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Sally G.
Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 9261
Experience:  Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
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We have an 11 year old rescued mini-pin. She panics when we

Customer Question

We have an 11 year old rescued mini-pin. She panics when we take her in the car with our 3 other dogs. She also gets that way when alone in the car. We have her on anti-anxiety medication (amitriptyline 10 mg. 2x day) which does not seem to have much of an effect. We also try a stronger medication (Acepromazine tabs 10 mg) which we give her about 2 hours before taking her for a short car ride. She is up to a half pill with little results (she stays calm for about 10 minutes and then panics by jumping around and shrieking. This is a major problem for us because we take all our animals to our condo in NJ whenever we go. It is about a 3 hr. trip. In addition, she refuses to go for a walk on a leash! What is wrong with her and what can we do?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.
Hello and welcome. This is just a short note to introduce myself or to request needed information for your problem. My name is ***** ***** I have been in the dog field for 25 years. I am a Therapy Dog & AKC Evaluator/trainer/ as well as an assistance/service dog trainer, specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.
When dd this first start?How long have you had her?When it started how did you handle it?What exactly does she do when she panics?Did you try desensitization training? If so for how long?Does the dog ever get sick in the car?
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
It started the first time when we brought her home from the shelter. We have had her since Nov 2015 but have only taken her in the car for vet appts. We have only recently tried to take her for rides with the other dogs (3). We tried to make her feel secure, bought her a "calming collar", began by taking her around the block in the car, bought a "thunder shirt" which we have not yet tried. She attempts to jump from my lap to the driver's lap, scratches at the window, cries and squeals, and nips at your face. She does not get sick in the car. What desensitizing activities are you referring to?
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.
Thank you for that information. Because others have owned her we really do not know how they handled the problem which could have made it worse over the years.Desensitizing a dog to the car is where you start off just putting the dog in the car for about a week (longer if needed) without starting it , just sit there and reward all the good behavior with a special treat. Then you turn the car on and listen to the radio, use calming music or a calming cd for dogs ("through a dog's ear" on amazon) . do not move the car yet. Do that for a week, then you drive a few feet up the driveway, and gradually you move a few feet up the street. For some dogs it can take a year to desensitize them. The problem with taking them in a car only when you have somewhere to go is that you are setting them up to fail because you have not given them the time to show them another way to react when in there.Crating the dog in the car can also help as can a dog seat belt. It gives them a sense of security.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
what about the medication?
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.
I am not fond of the medication use as people rely on that alone and it rarely works alone. Also is the dog is acting out due to what it is seeing on the street as the car moves along. Many things that move are seen as a prey or something to chase or something to want to move away from so that has to be deciphered as well
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Also, would it be better to just board her or would that set her back in your opinion?
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.
Boarding can set a dog back in many ways depending on the boarding place. If you board in an environment that has a dog day care, that can be a positive experience. If you board with a boarding facility where that is all they do , then that can leave a negative impact. Your best bet might be to have someone come over and let her out several times a day and spend a half hour either playing with her in the home or in a fenced area outside. Many dogs do better when left at home .
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
My fear is that she will think that we are giving her back to the shelter.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.
If you mean about boarding then I would drop her off for a day a couple of times before you leave so it becomes a more normal place and she knows you are going to pick her up.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.
I would also make sure no matter who you board with that you tell them you will be stopping by some time during the day to check on her.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Thank you for your advice and will make an attempt taking her in the car.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.
What problem are you having with the leash?
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
She will only walk until she does her business. That is usually 1 to 2 houses away.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.
Is she scared?
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
The circumstances are often different. For example, we have taken her with our other 3 dogs and tried to take her alone. The result is the same. She will turn around and stop dead. I would have to drag her. If I let go of the leash, she will run home and run up on the porch.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.
okay , that is a fear reflex to get home to her safe spot. This would need some basic desensitization as well and start in short training sessions of obedience using a positive method, start the sessions inside the home then give one to two minutes of those sessions outside in the yard or front of the home. make sure to end on a note she has listened and succeeded as this will help build her confidence. Are you familiar with clicker training?
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
yes, to an extent. She is fine off the leash & will walk by herself to the neighbor's yard and will walk freely around the fenced-in yard. It is a leash issue
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.
Then I would do the sessions on leash in the home to start so she gets used to the leash in a comfortable environment, then take it outside. I am going to direct you to a link for clicker training. Some dogs are afraid of the click sound so if that happens use your voice as the marker but use one word such a “tip” or “Yes” as a marker. If you use the clicker be very certain not to use it until it is loaded, meaning taking the step that the dog will know and identify the sound with something good. Use human food such as hot dog slivers or slivers of white chicken for the reward. Make sure to get her focus when training, this is something that does need to be trained. You can use the cue "watch " for this command. This will eventually help her concentrate on you and not on what she is fearing or being upset by. Clicker training/positive method training/ print offhttp://www.clickerlessons.com/ video’s to see how clicker training is done, scroll down to videos http://www.clickertrainusa.com/clicker-training-videos.htm clicker maintaining focus http://www.clickertraining.com/files/auto-eye-contact.pdf
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.
Keep in mind that you have only had her since Last year Nov. IN your environment things are going to change with seasons. In the winter not many people may be out, school is in session, in the spring more people and animals are out and more kids may be out at night with the nice weather. For a rescue it can take a year to year and a 1/2 to learn all that is new in its environment
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.
IF possible, if the amitrityline is not working, I would discuss with your vet safely taking the dog off of that and giving melatonin. This can be found in the vitamin aisle of the drug store, Do not give in conjunction with the other meds you have though. Melatonin can be given in the am and pm and is used for anxiety in dogs by upping the serotonin level. melatonin formation http://www.petplace.com/article/drug-library/library/prescription/melatonin-melatonex
Expert:  Sally G. replied 7 months ago.
Hi Karen Neri,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Sally G.

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