Relax when getting to a Destination - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-20-2011, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
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Relax when getting to a Destination

I have a question about our boy Gibbs. Since he was a puppy he has always traveled a lot with us, as our families are a couple of hours away and we visit them often. He travels very well, but our issue is that as we get close to a destination, Gibbs gets extremely worked up with the potential of something exciting happening. He recognizes slower speeds and the blinker as signs that we might be getting close to…excitement. He starts pacing in the back and excessively whining. At the beginning it was mildly annoying, but as he’s gotten older it has gotten worse, instead of better as we were hoping. It’s amazingly annoying at best now, and it’s causing some issues with waking our sleeping daughter as well. As many of you know, it best not to wake a sleeping baby.

We’ve tried many different training solutions to try and calm him down. My wife has tried sitting in the back seat and giving him commands and treats to keep his mind off from getting to our destination. With no luck, as when he’s worked up, even the highest value treats don’t trump his excitement for getting to a destination. When we get to a location we have done nothing but sit there and let him calm down, he does eventually stop whining, but he is still…worked up. Even after 20 minutes he’s still on edge enough that any move we make instantly starts the whining and pacing again.

Any suggestions on how to work with this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advanced.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-21-2011, 09:18 PM
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I'll be watching this for other replies. I have one dog like this, and one dog who could fall asleep on my lap as we drive somewhere.

What I have found works somewhat is to make various stops before getting to the destination, and sitting there for a bit until he relaxes somewhat. Yes he does get excited once we get moving again, but if we go a different route, make some more stops, things get a little easier and he is quicker to settle down once we get there.

Once you get there, make sure you do not let him out in that state of mind. I wait for my guy to sit down, slow down his breathing, and use his NOSE to smell something in the environment. If he's using his eyes to look around wildly, that's not a state of mind to reward by letting him out.

On this site, I have read suggestions to put the dog in the car, but don't actually go anywhere exciting. Drive around at slow speeds, using the blinker, with no reward at the end, just drive back home. This is similar to a good way to get the dog to relax when you get the leash -- put the leash on and then take it off at various times, no reward means the excitement level will decrease with patience.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 06:24 PM
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Do you either crate or use a dog seatbelt in the car? That may help some (and save his life in an accident ).


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"Nothing new can come into your life unless you are grateful for what you already have. ~ "--- Michael Bernhard, gratitude
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-22-2011, 06:32 PM
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Using a seat belt helps control the dog's exit from the vehicle. It has helped reinforce "wait" until I leash up and release. If the dog is crated, open the crate, ask for a sit, leash up and then release. You may need to ask for the sit before you open the crate depending upon your dog. (You can start this procedure for crate release at home rather than just in the car. - In fact you might find it helpful to start asking for behaviors before releasing for anything (food, outdoors, down stairs, being leashed to go out, a toy, a play session.)

Given all that, the youngster does get excited when we arrive. Oooohhhh Ohhhooohhh! over and over.
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