- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


Help - seperation anxiety in the car

April 12th, 2005, 07:31 PM
My partner and I recently adopted a two year old dashchund-lab cross from a local rescue group for whom we've fostered dogs. He has seperation anxiety since he was seriously neglected in his previous home and locked in a small room most of the time. We're working on his anxiety (as well as a host of other training issues) and he's making great progress -- he's a very intelligent, affectionate, wonderful dog!

The problem I'm having is that we can't seem to get anywhere with his problems in the car. I've read a number of the threads on dogs in cars, and they usually seem to focus on car sickness or over-stimulation. However, I think he may be having seperation anxiety in the car (because he displays the same symptoms as when he's worried about being left alone). I don't know if he ever rode in one until being dropped off at the pound. He whines, shrieks and barks (at a decibel only hounds are capable of!) while racing around inside of the car. (We've now got a harness for him, so at least he is safe.)

We've tried giving him treats, comforting him, rewarding him when he (occasionally) is quiet, taking him to fun places in the car, and taking him on short car rides. But we don't know if we should be comforting him when he whines, ignoring him, or reprimanding him. More importantly, how can we teach him that car rides are okay? He breaks our heart (and shatters our eardrums) crying like that.

This is relatively urgent since we are moving across the country (by car) in less than a week (ahhh!), and we really don't want to have to medicate him. It's frustrating because he is improving with so many things, but with the car problem we can't seem to make the least bit of progress.

Sorry if this is a really long post, I just thought someone out there might be able to help me... please...

April 12th, 2005, 07:35 PM
Maybe it would help if he was crated in the car? Or if you sit in the back seat with him? How about when the car is parked you let him explore it with the doors open?

April 12th, 2005, 07:52 PM
Thanks for the prompt advice! It's great to know people are reading this post! :love:

He's still anxious about being crated (we're working it), so I don't think that would help.

I've sat with him in the backseat, and it seems to help calm him a little bit, but he's still upset -- he tries to climb all over me, whines/barks, and strains to get into the front seat. (Actually, I was also considering trying to ride with him at my feet in the passenger seat while my partner drives, if we can figure out a way to keep him safe down there...)

I'll try letting him explore the car with the doors open tomorrow -- we haven't tried that yet.

April 12th, 2005, 07:59 PM
I suggested it because my dog was left out on the balcony of the previous owner for hours at a time against her will and she refused to go out on ours. She'd pee in submission when I called her out... I just left the screen door open and eventually she went to have a look. Now she's ok but she won't go out until the door is locked open.

April 12th, 2005, 11:04 PM
Seemingly stupid question - how big is your dog? Was the Dachshund used int he cross a mini - I hope not! - or a Standard?

April 13th, 2005, 06:36 AM
Along with letting him explore the car, what about just going and sitting in the car for a few minutes. Since time is short, maybe try this several times a day. Is he better if he sees what is going on, or if he is on the floor?
You dont want to try medication, but what about Rescue Remedy? It is natural. It might not calm him completely, but it might bring down the "hound howl" a bit. I know what an amazing sound that is. At least I think it is amazing how such a sound can come out of my mini doxie.
Where are you moving to?

April 13th, 2005, 07:05 AM
If treats work...try using a kong :D

It's the greatest babysitter known to man. U can purchase a kong at any pet store, and it has a hollow centre (if u don't know what they are). Inside the centre of it u can put peanut butter, cheese whiz...a bunch of different' things. Not only does it keep them occupied for a long time licking their favourite treat out, but the kong is always a chew toy.

Have u also though about bringing his favourite types of toys in the car with you? Does music sooth him? I used to have a dog that have music on in the car. It was a comfort brought from in the house to the car. Maybe something he enjoys from the house needs to be in the car? His sleeping blanket? bed?

Hope this helps!!!!

April 13th, 2005, 09:13 AM
Unfortunately, he doesn't seem interested in his kong in the car other than for a couple of seconds at a time -- but we'll keep trying it, you never know.

If we sit with him in the car for a while (like if we're waiting for someone), he eventually settles down, so that's a good idea to try doing it multiple times a day.

Thanks for the tip on Rescue Remedy! I'll definitely try that! :)

RE: Size -- Since ours is a rescue dog, we're not sure of his parentage, but I'm pretty sure the dashchund parent (which I'm assuming was the father) was a standard, since our dog is 40lbs.

RE: Location -- We're moving from Halifax NS to Victoria BC! :eek:

Thanks for the ideas so far!

April 13th, 2005, 10:30 AM
Glad to hear Dachshund was a Standard - not always the case. I had mini Dachshunds for many years. None had separation anxiety - actually I am experiencing it for the first time in my life with our one year old Eskimo. Our Dachshunds loved going in the car - but since they weighed only 9 lbs., keeping on eye on traffic and general supervision was a problem. So pups would always it on the lap of the person not driving. My alpha Dachshunds had no interest in toys - but always in food. No car sickness. Also any type of product meant to calm down a dog would stimulate - I am the same. Tried it during one of midnight runs to Guelph Medical. So for sure try out Rescue Remedy - or one of the other options - some people use a small piece of children's Gravol - but I would do it before the trip. I agree that you should try and get pup used to car, but your best bet on the long trip might well be to have the dog sit with you - 40 lbs. isn't TOO bad! Half on - half off, I guess - maybe a pillow at your feet. I expect your dog doesn't want to leave home. One of my rescued Dachshunds was like that - preferred to be carried away from our property - but would then move like a dynamo to get home. Car was fine though but only as long as he was right with me - forget a crate - that was for "dogs". You have a long trip ahead of you. I was in Victoria in January. Very nice - was raining of course, but then Toronto had just had a blizzard. Have a safe trip and best of luck with your pup. If the Dachshund personality reigned surpreme, he will be stubborn!

April 13th, 2005, 10:41 AM
I totally forgot-- one of the possible side-effects of a sedative is that the pill will do the opposite of making the dog sleepy... If you do decide to go with a sedative, be prepared in case your dog is one of the ones that gets hyper from a sedative...

We sedated Boo with Atavet coming home from PEI. His eyes were sleepy but he was still pacing. It wasn't as bad because his breaks were longer and more often.