Odd problem of refusal to get into car - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 10:10 AM Thread Starter
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Odd problem of refusal to get into car

My two year-old male Shepherd Tanner is wonderful in all ways, gentle, protective, social, and HUGE! I recently purchased a new vehicle (GMC Acadia) after selling my PT Cruiser. Tanner had no problem getting into my PT Cruiser, and loved to go for rides. However, he absolutely refuses to get into my new car. My other Shepherd, Ava, loves the car and has had no problem at all. I have tried food, frisbee in car, dremel tool hooked up and ready to go in car (he loves having his nails done), and myself just lying in the cargo area hoping he will jump up in the car. I also purchased a large ramp, but he refused to use that. I have gotten terribly frustrated by all this, and don't like being angry at my wonderful dog. I cannot even plan to take him to the vet if he will not get into the car!

It is a weird sort of refusal. He does not appear to be scared of the car. He simply refuses to try to get in. After trying and trying to lure him into the car, he just sits down or lies down; just seems to give up, like he doesn't care at all about trying any more. I have muzzled him and put on a harness, trying to lift him into the car, but that did not work. Tanner weighs about 105-110 pounds, and I simply cannot lift him in. He bucks like a stallion and freaks out with the muzzle and me trying to lift him into the car. The only reason I used the muzzle was because when I first tried to lift him into the car, he turned his head and tried to put his mouth on my arm, like he was scared. He has never bitten me or anyone, but I am in unknown territory here with this car business.

I am at a loss at this point. He needs to be able to get in the car, not just for vet visits, but I am taking them on vacation this summer across country, and the dogs will need to get in and out of the car frequently on the drive, of course. I think my next step is to shell out some money for a dog behavioralist/trainer, which I am sure I cannot afford, but I really want to resolve this issue, because I love my dogs and need to be able to get them in the car!!!

If anyone has any ideas, I would welcome any suggestions.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 10:18 AM
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this is a new one... never heard of a problem like this. Do you have a high value treat that you give them? Chicken, steak or something they only get every once in awhile or for training?
IF you've never used the ramp before I would take that out. New car and new ramp might be too much for him all at once.
What about asking him to enter from the front seat or back seat instead of the rear?

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No matter how bad my day has been.... coming home to them makes it all better.

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Nellie -3 yr old GSD & Ace -2 yr old GSD
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
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I have tried ALL seats to the car. I pull the car into the backyard (fenced, safer area to work in) and open back cargo door and both side doors. I throw his frisbee into the cargo area, just to where he cannot reach it with his mouth, hoping he will get into the car. Nope. He just gives up. He is not really a "treat" guy--would rather have Dremel tool, strangely enough. That came the closest to working, believe it or not! This dog absolutely LOVES having his nails ground down with the Dremel tool. Thanks for replying and offering suggestions--I am ready to try anything!
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 10:25 AM
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Just pull out the clicker! This is just another place it's exactly the right thing to use to help our pups. Watch this:





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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 10:34 AM
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I see he's over 100# - that's a lot of heft for him too - and a lot of pressure on a joint on the way down.

Is there a friend who will let him get in their car? See how that goes, make sure he remembers how great it is to ride.

They make little steps - I would take the ramp back if you can and see about those, especially if you can use the steps in the house to get on things he likes to get on first. Like a couch, bed, etc.





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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 12:39 PM
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Is it a BRAND new car - as in never before owned and still SMELLS like a new car??

Maybe it's the smell that he doesn't like. I would take the sheets off your bed after having slept on them for several days and toss them in the car. Maybe add a couple pairs of well-worn (but NOT washed) socks and underware as well. Let them stay in the car for a couple days - to allow their scent to permeate the car.

Then try getting him in the car again.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
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Well, today I have a dog behavioralist coming over (very nice-she offered to try this for free) and we are going to put Tanner into the car together, quickly, without making a big deal of it, then I am going to take him for a nice ride. She is coming back over a bit later, and we will see if at that point Tanner will get into the car. I am also going to change the sheets on my bed, put the used sheets into the car, and let them sit there (that was a good idea!) I agree that he is a big dog and might have a hard time getting out, with pressure on his joints, but he will have help getting out. I will let you know the results of this!

I really appreciate all the comments and suggestions on this issue. Many brains are always better than one!
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 03:09 PM
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Frank did the same thing when I switched from driving my HHR(same as the pt in back) to my big SUV, he refused to get in, when he jumped in and out of the HHR like it was nothing.
What we did was lay down the back seats so it looked like a larger area for him to jump into then I put his prong collar and leash on him, just like we were going out for a training session. I stood back from the back of the SUV about 15 feet told Frank to heel and started toward the back of the SUV when we were close I said jump. I didn't swerve or slow down just acted like I knew he would do it.
First couple times all he did was a bounce and put his front feet up on the bumper, I praised and treated him for that and we backed up and tried it again. Took about 3 times and in he went. First few days I asked him to jump in I had to put the prong on him even though I never corrected him with it.
I think all the prong collar did was let him know he couldnt' back up and out of his collar like with a reg. flat collar he had to go forward.
Now he jumps in like it's nothing right into his crate.

frank(Rosehall's Duke of Hearts CD, BN, RN) gsd
indy (Indy Bluestorm CD, GN, RN,CGC) BC
king bc mix
Rowdy (MyHearts Red Treasure) Australian Shepherd
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 08:30 PM
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i have the same problem but only when i leave puppy training he dont want to get in. eventually he will get in if i drag a high value treat.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-06-2011, 09:46 PM
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Dogs don't like change. The new smell may be putting him off. Try the treat idea above.
My dog would do anything for a Pupperoni or a hot dog.
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