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Please help with dog who hates travelling in the car!

(19 Posts)
Bouncearound Wed 16-Nov-16 13:34:14

We have a rescue lurcher who is perfect in pretty much every way. However she hates travelling in the car and won't relax and pants constantly. We get round this by not taking her in the car wherever possible and leaving her with a close friend (who I suspect she would happily move in with) if we go away. We are going away for five days and friend is also away so can't have her so we therefore have to travel five hours with ddog. Can anyone help us desensitise her and cope with the journey?
She was in kennels whilst being rehomed and was really unhappy- we tried kennels once since and regretted it. She's not great with other dogs in close proximity so dog sitters are out of the question too.
Any advice greatly appreciated!

Bubble2bubble Wed 16-Nov-16 14:13:18

I have previously done something like this:
day 1 - put dog in the car, wait a couple of mins, let him out again
day2 put dog in the car, give him breakfast/dinner in the car, let him out again
day 3 put dog in the car, start the engine, turn off again, feed, let out
day 4 put dog in the car, drive 2 minutes down the road, come back, feed in the car, let out......and so on.
You could repeat any of these steps over several days, depending on how it goes IYSWIM. It sounds a bit daft, but I genuinely did get to the point where I said 'car' and ddog ran to get in, which is the result you want!
I have also found an Adaptil collar can help with the stress.

Bouncearound Wed 16-Nov-16 15:52:09

Thanks. I've tried gradually increasing time spent in the car but it had little effect. I will investigate the adaption collar thanks.

Whitney168 Wed 16-Nov-16 17:20:42

If she will happily go in a crate, you may find she travels better in that (and you can also try covering it too). Logically we think they would prefer to have 'space' for comfort, but dogs that don't travel well often prefer limited room.

KarmaNoMore Wed 16-Nov-16 17:37:37

Same story her, lovely rescue dog that may have never been in a car before apart of when she was being transported to the dig warden.

I have done as Bubble suggests for 2 weeks, not much of a progress, could manage a couple of blocks before she vomited, which took us back to square one. Did it again for a few more weeks to have the same story repeated.

Tried calming herbal tablets and sprays, absolutely useless and finally asked the vet for Cerenia tablets, which as the vet predicted, prevent the vomitingbut not the anxiety so... she didn't vomit but covered herself in diahorrea.

We don't take her out much but when we do (like for a trip to the vets or the kennels) we use Cerenia (and avoid feeding her for 12 hrs before the trip), she still pants like mad and dribbles but no vomit. Cerenia effects last for 12 hrs but it is expensive (around £8 per tablet).

In the idea of keeping wasting my money in useless solutions, I also got her a rather expensive Thundershirt from Pets at Home to calm her down in addition to using Cerenia. Did it make a difference? Absolutely, apart of cleaning the carrier, I need to keep washing the shirt, which doesn't calm her at all.

I will be watching this thread in the hope of getting more ideas.

Shriek Wed 16-Nov-16 19:38:49

My preference would be to feed dinner in car and spend time just sitting in it (on sheets or whatever if necessary) with her. Listening to radio or reading and repeat until settles. Ideally till asleep! Try to just ignore anything except good behaviours(calmness) in any form and immediately treat. Leave boot open and just sit in back looking out. Or side door wherever you would normally have her.

arbrighton Wed 16-Nov-16 20:51:10

Ours used to dislike the car and be sick as a pup. Then was fine for ages then we didn't take her in the car for a while and she's stopped being willing to get in then pants/ trembles like yours

We just keep getting in the car and taking her to fun places and not making too much fuss. To be fair, she's pretty small so I can lift her in

hillyhilly Wed 16-Nov-16 21:03:58

I have a rescue lurcher too, and he is also not a fan of the car but as he goes in it practically everyday to get to great walks he has got much better. I do still have to lift him in but in week 2 I had to carry him all the way out of the house to the car!
I was advised to not make any fuss just pop him in and go. We went on holiday to Wales in week 4 and he rode in the back seat with the kids happy as Larry - the only thing about that is that he then was unhappy about going back in the boot but he's got used to to again now.

arbrighton Wed 16-Nov-16 21:11:32

Haven't managed to put mine in the boot since she was tiny- even unhappier as she can't see out and the seats are often down to transport a load of garden stuff or stuff to the tip anyway. She gets a seat

VladimirsPooTin Wed 16-Nov-16 21:20:54

Drive around the block a few times. Also drive to fun places so it's always a walk at the end of the drive.

tinymeteor Wed 16-Nov-16 21:31:15

Building a positive association will work better for the long run than any amount of adaptil collars etc.

Feeding in the car sounds a good first step. Then build up with very short journeys to somewhere nice, e.g. for a walk. No car trips to the vet or down the motorway for now, if you can avoid it. Repeat repeat repeat. Make it predictable and make it rewarding.

Do you know anyone with a dog who is happy in the car who could come too? Might help teach your dog there's nothing to fear.

arbrighton Wed 16-Nov-16 21:32:50

Mine won't eat in the car even if I try if she's nervous!

AlwaysLookOnBrightsideOfLife Wed 16-Nov-16 21:36:17

Mine dislikes the car, but it totally makes a difference depending on where seated. Front seat = trembling, excessive drooling & vomit. Boot the same. Back seat though with front seat pushed straight back & middle divider down = 👍. Also crate in friend's boot is a happy spot.

I usually have to carry to the car going out, but coming home equates to jumping straight in. Also activities where has to sit in car for a while and eventually goes to sleep means more keen to go in car next time.

Very very slow progress though. It's taken around 8 weeks to get to where we are now (carrying to car, trembling until realises going in back, then no excessive drooling, no vomiting, no yawning etc.).

Bouncearound Wed 16-Nov-16 21:55:40

Thanks all. She has to go in the boot as we have three dc and luggage etc- we have a people carrier so the boot is pretty huge and we usually put her bed etc in it. She does like a crate but it won't fit in the boot! We do regularly take her for longer walks that start with a drive but so far it hasn't helped much. She is so laid back she still jumps in the car and isn't visibly distressed but pants constantly and won't relax/ /sleep so she clearly isn't happy.

Shriek Wed 16-Nov-16 22:19:08

I think she's one of those ddogs that needs actually to go on a long trip until she finally settles down. Certainly if shes happy enough to jump in I woild do the opposite and just druve for driving sake till shes bored of it. I have done this with very unsettled ddog out in safety harness and within two days didnt hear a peep. Didnt get chnc to get to sleeping stage as not enough time but very well behaved and settled

boobyooby Wed 16-Nov-16 22:22:23

Try a thunder shirt .... sorry don't know how to do a link but lots to read up on google. I know of 2 friends that swear by them

LittlePear91 Wed 16-Nov-16 22:39:59

We've got a little Jack Russell girl who we got from a dog shelter, and when we got her she wouldn't even go near the car. As well as not being house trained, no basic commands and no name. Pretty hopeless little case!

When I'd drive her anywhere she would pant, drool, whine, shake, generally all of the worried signs apart from vomiting. I decided from the start to just try and ignore all of the behaviour that wasn't appropriate (as I have done with her normal training) and use positive reinforcement like vocal praise to reward her when she's doing something I want, like sitting in the footwell and not making a fuss (she's not motivated by food at all so praise was all I could use!) or sitting on the mat we got her for the car.

It wasn't a quick solution, took about 6 weeks of daily short journeys, very slowly increasing the distance, but it has worked and she now can't wait to get in the car. I sometimes feed her in the car too which she quite likes. Or we'll randomly take one of her toys in there so there's something familiar.

Tried to just keep myself calm and remember how reactive to us they can be; i.e. If we're fussing over them being in the car, they're more likely to think something worth panicking about is happening!

Best of luck, I'm sure you'll get there eventually. It's very frustrating!

Bouncearound Thu 17-Nov-16 11:59:18

Thanks all. I'll look into a thunder shirt but they are £££££ and no guarantee they will work.
I like the idea of just taking her on a long drive but we know it doesn't work as we did an eight hour journey last Christmas and she just panted and dribbled the whole way (quite often over the back of the middle seats onto dc's head/ shoulder, which didn't go down well!

MuseumOfCurry Thu 17-Nov-16 12:09:09

I feel your pain, my retriever starts drooling/panting the moment we put her in the car.

My son had a football thingy every day over half-term in a beautiful park, I drove her (about 20 min in stop/go traffic) with us every day, this seemed to help a bit.

The drooling is carsickness related, I presume that you know this? Have you tried motion sickness biscuits?

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