Problems with senior lab getting into car

Discussion in 'Senior Labradors' started by Elizabeth, Apr 12, 2019.

  1. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Registered Users

    Aug 12, 2018
    I have a 13 yr. old Labrador with arthritis in his rear hips/legs. He gets around fairly well and up until a month ago would jump into the car as long as I could find a neighbor to stand with me at the opened car door. His only outing is going to the vet every other week for a shot and once a month for acupuncture. He can't be walked and get overheated due to surgery 2 yrs. ago for laryngeal paralysis, so he gets super excited knowing we are leaving the house. However, once I approach the car, he freezes, puts on his "brakes", and refuses to go any further. I bought a ramp, a step, coaxing him with a treat, but no luck. My car sits very low to the ground so I can't figure his sudden hesitation. I don't have any help, and he weighs 86 lbs. I just had my vet prescribe something to relax his muscles so I hope that will help, but I could sure use some advice from someone!!
  2. 5labs

    5labs Registered Users

    Mar 19, 2019
    North Yorkshire
    I think you have answered your own question. The only time he goes in the car is to go to the vets.
    Even if you can't walk him, could you take him to sit somewhere nice, by a river, in the woods etc a few times a week for a change of scenery? He may then be a little more keen to get in the car.
  3. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Supporting Member Forum Supporter

    May 26, 2018
    Blackmans Bay, Australia
    Hi @Elizabeth

    Welcome to the site.

    Teaching a dog to use a ramp for the first time at 13 is your stumbling block. Lure your dog to walk on the perfectly horizontal ramp. Only elevate very gradually as the dog becomes confident. Don't rush it.

    Alternatively use a towel under the dog's ribs and flank so that you can help your dog into the car.
  4. Emily

    Emily Registered Users

    May 19, 2015
    Melbourne, Australia
    I wonder if you tried to train using the ramp in a different location to the car. Perhaps you could build a positive association with the ramp before reintroducing the car. In the meantime, it might be worth trying to improve the relationship with the car, if you're able to temporarily lift him in and give high value treats in the car and use the car for driving to happy/rewarding locations.
  5. Ski-Patroller

    Ski-Patroller Cooper, Terminally Cute Forum Supporter

    Feb 8, 2016
    Portland, Oregon & Mt Hood Oregon
    We taught all of our dogs to put their front feet up in the car and then we could lift their back end in, when necessary. Only 1/2 the weight.

    I'm puzzled by the overheating. Our first lab had surgery for laryngeal paralysis at 14, and it really did not slow her down at all. She still swam and walked, but was frustrated that she could not bark. She was diabetic at 12 and had some arthritis, but still could go on walks until she was close to 16.

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