Goldie did not like car travel. After we had him for a few days we were alone and I thought it would be a great idea to take him on one fo the real country side walks abot a 30 min drive from us. My other dog had always been fine in the car so I really didn't even think Goldie would object.
He was excited to have his lead on and did the little Golden two step as he waited a seemingly endless time for me to get my coat on , keys etc.... He so loved his walks. Then we were off!
However as I stopped at the car and opened the door, I saw a worried look creep across his previously happy face...."Come on boy" I said cheerfully expecting him to jump in.
No Way!! He dug his heels in like nothing I had seen before. He was Not going in that car! After some perseverance and persuasion on my part I realised that this was not just him being stubborn, but was a serious issue for him. I abandoned the idea and we went for a nice local walk.
However this issue had to be tackled. Even to get to our vet is a 10 min drive. We had been looking forward to taking him out and about with us, not leaving him at home. A big part of having a dog for us is to share the experiences and go explore places. We didn't want him missing out. So it had to be addressed.
Turned out the reason he hated car travel was because he got carsick, poor thing. He would drool, then act uneasy, then could be sick two or three times even on a short journey. It was horrible for him.
Ok so we went about tackling it. We knew we had to change the association with the car to Nice things! So into the car went his toys and fluffy rabbit. Into the car went his blankets and bedding and into the car went the BEST treats ever!
At first we just spent hours sitting in our drive or my parents drive outside the car giving him GOOD things from the car. So he got the idea good stuff came from inside the car!
Gradually he stopped drooling and pulling away whenever we went near the car. He became more relaxed around the car.
Then we sat inside the car and tempted him in just one paw - just for a second allowing him to get out whenever he wanted to. The two paws came in then his front end then the whole dog! Remember all GOOD things happened in the car. So cuddles, treats, toys ,games all came from the car!
This was so much based on trust, he came to trust us that nothing bad was going to happen, we would protect him. He got praise when he did well and any steps backwards we just ignored. It was a joy to see that worried face turn happy and fun again :)
Slowly, slowly he chose to stay longer in the stationary car with us or my parents sitting with him. We waited until he was perfectly comfortable doing this. Then -one day- I started the engine. We didn't move just sat there with the engine on and repeated everything we had done with the engine off.
Then once he was Ok with that we literally drove up the drive and back again, gradually then increasing the amount of time we drove the car. Always one of us sat in the back with him.
He was fine and got to the stage where he would happily jump in the car!! No drooling, no sickness. A happy dog :)
Then the final stage was to have him sitting alone in the back with this car harness on. We had already got him used to the harness so this was the last step.
It took a few times but he was fine.
We made sure that most of the jouneys in the car were to good happy places ie not the vet!To fields and beaches and great walks and play dates with other pups.
No one believed it until they saw it but Goldie ended up Loving the car! He completely came to view the car as all GOOD things. He would stop by the car wanting to go in even if we were going for a local walk!
He became an excellent traveller! He would sit up for about ten minutes then lay down and go to sleep, no sickness no whining , no barking - just peaceful and content.
Yes it took a lot of time and trust and patience and some people said we shouldn't have bothered, but it made a huge difference to our lives together that we had a dog that was happy travelling in the car. We had so many happy times exploring places town and country and beaches and holidays. I do believe he was pleased with himself for conquering his fears. After that our bond was much deeper and our trust was unshakeable.
We call that a Great success!
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