New 10 m.o. poodle- How to teach loading into the car?

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New 10 m.o. poodle- How to teach loading into the car?

This is a discussion on New 10 m.o. poodle- How to teach loading into the car? within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hello everyone! This is my first post here, as I was looking for a good community to use as a resource during my endeavors to ...

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Old 09-03-2017, 06:12 PM
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New 10 m.o. poodle- How to teach loading into the car?

Hello everyone! This is my first post here, as I was looking for a good community to use as a resource during my endeavors to clicker train my new dog.

The dog: Named 'Ellie' (though she doesn't respond to any name yet- we're working on it), 10 months old, standard poodle, and I've had her for a week. I adopted her from an older lady who was having health issues and couldn't take care of her any more. Also very critical to mention that she is not spayed yet and currently in heat (I would never breed her and am against backyard dog breeding so I am going to get her fixed as soon as her first heat ends).

The issue: I work at a dog-friendly workplace and as such, take Ellie to work with me every day. To do this, she needs to get in and out of my car. But she won't go in voluntarily for whatever reason (possibly because she wasn't trained, maybe some bad past associations, maybe because she is the most suspicious dog I have ever met). I have to physically pick her up and gently load her into my back seat. The first few times I did this, she was fine-ish but now she will stand at the end of her leash and try to wriggle away from me when I go to pick her up.

I think it *might* be due to her backside being more sensitive due to her being in heat, so I am trying to avoid picking her up using one arm around her chest and the other around her butt. However, I still need to teach her how to load into the car. We are starting clicker training now, though I am still at the 'loading' the clicker step (click, reward, click, reward, repeat). How would you guys teach a dog to jump into a car? I don't have any treats that she will be lured in by at the moment (I think her reluctance to get in the car outweighs dog treats right now- maybe I will try hot dog pieces or cheese next). Advice? Thank you.
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Old 09-03-2017, 07:12 PM
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First off, check yourself and your emotions about it because she's feeding off you. Get it out of your mind that she's struggling or had a bad history with it. Act with your mindset that it's normal to just hop in the car and that there's nothing wrong. Secondly, use a high prize reward for her success. You have to find what she considers motivation...is she food driven or attention driven. If food, I've found cooked hotdogs cut in tiny pieces works great. If it's attention, high praise and petting will work (without food) as a reward. Practice getting in the car when your not rushing to go anywhere. Just as a fun "hey we're just hanging out here to relax" deal. Don't rush her or make her feel pressured. Let her come to you. Make it seem like she's missing out by not being in the car. It may take some time, so that's why you don't need to be anywhere. Try first giving her a treat right where she's sitting outside the car, and continue to reward her with each step closer to the inside. Always end on a positive note. It will get quicker and quicker if she feels like she's the one making the decision to hop in, and not being forced in.

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Old 09-05-2017, 12:36 AM
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I'm not that familiar with clicker training but I don't see why you couldn't use the act of training as part of the loading the clicker process. If she takes a step towards the car, click and treat. If she puts a paw on the door frame, click and treat. Click and treat for every baby step that she makes towards getting in the car. At some point it might also help to get a running start so she has some momentum and will be more likely to just keep going the direction she's going and jump in the car rather than stopping suddenly from a run. & Definitely break out the high value treats like bits of hot dog or cheese, like you mentioned.
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Old 09-05-2017, 11:01 AM
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Fwiw, I don't load a clicker eith a new dog. I just start using it. You can do as suggested above, click any movement toward the car.

You can speed the process up by actually tossing or dropping the rewards behind the dog away from the vehicle. It's perhaps counterintuitive, but rewards tossed so the dog must move away from the car reset for another approach and give relief from what is uncomfortable.
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Old 09-06-2017, 01:43 PM
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With her being a puppy try puppy treats. They usually work something to motivate her to get in the car. A squeaky toy will work to. All she needs is extra motivation. There should be no excuse for the way she is acting. Most dogs don't get extra sensitive back sides in heat. The may need more TLC every once in a while but not much more then that.
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Old 09-08-2017, 06:45 PM
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You of course don't know what associations she may have with cars. When we adopted Samantha, she was petrified of getting into a car, would start drooling immediately and was violently car sick every time we got into the car. Took a long long time, we took her for very short rides, then gradually lengthened them, and now she will willingly get into the car, and is actually a pretty good traveler, which since we travel with her in a motor home is important. Took awhile, and we will never know for sure, but we speculate something terrible happened to her that involved a car, maybe she was dumped after a ride, we just don't know. I have asked her, but she won't tell. Regardless, we all worked through it, our Vet helped with some medication, that we used at first, which helped get us over the proverbial hump.
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Old 09-26-2017, 04:41 PM
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Thank you for all the suggestions you guys gave! I am embarrassed to say I just realized I did not respond at all or thank you all for your suggestions. She has improved a lot in the last few weeks and has actually started jumping in by herself. After a session where I was just hanging out in the backseat holding her leash and some treats for an hour with no dice, I decided to just wait and try training to load when we knew each other a little better and it seems that worked. Sometimes she decides she doesn't want to go in and turns away, but usually directing her back to the open door and nudging her is enough to get her in. So we still need to train loading as a command but at least I don't have to try to haul her curly butt into the car by picking her up against her wishes.

Thank you guys again!
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