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Afraid Of The Car - Help!


Guest budsmom
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Guest budsmom

I'm in serious need of the wisdom of GT. Duncan is afraid of the car. He goes into statue mode about 6 feet away from it and it takes all my persuasion to even get him near it. He will not get in it. At his vet apt in Feb for a rabies shot I had to pick him up and put him in the car, but at 85 lbs that obviously isn't a viable option. He came right to me from the adoption kennel last August, the only time he has ever been in a car was mine when I brought him home and a couple trips to the vet. He is totally capable of jumping high enough to get in, he does it multiple times a day when going outside to potty. Besides not being able to attend any fun events, he really needs the socialization. The longer this goes on, the skitzier he gets about everything. He also knows when I go to pick up just his front end to put him in and has developed a cool little twist to get out of being picked up. Any and all suggestions welcome.

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Have you tried using really tasty treats to lure him (and I'm talking real meat and/or cheese)?


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Guest budsmom

Have you tried using really tasty treats to lure him (and I'm talking real meat and/or cheese

yes, and he's not food motivated, even in the house where it's safe

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Don't have any simple solution for this. It sounds like you need to work on desensitization & counter conditioning him. If he's not food motivated, you may have a harder time but it's still possible. I have a couple questions.

 

Will he walk well until you get "about 6 feet away from" the car?

Is there anything you can think of to use as a reward or that could be used to make being near the car a good thing? Ex. toys; going for a walk; playing with a lure pole; happy talk; butt scritches

 

Am just thinking how I might approach the situation. My goals would be to help him stop anticipating a dreaded trip in the car, so to prevent the whole statue routine. Would like him to feel comfortable moving around & then approaching the vehicle. His reward for that is to then move away from that thing he doesn't really like & go do something he does like. At the same time, I'd want to pair being around the vehicle with something good. For those exercises it doesn't matter what he is doing, he is offered something good just for being around the vehicle. At not point do I want to pressure him into doing something or rush him along in the process. (And know up front, I'm just an average pet owner, not a trainer or behaviorist, so my two cents on this may not even be worth that.) Here are some ideas. YMMV:

  • Try to just walk him around the car, and then lead him away. Try to stay far enough away from the car that he doesn't statue. If he does, don't worry. Just calmly move away from the vehicle & try walking a little farther away. If that still doesn't work, just leave & try again later even farther away. At first, just go around once & then go do something he likes. (That's why I asked what you could use as a reward.) If he seems fine, you can try going around twice. By "seems fine" I mean that he doesn't statue, slow down, try moving farther away, give that evil vehicle the hairy eyeball, etc. Twice around the vehicle is plenty. Don't make this too repetitive. Keep things light, easy, comfortable. Do this in very short sessions a few times a day for a couple days. If he's doing well then repeat the process closer to the vehicle.
  • Sometimes, in place of walking around the vehicle, you can stay within sight of but a comfortable distance away from the vehicle & just play games or do something else he really likes. If you can get him to enjoying doing something within a comfortable distance from the vehicle, repeat that a couple times a day. Over time, try moving closer to the vehicle. If his enjoyment of the activity seems to be diminishing, move a little farther out for a few sessions before trying to move closer again.
  • Note: If for some reason his concern about the vehicle isn't being reduced or even gets worse then you are pushing him too far. It could be that you are working too close to the vehicle or for too long or too often. If backing off on one, some or all of those doesn't help then my two cents isn't worth diddly-squat. Ignore my suggestions. :P
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What kind of car do you have? Is he to get in sideways on the seats or jump in the load floor of the back of it?

He would have already had to learn to 'Kennel UP!' when he was a racing greyhound, though not so high as the females.

Try getting him up in the car away from his immediate home environment and take him back home.... "a successful hunt".

Try reversing the car back to the kerb so that it's about 8" less to jump up. There must be some kind of treat you can toss up in there like cheese?

Does he know and like another dog that could jump up in the car and show him how?

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peanut butter can be magic.

 

kudzu- has wonderful suggestions to desensitize.

 

there have to be fun trips too, like McD for cheeseburger. around the block, just for no reason other than to get used to going for a ride.

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JohnF has great suggestions.

 

 

peanut butter can be magic. ...

 

... there have to be fun trips too, like McD for cheeseburger. around the block, just for no reason other than to get used to going for a ride.

 

Yes! Yes, absolutely. Thank you for adding that.

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Side note - we adopted a boy right from the track 3 weeks ago. On our third car trip (along with our other grey in the car), he pooped in the car. Realizing that had only been his third trip, the first two resulting in a new home and a trip to the vet (ouch!) motivated us to go on some fun trips with lots of treats. That resulted in the picture below, taken the other day as he was in the backyard as I was unloading the car....

 

13432434_1361796053834910_36261428351694

 

Every time the garage door is open, he's hanging out by the car because he wants to go with us. Talk about extremes :lol

Dave (GLS DeviousDavid) - 6/27/18
Gracie (AMF Saying Grace) - 10/21/12
Bella (KT Britta) - 4/29/05 to 2/13/20

 

 

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Guest 1greytmum

I highly recommend the "find another dog who can do that and show him how" even if its not a grey! Get the other dog in there (if you can fit in there too and start petting the other dog, he's sure to get jealous!) :)

Let us know how it all goes! :goodluck

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Guest bethanyrwelch

My dog was afraid of the car at first too. I started by just throwing treats in the car and letting her sniff around and explore. It took about a week of this before she finally climbed in to get a treat. I continued this same thing for about another week.

We started taking her to fun places and getting her ice cream treats. It's amazing how much food helps!

We also discovered that she's much happier in the back seat, rather than in the trunk space. She loves to stick her head out of the window.

She has done even better now that we've put in a pet hammock. She is much more stable in the car. I highly recommend one! Lucy went from being terrified of the car to wanting to hop in anytime she's next to it. Good luck!

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Is there any possibility of you going out and bringing a bed or something so you can be just outside of the zone where he won't cross and just settle there for a while and you can relax and pay no attention to the actual vehicle? See if he would lie down within sight but not need to approach or get in, and maybe eventually have someone else do things with the car (open doors, get in and out, pull things out of it or put things in, while paying no attention to him) while you and he watch? Then get him up and call him away happily and do it repeatedly while shifting the bed closer and maybe tossing him treats (really excellent ones, before breakfast when he'd be hungriest and most likely to eat) but not pushing. And doing the walking around it that others mentioned. Is he afraid of all cars, cars of your vehicle's type, or only cars in your normal parking spot? You could also try parking elsewhere and approaching it calmly and walking away without forcing real interaction, if it is a combination of your car in its normal location. If it is location and car based, you could also invite someone else with a completely different car to park in your normal location and see how he does when you approach it.

 

Slow and steady and you can help him beat this. :)

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