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Old 12-10-2012, 01:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Need some tips - travel anxiety

Ok DT. This is my next hurdle with Chase.

He came to me with VERY mild travel anxiety, just a few whimpers every now and then. After a year with me it got to the point of shaking, panting, and drooling. After careful training (exercise before travel, use treats, only go for 5mins, make his space comfy, drive slow, stay within threshold) he managed to travel comfortably, no shaking or drooling, but still a little vocal.

On buses, and subways he was perfect. He was so relaxed, he usually fell asleep on the trip.

Fast forward a year, he has back tracked severely. And for the first time, he now screams bloody murder on the subway and buses.

Things you should know:
The destination is always positive for Chase (park, my SOs house)
He never hesitates to get into the car, bus or subway
If we stop and wait for a bus, he starts to whine uncontrollably
He willingly takes treats while travelling
On long trips or on a highway he gives up and goes to sleep
I have medicated him to rule out car sickness, he whines just as much.

I want to help him get over this, we travel at least once a week, and I would hate limit his outings to just the neighbourhood, or leave him at home while I go to the SOs house.

Can you give me tips or insight as to why he is acting this way?

What I plan on doing:
Training from scratch. Stay within his threshold, start with waiting for the bus.
Wear a thunder shirt
Give him calming herbs (pet naturals calming treats)
Use a bully stick to occupy him

What do you think?
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Old 12-10-2012, 08:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Bump for the evening
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Sounds to me like excitement more than anxiety. The shaking, drooling he used to do would more indicate nerves- the vocalization is more (in my mind anyway) excitement.

My mom's German Shepherd has that problem- traveling with him is a total nightmare. He carries on, tries to press up between them from the backseat and makes his companion (Golden) miserable by trampling all over him. Now, here is the odd part- he is PERFECTLY fine if traveling in MY car with me! Settles down and peeks between between the seats once or twice. No whining, howling, nothing. So, I know it is something that my folks have done which has caused the issue. Somehow they inadvertently wound up feeding his bad behavior and now it is ingrained.

So, in your case I would test that theory- is your SO willing to do a solo trip with him to see how he behaves? If so, then it will be very telling to see what transpires.

I also agree with your "start over" decision- I have tried to convince my folks to do that as well, but they just aren't willing to put in the work (esp since he is 12 yrs old). Make sure that you are only "marking" (with treats, attention, whatever) the wanted behavior (lying down calmly and quietly) and NOT any unwanted behaviors.

Good luck!
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:42 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Although I am new to Dobies (just 1 1/2 years) I would have to agree with Dobermama. Just last night I took my dobes for a ride across town to pick up my daughter. I thought they would enjoy time away from home. They are used to riding as we go to the lake every weekend from mid April to mid October and never have had a problem. When I started out they were both pretty excited, then when I turned away from the way we go the lake, the young gun started whining. It was like he knew we weren't going to the lake (which they love because there is a field where they can run free). He whined all the way there and back. Both seemed confused when we ended up back home. I plan on taking them on more trips like this so they know that every time we in the car, it is not a "reward" trip. This might sound stupid but maybe take the bus to a place that is not a plus for him. Take him on a ride for a few blocks and then walk back home. See what his reaction is when you do that. Also, I like the idea of the SO taking on a bus to see what his reaction is...Good luck.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:28 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dobermama View Post
Sounds to me like excitement more than anxiety. The shaking, drooling he used to do would more indicate nerves- the vocalization is more (in my mind anyway) excitement.

My mom's German Shepherd has that problem- traveling with him is a total nightmare. He carries on, tries to press up between them from the backseat and makes his companion (Golden) miserable by trampling all over him. Now, here is the odd part- he is PERFECTLY fine if traveling in MY car with me! Settles down and peeks between between the seats once or twice. No whining, howling, nothing. So, I know it is something that my folks have done which has caused the issue. Somehow they inadvertently wound up feeding his bad behavior and now it is ingrained.

So, in your case I would test that theory- is your SO willing to do a solo trip with him to see how he behaves? If so, then it will be very telling to see what transpires.

I also agree with your "start over" decision- I have tried to convince my folks to do that as well, but they just aren't willing to put in the work (esp since he is 12 yrs old). Make sure that you are only "marking" (with treats, attention, whatever) the wanted behavior (lying down calmly and quietly) and NOT any unwanted behaviors.

Good luck!
I hope it's excitement. Although sometimes the whining turns to shaking, drooling, and panting again.

He does this behaviour with everyone. I've even had a stranger drive him and he still went nuts.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hmmm, okay that clears that question up.

o, the next one is- how is he secured during travel? Are you using any type of restraint in the car, like a seatbelt? Our eldest dog (she passed at 19 this summer) had the shaking/panting issue when traveling until she moved in with me and learned to wear a seatbelt- we also use a seat hammock so that falling between the seats is impossible. I know that won't work in public transportation- but how ARE you securing him when riding the bus or subway? Is he tucked on the floorboards between your feet? Next to you?

Have you tried anti-anxiety meds? (valium or alprazolam)

I can't shake the feeling that since it has worsened since you have had him, that is IS something you are inadvertently "training" him to do...

If he were my dog, I would probably do a consult with a behaviorist, just to get an outside, in person perspective. They might be able to see what it is that you are (or aren't) doing that is causing the issue.
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dobermama View Post
Hmmm, okay that clears that question up.

o, the next one is- how is he secured during travel? Are you using any type of restraint in the car, like a seatbelt? Our eldest dog (she passed at 19 this summer) had the shaking/panting issue when traveling until she moved in with me and learned to wear a seatbelt- we also use a seat hammock so that falling between the seats is impossible. I know that won't work in public transportation- but how ARE you securing him when riding the bus or subway? Is he tucked on the floorboards between your feet? Next to you?

Have you tried anti-anxiety meds? (valium or alprazolam)

I can't shake the feeling that since it has worsened since you have had him, that is IS something you are inadvertently "training" him to do...

If he were my dog, I would probably do a consult with a behaviorist, just to get an outside, in person perspective. They might be able to see what it is that you are (or aren't) doing that is causing the issue.
I'm certain it's his lifestyle change, he gets to go out more and explore the world his previous owner only had him in the car a couple of times.

I have tried many different restraints: harness, crate, me in the back holding him, even keeping him in a down position. I have also tried letting him loose (made it worse).

On the bus and subway I've tried: letting him walk around, sit in front of me, stand with head on lap, lay down, tucked under my seat.

The ones that worked the best was tucked under the seat, or head on lap. Also, if the subway or bus was packed, he calmed down, and would be perfect the whole ride.

I should also mention, all this worse behaviour has popped up when his thyroid levels dropped. We are now in the process of getting it back up.

If this doesn't get better, I will have to consult a behaviourist.
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:27 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Simon had pretty bad anxiety in the car. We used alprazolam (xanax) and it helped quite a bit.
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:38 AM   #9 (permalink)
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We had a mini break through last night. He wore the thunder shirt while I was at work, and he had calming treats which has colostrum in it. Took him to the car in the evening, no pacing or whining. He was fairly quiet, only whimpered when we stopped.

I don't expect him to be 100% quiet, but I would like him to not sound like we are torturing him in the car
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