Car Desensitization

Fayde’s normal ride

My 16 month old whippet, Fayde, has a severe phobia of riding in the car. When she was 16-18 weeks old she developed car sickness, which I’ve had several whippet pups do. I was hoping it was developmental and she’d grow out of it. She didn’t. She can ride in he car without vomiting if given trazadone, but sometimes she still throws up. Even if she doesn’t, she’s miserable. Head down, drooling, completely shut down. When we get to wherever we’re going even if it’s something she loves (like racing) it takes a long time before she’s back to normal. When we leave the house and she sees we are going in the car her reaction is immediate, head down, drooling, panicky.

I’ve reached out to a couple of trainers about Faydes car and anxiety issues. This process is going to take so long and have to move in tiny increments, but we’re giving it a try. I’ve started with trying an Adaptil collar and diffusers in the house. I’m going to try and systematically counter condition everything to do with the car. We are stopping all car rides while I work on this, so she’s pulled out of nosework. Last week she was so shut down after the car ride she wouldn’t work for me anyways.

I’ve decide to chronicle our work here, in case I find things that work that might help others. It also helps me to keep a record of any progress. Wish us luck!

Here is a baseline video of her behavior around my car.

Fayde’s first week of puppy class

We had our first week of puppy class last weekend, and every class I take I’m struck by how different every dog is. Echo’s first class at K-9 she was very nervous and overstimulated, she whined, cried or barked most of the whole class and paid no attention to me at all. It took us a few weeks to get to the point where we could work, and once we did she did great. Fayde is more of a thinker, I could tell it was a bit overwhelming but her reaction is to watch quietly until she’s more comfortable. With the right encouragement (cheese and tenderloin) I had her working and she sat, listened when I called her name, and practiced loose leash walking. I’m glad we are taking the class and hope the heat isn’t too terrible over the next six weeks.2-IMG_0406

Competition obedience week 2

This weeks (dis)obedience class went well, despite my hacking, coughing and generally feeling terrible. We had better attention and less shutting down this week. She still carries on like crazy in the beginning of class when crated, but she isn’t the only one.

Todays high points:
1) In the ring next to us was a person practicing recalls with a young spaniel pup. The owner was extremely animated and running dragging a fur tug. Echo was extremely interested but still managed to sit when asked. She didn’t even try to dislocate my arm in the process.
2) She didnt give up on me even though I was asking her for behaviors she does not know and I could see her getting frustrated. She still tried.

I also came to the realization why luring in to position for starting heel as well as for heeling is failing so miserably for us. Since she was 7.5 weeks old I have drilled into her that she can take food that is offered, but food in a closed hand she needs to back off and sit. In class we are supposed to hold the threat between thumb and finger and let them gnaw at it but not have it as we lead them around. When she tries to get the treat and I don’t let her have it she backs off and sits. Honestly I’d rather keeps this behavior, its better for curbing food stealing from toddlers so I will talk to the instructor about trying something different.

I also realized I don’t have the temperament for formal obedience, as long as she does what I ask her I don’t care if her feet or her butt are crooked.

First week of competition obedience workshop

Today was our first beginner novice work group class. Kind of an odd class for us to be in, seeing as how we have zero formal obedience training or aspirations but I wanted to take a class ASAP. With the turmoil of Lemmy leaving I wanted Echo and I to have something to work on together, so for us this is more of a try new things and learn to pay attention with distractions class. The things I am proud of from the first week:
1) ten minutes in she overloaded and shut down. I was able to take her off by herself and work with a tug toy to get her right back on track.
2) she regained focus so well I was able to drop her leash, ask for a sit, take 3-4 steps away from her, drop her tug on the ground and release her. She did this multiple times with 2 other dogs working within 10-15 feet.

Looking forward to next weeks class.