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Dog Training/Dog fear/ anxiety issues

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Question
Hi we have a 2 yr old Catahoula leopard dog that we adopted at 8 months. She is the best dog ever. How ever I would like to include her in family outings but I cant because she is terrified of the car. She lays down in the car however she pees and sometimes even poops in my car. She also drools a bit too. She also will stop walking and lay down and not move if she gets nervous in situations like going in petsmart ect. She has such a wonderful personality but I have no idea what to do about this problem. I believe she may have been abused at some point because she is afraid of certain men and the poor thing weighed 25 lbs when we got her so she has been through a lot. I just want her to feel like she is a part of our family in every wy possible. Thanks

Answer
You need to desensitize her to the car trips. The goal is always to keep her below threshold and not put her in a situation where she is anxious or she could get worse. It is challenging, but with patience, it could get easier.

There are multiple steps that can be focused on to acclimate her.

At each step, give her treats. If she doesn't take high value treats, she is probably anxious and you are going too quickly. You can also consider using anti-anxiety medication, either from your vet or OTC.

Here are some steps that you can work on. Give her treats at each step, and don't go to the next until she is calm. Do multiple repetitions of each step. For instance, open the car door, give her treats, close the car door and repeat 10 times and then go on a walk without going in the car.

Looking at the car.
Walking near the car.
Opening the car door.
Moving her closer to the open door.
Carrying her closer to the car.
Put her in the car.
Close the car door.
Open the drivers door.
Sit in the car.
Turn the car on.
Move a few feet in the car.
Go around the block.
Etc.

Good luck.  

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Jeff Millman

Expertise

I studied with Jean Donaldson in San Francisco in 2002. She is one of the foremost dog trainers anywhere and I sought her out and traveled from Chicago to work with her. I am expert in all phases of dog development in regards to training. I can offer advice from young puppies through adult including aggression, separation anxiety and barking. While aggression is often handled best in person by a skilled positive reinforcement trainer, a lot of advice can be spread in this forum. I have written EBooks on separation anxiety and barking and am currently writing a book about dog aggression.

Experience

I have been working as a full-time professional dog trainer since 2002. I only use positive reinforcement techniques and am well-versed in using the clicker. My clients do not have to use a clicker to have success using my techniques. I started teaching 14 classes a week for the first two years while I was building up my private practice, Chicago Paws. Since 2004 I have worked exclusively as a private trainer in the Chicago area. On January 1, 2007 I launched an online version of my business that can be viewed at Watch and Train. At WatchandTrain.com you will find streaming videos for purchase that play directly on your computer and cover a variety of specific topics including house training, jumping, come when called, counter surfing and leash walking.

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Association of Pet Dog Trainers

Education/Credentials
Dog training: I graduated with honors from Jean Donaldson's Academy for Dog Trainers in San Francisco, CA. I attended Karen Pryor;s Clicker Expo in Chicago, IL. I attended week-long APDT conferences in Portland Oregon, Orlando, Florida and Oakland, California. I attended a Pat Miller seminar in Chicago, IL. Previous education: Journalism and Fine Arts degree from Indiana University.

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