My IMDT trainer gave us loads of advice but none of it worked.
I don't know anything about your trainer, and I am sure your trainer is a great person and a competent trainer. however, working with fear really is a specialty. Not ever trainer is cut out for it. it is possible your trainer isn't the right person for this case. BUT, sometimes it isn't the trainer, but "us". "oh this time it will be ok" or some other justification.

What you describe (and this goes for BAX too) is the need for a plan that uses counter conditioning and desensitization. Judy did a really good job giving you a look at what such a plan looks like. counter conditioning is simply the application of classical conditioning (X predicts Y...X is the car, Y is the food, the car takes on the association of the food) to change existing associations. Desensitization is experiencing scary at a level that doesn't trigger fear or some other unwanted behavior.

The car has come to predict something unpleasant. you have to change what cars predict. you have to change the association. sometimes this can be a fast process, sometimes it can be like watching paint dry on a cold day... in other words it takes a long time.

Each time your dog experiences whatever is unpleasant about a car ride, you set your self back. sometimes all the way back to the start, sometimes worse than you started, sometimes just a little bit. Each time your dog is asked to "deal" with being in the car, riding in the car, beyond what they are able to handle you get set back. work is undone. each time scary/unpleasant happens it is harder and harder to get your dog to take a risk with scary/pleasant...which in this case is the car.

sometimes counter conditioning and desensitization by them self isn't enough. the fear is too great OR it's not so much fear, but the dog can't deal with the motion and becomes "car sick". in both cases a qualified vet can help with some medication. just keep in mind medication by it's self isn't enough you still have to do the counter conditioning and desensitization, the meds just help that process be more successful. If there is car sickness involved, that is a medical condition that gets in the way of training and MUST be addressed or the training won't work.

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Re: Stress vs relaxation

Post by Shalista » Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:16 pm

thankfully bax hasn't gotten sick in the car in a very long time =) def very unhappy, but not sick! (and the vets meds didnt help even when he WAS getting sick =( )
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