Travelling in the car

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Travelling in the car

Post by feefeemc on Wed Jan 11 2017, 09:17

Hi there

Since Elsa was a small puppy, she has been going in the car, first it was to puppy classes, then to visit my daughter (15 mins away) and then to visit my parents 250 miles away. We've also taken Elsa on holiday to Skye with plenty of stops on the way.  The problem is she hates every minute of travelling. She shakes, pants and frets most of the way. She will not lay down and rest or sleep.  I can't feed her before we go anywhere because she will be sick on the journey. She's even been sick when she's been 15 mins in the car.  When she was really small going to puppy class we would put her in the boot, but now she's bigger, she is in her crate in the boot. We though it might be easier for her to sleep and relax. We've tried the seatbelt harness and she struggles to get out of it constantly so we gave up. I was frightened she might hurt herself struggling. We're going on holiday again in April and I'm worried about her already.  It upsets me to see her fretting like that.  Has anybody else had this problem and how did you ease them out of it? Thx Sad
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Re: Travelling in the car

Post by gillybrent on Wed Jan 11 2017, 10:04

the only thing i can think of is an Adaptil collar or spray. it contains hormones that calm a dog down & seem to work on most (although not all) dogs to a greater or lesser extent.

how did you get her used to the car in the first place?

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Re: Travelling in the car

Post by LizP on Wed Jan 11 2017, 10:52

Yes, I've worked through this twice. When we got Bobbert he would try to dig out, moved about constantly, whining, panting, etc. He was about 4 years old at the time. Millie was a pup and her first car journey included crying and being sick.

What worked for me was to find what the dog was comfortable with and build up slowly from there, the key being 'slowly'. I learned with Bobbert then applied with Millie.

Sitting on the passenger seat without the car switched on was not a problem for either. If Elsa can do that too, that's your starting point. Without doing car journeys in between, get her going in and out of the car to sit on your lap, have a cuddle and a few treats, full stop.

Next step, settle her to sitting on the passenger seat with a seatbelt clip on, car off. Same thing, fuss and treats, nothing else. When she's happy with that, have the engine running but don't go anywhere.

Next step is to move (woohoo!!!). Literally just down the end of the road and back again, a few minutes. If she makes a fuss don't react but note at what point she started to, if she doesn't do anything praise her. If you like, you can pull over and give her a treat. You're treating her not reacting.

Be aware that you are on a road and your need to keep your attention on it! She gets half an eye of your peripheral vision. However, I personally feel that you are safer doing this training than having a stressed out dog you're worried about throwing up in the boot. If your road isn't quiet/safe enough, find somewhere you can walk her to (supermarket carpark at very quiet time, maybe).

The idea is to then build and build, so that Elsa learns that she can sit quietly next to you, get a reward for being relaxed, and at the end nothing's happened and she's gone home. With Bobbert that took a while as he was full of all sorts of stresses, with Millie it took just a few sessions.

Once the dog is happy with the concept of the car, the next step is to do the same on the back seat, again with seatbelt clip. If you need to go somewhere, use the front seat where she's happy until she's settled to the back seat.

I can't promise you this will work but it's a method that has logic in sound training principles and that has worked for me. You have to be patient, avoid pressing ahead too quickly and keep reading what Elsa is happy with and what she finds too much. Keep working in that area of slight uncertainty and get confidence there before pressing ahead.

Any questions, just ask. And good luck!


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