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Old 05-27-2010, 01:19 PM
MooseMom MooseMom is offline
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Default Can't get lab to jump into car

We adopted our new dog on Monday and that day he happily hopped into the back seat. We stopped at petsmart to buy dog bowls and after wards again he jumped right in. But then on Tuesday I had to take him to the vet and he refused to get in. My husband had to lift him in. After the vet visit again he refused. The vet tech helped me lift him into the cargo area of my CRV, since that was easier then lifting him into the backseat. I took him to the dog park today and I tried something I'd read online: I got in the cargo are first and invited him up like it was fun. That worked after about 5 of his stalling and thinking. But after the dog park, I don't know if it was because he was tired or what but he REFUSED. I sat in the cargo area for 20 minutes. I had a treat, nothing helped. I even tried the backseat again, I got in, I even got on the FLOOR - nothing! I again had to lift him into the cargo area. (and he was wet from being int he pond - ew)

I am 5 months pregnant, I can't keep lifting this 90 pound lab! But I want to be able to take him to the dog park! Everything else about this dog is wonderful: he listens, he's gentle, sweet and very calm. He's 4 years old, he has no medical issues, he's perfectly healthy except he is maybe 5 pounds overweight - that's another reason for the dog park visits, so he can run and work some of that fat off! I know when he did jump in on his own those few times, he struggled and probably whacked his shins, it's never graceful. I tried using a little step stool but he didn't get it.

I'm hesitant to buy one of those ramps (which are ridiculously expensive by the way!) because what if he won't use it!? Can I return those things? I am just posting this to see if anyone has any ideas I have not tried yet.
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Old 05-27-2010, 01:35 PM
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If you're positive his hips, legs or back don't hurt him or if it's not physically too hard for him, (being over-weight could definitely be the reason) you could make a ramp out of a piece of ply wood and a couple of 2x4's under for support, just for training. (so you don't have to take it with you, which would probably not fit in your car. lol) Wait and see if he'll put one foot on the ramp, near the very bottom. Use a marker word or clicker and say, "Yessss!" enthusiastically and immediately give him a tiny piece of something very delicious. (chicken, steak, hot dog, cheese) Do that a few times until he starts offering the behavior on his on. Now wait and see if he'll put another foot on. Or...you can try coaxing him. Don't use a real cue word yet...the one you'll use later. Wait till the behavior becomes more regular and easy for him. If he just puts the one foot on like he did before, wait...don't reward. See if he'll try harder and maybe put the other one on or take one step. Reinforce with your marker word and treat. Once he's doing this....has gone beyond just the one step and is doing this new behavior well, withold the reward and wait or coax him a little further. Don't bribe or lure. Wait for the behavior, then reward. You can put the treat right on the ramp in front of him AFTER he succeeds at each level you're looking for. Soon, he may go all the way into the car, at which point, you jack pot him. Give him several treats and lots of fuss. Practice that a few more times, adding your cue, whatever you choose, just make sure it's the same each time. ie: "get in the car."

When he's comfortable going on the ramp, try putting the ramp flat on the ground so it really isn't a ramp anymore. See if you can pat the cargo area with your hand, use your cue and coax him in. If he does it, big, huge reward.....yummy treats and praise. Then take the ramp away and try. By creating a history of high value rewards for getting into the car, he may lose his trepidation (or whatever is causing his refusal) and be very glad to get in the car. Going on a fun hike or to the dog park following should also assist in convincing him that the car is a great place to get into.

Barring the use of plywood and 2x4's, perhaps you can find a steep hill where it is safe to practice. Have the back of your car on the up hill side so your cargo area is lower and easier for him to jump into. You may need to take your husband along so he can help if he still needs to be lifted. Remember, don't bribe with treat or you'll always need to have a treat to get him into the car. REWARD. That comes after small improvements...immediately after. Break things down into baby steps. Later on, when he's very, very confident and happy to jump in the car, you can space out the use of treats.

If he gets onto the ramp idea, you might consider buying one of those plastic ones or see if you can find a way to build one out of PVC and plastic, just as long as it's strong enough. That would be horrible if it broke and spooked him. He may never want to get in the car again. The ramps are nice for older dogs (when he does age) .... arthritic dogs or dogs that just aren't able to leap up easily.
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Old 05-27-2010, 02:03 PM
MooseMom MooseMom is offline
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Thanks for the great advice! I think it really could be that he's too fat to get up there. It's not a low tailgate so I guess maybe it's just difficult for him. I like the idea of building a ramp - i never even thought of that! If I can't ever get him in without it, at the very least I could bring the ramp with in the car in the backseat while we go to the dog park.

But I will try your way first!
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Old 05-27-2010, 06:22 PM
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Make Dog Stuff, Build Dog Stuff

I didn't look at the whole process of how to build a ramp, but I see, on this site a link that might be helpful. It might be helpful to have a folding ramp...might fit better in your car.

Yes, being over-weight must be very difficult for him to jump. So, maybe later, he'll have no problem, once his weight comes down. Good luck. Let us know how it all turns out.

Congrats on your new dog, btw. He sounds like a really sweet guy. Hope to see some photos when you have a chance.
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"If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." -- Samuel Adams 1776





"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

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Old 05-27-2010, 07:06 PM
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lizzybeth727 lizzybeth727 is offline
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Congrats on your new dog!

I definately agree with Dober's advice about how to get him into the car.

I just want to say, though, that I really don't think it's a good idea to take him to the dog park right now. First of all, I don't know if you got him from a shelter, but if you did, it's highly likely he caught some kind of ailment - like kennel cough or ringworm - while he was at the shelter. I work with groups that pull dogs from shelters, and about 90% of them will be sick when we get them. Most don't show symptoms for a few days, so we put them in isolation for a minimum of 10 days before exposing them to our well dogs. IMO it's a bit dangerous for your dog to be around other dogs this early out of a shelter. Even if you didn't get this dog from a shelter, if he was exposed to shelter dogs - or any other sick dogs - he could definately be carrying a disease and you wouldn't know for a few days.

Also I would not take a dog to a dog park if you haven't trained a really solid recall on the dog. There is nothing more frustrating - or dangerous - than a dog that won't come when called in a group of other dogs. I know that you can bond with a dog quickly, but I really doubt that you can train a bombproof recall in a matter of days.

Again, welcome to chaz, hope to see some pics of your new big guy soon!
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Old 05-27-2010, 07:24 PM
MooseMom MooseMom is offline
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I appreciate the concern but actually, his stool was tested for parasites and had a blood draw for other diseases the day after we got him and I waited to get those result until i took him to join the dog park. Prior to that he was in a foster home for 2 weeks after being surrendered to a rescue group by his previous owner following a full physical with blood work and stool cultures and nothing was found then either. This park is private and they require health records and a bunch of immunizations prior to membership. Also since I'm unemployed I was able to take him during the day and there was only one other dog there at the time.

I know it sounds too good to be true but honestly, from the moment we got him, even with a new new name, he comes when called. I yelled MOOSE several times at the dog park today and he instantly stopped what he was doing and came charging over (well, lumbering). I definitely wouldn't have taken a new dog to an off leash park if I didn't feel in control. We have been on numerous walks around the neighborhood this week to develop a bond and establish that I'm in charge and he picked it all up well.

So that's why this ONE little thing is killing me. He's like an angel in all other aspects - except for this car issue.
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Old 05-27-2010, 07:26 PM
MooseMom MooseMom is offline
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Dober - thank you for the link! that's awesome! I will definitely let you know how it goes. I couldn't figure out how to get him into my little profile pic but there should be a large photo of him on my profile page. Oddly enough its of him riding happily in the car! That was the very first time he rode in the back seat after we got him!
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Old 05-27-2010, 08:19 PM
MPP MPP is offline
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I just looked at his picture and he is super cute. No wonder you fell for him! I hope the ramp thing works. I once taught 4 dogs to use a ramp in about an hour, utilizing a friend at the top, lots of encouragement, and a ton of extraordinarily stinky garlic bologna!
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Old 05-28-2010, 08:55 AM
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I just want to add something. One of the dogs we rescued (a lab) didn't want to go into our car because I think she thought we were going to drop her off somewhere like her previous owners did. Once she knew that the car rides would eventually take her back home with us again, she was willing to jump in.
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Old 05-28-2010, 11:43 AM
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Good point Barb. It's hard to know what this particular dog's story is, I suppose. But with my childhood dogs, the only place my parents ever took the dogs in the car was the vet's. They, of course developed a very negative association with the car and fought getting in it and reacted stressfully the whole way in the car. Once I started taking Bruno, one of the dogs...sort of "my" dog in the car to go with me to where my horse pasture was...about two miles away, he began to love going in the car. It became associated with going riding with me and having a wee of a good time. So, anything that can be associated with the car that is fun, pleasant, tasty....in other words, "good" will help. I really, strongly suspect this is a matter of being over weight and simply not physically able to jump in easily. I bet everything will iron out when the weight comes off and a little positive reinforcement is implemented.
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"If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." -- Samuel Adams 1776





"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

Thomas Jefferson
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