Author Topic: Terrified of the car...  (Read 1957 times)

Christina

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Terrified of the car...
« on: October 07, 2012, 11:14:52 AM »
I need help with how to desensitize Star to the car. He will willingly get in, settle down, and even do well for a few miles.  After that he starts shaking, drooling,panting, and just freaking out. Luckily he does it sitting still and not running all over the car, but it's still pathetic. 

He also only does it when it's only me in the car. I know he associates me and the car with going to the vet, he's been through a lot at the vet. I've always been the only one to take him to the vet, and he does the same thing at the vet's office. If there's someone else in the car, he's much more calm.

Once we arrive at a different destination, like the dog park, or a house, or gas station, he's ok on the way home for the most part. He will shake a little bit, but it's less violent.  He's also still panting because he's worked himself up so much.

Would short car rides, before he gets all worked up be the answer? I try to take him when I go to take care of pets on weekends, or short trips, just wondering if there's anything else I can try to help him.
Christina
Little Ann 2/14/96-4/6/10
Boomer 1996- 4/25/14
Lucky 4/24/04-8/27/14

Rubidawg

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Re: Terrified of the car...
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2012, 11:54:14 AM »
Quote
Would short car rides, before he gets all worked up be the answer? I try to take him when I go to take care of pets on weekends, or short trips, just wondering if there's anything else I can try to help him.

Yes.

I'd treat it just like any other phobia and start small and work your way up. Start with just taking him around the block and tossing a few cookies (something of VERY high value that he doesn't normall get, maybe it's cooked chicken breasts) in the backseat every couple of seconds or so. Then, work your way a bit further, still tossing cookies/treats. Then eventually get to somewhere - like say hitting the drive thru and getting him a cheeseburger. By the time he gets there, this is all fun and games, he doesn't know when the treats are gonna come and you ended up somewhere that was FUN! I'd even take him out of the car and let him sit in the parking lot with you while he enjoys his cheeseburger. I wouldn't go to the dog park or somewhere too over stimulating at first. Just a quick out of the car, enjoy a nice treat, then back in the car to ride home, still tossing treats.

Rubi went thru a period where she was terrified of the car. This was when she was a few years old and we couldn't figure out why. Most likely because of her associating it with the vet, even though we took her with us to lots of places. It got so bad, that I couldn't even get her IN the car. By that point, I manned up and got her in the car, tossed treats to her while going around the block. Eventually made it to McDonalds and got her either some french fries or an ice cream sundae (just plain vanilla) and went to the very back of the parking lot where there were no other cars or loud noises that would scare her, and took her out, let her eat her yummy treat, then we went home.

Even though trips to the vet still happen, she got over it pretty quickly and LOVES car rides. She still has moments where she's a lil nervous, mostly if I open the sunroof or we pass a loud truck. But, she recovers and goes back to enjoying the ride. I'd say it maybe took like 7 or 8 trips for her to eventually want to get in the car, and probably only a few trips after that til she stopped acting scared (she never shook or drooled, she just flinched at everything, paced, held her head down really low, worried eyes, etc).

Poor Star. Having seen it in Rubi and how it seemed to come out of nowhere, I know how sad it is to watch them be so paniced over something they used to enjoy. I'd start with the short trips to some place fairly calming and work up from there. Hopefully he bounces back as quickly.
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Theresa

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Re: Terrified of the car...
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2012, 02:36:38 PM »
Ditto Dawn. I think you might want to get Some DAP. They have a spray that you can spray him (or your car seat) with just before you take him for his ride.
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Christina

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Re: Terrified of the car...
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2012, 02:52:09 PM »
Ditto Dawn. I think you might want to get Some DAP. They have a spray that you can spray him (or your car seat) with just before you take him for his ride.

I'm going close to PETCO today, so I'll stop in and see if the DAP isn't too expensive. I just remembered I have some lavender oil, I'll try that on a bandana if I can't get the DAP.

I guess what gets me is that if there's someone else in the car, or if someone else takes him on a ride, he doesn't get worked up a fraction of what he does when it's only me in the car. I know it's the vet association, going to the vet was the first time I saw it, he did it turning into the parking lot. I guess I really can't blame him with everything he's been through, with his knees, bloating, back...

Thank you for the tips, I'll start working with him more before he gets any worse.
Christina
Little Ann 2/14/96-4/6/10
Boomer 1996- 4/25/14
Lucky 4/24/04-8/27/14