Dog Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Long shot.
My 2 year old female chihuahua (fixed) absolutely hates the car rides. As soon as the engine starts - she starts panting and shaking real bad. But when I turn it off, magically she stops these behaviours straight away. Also she continues it even when the car is not moving at all.

I’ve tried so many different types of natural remedies (oral drops) includes phenomenal spray and a collar. Also a thunder vest, dog relaxation music, a crate with/without cover in the back seat/front seat, 4 different types of dog carrier boosters, anti-anxiety puffy bed, a dog behaves training, treats, changing the cars/drivers, let her sit on my lap (in the car parking, to see how see reacts)
Nothing worked.
when I let her out of the car, she wags her tail and skips around with happiness.
I took her to a vet and she was prescribed clomicalm (antidepressant) to correct her brain chemical imbalance but it didn’t work and next she got Fluoxetine (human grade antidepressant) but that made her sick a big time. (Spewing, shaking 10 hours, lying in bed not getting up) So we stopped it before even this medication got kicked in.
I have never had even one near miss accident. So I don’t know why she’s so scared. Her eyes are consistently telling me “mummy mummy I’m scared let me out mummy!” This kind of miserable face. Hard to watch. So I don’t look at her or talk to her at all in the car. (Also this is an advice from the vet - ignore her behaviour n not give her my attention - it’s hard!!)
She won’t spew, whine, drool, not even try to get comfortable, just sits n being miserable. I could hear her panting so hard. Hard to listen for me.
I take her to work most of the week and I take her out for hikes almost every weekend so she has a car ride almost every day.
my vet said it’s been 2 years like this and too late to correct it .... as if I left it too long. I’m the one (solo mum to her) watching like this every day and spent a lot of money on this. Of course I haven’t ignored it.
I asked this issue at the other forum but got no answer. I’m getting desperate here. I do a long road trip (8 hours one way every month in the winding hills - last 6 years. Cookie is only 2 yo so yeah every month in her whole life ) to see my sick sister.
im worried if her anxiety hormone gets produced too much and it would lead her some health issues in the future. Also I just don’t want her to suffer every day in her short life (chihuahuas life expectancy is 15 years or so)
Can anybody please point out to a right direction what I can do to help this issue?
Thanks for reading!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
522 Posts
Long shot.
My 2 year old female chihuahua (fixed) absolutely hates the car rides. As soon as the engine starts - she starts panting and shaking real bad. But when I turn it off, magically she stops these behaviours straight away. Also she continues it even when the car is not moving at all.

I’ve tried so many different types of natural remedies (oral drops) includes phenomenal spray and a collar. Also a thunder vest, dog relaxation music, a crate with/without cover in the back seat/front seat, 4 different types of dog carrier boosters, anti-anxiety puffy bed, a dog behaves training, treats, changing the cars/drivers, let her sit on my lap (in the car parking, to see how see reacts)
Nothing worked.
when I let her out of the car, she wags her tail and skips around with happiness.
I took her to a vet and she was prescribed clomicalm (antidepressant) to correct her brain chemical imbalance but it didn’t work and next she got Fluoxetine (human grade antidepressant) but that made her sick a big time. (Spewing, shaking 10 hours, lying in bed not getting up) So we stopped it before even this medication got kicked in.
I have never had even one near miss accident. So I don’t know why she’s so scared. Her eyes are consistently telling me “mummy mummy I’m scared let me out mummy!” This kind of miserable face. Hard to watch. So I don’t look at her or talk to her at all in the car. (Also this is an advice from the vet - ignore her behaviour n not give her my attention - it’s hard!!)
She won’t spew, whine, drool, not even try to get comfortable, just sits n being miserable. I could hear her panting so hard. Hard to listen for me.
I take her to work most of the week and I take her out for hikes almost every weekend so she has a car ride almost every day.
my vet said it’s been 2 years like this and too late to correct it .... as if I left it too long. I’m the one (solo mum to her) watching like this every day and spent a lot of money on this. Of course I haven’t ignored it.
I asked this issue at the other forum but got no answer. I’m getting desperate here. I do a long road trip (8 hours one way every month in the winding hills - last 6 years. Cookie is only 2 yo so yeah every month in her whole life ) to see my sick sister.
im worried if her anxiety hormone gets produced too much and it would lead her some health issues in the future. Also I just don’t want her to suffer every day in her short life (chihuahuas life expectancy is 15 years or so)
Can anybody please point out to a right direction what I can do to help this issue?
Thanks for reading!
Hi. Welcome to the forum. Sorry it's under the circumstances. :(

It's certainly not too late to correct it, and it's sad that a vet has cast her aside like that. I would be tempted to find another vet and request a behaviourist referral, or, I you can, refer yourself to one. Look for one that uses positive, science based methods. Any hint of dominance, pack theory, or the use of aversives, run a mile!

In the meantime;

Is it possible to give her a week or so where she doesn't have to go in the car? Is there anyone you could ask to pet sit her while you're at work? She needs to get her stress levels right down. In humans, it takes about 3 days or so for cortisol levels to fall to baseline, so she needs at least that long away from the stressor (the car). I'd give it a week.

If you can do that, then you can go back to basics. Open the car door and shut it again, without putting her in it. Do this a few times until she doesn't bat the preverbial eyelid.

Next, put her in the car when you want her to be and let her get straight back out. Do this until she's happy enough to just sit in the car without trying to get out. Then close the door and open it straight away. Once she's comfortable with that, get in the driving seat, close the door, open the door, let her out. Rinse and repeat until she begins to think you've lost you marbles.

Work up until you can start the engine, drive up up street and back, go round the block, a coupe blocks, and so on without her panicking. If at any time she starts to show signs of stress, anxiety or panic, go back to a previous step.

Disclaimer; Once you speak to a behaviourist, this advice becomes redundant and you follow their advice from then on.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
3,720 Posts
I have a few questions first. My dog isn't happy in the car but we tackled it like car anxiety whereas it was, I think, a combination of at least three things; car anxiety and frustration about being in the back and anticipatory excitement about where he was going.

She stops panting when the engine is off, but
she continues it even when the car is not moving
Is that with the car not moving, but engine on? What happens if you turn the engine on for 10 seconds and off again? And where are you when this is happening - i.e. could someone else turn the engine on while you reassure her, and off on your instruction just before she gets stressed?

changing the cars/drivers, let her sit on my lap (in the car parking,
And is she any better on your lap? If so, how is she when the car is driven by someone else with her on your lap?

Have you tried her on trains or buses? Is it possible there is a sound the car makes that is distressing her?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Hi. Welcome to the forum. Sorry it's under the circumstances. :(

It's certainly not too late to correct it, and it's sad that a vet has cast her aside like that. I would be tempted to find another vet and request a behaviourist referral, or, I you can, refer yourself to one. Look for one that uses positive, science based methods. Any hint of dominance, pack theory, or the use of aversives, run a mile!

In the meantime;

Is it possible to give her a week or so where she doesn't have to go in the car? Is there anyone you could ask to pet sit her while you're at work? She needs to get her stress levels right down. In humans, it takes about 3 days or so for cortisol levels to fall to baseline, so she needs at least that long away from the stressor (the car). I'd give it a week.

If you can do that, then you can go back to basics. Open the car door and shut it again, without putting her in it. Do this a few times until she doesn't bat the preverbial eyelid.

Next, put her in the car when you want her to be and let her get straight back out. Do this until she's happy enough to just sit in the car without trying to get out. Then close the door and open it straight away. Once she's comfortable with that, get in the driving seat, close the door, open the door, let her out. Rinse and repeat until she begins to think you've lost you marbles.

Work up until you can start the engine, drive up up street and back, go round the block, a coupe blocks, and so on without her panicking. If at any time she starts to show signs of stress, anxiety or panic, go back to a previous step.

Disclaimer; Once you speak to a behaviourist, this advice becomes redundant and you follow their advice from then on.
Thanks for your reply.
Xmas break 1 year ago, I’ve done this training you mentioned. But it was only 14 days (consecutive) and it didn’t work. Maybe it was too soon to give up?
And during the lockdown in April this year, no car ride for 6 weeks.
I think she’s stubborn.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I have a few questions first. My dog isn't happy in the car but we tackled it like car anxiety whereas it was, I think, a combination of at least three things; car anxiety and frustration about being in the back and anticipatory excitement about where he was going.

She stops panting when the engine is off, but

Is that with the car not moving, but engine on? What happens if you turn the engine on for 10 seconds and off again? And where are you when this is happening - i.e. could someone else turn the engine on while you reassure her, and off on your instruction just before she gets stressed?


And is she any better on your lap? If so, how is she when the car is driven by someone else with her on your lap?

Have you tried her on trains or buses? Is it possible there is a sound the car makes that is distressing her?
She stops panting and shaking for 10 secs if I turn it off at the red lights. But not all the time. Sometimes carries on panting but sometimes magically stops all at once for a few sec.
when she was on Clomicalm, her reaction to the engine delayed. She started panting and shaking 2-3 mins later I started driving. And never stopped panting when I turned it off for 10 secs at the red lights.
I am a solo mum to her so no, it’s been basically only me trying to sort it out.
On my lap - no change. Shaking hard out anyway. My friend hold her while I was driving - the same result - shaking and panting a whole time in her arms. I hold her while my friend was driving - yes she was shaking and panting.
No trains where I live unfortunately! Also no animals even in a crate allowed on buses here.
She sits on top of a centre console in a dog seat between driver and passenger seat. This is where she chooses to be in the car. I tried to position her in a different spots but she settled here.
one of the trainings we did was “drive super slow for only 30m and get out of the car for a walk for one block x 5-10 everyday for 2 weeks” to plant her an idea that driving leads you to a walkie. Also I taught a word “beach” where she loves. “Do you wanna go to the beach?!” to let her know we are going to a happy place where she loves. But no luck so far last 6 months.
so...she sits right my side (even touching my arm) and knows where we are going, but she is still miserable. We are just about to go on another road trip in 1 hour.. it’ll be a 9 hour including breaks roadie. I am not going to enjoy this trip!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
3,720 Posts
Well, your reply at least rules out frustration or anxiety due to being away from you, and anticipation. So I'd go back to the process @LMMB suggests but take it a lot more slowly than you did before.

Please don't think of her as stubborn, she isn't choosing to feel like this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Well, your reply at least rules out frustration or anxiety due to being away from you, and anticipation. So I'd go back to the process @LMMB suggests but take it a lot more slowly than you did before.

Please don't think of her as stubborn, she isn't choosing to feel like this.
I’ll look into that, thank you!

“stubborn” doesn’t mean in a bad way. And yes she’s suffering, I do really know and feeling it for her.. it’s like a figure of speech. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
76 Posts
I'd take a bit different approach myself. This dog has done this a bunch, with all kinds of placating done trying to make her feel better, and it hasn't worked. At this point, since her fear seems so targeted, I would suggest flooding.

It seems harsh, but at some point you need her to get over it. So I'd keep her in the car for a few days with the engine running intermittently, and just leave her to her own devices - i.e. start the car and then just walk away. Short periods first, then increasing in duration. Leave her to get over it without input (which likely is helping her to NOT get over it!).

I have seen this work on many occasions, so,, it might be worth a try at this point!

Sometimes people's reactions feed the dog's response more than you think it might. Let her work through it without interference, it might go much more smoothly!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
3,720 Posts
I would suggest flooding.

I'd not use flooding. If it doesn't work, the fallout will be far harder to deal with.

Nobody ever was cured of a fear of snakes by being thrown into a snake pit.

@BigBlackDog , you said you have seen it work but I've not seen it recommended by any of the sources I consider reliable, can you point to any studies that show it to be helpful?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
522 Posts
I'd take a bit different approach myself. This dog has done this a bunch, with all kinds of placating done trying to make her feel better, and it hasn't worked. At this point, since her fear seems so targeted, I would suggest flooding.

It seems harsh, but at some point you need her to get over it. So I'd keep her in the car for a few days with the engine running intermittently, and just leave her to her own devices - i.e. start the car and then just walk away. Short periods first, then increasing in duration. Leave her to get over it without input (which likely is helping her to NOT get over it!).

I have seen this work on many occasions, so,, it might be worth a try at this point!

Sometimes people's reactions feed the dog's response more than you think it might. Let her work through it without interference, it might go much more smoothly!
What you call "working" I call "shut down" or "learned helplessness". The dog can't escape, no one is listening to her, she has to endure it whether she wants to or not, so she shuts down. I've accidentally done it to my own Chi, trying to get her used to a harness and lead. She stopped coming out of her crate, refused to go for walks (which she usually loves), and barely ate. If I so much as entered the room, she retreated back to the safety of her crate. Took me days to bring her back round.

As @JoanneF says, you can teach a dog to go to a certain corner by two different methods. One:. You shout at it or use another aversive whenever it goes into the other three corners. Two, you praise and reward it for going to the right corner. Both might "work" but you get two very different dogs at the end of it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
I'd take a bit different approach myself. This dog has done this a bunch, with all kinds of placating done trying to make her feel better, and it hasn't worked. At this point, since her fear seems so targeted, I would suggest flooding.

It seems harsh, but at some point you need her to get over it. So I'd keep her in the car for a few days with the engine running intermittently, and just leave her to her own devices - i.e. start the car and then just walk away. Short periods first, then increasing in duration. Leave her to get over it without input (which likely is helping her to NOT get over it!).

I have seen this work on many occasions, so,, it might be worth a try at this point!

Sometimes people's reactions feed the dog's response more than you think it might. Let her work through it without interference, it might go much more smoothly!
Aww yes that seems to ba a bit harsh.. but yes I’ll give it a go. At this point, I would do almost anything for it because she’s only 2 years old and many more years ahead of her and car rides.
Do I need to leave the windows wide open? (She won’t jump out of it) Should I do it on the driveway at home where she is familiar at? What should I be careful with doing this methods? (Sorry, more questions!)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
What you call "working" I call "shut down" or "learned helplessness". The dog can't escape, no one is listening to her, she has to endure it whether she wants to or not, so she shuts down. I've accidentally done it to my own Chi, trying to get her used to a harness and lead. She stopped coming out of her crate, refused to go for walks (which she usually loves), and barely ate. If I so much as entered the room, she retreated back to the safety of her crate. Took me days to bring her back round.

As @JoanneF says, you can teach a dog to go to a certain corner by two different methods. One:. You shout at it or use another aversive whenever it goes into the other three corners. Two, you praise and reward it for going to the right corner. Both might "work" but you get two very different dogs at the end of it.
You are right.. but ran out of the ideas for me now and I’d try almost (just almost, not everything) anything at this point.
What would you suggest if not this method? I would give it a try! Thank you in advance
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
76 Posts
Aww yes that seems to ba a bit harsh.. but yes I’ll give it a go. At this point, I would do almost anything for it because she’s only 2 years old and many more years ahead of her and car rides.
Do I need to leave the windows wide open? (She won’t jump out of it) Should I do it on the driveway at home where she is familiar at? What should I be careful with doing this methods? (Sorry, more questions!)
I certainly wouldn't suggest this if you hadn't already tried all these other things! And yes, definitely leave the windows open some, but make sure the exhaust is not getting into the car! I don't think where you are is important, didn't you say she does it always when the motor is running? What is important is that you make sure the dog cannot get out of the car when you are getting in and out to start and stop the engine!

@BigBlackDog , you said you have seen it work but I've not seen it recommended by any of the sources I consider reliable, can you point to any studies that show it to be helpful?

There are tons of studies on people, finding them for dogs is a bit more difficult. But yes, I have only seen it used for fear-based aggression/reactivity and for car riding. And again, it isn't preferred or used when desensitization and counter conditioning will work. But in this case it sounds like the OP has tried those things extensively already with no luck.

My thought here, was that the calming and coddling of the owner may actually be reinforcing the dog's fear response. Since the dog has been doing this for awhile already, the only thing new would be removing the people from the equation to see if the dog changes her own mind without human feedback.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
3,720 Posts
it sounds like the OP has tried those things extensively already with no luck
I don't think the OP has tried them extensively. She did it over a fortnight - no time at all.

And I still would strongly recommend people not to flood their dogs. It is psychologically impossible to learn while in a state of anxiety or worse, fear. That is basic Maslow's hierarchy of needs. At least in people, where you said there is more evidence of it working, you can explain to them what is happening.

calming and coddling of the owner may actually be reinforcing the dog's fear response
That is a fallacy. You cannot reinforce fear with reward (eg soothing). If you were afraid of snakes and every time you saw one, I gave you chocolate, it wouldn't make you more afraid of snakes.

If I threw you into a snake pit and left you, it would far more likely make you worse. And it would completely destroy our trust relationship. @CookieKo please don't do this to your dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
I don't think the OP has tried them extensively. She did it over a fortnight - no time at all.

And I still would strongly recommend people not to flood their dogs. It is psychologically impossible to learn while in a state of anxiety or worse, fear. That is basic Maslow's hierarchy of needs. At least in people, where you said there is more evidence of it working, you can explain to them what is happening.



That is a fallacy. You cannot reinforce fear with reward (eg soothing). If you were afraid of snakes and every time you saw one, I gave you chocolate, it wouldn't make you more afraid of snakes.

If I threw you into a snake pit and left you, it would far more likely make you worse. And it would completely destroy our trust relationship. @CookieKo please don't do this to your dog.
No, I don’t want to destroy trust and relationship with my girl!! Ok I won’t do this method....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
I've seen flooding applied to human kids to cure them of the fear of drowning. Basically you grab them by the head and shove them into the water. You don't let them up no matter how much they struggle. Eventually you do bring them up so they can breathe, but then you shove them right back under the water even if they're crying. Do this again and again. If it still doesn't work, that's when you hit them before you shove them under water.

By the time they did this to me, I was already a decent swimmer unafraid of water. So I just learned to shut up so they wouldn't get an excuse to hit me -- they were probably looking for a chance anyway. Others weren't so lucky. There wasn't anything I could do to help them.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
3,720 Posts
I've seen flooding applied to human kids to cure them of the fear of drowning. Basically you grab them by the head and shove them into the water. You don't let them up no matter how much they struggle. Eventually you do bring them up so they can breathe, but then you shove them right back under the water even if they're crying. Do this again and again. If it still doesn't work, that's when you hit them before you shove them under water.

By the time they did this to me, I was already a decent swimmer unafraid of water. So I just learned to shut up so they wouldn't get an excuse to hit me -- they were probably looking for a chance anyway. Others weren't so lucky. There wasn't anything I could do to help them.
OMG - that's horrible.
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top