Car dog suddenly afraid of car!

Discussion in 'Labrador Training' started by TashAndBoston, Oct 9, 2014.

  1. TashAndBoston

    TashAndBoston Registered Users

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    Hi everyone hope you are all well :)
    My nearly 9 month old chocolate lab Boston has been in my car with me almost daily since he was 8 weeks old (I take him to work).
    It didn't take him long to get used to it and he used to sleep most of the time or sniff the fresh air as his ears blew back from the breeze!
    However a few days ago, we got in the car and Boston started panting and shaking? 5 minutes down the road I stopped and let him out and he did go to the toilet, so I presumed he had just missed his morning routine (we were up really early), so we got back in the car and carried on. It was an awful journey. Admittedly a longer one than usual as we were travelling a couple of hours, but he has done this journey numerous times and the panic in him started at the beginning of the journey (plus he wouldn't have known we were in for a long one!)
    He was shaking, really fast panting, really distressed. I just couldn't work it out. Then absolutely fine when we got to our destination.
    The next day, I needed to take him to work, and the same thing happened. And then it happened again today. I am really stressed as I feel like I should not be putting him in the car now until we resolve this and can build it back up, but I honestly have no idea what caused it! The day before it all started, we drove him 25 minutes or so to a nice walk and swim, and he was perfectly fine. Nothing has scared him as far as I know.
    Do you think he is just going through an odd stage? Any tips would be gratefully received, I was almost in tears this morning as I can't bear for him to be distressed. :-[
    Thank you.
     
  2. kateincornwall

    kateincornwall Registered Users

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    Re: Car dog suddenly afraid of car!

    This is unusual Tash , most dogs who have motion sickness start it as young pups and not at nine months old . I think I would be inclined to take him for a check up at the Vets , always the best starting point with any new behavioural issue . If all is well , then take him back to the beginning again , something may have inadvertently spooked him and lost his confidence , so back to just a few mins at a time and build it up , hoping all goes well, it must be very frustrating for you x
     
  3. Oberon

    Oberon Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Car dog suddenly afraid of car!

    How stressful, you poor thing. That must've been a terrible drive.

    It seems like something bad has happened and he's now strongly associated that with being in the car. It may have been that he was feeling unwell for some reason on that trip where it all seemed to go wrong. That is probably enough to do it with a young dog.

    In a way, though, it doesn't really matter why it happened (ruling out anything medically related of course, and assuming this is a behavioural problem....). The best thing to do is, as you have already said, counter this with positive experiences starting from scratch. Feed him his dinner next to the car. Then with the car door open. Them standing outside the car but with his bowl on the floor. Then with the engine started but car stationary... Gradually build up to a bit of movement in the driveway. Every little step up to driving round the block. It is the case that he shouldn't drive anywhere till he's able to be calm in the preceding steps. That will be a pain...but it is important not to push him too far.

    If you do suspect a physical problem then seek out the vet. But I think that most car travel problems are purely to do with learned anxiety....
     
  4. TashAndBoston

    TashAndBoston Registered Users

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    Re: Car dog suddenly afraid of car!

    Thanks so much for the quick responses :)

    We have a weigh&worm at the vets on Saturday so I will definitely be talking to them, but as you both say I think we will go back to basics. I don't have a choice but to drive him home later but I don't want to reinforce the anxiety any more. He seems OK if I put him in the car and go back inside for example or when I get petrol etc. he is very calm, its just when we get going.

    Maybe after his walk & swim on Monday he didn't feel well in the car, it's the only reason I can think of. Previously he's been a bit jumpy with loud motorbikes going past but we didn't encounter recently...

    As ever, the forum is so reassuring thank you! (And distracting as I seem to have been on here all morning reading!)x
     
  5. skooch

    skooch Registered Users

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    Re: Car dog suddenly afraid of car!

    Do you have access to another car to check if it's just your car or all cars? also, anyway you can test if he's ok in a different location for a short journey, i.e. footwell of front seat with someone holding him?

    I know the cause of why my dog suddenly started disliking the car, she normally travels in the boot and I caught the tip of her tail accidently when closing one time. She went in fine the next 2/3 times she went in but then got scared - so it may not even have been the last time he was in the car that started it. However, mine started being hesitant to even get near to the car whereas it doesn't sound like yours is afraid of the car itself if he goes in ok.

    I ask about checking other cars as Kenzi was fine travelling in the car with my parents when they have her (front footwell), so it's definitely something with me and my car - I can now get her in but have to go through the back seat which isn't the easiest option but works.
     
  6. Beanwood

    Beanwood Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Car dog suddenly afraid of car!

    We had a similar thing happen a few months back...Benson must've been about 8/9 months, not quite as stressed as your pup, but definitely very unhappy about being in the car, not wanting to jump in, head turning away. It just seemed to resolve itself. We kept trips to only a couple of minutes and to his favourite walking areas, so he associated car trips with fun and exciting things. A real worry at the time!
     
  7. TashAndBoston

    TashAndBoston Registered Users

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    Re: Car dog suddenly afraid of car!

    [quote author=skooch link=topic=8189.msg115758#msg115758 date=1412859325]
    Do you have access to another car to check if it's just your car or all cars? also, anyway you can test if he's ok in a different location for a short journey, i.e. footwell of front seat with someone holding him? [/quote]

    Interesting point so we tried this just now, as my sister noticed Boston jumped when anything noisy happened in my car e.g. boot shutting, even noise windscreen wiper. So we got into her car and he seemed less stressed initially, but as soon as we got up the road the shaking, panting and reaching started again so we turned back for home. When we get him out of the car I think he must be pumped full of adrenaline as he goes a bit mad!

    To put you more in the picture(!) my husband was home from operations for a week last week and we used his car most of the time, and now I have brought his car with me to stay with my parents. Really I need to see if it's his car that is the problem but my car is 150 miles away at home!

    Also and this is a bit random but suggested by my sister... Boston had been getting a bit too amorous with his blanket and beds recently. So now he has no blanket or bed because he was humping them and then chewing (and swallowing) bits. So now we have taken all mounting options away from him, my sister wonders if he has pent up frustration?! Just a thought ::)

    I guess tomorrow we start with breakfast by the car and go from there. Although he isn't too bothered about food at the moment either, hasn't touched his breakfast this morning. Oh crumbs! Vet tomorrow anyway.

    Thanks again for all the suggestions

    Tash
     
  8. Oberon

    Oberon Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: Car dog suddenly afraid of car!

    Vet sounds like a good plan :)

    I don't think there is any traction in the frustration theory, unfortunately....

    Hope things go well at the vet's and you get some good advice :)
     
  9. TashAndBoston

    TashAndBoston Registered Users

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    Re: Car dog suddenly afraid of car!

    Quick update on Boston, the vet gave him the all clear and just agreed I need to wean him back on the car. The problem is some days he absolutely has to come with me!

    It definitely seems that my husbands car is the worst though. On Monday I managed to drive Boston to dog obedience class and kept him vaguely interested by feeding him bits of kibble, but today we had to go to work and he wasn't interested in treats, he panted, shook and had a runny nose the whole journey, and consequently was a big ball of adrenaline for the rest of the morning! Not even interested in a mid morning nap as usual, just kept whining in his crate which never happens.

    So we persevere but can I ask how you all secure your dogs? Boston had until now been in the boot on a leash but since the problem began we have tried him all over the car.

    Someone suggested a thunder jacket to me?

    Thank you

    Tash
     
  10. Stacia

    Stacia Registered Users

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    Re: Car dog suddenly afraid of car!

    Is it possible he could have a crate in the car, or a dog guard? You say he had been in the boot on a leash, maybe a sudden movement caused the leash to tighten hence he is now scared? A crate could be a safe place and you could cover it to begin with.
     
  11. TashAndBoston

    TashAndBoston Registered Users

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    Re: Car dog suddenly afraid of car!

    [quote author=Stacia link=topic=8189.msg117036#msg117036 date=1413382598]
    Is it possible he could have a crate in the car, or a dog guard? You say he had been in the boot on a leash, maybe a sudden movement caused the leash to tighten hence he is now scared? A crate could be a safe place and you could cover it to begin with.
    [/quote]

    Thanks Stacia, I meant to say that I am looking into dog safety crates which someone at obedience class told me about. Until I can afford one(!) I will probably go back to using his smaller crate so that he can't move around too much.
     
  12. Laura

    Laura Registered Users

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    Re: Car dog suddenly afraid of car!

    Hi there. I too have had Luka in the car with me since he was 8 weeks old he is now 16 months old. I had a soft sided crate that also folded up that I used in the car for him. We have a Berlingo so he was in the back in his crate snuggly safe. He has never been car sick and generally seems to like it. I kept using the crate until he was too big for it then changed to just having a grill over the back seat. He sometimes would yelp quite loudly to pierce your ears but that was usually saying i need to wee or other! I ordered my crate online and it was very useful. He travels well up to 4 hours so far no problem. In the crate he was off leash so nothing to choke or injure him. I hope he gets his nerve back soon. We are still resolving a stair issue here. Used to run up and down the open tred wood stairs no problem then a slip occured no injury but scared him. I have covered the stair treds now and he finally goes up now but we still have to go outside and around to go the lower level!! Takes time!!
     

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