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Canine Behavior/Dog is Obsessed with Golf Cart

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Question
My parents have an approximately 2.5 year old Golden Lab/ Retreiver named "Copper". They rescued Copper from a shelter about a year ago. My parents live on a 5 acre ranch type property and they have a bunch of fowl (geese, chickens, ducks and peacocks) all of which the dog does not bother.

Recently, Copper has become obsessed with the Golf Cart (which is just used to go back and forth to a garden or to check the mail..etc.). When the cart is in motion, he will chase it an "yup" (not bark). When it is off/parked, he will just lay by it and not leave its side.

They have tried moving the cart to another location on the property, but he finds it... If he is in the house and not able to get outside, he goes berserk if the cart is moved.  

Please Help!

Thanks!

Answer
Please answer the following questions (and your parents must be the source of the answers):

1.  When did this behavior begin and can your Dad or Mom remember the EXACT environment or circumstance at the time?
2.  WHAT does your Dad or Mom DO when Copper reacts by yipping and chasing....what was their initial reaction, how has it changed, is any yelling or anger involved, is any attempt at restraint or any punishment involved?
3.  PAINT ME A PICTURE of the average day with the golf cart and Copper's reaction to it (time of day??? does that count?  WHO is on the golf cart, does that count?  WHAT is the other parent doing at the time, what is his/her involvement, does that count?)
4.  Copper perceives the golf cart as some sort of threat to his beloved Human(s) and appears to be, essentially, "guarding" it to protect his Humans. WHAT do your parents DO when he lies by it and will not leave?  Do they forcibly remove him?  Do they attempt to bribe him?
5. Are either of your parents physically impaired and NEED the golf cart (since they use it to go pick up the mail unless the mailbox is 1/2 mile away) and how does Copper react to this disability IN THE HOUSE?

Now, while you and your folks are compiling answers, do this:

Go to a Home Depot or other such store; purchase a large tarp with tie downs; cover the golf cart totally when it is parked.  IF the dog is secure (behind fenced area and cannot just get up and wander off and never be seen again), have BOTH parents immediately walk away and TOTALLY IGNORE COPPER until he VOLUNTARILY  returns to the house.  The tarp covering might just throw off his perception long enough for me, with your answers, to figure out how to associate for Copper a POSITIVE experience of the golf cart.

While it seems a simple problem, it has become a complex problem.  Reactions of Humans to their loved dogs often accelerate a non-problem into a serious problem. I think we can fix this but I need A LOT more information.  Please use FOLLOWUP FEATURE (save this answer in your email and then follow the link to it, scroll down, select "FOLLOWUP" and type your response so I can see original question and answer.  

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.

Expertise

I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.

Experience

30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for ThePetChannel.com for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, K9Shrinks@egroups.com. Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Organizations
Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Publications
Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Education/Credentials
Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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