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Is she car sick?? Please help

July 17th, 2008, 08:54 AM
Hi there,

I have a 5 month old Standard Poodle Cross. We got her at approx. 2 months from the Toronto Humane Society. She has all her shots and is a very happy, healthy, and (beginning to be) well trained puppy.

The only snag we seem to have hit so far is going in the car. To the outside observer she seems to like the car. She lies down, stays calm, looks out the window. However, if you watch more closely you notice that she pants constantly (regardless of temperature), and drools an unbelievable amount (like we are talking A LOT).

Also, when she was small she wasn't able to jump in to the car so we would lift her in, now she is larger and when we walk towards the vehicle she backs up and pulls against the leash (Clearly NOT interested in going anywhere near the car). We have tried coaxing her along with treats/praise, and if it ever worked (which it didnt) we planned to just sit in the car and then get out...therefore letting her know that it doesn't always have to be moving and scary, etc.

We realize that somewhere along the way we forced her to do this too many times, before she was ready, and now she is not interested, so now there are two questions to be answered.

1. Is the drooling, panting (which I perceive as car sickness) related to her not feeling comfortable in the car? Or is it strictly motion sickness and therefore not something that can be modified through some positive training?

2. Do you have any tips on how to make her more comfortable in the car? As she gets bigger it gets less easier to lift her in, and I don't like feeling like I am forcing her in to somewhere she is possibly terrified of. I am fine if she is not the type of dog who will want to ride everywhere with me in the car, but it is a necessary tool for getting her from point a to point b every now and again, and I would like to know that she can handle it.

July 17th, 2008, 09:41 AM
We've also noticed that at 5-6 months, our dogs have developed an anxiety about the car. We've also noticed that once they realize the bank gives away dog treats at the drive-up window that they're quick to get over it. :D

As long as she's not throwing up, I'm inclined to think the drooling is stress related rather than car-sickness related.

What worked for us was getting her to associate the car with wonderful surprises at the destination... Take her on short trips to fun places--a dog park, a friend's house (especially if the friend has a fenced in yard to play in), the bank if you have one that passes out dog treats, or even just to the end of the drive where you meet a friend who passes a small dog treat in to you through the window to give your dog.

Start slow, to the end of the drive....then around the block....then up the street to a friend's...with always that pleasant surprise at the destination, and as she gets comfortable, you'll be able to go further.

And remember to give her occasional car-rides once she's over her anxiety so she doesn't forget how much fun it is. :D

I'm sure you'll be hearing from other members with other tips, too.

July 17th, 2008, 09:48 AM
You could try a little Rescue Remedy, which is a herbal calmant, available at health food stores (and some of the big grocery chains). Put a dropperful in her mouth (it also comes in a spray) 15 minutes before you leave, then again just before you put her in the car.
But I think the behavioural tips hazel gave you are important as well, to make her understand that car riding is OK.

July 17th, 2008, 10:14 AM
We had our dog in the car with us a lot when we first got her at about 10 weeks old. She was good with it until she got a bit older, about 6 months, then anxiety kicked in.
We ended up putting her bed in there on a road trip and making it as comfortable as we could for her, and I would always bring her a chew toy. I find she relieves some of her anxiety by chewing (Jack Russell for ya :) ).
We also put treats in the glove compartment and when we get into the vehicle we give her a little treat to munch on. It gives her something to look forward to. She also has realized that if we go through Tim Hortons she gets treats so I think she just anticipates where we are going and if she is going to get anything out of it.
By about 8 months she was fine again and now she loves going in the car and cant wait to see where we are going next.
Hope you can find something that works for you guys.:)

July 17th, 2008, 11:09 AM
Panting and drooling can definitely be signs of carsickness. Lots of puppies have it, and most grow out of it. I found putting my dog in a forward-facing kennel eliminated the problem.

July 17th, 2008, 11:21 AM
Not too long ago, I was watching the "Dog Whisperer", and Cesar Milan had a dog with EXACTLY the same problem as yours. It was clear that this dog was stressed about the car, balked at getting in, panting once he was lifted in....and DROOLED so much, there was literally a lake in that vehicle by the time they arrived. I had never seen anything quite like it!

Anyway, what Cesar did, was create a "step" for the dog, so he could be led in on his own accord. I think it was a cooler or something. His theory was that lifting and forcing the dog into the car increased the animals resistance and anxiety. He was trying to make getting into the car the dogs idea, and it was difficult at first, and took a few tries. Once he got the dog going into the car using the step (took quite a few tries)....he would let the dog right back out. He did this over and over, repeating the process, NOT closing the car door or moving the vehicle. If I remember correct, I think once the dog was comfortable with this process, they took VERY short rides.... and gradually increased the length depending on the dogs anxiety.

I can only imagine that this process took longer than it seemed on the show, due to to editing, and the severity of the problem. His method sounded like it made sense, and the dog "seemed" happier in the car after. I know there are sceptics regarding Cesars training methods, but this seemed sound and may give you a little something to think about. Good luck! :dog:

July 17th, 2008, 01:38 PM
:thumbs up Thanks everyone for all these suggestions! I will definately give them a try in the hopes that this is something she can get over.

Please keep them coming. Its so nice to hear of similar situations that have been dealt with.