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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18940
Experience:  Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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I can't get my 9-month old Lab mix anywhere near my car.

Customer Question

I can't get my 9-month old Lab mix anywhere near my car. I've tried treats, toys, nonchalance with the doors open, you name it. She gets car sick; the last time I had her in the car (5 months ago), she threw up. Suggestions?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 11 months ago.

Hi JaCustomer,

My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

In order to supply you with an informed answer, it is necessary for me to collect some additional information from you. When I receive your response or reply, it will likely take me between 30-45 minutes to type up my reply if I am still online when I receive notice that you replied. I hope you can be patient.

Has she had any obedience training?

Will she even stand near your car?

What about when you are not around, will she get near your car?

How did you get her in the car 5 months ago?

How much does she weigh now?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
She has not had any obedience training because she is extremely well-behaved. Not being able to get her in the car is the only trouble that I have with her.
No, she does not even want to stand beside the car. She sniffs other cars in our neighborhood though. I have tried getting her into one of my friend's cars, and she wanted nothing to do with that either.
My boyfriend has also tried to get her into the car when I am not around, and that is also a "Hell No."
The last time I got her into the car, she jumped in herself, reluctantly, after a lot of persuasion. The few times she was in the car, she was not comfortable at all. She was drooling, which meant her stomach was upset and looked frightened the entire time.
My Joey girl weighs 61 pounds.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 11 months ago.

Thanks for the additional information. She likely does have motion sickness and the one time she had the experience of a drive, she got sick which reinforced her belief that the car is a bad place. So besides needed to get her into the car, you also have to stop her getting car sick. So let me give you information on car sickness first and then we will attempt to find a solution to getting her into the car.

Motion sickness is worse if you can't see out a window so sometimes allowing a dog to be in the front seat in a harness will help. Some people use Benadryl to calm their dog before car travel and Dramamine is also used for motion sickness, but your Vet should be consulted before using Dramamine.

Benadryl can be given to your dog, the dose is up to 2mg per pound every 8 hours. The dosage for Dramamine (Dimenhydrinate) for motion sickness is 2-4 mg/pound by mouth every 8 hours. Dramamine works best for my own animals.

Any medication should be given an hour in advance to car trip. For anxiety, herbal rescue remedy is often used, but another option is a DAP collar that uses pheromones to calm a dog. It emits pheromones similar to those produced by a mother when nursing pups.

Next is getting her used to the car and I am going to suggest some obedience training to get her more used to always obeying you the first time you give a command and every time. The following site is helpful in helping owners train their dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html

Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.

http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/training_nothing_in_life_is_free.html

The next step will be getting a long leash and attach it to the car and start feeding her outside . Start at the outer reaches of the leash and daily move the food closer and closer to the car until it is right next to the car. Leave it next to the car for at least a week. Then open the door and put the food on the floor in the car for a week or so. The next step is putting it inside the car. You can be outside but don't be near the car for this step. Once she is eating inside the car and it may take a day or two for her to do that, then close the door but open it as soon as she is done eating. After a couple of weeks of this, you can then close the door and start the car but don't move it. After a week of this, start giving her the medication an hour before hand and moving the car a few feet before stopping and putting the car back. Gradually lengthen how far you move the car. By now she shouldn't be getting car sick and it should be more enjoyable. You might switch to a high value treat instead of food at this point like hot dog slivers.

It is a long process but has the highest chance of success when done in this manner.

I hope this information is helpful to you. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer so I am compensated for my time.

If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may click here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well.

Since there have been recalls on certain foods, please check the following site to be sure the food your animals eat is not affected. If it is affected, contact your vet as soon as possible. Have your dog seen if they have any symptoms.

http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/RecallsWithdrawals/

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 11 months ago.
Hi,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Jane Lefler