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Bad Car Behavior

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I know this has been covered before, but I haven't had any luck finding it, so if someone just wants to shoot me towards another thread that would be perfectly fine with me. :rolleyes:


Our younger dog is a real annoyance during car rides. He barks/whines in the car, snaps at the window (presumably at cars going past), and generally gets himself hugely worked up. He doesn't seem to be scared, just excited. He gets much worse if we turn off of a busy street onto one with little traffic.


When we first got him he was obsessed with cars, and probably would have chased them if I had given him half a chance. As it is, we've spent a lot of time working with him on this so he no longer even tries to chase cars, even when offleash in a chain-link fenced field next to them, but he does occasionally still stop what he is doing to watch them drive past. This is a work in progress. The progress out of the car hasn't really affected his behavior inside the car.


One thing we've tried is c/ting for good behavior in the car in the driveway, and he can handle that. When the car starts moving though, no matter how slowly, all bets are off.


Any ideas? This seems like it should be an easy one, but my other dog and previous ones have either slept in the car or been scared of the car. Thanks in advance!


EDIT: I should have mentioned that our two dogs ride in crates when in the car the vast majority of the time. The only time they don't is when my Jeep keels over and we have to use my husband's little car.

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Put the dog in a crate so the poor fellow can relax.


Border collies are selected for the ability to detect motion and the desire to control it. There is way too much in motion from the vantage point of a moving car for some border collies to be able to handle. It sounds like he's hugely over stimulated, not a very pleasant situation for the dog. It's kind of like sitting in the front row at the IMAX theatre during an action movie - some people like it, but I'm not in that group.


Another way to think of it: crating to reduce visual stimulation in the car is to your dog what wearing earplugs at a rock concert might be to you.


Also this: Don't let your dog be a crash-test dummy

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My dog is great in the car - except when we are stopped at a light. Then, he feels the need to bark and growl at anyone who dares to pull up in the next lane and also stop for the light. It infuriates him! (Also, when stopped, pedestrians daring to walk on the sidewalk.) My theory is that he feels these people are directly approaching with intent to harm. This is a reactive dog who used to behave this way pretty much 24/7, in car and out. I do think it's the rapidity of motion in the car - since we and the other cars are moving quickly, it seems to the dog that everyone is charging at us, really fast and hard.


Anyway... over five years, we've gotten to the point where I can touch him and say, "Enough," and he'll stop barking at whoever is looking at him. But it's a really hard thing to work on, given that the owner is driving a giant, potentially deadly vehicle, and the dog is in the back seat. If you have two people, I'd think it would be easier.


Good luck!



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Your dog is better off in a crate even if he isn't acting out. It's safer for him and you. I keep a special delicious bone in the crate that the dogs only get there so they're eager to get back in it...if you go on long trips, (I drive about an hour to lessons) buy a water bottle too and keep it filled with fresh water. Cover the crate with a light towel or sheet so he can't see out - then you'll both arrive at your destination relaxed and ready to play!


ETA - I have a wire crate that promotes air circulation and needed to cover only the sides and back of the crate with Scotty who was my only reactive dog -- that way I could keep an eye on him as well.


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Jazz was always in his crate and never minded. When I got Cricket, she wasn't crate trained so I opted for a doggie seatbelt which allowed her to see but seemed to keep her calm as well. I much prefer the crate for safety sake.

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My dog is great in the car - except when we are stopped at a light. Then, he feels the need to bark and growl at anyone who dares to pull up in the next lane and also stop for the light. It infuriates him!

That's our problem too. The worst is when a cyclist pulls up right alongside us at the lights. Both Senneca and Rhys bach go crazy.

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Posting from my phone so I can't edit the op but we definitely use a crate. On the rare occasion that we ride in Hubby's little car they both get seatbelt harnesses. I avoid that though, because once we harnessed him in the window seat and he started slamming his head into the glass. Scared the living daylights out of me.


Anyway, he actually acts worse (or at least, the annoyance factor is way higher) when I cover the crate. He has this high-pitched, loud whine he does continually when it is covered. I thought we could just wait that whining out, but it has been a few months now, and he spends a lot of time in the car. He is ever so slightly better when I leave the crate cover off in the front, so I can see him, but covered on all the other sides.


EDIT: Now that I'm at the computer, I'll try to explain a little more. I absolutely agree that the problem is him being overstimulated. His motion sensitivity has been an ongoing issue in our agility lessons, but has gotten better as his self control has improved. When we go on road trips, which we often do, he calms down after a while, but is always turned on when we first get the car moving. We used to put stuffed kongs in the crates whenever we took the dogs anywhere, but the younger dog ignores them unless it is a long trip. If we do a bunch of mental games/training before leaving he is marginally better. He is comfortable in the crate, sleeps in it at night, stays in it whenever we aren't home, and hasn't really shown any problems with it.


I just don't know how to keep him under threshold. We have started working on his behavior again in very short trips around the neighborhood, but it seems like the moment the car starts moving he is ON. Maybe we'll try to pull the car in and out of the driveway for a while.

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We have been struggling with this for over a year with Nico. unlike the OP, he does get better when there are less cars around and we can go a consistent speed. He will freak out at the sound of the blinker. He barks, yelps, shakes and whines and is very dramatic. And that's in the crate. at first when he was uncrated he would do the things others have mentioned like bonk his head against the glass and bark out the windows. It has been very frustrating b/c he will learn other things quickly but seemed totally unable to process commands like sit/down/quiet while in the car.

We have made some improvement overall but it has taken a really long time. We find that if he is lying down he is a lot better. He will now go down when we say so, but he tends to pop back up again quickly. So one of us drives and the other spends 100% of their time keeping him in a down-stay with treats. This is what we do for short rides. On longer rides he gets calm after about 20/30 minutes and will actually sleep.

If there is only one of us in the car we basically have to deal with the noise b/c I can't be driving and treating him at the same time. We have not found that covering the crate makes a difference if he is lying down.

After reading about the Thundershirt that someone else posted about, we have been thinking about trying it, as it is only 38$ and you have 45 days to determine if it is making a difference.

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