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This is my first post, but have enjoyed reading and learning from you all! Max is our border collie- and our first dog ever-he was an abandoned puppy who was found maybe as young as four weeks. We met him, fell in LOVE, then learned we had a border collie! We were committed to giving him a great home, so after we read about the high energy and great intelligence, we got smart ourselves and hired a puppy trainer day 2 :) we found out a friend from work had a yellow lab puppy and were able to have lots of play dates long before it was safe to socialize him with the general public (since he was still getting his early shots). Max has had obedience training, and is generally a great dog- people comment on how well socialized he is since he came to us so young. And I'm relieved since we had no idea what we were doing and have been learning every day! The one area I really don't feel like we have a handle on is car rides.

Max most often whines a high pitched whine that can escalate in to a panicky bark. Depending on where he is in the car, he will circle around or try to scratch at or climb on the driver. We have tried a variety of seat configurations, him in the front seat with a doggy seatbelt, (the airbag has a weight limit sensor, so it won't deploy with him in it), him in the back seats, the back seats folded up and him the way back of the SUV, a crate, no crate, a kong, treats, etc. We have tried ignoring, a stern voice, and had the trainer in the car. Max did not do anything with her in the car, but I took video so that she could see that he was really panicked. On the way home, he is always fine. But on the way out to anywhere, he often acts kind of crazy. It also seems like even if we have just taken him on a walk and he has gone poop, he acts like the car ride is making him have to go again. If we stop, he does not always go potty, so it's hard to tell if the whining is just excitement gone wrong, or if he really needs a break. Also, he is a little worse when my husband and I drive together. we take him on a special outing almost daily, in addition to his walks, because I want him to be good out in the world. And one more piece of information: we took Max on his first vacation to California to see the ocean (yes, we must really love him to plan a 7 hour car ride from Arizona in spite of this behavior), and he was wonderful when the car was on the freeway. Any advice would be appreciated!

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When does his whining, etc. start? When he first jumps in the car? When the car starts up? When it starts moving?

 

I have been lucky and all my dogs have always loved car rides and have been fairly calm (except for the one that tried to chase cars going in the opposite direction, but she "grew" out of that behavior by 2 years of age). So you can take my advice with a grain of salt, and I am sure that others with more experience will have good suggestions too.

 

I would start with loading him into the car and treating him for being calm. (Car is not running and is not moving - Stage 1.)

 

Once he is relaxed in the car at stage 1, see if he can be calm at stage 2 (car engine is running.) Treat him for calm behavior.

 

Once calm and relaxed at Stage 2, move to stage 3 (car engine running and car moving - maybe only 20-30 feet) Treat for calmness.

 

You get the idea. Try for calmness as you incrementally increase the "excitement" of the car ride. It sounds like he is extremely excited to go places with you, perhaps with a bit of anxiety thrown in.

 

I am not surprised that he relaxes on a highway ride. One of my current dogs is highly anxious (even in the home environment) and in the car, she is constantly panting, with some whining, when we drive in an area with stops and starts and turns. Once on the interstate, she will settle and go to sleep.

 

I will also be interested to hear what other people have for advice in the event I get a future dog with a problem such as this. (Knock on wood that I do not have to deal with this. ;);)

 

Jovi

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my bc also loves the car- to a point of near hysteria! much running across the back seat, whining, occasioanal yelping. very difficult to drive with, especially since we were taking the dogs on an 18 hour trip down to the keys. i bought her a thunder shirt. the ones used to help ease anxiety. we practiced in the car locally, treating for calm behavior, etc. it worked almost immediatly. i don't think we could have survived the trip w/o it!

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Thanks to you both! Sometimes the excitement is out of control before we even start moving so we can work more on practicing when we have time and give him a chance to become calm before the car ride. I googled thundershirt and I will definately try this- I bet Max will LOVE IT!

thanks again!

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