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Bodi, border collie x Sheltie finds travelling unpleasant.  He is 14 months old, and an absolute sweetheart.  He used to drool badly, and resist getting into the car, though these problems have ceased thankfully.

However, I have the impression that the cabin pressure of the car is affecting his ears, as his normally erect ears are held at half-mast.  I always keep the windows open all the time, but he is still unhappy. He is not a 'treat' dog, otherwise I'd leave a meaty marrow bone to keep his ears unblocked. Does anyone have a solution to this problem?  I do a lot of driving and like him to be with me.

By the way, he is overshot, and I am wondering whether this has affected the ear canals.  I have cleft palate and it seems the canals on one side are all haywire! 

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What do you mean by his ears being held at "half-mast"? A dog who's not happy will hod his ears partially folded and I'm guessing this might be what you might mean.

How would a meaty marrow bone help keep his ears "unblocked"? I can see where, if he were interested in it, it might provide some distraction and positive reinforcement, but don't understand the allusion to a physical effect.

If he's not comfortable in the car, I'd be inclined to try something like Adaptil or calming treats. There are a number of kinds of the latter with different ingredients that don't work equally well with all dogs so you may have to try several to find one that works. Melatonin is helpful for some dogs but I'm thinking you might live in the UK where it's not available? Something like a Thundershirt or similar compression garment might also be helpful.


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Ears held sideways, not upright as usual. But not folded. If 'cabin pressure' is an issue, swallowing reduces the pressure in the ears.If he had a bone to chump on, he would swallow and ease the pressure.It does for me.  This is why in the good old days, a barley surger sweet was dished out to children on long coach journeys, and often now, to air passengers during take off and landing. Swallowing relieves the ear pressure.  Also, he is not a treat dog, I think I mentioned this.  Not interested.

Adaptil and several 'calming' tablets and sprays have had no affect.  He is not sick, nor does he drool.  Just looks thoroughly miserable. A Thundershirt had no effect either.  

Believe me, everything you have suggested has been tried.

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I'd say that cabin pressure has nothing to do with his ears half-cocked. A few other reasons that he might be uncomfortable~ 1) the rush of air is uncomfortable for him. I know a lot of dogs like to hang their heads out the window of a moving car, but maybe he doesn't like it. 2) The drooling might indicate some nausea from motion sickness. I don't think giving him a bone to chew would help anything. 3) He could have had a bad experience in a car before he came to you, so cars just remind him of that bad experience.

With a dog like this, I'd start giving him a calming agent, as Gentle Lake suggested. And start giving him Very Special Treats in the car that he doesn't get any other time. Very short trips and work up to longer rides as his tolerance improves. 

Don't take him everywhere with you. In my experience there always comes a time when you simply can't take your dog with you, for various reasons. For his mental health he needs to know that when you leave he'll be fine and that you'll come home. I've got 2 different friends right now who took their dogs EVERYWHERE. Both friends have gone thru difficulties when needing to leave the dog at home. It's much harder on the dogs than simply teaching them from the beginning that being alone is normal and not The End Of All Things.

Good luck!

Ruth & Gibbs

 ETA ~ just saw your reply to Gentle Lake. Sorry that you've tried so many things and not gotten any relief for him. If he were my dog, I'd start with the desensitization protocol. Does he drool so severely at any other time? Has he thrown up in your car? Maybe try your veterinarian for an anti-nausea medication. I went through a bout of motion sickness when I was a kid, my mom gave me Dramamine. I think half a tablet. A few trips with that and I was over it.


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1 hour ago, dumbbird7 said:

Ears held sideways, not upright as usual. But not folded...

That would be an indication of unease, milder than if they were folded completely back. So he's not liking it but he's not completely panicked.

Cabin pressure occurs at altitudes, so unless you're traveling very mountainous terrain it's unlikely to be cabin pressure. It's much more likely to be simple motion sickness, so you might want to try dramamine or one of the other motion sickness meds that your vet would recommend. I wouldn't give it to a dog w/out consulting a vet first as I'm not certain which meds of this type dogs can tolerate.

Sorry the other suggestions haven't worked. Benedryl is safe for dogs (check dosage) and is often sedating. Is this something you've tried? Being a little sleepy might help him cope.

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Thank you for this,,it sounds about right for him, his attitude.  Doesn't like it but tolerates for as long as it takes.  Poor little boy, feel so sorry for him. I think you are right in that he isn't frightened but just not happy.

I have seen a vet about this problem, who says 'Oh he'll grow out of it", but I think it will always be with him.. A friend gives his lab a ginger biscuit before travel and then she's fine, but Bodi refuses. Perhaps the vet is right.  I just wondered if anyone else has had this problem.  Have had collies for 50 years or so, they've always just loved the car, so this is as hard on me as it is him I think. I'll ask the vet if we can try Dramamine if we have it in UK.  Benadryl I tried a long time ago but now that you mention it, might give it another go.

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Urge to herd


Thanks for your reply. He sticks nose out of the window sometimes and seems to enjoy it but after awhile I close it just leaving 3" gap.  Special treats?  Don't do treats, perhaps it would have made this palaver a lot easier if he did!  He's pretty good at being left at homes for short periods, never cried, and usually asleep when I return )or chewing something he shouldn't).  We are now experiencing very hot weather for May, 24-24C.  Unless I know that I can park in deep shade where I'm going, I leave him behind in the cool at home.  But we go in the car for daily walks when it's cooler in the evenings, and to visit friends etc.  Try to give him the best of both worlds as he cannot choose for himself.

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I've only ever had one dog, a pointer/retriever mix, who hated car rides because it made him nauseated. He would vomit when he was younger, but he never grew out of it; it just lessened a bit and he'd drool. Oddly he had no issues whatsoever riding in the open back of a pickup truck. That's not something I'd recommend of course, and we only did it a few times on a gravel dirt road that got almost no traffic. But it makes me wonder if leaving the window halfway down might help, especially as you say he seems to like it.

I'd be leery of any vet who'd cavalierly say that he'll grow out of it. While many do grow out of motion sickness (if that's what it is), not all will and s/he should know that. I get car sick if I'm in the back seat or facing backwards, and I'm up there in years and can tell you that many people never grow out of motion sickness.

Good luck. I hope you can find something that works for him.

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