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New dog with severe car sickness


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Hi folks. I've had Borders for years, some I've worked with livestock, a few special cases haven't, but all have had healthy, long lives in my care and even issues like epilepsy with one dog and another born blind haven't had me at a loss.

 

I have a new Border pup I recently took in after 3 years with a BC in the home ( the last two, including the blind dog, passed away at 17 & 19yrs old). This pup, I estimate 8-10 months, gets violently car-sick. I've tried the tricks I know, to no avail. I also have an issue getting her to eat. She came originally from a working Amish farm, one other home before me (they got rid of her because she didn't herd right out of the box) that she competed with 10 other dogs, all toy breeds, for everything.

 

She's a smaller size for BC's, about 25 lbs. and small bodied with long legs. She is a bit shy and timid, but is socializing well. I want to keep her active and, though I no longer have livestock I do hike, camp and spend considerable time outside the home with my dogs. ( I have one other dog, a Lab mix ~3 years old). I'm looking for suggestions for the car sickness to see if there's something I've missed that might work. I am lucky enough to have a Vet who is also a BC person, but have not discussed this issue with him yet. I will be, but wanted to see what folks here might think as well.

 

Thanks for your time.

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Based on your experience, I am going to assume that you have probably tried everything I can suggest. The next step might be an anti-nausea med for car trips. It may also help with the lack of interest in eating since often dogs will not eat when nauseous. It may be an issue of trying different meds to see what works.

 

If she is from an Amish farm, it wouldn't surprise me that there is a genetic/metabolic problem since dogs from Amish farms are often inbred.

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Thanks for the reply. I think I'm at the med stage too, as I've tried all I can think of. I was curious to try Natures Remedy, but have no experience with it, and wondered if others have.

 

I've thought about the inbred probability as well, knowing where she came from.

 

Tom

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I assume you're talking about Abbie, who you introduced in another post? If so and you've only had her for a week, that's not nearly enough time to acclimate her to riding in a car if she hadn't already been exposed to it. Try reintroducing her to the car the way you would a tiny puppy . . . slowly.

 

Very slow introductions to the car accompanied by lots of especially yummy treats (think bits of beef, chicken, liverwurst, cheese, etc.) should go a long way in changing her responses to the car. You may have to start out by putting her in the car when it's not moving, or maybe with the engine off, at first. Then very tiny incremental steps where you start the car without moving it, then moving just a few feet, etc. all the while offering really tasty treats.

 

Anti-nausea meds may be helpful, but may also not be necessary. Of all the dogs I've ever had, only one never got over getting car sick. The rest all acclimated no matter if they were puppies or adults when I got them and no matter how car sick they started out to be. But few got over it in just a week.

 

Remember that patience is a virtue in situations like this. ;)

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Yes, I should have been more clear in my post. This car sickness starts at the sight of the truck, and is in a non-running vehicle. I know it seems a little impatient of me after only a week. I'm just really concerned at the violence of the sickness and the fact that even the thought starts it. I've never had a dog get so sick, nor refuse food as she does, and am just searching for additional ideas.

 

Thanks for the reply.

 

Tom

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That suggests to me that she's been traumatized by her limited experiences with vehicles.

 

Anti-nausea medicine is unlikely to help if the fear manifests at the mere sight of a vehicle. This is going to take a dedicated effort on your part with desensitization and counter-conditioning. (Use the search function to find detailed instructions if you're not familiar with the process.)

 

And be prepared for it to take some time, probably a long time, if it's so deeply ingrained as it sounds.

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I hadn't thought of that. It is possible she was traumatized, in which case you're right and it'll take a lot of desensitizing and re-learning. I've got my work cut out for me I think.

 

Thanks again for the time replying.

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If she's that afraid, she was traumatized, whether it's something anyone else would consider to be trauma. It could well be that was something as simple as your taking her away from the only life she knew in a vehicle . . . especially if she's already predisposed to being shy or timid. Add under-socialized on top of that and one incident may have been all it took to create a negative association in her mind. If she had more than one (to her mind) negative experience with vehicles, then it's probably cumulative, especially if she never had any positive experiences.

 

It sounds to me like your desensitization will have to begin pretty far away from the vehicle. Determine how close she can be before she starts to show signs of fear; that's her threshold. Then back away far enough where she's not afraid anymore. That's where you can start working with her.

 

Be patient with her. I wish you all the best in finding ways to help her through this.

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I don't take my dogs tons of places since I work quite a bit from home. While my dogs eventually get used to car rides it does not happen as quickly as it did when I lived in the city and would take them to the park ect for walks often. It does not take more than 1 ride for my pups to learn that the rides make them sick to their stomach. They quickly associate the car with feeling bad and are very reluctant to get in, to the point I have to leash them at the house and walk them to the vehicles. They avoid coming to me while standing at the vehicle, hide ect. I simply continue taking them places when possible and make it fun when we go. They outgrow car sickness and are then happy to jump in and go places.

 

Some dogs I know do better in a covered crate where they can not see out. Also I feel not feeding within several hours of a ride helps also as does meds for motion sickness.

 

I would start with a good vet visit and physical, deworming ect then get her comfortable with you at home then tackle the traveling.

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Levi doesn't get car sick but he hates my husbands new car (which we have now had for 2 years). He has never been traumatized by a car. Has always known my car and my husbands previous car and always rode just fine. But when he got a new car, that is much smoother and quieter than his previous or my current car, he immediately was nervous. I figured it is a nicer ride, if anything he would appreciate it!

 

We took it slow, fed him treats (that he never touched) and had him practice going in and out, short rides, to Tim Horton's drive thru, etc.

 

Fast forward 2 years and he will occasionally take a treat in his car but he still drools (the side of the door used to be soaking wet) though less than before, his eyes get buggy and he carries his head a bit low the whole ride.

 

We just have never figured out what it was. He never had a problem with the car before. We normally take my car places with the dogs since I have a back seat cover and since he is comfortable in my car. In the 2 years he has eased up a bit on the nervousness but just slightly.

 

I wish you luck though. By violent sickness do you mean vomiting? Has fasting helped (not feeding her that morning until you get back)?

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Levi...has never been traumatized by a car...

 

...Fast forward 2 years and he will occasionally take a treat in his car but he still drools (the side of the door used to be soaking wet) though less than before, his eyes get buggy and he carries his head a bit low the whole ride.

 

It may not be apparent to you what bothers him about this car, but he's definitely feeling something, so for him it's traumatic, or at the very least distressing. That's what I was referring to by trauma, not necessarily something like an accident or abuse.

 

The dog I mentioned who never got over being car sick was definitely worse in some vehicles than others. The best he ever got in a car or small SUV was prodigious drooling, restlessness and obvious discomfort. And, yes, for him it was traumatic, to the point he'd never willingly get into a car but had to be lifted in. Yet he could ride in the open bed of a pick up truck with much less distress. He never liked it, but he could ride in the pick up bed without nearly as much drooling and distress. Of course it's not safe so sadly it wasn't an option most of the time.

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Sorry I failed to mention in some very important things in my first post. Yes, I've had her about a week. ( closer to ten days).

I wasn't jumping on the meds, by any means, and have been trying to desensitize her to the best of my ability. I also stop when she shows initial signs of distress, but she still gets sick. I try to make a positive experience after the training attempt, but with her getting sick immediately, it's hard.

 

I don't want to force sensitize her, by making her get in and take rides, as I feel this will make matters worse, nor was I looking for an "easy way out" in teaching her, just thought different ideas would be helpful.

 

I appreciate all the replies to my question, and am considering all advice and options.

 

GL, right now her tolerance distance is fairly close, about 2 feet before she is in distress. I thought today about play and positive experiences near the vehicle, before being close enough to cause sickness to get her more comfortable with the truck itself. She did get sick bringing her home, btw, and your words make sense. I just hadn't thought of it in that light.

 

She seems comfortable here otherwise, except she doesn't take to what I'm feeding well (eg. Picky, light eating). That has gotten worse the past two days, and may also be related to the change in ownership. As a precaution against it being more than that, she has an appointment with my Vet tomorrow.

 

Waffles, Fasting has not helped, she still vomits water and drools profusely. When she vomits, her whole body trembles and shakes to near the level I'd call a seizure, and I've had an epileptic dog to know what seizures are. After vomiting, she recovers quickly though, but will distress and vomit again if I then approach the truck.

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That is so sad sounding.

 

I feel for Levi when he does go in my husbands car. One thing that helped him was opening the window enough so he could stick his nose out and smell the fresh air. It was just so strange as the very first time we opened the car door he said 'nope' and walked away. Now he at least jumps in but once we get going he gets stressed. Maybe it was the new car smell? ^_^

 

Your girl sounds pretty bad off with the car issue. What I am envisioning from your posts, I would definitely consider medication. It may help now while you continue to get her accustomed to the car and may eventually be able to not need the meds.

 

Are you able to crate her in the car? Wonder if that might help a bit.

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Bless you for taking in this pup! So sorry the vehicle thing is such a pain.

 

I haven't dealt with this particular issue but have done some desensitization work. One case took a good two months! The other was never terribly successful (this one was trimming nails...). In any case, it is definitely going to take a LONG time. And unless you really need to take her somewhere right away, I'd work on establishing her trust in you AWAY from a vehicle.

 

And if you must transport, here's an idea (which may not be practical, but not knowing your circumstances, just an idea): if she will go into a crate without freaking out, could you put her in a crate, cover it will, then put the crate into the vehicle?

 

Best of luck - you CAN do this!

diane

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That sounds like a good idea. The only place she HAS to go right away is her vet appointment tomorrow. I'm going to try my best to make that trip as stress-less as possible, but I'll be loading up the towels too. I'll probably have to carry her out to the truck from the house, but expect that won't stop her getting sick. I'm hoping I can get her into the truck though first doing it that way.

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Waffles (and others), I've read that vehicles can build up some static (I think) and that there are rubber strips you can purchase that hang from the vehicle's frame and drag on the road that reduces it and will help some dogs (and people) who get car sick.

 

I have no idea if this is true or not, but I wonder if your husband's car may be building up more static than most vehicles and this is what's affecting your dog?

 

I've never seen them for sale. I've only very occasionally seen them in pairs on cars but have seen them on tractor trailers. I'd guess that someone handy could make them.

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It is not true. Motion sickness is caused by your eyes perceiving motion and your inner ear canal sensing motion in a different way.

 

I don't think those things are for sale anymore because they are a scam. At least for motion sickness they are. Maybe they help you not get shocked while entering/exiting your car but definitely are not for sale for the purpose of treating motion sickness.

 

For Levi, I know it is something about the specific car that freaks him out as I know he can ride in my car without looking like he has motion sickness. The OP's dog, sounds like she has motion sickness. Just like some people have it and some don't, I would think some dogs experience it and some do not. Training, desensitizing may not help then. My poor brother always vomits on planes, boats, roller coasters, even a helicopter ride once. It's just his body's reaction unless he takes dramamine.

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Sorry to come in late on this.

If you have only had this dog less than 2 weeks, you need to slow down and not be impatient. There is no way you have "tried everything" after such a short amount of time. (I don't mean to sound abrupt, no offense intended....but there has just not been enough time for you to give anything a good try).

I have successfully cured three border collies ( one mine, two fosters) of deep fear, terror, and loathing of cars and severe car sickness. It takes time, though. It may take weeks, or even months, but you have to let it take the time it needs.

 

Start with the dog only in view of the car. Be as far away as you need to be for the dog to be comfortable. *Comfortable*...not stressed in the slightest. And treat,treat,treat. If food is not her thing, then lots of petting and love and good words. Do this for 2 or 3 days. On the third or fourth day, take ONE step toward the car. Repeat the treating/loving. 2 days later take one step closer. Do you see how slowly you need to take this? Don't even consider putting her into the car until, step by step, she can stand next to it with the door open and be completely relaxed. Then only front paws in the car, and only for three seconds. Over and over. then, ask her to get in but don't force her. Only when she is completely relaxed in the car with the engine off do you start the car, and immediately turn it off again. And so on.

 

Everything has to be broken down into the tiniest little steps you can imagine. Think of it this way: it is as if you are moving something from one place to another soooo sloooowly that even if someone were watching you they would not actually ever see it move, or realize that you moved it. You have to go that slowly. If at any point she starts to stress, go back several steps to where she is comfortable again and start over from there.

 

this could take three weeks; it could take a year.

No matter how long it takes, do it slowly and you will get her over her fear.

Rush things at any point or jump ahead, and you will ruin all your positive work.

It's worth it.

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If the dog is a poor eater generally, I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that this is only a motion sickness issue. She may have gastro-intestinal issues that were intensified when she was in the car. It's good that you have a vet appointment tomorrow where you can raise this.

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For the car sickness, he gave the same advice I've gotten here on continuing the de-sensitization training. We, both of us, are thus a work in progress about that. He also echoed your thoughts on it being partly due to the change in her surroundings, and feels the recent lack of appetite and getting sick at home may have the same root cause. She is eating well today, and last night, and has kept down what she ate.

 

He feels I am being a bit over concerned with both problems and we are giving both more time to resolve. I'd always rather be safe than sorry though, even if it costs an office visit. The Vet is in love with her BTW, and says she is one of the nicest BCs he's seen in 40 years.

 

We are playing near the truck, at her comfort distance right now, and I will update on her progress as it comes. Thank you for your concern.

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