|Barked: Sat Oct 8, '11 8:09am PST |
|Diesel, I can relate to your problem...Duke is also a mess in the car. For the short term, I would suggest trying Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) and the Through a Dog's Ear FOR CARS CD. (Not the home version--it will put you both to sleep!). DAP can also be highly effective. I find that the diffuser works better than the spray, but then you need to buy an adapter for your car for plugging in the unit. Adding herbal remedies into the mix can also help.
Through a Dog's Ear is amazing. I was astounded at how this simple arrangement of classical piano can so dramatically calm a dog. I have the whole series of CD's and play them for Duke during the day while I'm at work.
I won't ever give Duke ACE again and have never tried Xanax. I have heard of people using benadryl, but I just don't like all the drugs. I prefer to try a natural approach first.
I know how it is; it's extremely stressful and nerve-wracking to ride for any distance with a very anxious dog. I have done it many, MANY times! The CD and DAP really helped him to calm down, along with some ongoing training we do to help him "pull it together" in the car. We travel A LOT, so I am constantly reinforcing good car behavior.
For the long-term, I'd suggest trying some counterconditioning. Does Diesel ride in the car a lot? If not, or if it's only to places like the vet or the dog park, start taking him more often. Make the destinations boring sometimes, and fun other times. The goal: Show him that not all car rides end in the dreaded vet visit, nor do they all end in the super exciting dog park. It lessens the dog's anxiety/anticipation when they are conditioned to cars as just another aspect of life...sometimes exciting, sometimes boring.
Does he have a "go to mat" behavior? This helped Duke a great deal. I would put his mat in the backseat and tell him to lie down on it. Since he had already been conditioned to the mat as a calm, comfortable place where he gets lots of yummy treats, just lying on that mat would help him calm down some. I never let Duke pace. Ever. If he gets up and starts to pace, I ask him for a sit. Just this simple cue helps him to calm himself down. Sometimes I'll ask him to sit 50 times in a few minutes! I do it until he finally settles himself down and stays sitting or lies down (the latter is usually what happens...he gets sick of the constant stand-sit routine!. Just be sure NOT to use the "stay" cue because you will "ruin" the behavior if he continually breaks the stay and you can't block him from doing so.
If you can, bring along another person and reward Diesel each time he is calm (eg., lies down, stops panting, sits, etc). Be sure NOT to reward while he is being anxious...you don't want to reinforce that behavior! With Duke, I use a clicker, just because it's so much easier to mark the exact behavior with a click.
Good luck--I feel your pain! Duke is 8 and we've been working on this his whole life. It's worth it to me because I don't want his life restricted because his car anxiety. I can tell you that if you work at it, it pays off. Duke is now a much more pleasant car passenger, even occasionally dozing for a few minutes at a time!
Edited by author Sat Oct 8, '11 8:14am PST
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