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Getting in the car ussue

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This is my first time posting so forgive any missteps. I have male, neutered, border collie who will be 6 in September and I raised him from a pup. I'll also say I've only ever had BC's and Jake is my 3rd one. He has been riding in my car, in a crate, since he was a pup. We regularly go in the car (several times a week) to go walking, hiking or, as well as road trips. He's never had any issues getting in. I got a new car a little over a year ago and he transitioned without any hesitation (it was a Subaru Forester, same as I had before).

In mid May, my car was broken into while we were out walking (so he wasn't in the car). Due to the damage and supply chain issues, I was without my car for 6 weeks and was using a friends Prius. The first time I got Jake in that car it was just in the backseat without a crate. He did get in but after our hike he didn't want to get in. We were able to get him in with treats. After that, I was able to fit his crate in and used his favorite balls to play a game with him getting into the car to get his ball etc for a couple of weeks before I took him anywhere. That seemed to work, but he was always hesitant to get back in. After about 5 trips spread out over a few weeks, he wouldn't get back in and we had to pick him up and put him in (very gently and without drama). After that I didn't try and take him anywhere and within 2 weeks l got my car back. The first time I asked him to get in, to go for a local hike, he got in as if nothing had happened and also got back in after our hike - completely normal (and only a 10 minute drive from home). But the next day, trying to load up to go for another local hike, he wouldn't go in. I've learned not to force him as he's a very soft dog and really wants to please... so this type of behavior for him isn'thim being stubborn. So I just came up with a way to end on a positive note and put him on leash and had him walk around the car a couple of times, opened the car door a few times, and gave him food reward when he looked at the car or the open door and did not react.

But I'm perplexed why he's doing this and hoping we can turn it around. The only thing I can think of is to breakdown getting into the car into small steps and desensitizing him to each step. But interesed in suggestions, advice from others that have experience with car issues. I'll add that I've been working with Jake his entire life to desensitize him to things, the latest was new ceiling fans. Thanks for any help.

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      My sympathies! You don't say how old he is. Current bc at my house is 13 will be 14 in October. I have a small station wagon and several months ago he stopped being able to jump in on his own. I lift him in and make no fuss about it at all. That's just fine with him.                                                                                                                                             

I'd suggest some exploring of his abilities/comfort in jumping in other situations. If that's all good, then it's likely he got scared or pinched at some point in the car and that drives his reluctance. If he's reluctant to jump in other situations he might just need to be lifted in. Ramps for autos are available and one of those might work for you and your guy.

Good luck, let us know what happens.

Ruth & Gibbs



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cmjake said the dog would be 6 years old this fall.

I think that you are doing all the right things, cmjake. At least, that is what I would do. I also think it's a good idea to, as urge to herd suggests, test out his ability to jump up on things just to see if it could possibly be physical. It certainly seems to be connected to the car changes, but as I always remind myself, correlation is not causation. It might even be a good idea to have his hips/legs checked by a vet. If all comes out fine on that score, then continuing with a step by step approach seems the best course of action. If he has a problem jumping in, urge to herd's suggestion of a ramp is what I would suggest as well, although one has to work on some dogs to get them used to using it.

As for figuring out the Why of it....you may never know that. I think most of us have had animals who did things we never managed to understand. But it's always interesting to try.

Let us know how itgoes.



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PS ~ my guy had a few slips and slides on the steps into the back yard. Some lovely friends offered to build a ramp and it took G maybe 3 or 4 times being led up & down the ramp on a leash (cookies in front as a bribe) to be just fine about using the ramp.

I second what D'Elle says about the 'why'. Something you were totally unaware of might have scared him. He may have heard something or smelled something that we humans can't hear/smell. 

Good luck!


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Thanks. It's been a week and we're making good progress with the first few small steps - he's much more comfortable and happy to walk around the car, go to the open car door, put his front feet up on the threshold and even up on the seat. And all your comments are a good reminder that I probably will never know what specifically caused his change in behavior. So I'm taking it slow with him and letting his behavior tell me when he's ready for the next step. Thanks again for suggestions and support. 

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23 hours ago, cmjake said:

Thanks. It's been a week and we're making good progress with the first few small steps - he's much more comfortable and happy to walk around the car, go to the open car door, put his front feet up on the threshold and even up on the seat.

HOORAY! Love to read the good news.  R&G

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