Fear of car

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JudyN
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Fear of car

Post by JudyN » Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:12 am

As some will know, Jasper has developed a fear of the car. I am guessing this stems from when OH did an emergency stop and Jasper ended up in the footwell, but that is several weeks ago now and he seems to be getting worse. And I'm not sure it matters how it started, anyway. I know how I'd handle it with a puppy - start off walking up to the car, then spending time playing/cuddling in the car, then starting the engine, and so on... But think that at best, that could take ages with Jasper as he already knows what the car is for, if that makes sense - I'm having to undo a lot of learning as well as teaching from scratch (I know what I mean... :oops: ).

I'm planning on filling in the footwells in the hope that he feels more secure. These backseat extenders http://www.orvis.co.uk/store/product.aspx?pf_id=90XR may do the job, but I'll just use rolled up dog beds to start with. I'm also planning on giving him a little break from the car as yesterday's vet visit won't have helped his stress levels.

Not using the car will be a pain, as, particularly as he's limping a little at the moment so I don't want to walk him too far, I'll be very limited in where I can give him a good destressing walk.

At the moment, I can usually get him in the car with a variety of increasingly high value bribes, but the moment we set off he starts trembling - it's horrible hearing his id tags rattling and his panting increase :( On the journey home he doesn't usually shake, but he won't take treats - when we got home today he had a whole row of treats lined up for him on the armrest, which he ate the moment we pulled into the drive.

I've read that longer trips at this time would be a really bad idea, but I was actually wondering if that could help - after 20 mins or so he might decide that it's not so bad after all, and those treats do look tempting.... any thoughts, please?

Generally... is it vital that I work within his comfort level, never getting to the stage where he won't take treats, which could mean weeks before we even get beyond the end of our road, or can I intersperse a bit of counterconditioning with the odd trip of just over a mile so he can remember that the car takes him to places he wants to go?

Thinking back, for months he's often tried to nip past the car when we leave the house for a walk, so it may well be that he's always had an element of fear, just not enough for me to be aware of while I'm driving. I've thought about getting a mirror so I can observe him, but I'd probably find that more interesting than the view through the windscreen :shock:
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

WufWuf
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Re: Fear of car

Post by WufWuf » Tue Oct 08, 2013 12:44 pm

That's so weird I was reading another response to this thread and when I clicked back it was gone :shock: .

Judy I suspect you know the answer to this question
JudyN wrote:Generally... is it vital that I work within his comfort level, never getting to the stage where he won't take treats, which could mean weeks before we even get beyond the end of our road, or can I intersperse a bit of counterconditioning with the odd trip of just over a mile so he can remember that the car takes him to places he wants to go?
I don't know if dogs really get that the car gets them places they want to be if they are stressed by the journey.

I'd also guess that this is correct
JudyN wrote:Thinking back, for months he's often tried to nip past the car when we leave the house for a walk, so it may well be that he's always had an element of fear, just not enough for me to be aware of while I'm driving
Can you set up a camera so that you can observe him afterwards rather than risking a mirror during?


Sorry if this isn't much help and maybe someone else will have something better to offer.
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DianeLDL
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Re: Fear of car

Post by DianeLDL » Tue Oct 08, 2013 1:14 pm

JudyN,

I agree about the video. I was wondering, though, if it is only when OH is driving? As this began when he slammed in the brakes. I was wondering how he does when you are driving?

I think that his fall into the footwells might have been a real scary thing for him. I agree filling in the footwells with something comfy and using the backseat extenders might do the job. He may be scared until he sees how they protect him. Once they are in place, I would use the treat thing again to get him used to the seat extenders and footwells. Also, add as you also suggested, just driving to the end of the driveway or street with treats and see if he feels mire secure.

Diane
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JudyN
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Re: Fear of car

Post by JudyN » Tue Oct 08, 2013 1:50 pm

WufWuf wrote:That's so weird I was reading another response to this thread and when I clicked back it was gone :shock: .
Yup, it was definitely there :shock:
Judy I suspect you know the answer to this question
Yeah, I guess I do :? I just hate backtracking, and also being limited where we walk so I was hoping someone would convince me I could still use the car!

Diane, I was hoping it was just when OH was in the car but no, he's just as bad when it's just me.

Not sure about the video. Though I can (carefully) pass him treats and see if he'll take them, which should be a good indication of his stress levels. Though maybe not while I'm reversing out of the drive...

For starters, I need to backtrack even further as he's actually been reluctant to leave the house because (I think) we might be going in the car. This afternoon I opened the car door and put a treat on the back seat near enough for him to reach without getting in, but he wouldn't take it - though I tried the same on the way home and he did. So the appropriate action for now, I think, is just to go for walks without the car so he's happy to leave the house.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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minkee
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Re: Fear of car

Post by minkee » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:16 pm

I don't have anything like a game plan for you, but just two small suggestions that perhaps can factor into whatever you do decide to do

First, try a car hammock thing (I think you know what I mean). Even Scout felt a lot more secure after we got one of these, and we didn't have to worry about the footwells. You could still stuff the footwells too so it's extra comfy, perhaps. Also, Breeze felt a lot better about driving after we got him a good harness and clip for the car, so he wobbles about much less. It's done wonders, really - he spent a lot of the time before that trying to sit on the drivers arm :shock: We got this harness: http://www.ezydog.co.uk/chest-plate-harness/ and this seatbelt clip: http://www.ezydog.co.uk/adjustable-car-restraint/

Another thing that may or may not work, I don't know, just trying to think outside the box - but is there something he REALLY loves? I know he thinks your mum is AWESOME but I don't know if she's often around. But could you have it so rather than just getting in the car, he could go THROUGH the car to something he loves? So in one side straight out the other and gets something amazing for doing it. That way it's not so much about getting trapped in the car, the car is a means to whatever he really wants, and then when that thing is gone (assuming it's food here, not that he'd eat your mother :lol:) he's not stuck in the car without the thing. Does that make any sense??

I hope you work it out. Perhaps it's a good excuse for a brand new car 8)

JudyN
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Re: Fear of car

Post by JudyN » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:49 pm

minkee wrote:First, try a car hammock thing (I think you know what I mean). Even Scout felt a lot more secure after we got one of these, and we didn't have to worry about the footwells.
I know I mentioned a while back about Jasper resting his head on the headrest, but I actually meant the armrest - he sticks his nose through the gap between the seats, so he wouldn't be able to do that with a hammock. My gut feeling is that he'd find it a bit scary and claustrophobic. I could be completely wrong, of course, but while he's afraid of the car when it's familiar to him I'm reluctant to introduce something that might freak him. Definitely a consideration for the future, and maybe worth trying when he's comfortable to go in the car when it's not moving.
minkee wrote: Also, Breeze felt a lot better about driving after we got him a good harness and clip for the car, so he wobbles about much less
That's similar to what Jasper has, but I can't work out how it can make them feel more secure without restricting their movement so they can't choose to sit up, lie down, etc. How short is the car restraint on Breeze? It certainly wouldn't stop the dog in the picture from wobbling, though it would stop him trying to help with the driving!

The going through the car game is a good idea, though unfortunately Mum isn't here often enough to use her as bait :lol: I might try that as an alternative to a bog standard 'get in, treat, get out again'.

One thing that never fails to get him in the car - coming home from a walk, if he won't get in, I'll attach the end of his lead to the harness attachment in the car, find a willing passer-by, and ask them to say hello to him through the door on the other side. In fact they don't even have to say hello - the moment I go up to them and start talking, he jumps straight in, which means I have to explain that they have now served their purpose and I no longer need them to do what I was going to ask them to do. I get some funny looks... :oops: Not a method to use on children, because you can be arrested for asking little children to come and say hello to the nice doggy in your car.... :shock:
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Labsrule
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Re: Fear of car

Post by Labsrule » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:16 pm

Hi, what a problem for you. I did wonder if in fact Jasper may be experiencing travel sickness but not displaying any conventional symptoms (vomiting/salivating). He may just find the vehicle motion very unpleasant, hence the stressed panting and general reluctance to enter the car.

It may be worth discussing with your vet the possibility of some medication for motion sickness to see if it improves the situation in anyway.

Best of luck.

JudyN
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Re: Fear of car

Post by JudyN » Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:34 am

Labsrule wrote:Hi, what a problem for you. I did wonder if in fact Jasper may be experiencing travel sickness but not displaying any conventional symptoms (vomiting/salivating). He may just find the vehicle motion very unpleasant, hence the stressed panting and general reluctance to enter the car.
I had wondered if that was a possibility, but doubt it as until recently, he seemed fine on all journeys. Even when he was slow to get into the car, he seemed settled for the journey. I wouldn't rule it out though if the behavioural approach doesn't seem to be working.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

ClareMarsh
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Re: Fear of car

Post by ClareMarsh » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:55 am

JudyN wrote:For starters, I need to backtrack even further as he's actually been reluctant to leave the house because (I think) we might be going in the car. This afternoon I opened the car door and put a treat on the back seat near enough for him to reach without getting in, but he wouldn't take it - though I tried the same on the way home and he did. So the appropriate action for now, I think, is just to go for walks without the car so he's happy to leave the house.
So whatever you do you're going to find easier after a walk I guess.

I think realistically you're going to spend a lot of time hanging out in the car so I'd invest in some good thermals, winter's on the way :shock:

What about other cars? Is it just your car or has he generalised to all cars?
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Re: Fear of car

Post by Nettle » Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:20 am

How about when OH is around, he drives to a walk venue while you walk Jas there, then you all go home in the car with you driving?
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Re: Fear of car

Post by JudyN » Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:27 am

ClareMarsh wrote:What about other cars? Is it just your car or has he generalised to all cars?
I don't think he's ever been in a different car apart from when he was 6 months old and I tried him at doggy day care where the dog walker collected him, and the less said about that the better :lol:

I don't need thermals, I have hormones.Jasper might need a blankie though :roll:

Nettle, good idea :D He is better on the way home than the way there. But he still won't take treats, so I may be better off building up to reversing to the end of the drive (about 4') and back in again, and gradually lengthening the journey - or at least getting to the stage where he'll jump in the car willingly.
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Re: Fear of car

Post by ClareMarsh » Wed Oct 09, 2013 11:31 am

JudyN wrote:I don't think he's ever been in a different car apart from when he was 6 months old and I tried him at doggy day care where the dog walker collected him, and the less said about that the better :lol:
Christ on a bike ... I can't even being to imagine :shock: :lol:
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Re: Fear of car

Post by gwd » Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:15 pm

ClareMarsh wrote:winter's on the way :shock:
Image
Image

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Nettle
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Re: Fear of car

Post by Nettle » Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:13 pm

gwd wrote:
ClareMarsh wrote:winter's on the way :shock:
Image


AROOOOOooooooooooooo
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Re: Fear of car

Post by victorianpaws » Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:25 pm

My latest rescue came to me with a fear of the car, particularly from getting hit by one so it's understandable.

Work up to getting your dog to comfortably walk to the car and get in with little to no assistance from you if possible. I'm assuming your already to this point, or have the basic concepts down to accomplish this with your dog. My first word of advice is take your time. If you rush, its only going to make things worst. Praise and reward every moment of relaxation.

**Edit: I'm sorry, I didn't read the comments before hand to see if he was able to load by himself.

When I got Wink (the little dog) up to this point, I brought in a new tool. The doggie seatbelt. Harness style with a loop in the back to string the seat belt through, it is one of my favorite dog inventions ever. The harness naturally makes her feel secure, since it's something she is use to and knows to be safe and pleasant. After getting her into the car and strapped in, I had to allow her to explore what the new device was for and its purpose. I did this by placing treats just slightly out of her sitting/laying position so she would have to stretch and feel the tension of the seat belt. There will naturally be squirming, twisting, and "what is this" looks, but I have never had a dog take more then maybe five minutes to settle down completely. Reward them whenever they sit quietly on adjust calmly. Praise only the behaviors you want, such as laying down or looking out the window calmly from the seat. Do this in a still car for the first couple of times, so that they get the concept that if they have the seat belt on that they aren't going any where.

I picked up each of my seat belts from a local Petco (their generic brand), for about $15-$20 depending on size. Not only did make each of 5 dogs that I personally worked with it, not including a handful of neighbors, completely comfortable with the car but it keeps them safe too. After having a dear friend's dog have to be put down after a freak car accident where the dog was ejected through the window, car safety for dogs became very serious for me. It was horrific for the family to know that their dog would have been fine like the rest of them in the car if he had been in a secured, tied down crate or had a seat belt. It took maybe a week or two of being very calm and rewarding her own calmness in the car to get her comfortable and happy on any car ride!

PS A yummy "special" bone may also allow your dog to relieve stress in a healthier, more acceptable way and channel that stress away from the car!

Good luck, Victoria

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