Friday, January 28, 2011

Navi goes for a ride!

Navi hates riding in the car, for reasons I don't understand because every other dog I've ever had will camp out in the car at every opportunity in the hopes they will get to go somewhere fun. She sits in the car, miserable, drooling, and looking ill the whole way. So I've done a lot of desensitizing to get her used to the motion of the car, and now she doesn't look sick, but she looks like she suspects she might get sick, and so she is very anxious about the whole thing.

On top of that, she associates the harness with going in the car, so the battle actually begins well before we even get out the door, as I try to get her harnessed up. The only time I took her for a walk without a harness, she slipped her collar and ran amok at the park campground!

Last night I was planning to take them to a friend's house to play with Sake and Sitka, their eskimo friends. But first I had to get her harnessed up. I harnessed Barclay, so she could see him calmly handling it. Then, using lots of treats, I showed her the harness and click and treated her for looking at it, for sniffing it (we've done all this many times before), etc, until I was ready to actually put it on her. She would run up to me, then run away, but she kept coming back, she wanted so badly to do what I was asking, and she kept trying, and I kept rewarding her for it. She really made the effort. She even submissively peed on the floor, she was so nervous! But I can't let that stop her from getting out, or she'll be housebound forever. Finally, with lots of treats and praise, I got the harness on, and leashed them up and took them out to the van.

At the van I opened the side door and Barclay jumped in and got on his seat, but Navi was sniffing around. Sniffing, sniffing, sniffing. And it wasn't because there was anything that interesting to smell, it was because she was nervous, and sniffing is a displacement activity. Since I knew that, I just let her sniff, and when she finally got up the courage to look at the van, she got a click and a treat. She sniffed around some more, but not for as long before she looked at the van again, another click and treat. We kept this up until she got up the guts to go right up and look in the door (at Barclay who was sitting right inside) and finally she put her paws up on the step, and I boosted her in and gave her more treats and lots of praise. Then we drove to our friend's house and she had a great time playing with her eskimo friends and stealing their toys, and we even took her and Sitka over to Lowes for a little practice walking around and seeing strangers (though she barked a lot and was too excited to take treats when offered, which means she was over-threshold - too stimulated for training) so we took them back home after a short walk-around.

 Sitka and Navi, barely sitting still long enough for a picture at Lowes

I am so proud of her because she does all this for me, she wants to please me and do what I want, and it's so hard for her. She's got such a great little heart, and a lot of 'try'!  I hope after a while she'll forget about being a car-sick little puppy and learn to relax and enjoy traveling. We love to travel, and to take our Airstream camping, and she's going to need to relax and enjoy it to come along with us. And of course there's so much for her to see and do, and it's all a short car-ride away.

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2 comments:

meagan said...

This story gave me tears in my eyes. I just love how you help her thru this. She was always so scared of the car since the DAY I brought her home. That very day, she got sick as I brought her home. I never knew why. I tried but I clearly didn't have the patience like you do.

I am so proud of her! I know I say this all the time, but thanks for being the exact person she needed! Please give her a big hug from me!

StefRobrts said...

Thank Meagan, she is a doll, and we love her :) You were a good first Mom to her! I've had a lot of eskimo experience, and since training is a hobby of mine, I love working with her, and having a bit of a challenge - which is probably why I love eskies so much!