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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 4 year old yellow lab that was fine riding in the car/truck before my husband hit a deer last fall. Ever since then, Toby will not settle down in the car....he will lay down, but he pants and breaths heavy....any suggestions on what we can do to help him get used to the car again???

Thanks..
 

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Oh, how awful! :( What an unfortunate thing to have happen, for everyone.

I think you're going to have to start from the beginning with counter-conditioning car rides, as you would with any dog who had issues with the car. Simon did not like car rides when he came to us, so I can sympathize.

The advice for this is to slowly acclimate them to the car and associating it with positive experiences, first by just having them get in the car, treat heavily, then they can come out. The car isn't turned on at this point, and you don't go anywhere yet. Repeat repeat repeat until getting in the car is consistently resulting in a positive reaction.

If even getting in the car is too upsetting right now, start with treating near the car, without getting in.

With counter-conditioning, you always want to keep the dog below the threshold of having any kind of negative reaction. If you see fear or anxiety at any time, back it up and make it easier.

Keep incrementally upping the ante: At first, you try for getting in and out of the car without turning it on. Then you can try it with the car running. Then you go for backing down the driveway, pulling back in. Then around the block. You see where I am going...and so on. At any time if you see fear, you're going too fast, and need to back up to the previous step.

The timeline will be different for every dog, so you just have to evaluate your dog continually throughout the process and decide when they are ready for the next step. When the current step seems solid, try the next one. Back up if it seems too much.

Hope that helps...
 

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I agree with what Connie/AngusFangus posted.

You can google counter-conditioning and densensitiization for more descriptions of the process. Dr. Patricia McConnell's website, Dog's Best Friend Training, may have a pamphlet on how to set up such a program.

 

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Discussion Starter #5
Toby has no problem in getting in the car - he loves car rides - but only short ones....if we are in the car longer then 15 minutes, that is when he starts almost panicking. I will check the website that was suggested...

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I had a LabX that was in a car accident with me when he was just a pup. After that accident, he would only sit on the seat facing away from the window, with his side against the seat. He always seemed nervous when in the car. This lasted for all of his 9 short years of life. I hope you can find a solution for your pups fear. Nothing ever seemed to work for mine :(
 

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Hmm. I still think it might help to do the counter-conditioning, to help reinforce the car as a good thing in his mind. He may even be (probably is) giving stress signals before he reaches the full-on panic mode. Stress signals can be very subtle if you don't know what you're looking for (and even if you do sometimes!). If it were me, I would always pair treats with car rides. Maybe give him a jackpot after short rides.
 

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No advise except what was already mentioned. Just wanted to say I am so sorry you are having this problem. I always worry about hitting a deer when I have Guthrie in the car....the deer are everywhere around here.
 
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