We Are Having Trouble Getting Our 9.5 Year Old Dog In The Car. She Has No Health Issues.

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by tugidq64, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. tugidq64 Experienced Member

    She likes to go for walks but will refuse at random times to get in the car before a walk or after. This makes it hard to take her anywhere. I have tried treats, waiting her out (she has taken up to 45 minutes.) She is a reactive dog who would probably bite me if I pushed her in. She is also over 60 lbs. She is trialing in nosework in a few weeks and I am afraid to take her. She may not get in the car. I am concerned that she will not getting her exersice without walks. She has no arthritis or health issues. Has anybody else had this problem? I would appreciate any advice. Thank you. Debby Ayers

  2. running_dog Honored Member

    Hi Debby, sorry to hear about your problem with your dog.

    Firstly, you can't be sure your dog has no health problems, you can only be sure she has no diagnosed health problems. My dog would often refuse to do things and it was only a long time later (after transferring to a new vet) that I understood that he was in pain. The only difference this makes in your case is to confirm that trying to force your dog into the car is a bad idea. But also to be aware that until we find the real cause we can't absolutely know that a particular puzzling behaviour is not caused by health issues.

    Secondly I would start by shaping your dog to
    • approach the car
    • approach the car with the car door open
    • put a paw in the car, Take paw out of the car
    • put front paws in the car, take paws out of the car
    • Step further into the car, get out of the car
    • get in the car, get out of the car
    • get in the car, close door and instantly open door, get out of the car
    • get in the car, you get in the car, you both get out the car
    • you both get in the car and sit in the car then get out
    • both get in, you start the engine you turn the engine off you both get out of the car.
    Make a game of it and repeat each one of these stages (and break them into smaller stages if necessary) until your dog is really happy to get into the car for the reward before moving onto the next stage - so don't ask your dog to out a paw into the car until it is approaching the car enthusiastically. There are a number of benefits to this approach
    • If you take the time to get your dog absolutely secure with each stage of the "game" there is a good chance that you will come to understand what is triggering your dog's behaviour because you will see when she is unwilling to progress to the next stage.
    • If you figure out the stage which you dog finds difficult you can work on this part of the game and make it extra fun where ever you are when ever you are getting into the car.
    • Even if you never figure out what the problem/trigger is by making a game of getting in and out of the car you are counter conditioning/desensitizing your dog to the trigger/negative association.
    • If your dog won't get into the car you can start to play the game - it might be possible to quickly work through the stages and get your dog into the car.

    Hope this helps :)
    Please let us know how you get on and feel free to ask if I haven't made something clear enough.
    kassidybc likes this.
  3. tugidq64 Experienced Member

    I am still having trouble with my dog getting in the car. She has been o.k. getting in for about a week but
    now she is doing the same thing. I use a click stick to get her to the car, she will put her paws on the running board but that is as far as she will go. I am using chicken hearts for her treat but she won't even get in for that.
    After about 10 mins I put her in her room with a treat and take one of the other dogs for a walk.
    I am sad that she is loosing opportunities to go hiking and walking with us. Do you think that I should wait longer?
    Thank you for your advice.
    running_dog likes this.
  4. running_dog Honored Member

    All I can think of right now is could you have accidentally made it more rewarding for your dog to stay behind than to go with you? I did that once with a dog I was trying to get to go in the house with the other dogs... turned out he was glad to see the back of them and eat a few consolation treats alone in the kennel rather than have a jackpot indoors with the crowd :rolleyes:.

    Other than that... no don't wait longer than 10 minutes. In fact I wouldn't work on this at all with her if you are actually intending on going out in the car. Keep it light, don't even think about it being about getting in the car, go back to playing a game of how fast can she put her paws on the car and rebound off it. Enjoy the session and trying to understand your dog, enjoy the training journey (enjoying the training journey is an art form that my dog has taught me :LOL:). Take it all really slowly. If you open all the car doors will she run through the car? Maybe she doesn't like the car moving and she feels like you conned her before and she's not going to let it happen again :unsure:

    Don't feel bad about leaving her behind, it is her choice. Whatever her reasons she is happier staying at home. If you are going out don't make a big deal of it, don't invite her just put her away with something not too special to chew on - keep high value treats for when she is actually playing touch the car.
  5. JazzyandVeronica Honored Member

    How old is your dog and could she be having an issue with jumping in/out? Have you taken her to the vet to confirm that there is no arthritis, joint problems, or anything that could be causing her pain?

    You could try a ramp...

    When you say you're dog is reactive - do you mean doesn't like being touched or wouldn't like being picked up and put into a car she didn't want to get into? Cause I'm thinking if you could lure her into putting her 2 paws on the seat - would she would be OK with you boosting her up? And if that's the case - then I really would suspect ssome sort of pain w/ jumping issue...

    Don't know - just some random thoughts.

    I have a fearful/anxious/reactive dog - but her issue when she won't get in the car is she's anxious and doesn't want to leave the house. Luckily mine is fine with handling - but If I put her in the car and drive to our walking spot and then take her out of the car - she still won't walk - so I learned that that whole scenario was totally pointless. :rolleyes:
    running_dog and southerngirl like this.
  6. running_dog Honored Member

    That's a really interesting thought Jazzy. I hadn't thought of the possibility of it being a kind of agoraphobia and her associating the car with going places that unnerve her.

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