Okay, so I guess I've been ignoring this problem for too long. For some reason unknown to me Jersery DOES NOT like the car. He especially hates getting into the car. I can't think of any traumatic event that may have caused his extreme distaste for the car, but it's there nonetheless.
I have tried all the obvious things...using the treat he loves the most (ie cheese) to get him in, make it a fun place, only take him to good places (he loves to go to my inlaws' pool...it's the getting there he could do without)...and I'm at a loss. The other day we spent a long time just getting in and out...I sat in the backseat (I have a sedan) and called and cooed to him while loosely holding the end of his leash. Eventually he ventured forth to see me and gingerly climbed in. So I let him jump out and then we did it all over again. It was extremely slow going and it didn't really seem like we were making any progress. Usually I can't even get him within 5 feet of the side of the car...he's especially wary if the door is open as he knows what's coming next!
Is this something we can get over? I'm thinking about getting an SUV and I really hope Jersey can disassociate his hate of cars and the new truck...maybe he'll like it better if he can just walk up a ramp into the back?? I want so badly to take him to all the fun places that require a car trip! Nevermind trips to the vet (getting much harder now that he's big and I can't just pick him up!).
All help is welcome!!!! Sorry this was so long. :-\
I don't know if I'm going to be much help- but I had a similar problem with Brigetta. When I first got her she HATED getting into the car. The first time I had to lift her into it and she peed! Everytime we went out, she would stop dead in her tracks and pull away when we would get close to the car and I would have to force her in. Here's what I did- when I would be getting ready to go, I would ignore her, I would put her leash on, walk directly to the car, acting like it was no big deal, then I would pull her up to the door, I usually said nothing, but sometimes I would just say "come". Once she was settled in the car I would pet and praise her. This took a long time and every once in awhile I'll have to nudge her in, but it is nothing compared to how she was. Now I act excited when I open the door and she usually will jump in. She's fine while riding in the car...we just got back from vacation and she slept most of the way. However, she is horrible when you're getting out...she will knock you over. Good luck!
Teresa, mom to Brigetta and Prudence
I think Dr. Patricia McConnell at http://www.dogsbestfriendtraining.com/books-retail.php has a booklet on this.
Basically, you're doing things right but a little too fast.
When* you get an anxiety/panic reaction like this, the thing to do is over and over approach what you ultimately want to accomplish and then give something (treat, praise) which produces a counter reaction to raising anxiety.
The protocol*for dogs is very similar to that for people.
Let me describe to you what I used with a client of mine who came to me because of a phobia of getting near a local hospital.* He'd had an unfortunate experience in its emergency room* and a phobic reaction generalized to the whole hospital (although the EGY* room was the core).
I asked him to come to the parking lot where my office was located; it's within 2 blocks of the hospital.* He'd had no problem coming to see me.
When he got out, I wanted him to keep a log of the number of steps he took walking toward the hospital before he became aware of a feeling of anxiety.* AS SOON AS he felt it, he was to walk back to his car and then repeat the walk (keeping count).* He was to do this 10 times a day every day until he saw me the next week or until, he could walk all the way there* -- in which case once a day was enough.
He quickly became disgusted with the process and the grind (which I'd hoped) and on the second or third day made it to the EGY room and had walked directly there without stopping on each subsequent day.
Panic or anxiety is a Pavlovian Conditioned Emotional Response.* Multiple repetitions while having only the slightest arousal serves to extinguish (decrease) the original emotional response.* BTW, you SHOULD proceed with the training even after the first success.* That's because Conditioned Responses that are extinguished recover slightly over time.* It's very much like a battery that fails after much use.* The next day there'll be a partial recovery; when exhausted, the next day there'll be less recovery, etc.
Since you can't ask your Lab to do all this, YOU have to do the thinking for him.
Each time, say "Let's go for a ride" or whatever you want and put on the leash.
At first, stop 10 feet (or more if you sense ANY anxiety) away, give a treat and praise,* and then go back in the house.* Do this 5-10X. Repeat 2X a day.* (Just before mealtime insures maximum effectiveness of treats.)
As soon as you sense any slowing down or reluctance -- do NOT try to encourage him.* Give a treat and repeat again.* (Anxiety or panic responses operate on the Sympathetic division of the Autonomic Nervous System (Fight or flight) while eating and digestion operates on the Parasympathetic division of the ANS (digestive, vegetative).* Whichever side is more strongly aroused tends to block the other.* So treats given with low arousal of anxiety blocks anxiety.* But moderate arousal of anxiety can block any effect of treats.).
Gradually work yourself up to getting next to the car, then opening the door but close it, then opening the door and put a treat on the floor within easy reach, then a little more, etc.
For dogs that have anxiety about riding in cars, I recommend having them get in, starting up the car but then shutting it off and having them get out.* Slight progressions of driving a few feet, then slightly more, then finally around the block, etc., etc.
You need to avoid ANY repetition of anxiety, or the phobic reaction since that only recharges the battery of the Conditioned Emotional Response.
I've sketched out the protocol for a hundred small stages.* It never takes that long when done correctly.* Just learn to read your dog.
(Also get the McConnell booklet -- it may have some things I have not covered.)
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
Thanks so much for the replies. Bob Pr. I will def. try this approach. It's funny b/c reading your outline of this brings back distance memories of college psych classes. ;D I truly need to get over my need for instant gratification and work on this with Jersey. Thanks for the help!