Car refusal

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choirgirl
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Car refusal

Post by choirgirl » Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:28 am

Wondering if anyone has any ideas. My 16 month old rescued English Springer Spaniel refuses to jump into the car by himself. He is very settled once in the car (they have a padded space lined with a human kingsized duvet - duck down - in the hatchback of my car with dog bars for safety and obviously the hatch lid is permanently off - gathering dust in the garage). He is more than happy in the car because each morning and evening he is taken to the beach for a long romp (2 hours or so) with his companion off lead, no whining, barking or upset when he in the car nor does he leap out of the car (trained him not to until he is invited to "leave", when it is safe).

It seems ridiculous to be picking up a 17 KG dog to pop him in the car, when I know he can jump (certainly can when he sees a stray seagull flying just out of reach), he doesn't appear to be , now, afraid of the car and yes I have used treats and even placed his food bowl in the car to try and get him to jump into the car, but only get the front paws and he reaches over and simply licks the edge of his bowl. He has been prone to a nervous disposition as he was left alone, all day in a kennel, no contact with anything until the original owner's mum found out what was happening and forced her daughter to give him up. I work from home, he has all day companionship and is a lot less scared of things than he was even 4 months ago, but I do feel a complete chump at the beach or even on my driveway picking up a great strapping healthy spaniel, and popping him into my car, when his adopted sister 5 month old Boxer jumps in with waggy tail and no issues.

I have had him vet checked for hip issues and they found nothing wrong, in fact when I asked for advice was told that was the least of the issues they see with dogs and to count my blessings (and I do - but I am only 48KG myself and he is a heavy dog, although perfect weight according to the vet).. am willing to try anything that doesn't upset him .. and don't know what i'm doing wrong. My old labrador would bound into the car as she knew it meant a long and happy walk irritating the local seagull population...

Advice????
One rescued Spotty English Springer Spaniel, one "Mom and Pop Bred" Red Boxer = lots of love
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GundogGuy
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Re: Car refusal

Post by GundogGuy » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:58 pm

Hi Choir Girl...
If your car is a 5 door then open both back doors and climb into the backseat and encourage him to come in with you... If he does that, give a treat and immediately climb out and treat when he comes with you. If it's only a 3 door car then simply tip both front seats forward and ensure both doors are open. It just makes it a bit more awkward to get in and out. I say open both doors so the dog sees an escape route and doesn't feel like he's being cornered or trapped by entering what is to him a small space.
Repeat this maybe 6 to 12 times then see if you can get him to go in after a thrown treat or toy... Use a friendly and excited tone to give verbal prompting/praise...
Once the wee dog is following treats/toys into the backseat then you can add a cue like 'over' or 'car' or 'apricot' or whatever word you choose.
It will be helpful if you throw the treat in but keep your arm extended in a pointing kind of way because this can then become your hand signal to pair with the cue.
After 12 or so repetitions of the dog going in with the cue/treat/arm signal try it without throwing the treat. If he goes in... BIG fuss and lots of treats...
Once he's going in and out of the back seat on cue you can move to the boot. Try the cue/arm signal combination... if that doesn't work, go back to throwing in treats but I think by that time he'll jump in. The most important thing though is not to get frustrated at all. Everything must be as positive as possible and a happy experience....

If that fails I'll eat my hat and suggest clicker training with a click/treat for the slightest movement towards the car and slowly raise that criteria until he's jumping in like a loony (or springer) :D
"Oh what gold there is to find when one is blessed with an open mind" - me, not five minutes ago :-)

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choirgirl
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Re: Car refusal

Post by choirgirl » Sat Mar 26, 2011 2:38 am

Thank you! Have started today and all going well so far.. he likes the back seat and I even got a big tail wag.. will keep you updated. Hadn't even thought about using the backseat.. than you so much!
He is bright enough just he does have fears and I don't know too much about his previous life.

Max is just a bit nervous and perhaps i was rushing him a little, this is the dog who would cower at the sight of a mop and bucket until treats taught him that normal everyday objects were not going to hurt him... he was even scared of our dog flap and that took me a few weeks to teach him it wasn't scary. will continue with the training advice and he does seem to love the fact he has an escape route... in a Vauxhall Corsa (Holden Barina in NZ) he might feel a bit enclosed - makes perfect sense!!!
One rescued Spotty English Springer Spaniel, one "Mom and Pop Bred" Red Boxer = lots of love
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Mattie
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Re: Car refusal

Post by Mattie » Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:47 am

Sorry I have only just seen this, I no longer travel my dogs in the boot unless I have to, at one time my dogs always travelled there until one day I travelling in the boot because the car was full, it was the worst car ride I have ever had.

It was a hot day and everyone had the windows open, I was nearly blown out the wind was that bad, the others refused to close the windows as they didn't get this wind. Also that far back it is a very uncomfortable ride even when there is comfy bedding down, you feel every bump or hole the car goes over and the noise is incredible especially has in the rest of the car is fine.

My dogs now travel on the back seat, they wear harnesses that are fastened to the seat belts, I also have a dog fixed the same way on the front passenger seat.

When I realised just how bad it was that far back in the car I won't travel my dogs there again, all our cars have been estate cars to give hight at the back.
[url=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/PIXIE.jpg][img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/th_PIXIE.jpg[/img][/url]

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choirgirl
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Re: Car refusal

Post by choirgirl » Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:42 am

Max got in the car himself today, after using the backseat and exit advice thanks!

I got my partner to drive me around in the boot of the car to see what it is like (highly illegal in NZ but didn't get caught) and yes the bumps, noise and heat even from the autumnal sun are bad even for humans. I didn't like it at all, no wonder Max was so reluctant, so we are compromising on using the back seat and have bought the harnesses from our local Animal Shack until we save up for a bigger car. Mine is 5 years old so about time for a change, can put up with a few damp and sandy seats until our finances allow us to buy a new vehicle. Just hope I don't get sand on my marking - kids asking why essays have a crunchy texture might not give a professional impression!

Many thanks for your suggestions, it is interesting trying out the world from the dog perspective, I had never even considered that the space was noisy and scary as up front it seems fine.. even though Max will now jump in the boot we did use the backseat this evening and he seemed much happier!
One rescued Spotty English Springer Spaniel, one "Mom and Pop Bred" Red Boxer = lots of love
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Mattie
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Re: Car refusal

Post by Mattie » Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:08 am

ImageWell done, it makes living with our dogs much easier is we can see things from their point of view especially small dogs by getting down to their level and see what it is like for people to walk round them.

For your back seat, get a throw that is very closely woven, the close weave will stop the dog hairs, sand, mud etc going through to the seat, give it a good shake after he has been in the car.
[url=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/PIXIE.jpg][img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/th_PIXIE.jpg[/img][/url]

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