Saturday, November 21, 2009

Working on the car

Jack's been with us a whole month now, and we're getting used to him. We're both getting a lot more exercise walking him.

He really needs the exercise, and we want to take him on longer hikes or to dog parks, but we've got one problem...... He's afraid of getting into the car. When we try to get him in, he stops about six feet from the car, braces his feet and refuses to budge. We call, we cajol, but it's no good. When I took him to the vet to get his stitches out, I had to pick him up and shove him in - and I know he didn't like that.

I didn't want it to turn into a problem, so we abandoned any short-term car trips and researched how to train him out of his fear.

So first I just spent time walking him around the car, getting him close to it. Then opening the doors and walking him close to it. Gradually getting him to feel comfortable, but never forcing him.

Each weekend, we work on it. Getting him to come right to the door, and giving him a treat. Putting the treat on the tailgate so he'll approach and take the treat.

For the most tempting treats, we use turkey hot-dogs, cut into small pieces.

All the books say to be patient - go at his speed, don't rush him, always praise him. Last weekend, he was finally willing to put his head and shoulders inside to take the treat. This morning I got him to put his front paws on the tailgate and reach further inside.

This afternoon we were working on it some more. I put the treat just inside the tailgate. Then another one six inches further inside. Then another six inches, and all the way back.

[The Man I Love] had the camera and photographed the action. Jack got pretty comfortable going for the treats, but the sticking point seemed to be getting his back feet inside the car - making the leap.

I sat in the car, and fed him a treat from my hand. Then I arranged the last of the treats in a line on the floor beside me. He came up again for the easy ones.

It's that final moment of committment, I thought. He's just not ready yet. Then Jack stepped back...

And leapt! He was all the way in the car!

I gave him lots of pats and the final treat in my hand.

He quickly jumped back out, but what a great breakthrough! We'll work on it some more tomorrow.


Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I love that look of shock on your face! I think your patience with him is wonderful. I would have just put him in the car...handled it all wrong.

Your comment on my Christmas Tree post made me smile. Christmas Spirit isn't always easy for me either. My daughter moved to Florida 2 1/2 years ago-the day after college graduation, so we go there for 2 weeks. Christmas is in a hotel room, we eat at a restaurant, we sit by the pool all day while she works. My parents are there too, but my son and grandkids are back here. It is so non-traditional and so not what I expected, but my daughter is happy with her job and that makes me, I pack my bags! Mickey Mouse at Christmas...didn't see that one coming!

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

I"m so envious that he's so easily trained.

We (literally) had to hire a dog psychologist for Dusty when he was little - he even get KICKED OUT of obedience classes.


I don't know how he turned out so adorable - or how we lived through it.

Gilly said...

Jack probably associates the car with the Vet! You need to take him to somewhere really good now your patience has got him in the car!

Our dog would never get out of the car given the choice! As soon as we put our shoes on (he recognises the difference between boots/shoes for the park and "posh" shoes,) he is there, waiting to get in!!

Pumpkin Delight said...

Oh yay! He is SOOOOO adorable. He's lucky to have you guys work with him and be so patient. I love pound puppies and he looks like he's so happy with you.


I'm so glad your patience is paying off. You have quite a lucky and lovely dog.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

You're so patient and kind. I love this photo essay! Jack is gorgeous and so is his name.

mo.stoneskin said...

Good dog. Have a snack.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

I absolutely LOVE your dog and once again I am jealous of your gorgeous yard and its greeness :)
Ten plus years ago when we got Buster puppy I reasd that dogs are not born loving cars and need to learn early. It advised a daily car trip, even just down the driveway (Buster became a great rider0. I think your treats program is brilliant!

cactus petunia said...

Yippeee! You have the makings of a great trainer...congratulations!

Beverly said...

Good for Jack - and you, too.

One of my coworkers had the same problem with their dog, and the trainer told them a solution - which worked. I'll try to find out what it is.

Happy Thanksgiving, Glennis.