Great Tips to Reduce Car Anxiety for a Goldendoodle

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: July 23, 2017

Ruby is a five-year-old Goldendoodle who lives in Bennington, Nebraska. Her guardian set up a dog behavior training session to help Ruby with her car anxiety and her nervous behavior when people are in the pool.

Ruby is smart and initially greeted me as an excited dog; but then she did something wonderful that we teach all of our clients. Can you spot what Ruby does well in the video below?

Since Ruby’s guardian mentioned that she has a tendency for excited urination, teaching your dog to mand is a great strategy. Manding is when a dog sits to ask for attention.

When I sat down with her guardians to talk about their dog behavioral concerns, the family had a long list of issues they wanted to address. Most of the issues were anxiety related, which likely occurred from not having rules and structure in place, such as Ruby nudging her guardians to demand attention. I suggested a number of rules and the guardians can use the Escalating Consequences to enforce them. I also showed them how they could pet Ruby with structure, using Petting with a Purpose.

One of the things that made Ruby the most anxious was going for car rides. Ruby would start to get anxious as soon as her guardians picked up their keys. We call this a trigger, when a certain action provokes a response from a dog. You can see how we started ending dog anxiety for the car in the video below.

In the video you can see that Ruby starts to get out of the sit position if the guardians move too fast. It will be important for them to take each step very slowly to build up Ruby’s self-control and reduce anxiety.

When dogs have anxiety issues we need to desensitize them to whatever is causing them anxiety. Desensitizing means slowly reducing the dog’s reaction in relation to the anxiety-provoking stimulus, until they no longer have an anxious reaction at all. In this scenario it is car anxiety, so we want to keep Ruby calm throughout the entire process of leaving the house, to getting into the car to eventually going for a car ride.

The method that we used to help Ruby overcome her car ride anxiety can be used for anything that causes anxiety for her. This method is used by all of the dog behavior experts that I know to help a dog with anxiety for a reoccurring problem.

By the end of the session Ruby had calm energy and was adopting the follower’s mindset. Her guardians will want to use counterconditioning to reduce Ruby’s reactivity, be consistent with the rules and structure we put in place and incorporate the feeding ritual at each meal.

You can watch Ruby’s Roadmap to Success in the video below.

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This post was written by: Sam Kanouse

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