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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dog Afraid of Riding in Vehicle. Part II. Foundation

In our last post,  we talked about some options to help dogs feel better about riding in vehicles. Some dogs might need more help. The below information is just a guide for helping scared, reactive, or over stimulated dogs. It does not need to followed exactly.  Some dogs can skip some parts. The main thing that is that we should try to keep our dogs comfortable throughout the process. No flooding.

As mentioned in our last post, it can be helpful to start with crate value and/or mat value and relaxation. We should also invest in a ramp since we taking baby steps to getting into the vehicle.

Note: this process could take a few days or a few weeks or a few months. Go at the dog's pace.

1. While we are working on crate/mat value and relaxation, we can also start rewarding our dogs for going through various thresholds and for walking on the ramp while it's flat.  Emily Larlham has a great video on helping dogs walk onto surfaces that bother them: 
Extrapolate this to thresholds and ramps.

2. Continue with crate/mat value, relaxation. Start safely raising the ramp a small amount at a time - until you have the ramp at about the same height as the vehicle.

3. Take the process outdoors to a calm quiet place (back yard if you have one).  And continue to work on crate/mat value and relaxation and rewards. We are not near the vehicle yet.

4. Then start working the process near the vehicle - rewarding the dog for remaining calm

* if at any point during the process, the dog becomes stressed or frightened, go back to a step where you were successful

5. Then start working near the vehicle, but don't make plans to go in.

6. Next, put the ramp on the vehicle. Reward the dog for taking a couple of steps up the ramp then end the session for the day. Do not go into the vehicle yet (unless you dog is ready).

Note: try not to lure with food. Instead, we want to reward baby steps. i.e. dog looks at ramp treat. Dog sniffs ramp, treat. Dog touches ramp, treat. etc.. Click here to see why we don't want to lure a scared dog all the way up a ramp nor all the way into the vehicle yet:

To be continued.

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