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Hi all. I've had Willow for 7ish months now, and while most things are going OK, the one thing we just can't seem to do anything about is her whining in the car.

It is NON. STOP.

I don't understand the behavior. Our trainer doesn't, either. Willow absolutely can't wait to get into the car whenever we go out, it's like it's the coolest thing ever. She even does well left alone in the car or while I'm sitting in there with her, not moving. It's when the car is in motion that she loses her friggin mind, pacing and circling and whining and whimpering.

I don't think it's fear. I don't think it's motion sickness. Otherwise she wouldn't be so eager to go for car rides, right? My best guess is it is just overstimulation, she really can't control herself. Punishing her (calm "no", not-calm "no", reaching back and tapping her for it, holding her mouth shut) for whining does nothing whatsoever. Praising her when she's NOT whining does nothing, in fact if she's quiet for a few seconds and I praise her, it makes her start whining again. And it's not a quiet whine: it is a piercing, incessant, sometimes shrill whine that I can't ignore. Occasionally there's a yowl thrown in. Once I thought that my reaching back and just touching her for reassurance helped, but nope, that only lasted a few minutes.

Things that help: being tired after a long hike (but it doesn't get rid of it completely). Crating (but I can't fit a crate in my car, just my work truck). And if she's able to stick her head out the window, she doesn't whine. But eventually she gets bored of that, comes back in, and whines some more, and paces around and then sticks her head back out the window again.

I really am at my wit's end. I want to be able to take her with me places because a) I am single with a full-time job and having her come to work with me is a must for long days--it's either that or I leave her alone in the backyard all day; b) she really is quite a good hiking companion and I want to do backpacking trips with her this summer, and c) I like road trips and want her to be able to go with me.

The only solutions I feel I have left are to either commit to a long road trip with her and see if it goes away eventually and maybe teaches her how to not be a maniac in the car, or I've considered buying some kind of mask so she can't see. I know she'd hate it, but if it helps keep her from getting overstimulated...I just don't know. But something's gotta give, I really can't take it anymore.

Maybe one of these days I'll try to capture a video of just how much of a psycho she is in the car.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Oh and also, I have tried taking her on short rides where we don't do anything fun and she has to sit in the car. At my trainer's suggestion, I make her wait until she calms down somewhat before I either let her in the car or let her out of the car. Neither thing seems to have made any difference.

Also, ignoring her does not work.

Things that make her whine more (almost frantically): when I use the turn signal and when I slow down.
 

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Do you crate or is she loose in the car? If she is loose I would crate her. Try covering the crate every time she starts whining and don't uncover unless she stops. You could also mark and reward her for being quiet or at first simply pausing to take a breath.

Your other option would be to suppress the behavior via corrections. Be sure to get an experienced trainer to guide you if you go that route.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Do you crate or is she loose in the car? If she is loose I would crate her. Try covering the crate every time she starts whining and don't uncover unless she stops. You could also mark and reward her for being quiet or at first simply pausing to take a breath.

Your other option would be to suppress the behavior via corrections. Be sure to get an experienced trainer to guide you if you go that route.
All those things I have tried. She is crated in my truck (in the backseat); she still whines and I can hear her moving around, but it's a bit quieter and doesn't last as long. But that's the thing: still whines, it doesn't make the problem go away, just mitigates it a bit to where yeah, I can kinda stand it. Kinda. And I can't fit a crate in my car (Honda Accord); I tried. Im' getting a new work truck soon and I think I am going to get a crate I can keep in the bed of the truck, or else build one. That way at least I don't have to listen to the whining...and technically dogs aren't supposed to be allowed inside our trucks, crated or not, so I'll be following the rules with a bed crate.

For the car, I have tried carrying treats and throwing them to her when she's quiet. It does help, she gets more interested in the food than whining. But as soon as I stop, she's right back at it. No difference.

I have tried correcting the behavior by all kinds of things: verbal ("tssh!" "no!" "quiet!"), physical (holding onto her neck and pinching whenever she whines, or tapping her, or grabbing her mouth). The physical corrections only seemed to make it worse, almost like it made her start panicking, so I stopped doing that. I bought an e-collar and we're in the process of learning how to use it, so she wears the collar but we're not actually at the point where I've started stims yet (and I wanna be sure I do everything correctly...and now that we're on a stay-at-home order I doubt we're going to get any training sessions for a while, so e-collar work is on hold). But the trainer thinks maybe the e-collar will help?
 

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They make calming medications you could try, along with maybe a thundershirt? If she's food motivated put her in the kennel in the car with a toy that dispenses pieces of kibble. It'll give her something specific to focus on. You could do it with her meals rather than just as an additional treat. I use a bento ball I got from Murdochs that has a portion that works perfectly for slower dispensing of kibble as long as the main treat portion is still there. Smelly frozen wet food may also be a more appealing option.

One of my dogs has gotten anxious for car rides ever since I took her in to get spayed. Before long trips or planned outings with a longer drive I give her benadryl, but something dog specific for calming that is safe for them would probably be more effective and better to recommend.
 

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All those things I have tried. She is crated in my truck (in the backseat); she still whines and I can hear her moving around, but it's a bit quieter and doesn't last as long. But that's the thing: still whines, it doesn't make the problem go away, just mitigates it a bit to where yeah, I can kinda stand it. Kinda. And I can't fit a crate in my car (Honda Accord); I tried. Im' getting a new work truck soon and I think I am going to get a crate I can keep in the bed of the truck, or else build one. That way at least I don't have to listen to the whining...and technically dogs aren't supposed to be allowed inside our trucks, crated or not, so I'll be following the rules with a bed crate.

For the car, I have tried carrying treats and throwing them to her when she's quiet. It does help, she gets more interested in the food than whining. But as soon as I stop, she's right back at it. No difference.

I have tried correcting the behavior by all kinds of things: verbal ("tssh!" "no!" "quiet!"), physical (holding onto her neck and pinching whenever she whines, or tapping her, or grabbing her mouth). The physical corrections only seemed to make it worse, almost like it made her start panicking, so I stopped doing that. I bought an e-collar and we're in the process of learning how to use it, so she wears the collar but we're not actually at the point where I've started stims yet (and I wanna be sure I do everything correctly...and now that we're on a stay-at-home order I doubt we're going to get any training sessions for a while, so e-collar work is on hold). But the trainer thinks maybe the e-collar will help?
By the sounds of it this dog has been rewarded for this behaviour in the past (before you got it) and also by you:
"Once I thought that my reaching back and just touching her for reassurance helped, but nope, that only lasted a few minutes."

I am no pro, but, personally, I would try and teach this dog the "quiet" or "enough" command. I would use a prong collar and keep her on a leash with handle cut off. When you correct a dog, it should be immediate and even better, right when the dog is thinking about breaking command. I would practice with the prong while waiting for the ecollar instructor.

Don't give her nagging corrections (with prong), give her one solid one so that she understands what your command means. You can also use prong to solidify all your other commands too.

You hold her neck and pinch it while you're driving? or does she whine in other situations ?

Sounds like your corrections are lacking timing.

Oh, and if you use a prong get her used to wearing it for a week or two before using it for corrections.

Also, you have to learn to control your own emotions too as this transfers over to the dog as well.

She is mentally dominating you. And she wins when you give her attention or blow a gasket - even if you don't show your emotions, she can feel it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
By the sounds of it this dog has been rewarded for this behaviour in the past (before you got it) and also by you:
"Once I thought that my reaching back and just touching her for reassurance helped, but nope, that only lasted a few minutes."

I am no pro, but, personally, I would try and teach this dog the "quiet" or "enough" command. I would use a prong collar and keep her on a leash with handle cut off. When you correct a dog, it should be immediate and even better, right when the dog is thinking about breaking command. I would practice with the prong while waiting for the ecollar instructor.

Don't give her nagging corrections (with prong), give her one solid one so that she understands what your command means. You can also use prong to solidify all your other commands too.

You hold her neck and pinch it while you're driving? or does she whine in other situations ?

Sounds like your corrections are lacking timing.

Oh, and if you use a prong get her used to wearing it for a week or two before using it for corrections.

Also, you have to learn to control your own emotions too as this transfers over to the dog as well.

She is mentally dominating you. And she wins when you give her attention or blow a gasket - even if you don't show your emotions, she can feel it.
Yeah the reaching back to touch her was because I thought maybe her whining was fear-based. I don't think so anymore.

She is on a prong for all her walks, she's used to it. I once tried correcting with the prong collar while driving, and it made the whining worse and I felt like I was causing her serious mental distress. I worry that the e-collar will have the same effect so I'm going to make sure I'm trained up correctly on how to use it. And yeah all these things--including holding onto her neck scruff and giving her a little pinch whenever she whined--I did WHILE DRIVING, so yeah, that's the other issue with this--it makes the whole car ride that much more dangerous.

I tried to record some video of it yesterday and it wasn't as bad--we just did a quick trip around a couple of blocks and then went home. So maybe things are working. But then I think things are worse on the longer trips, especially when I won't open the window for her to stick her head out of.

She's generally responsive to other corrections, not in the car, so I don't understand why the car behavior is so out of hand. It's like she just completely ignores me, and I just can't imagine what the reward is. In every other situation she hates when I get mad, either at her or at something else when she's around--she cowers and droops her little head and is the most pathetic pup you've ever seen. But whatever this is tied to, it seems worth it to her to make me blow a gasket and I don't understand it.
 

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E-collar should work. When you do start using it, have a friend drive so you can pay full attention to the dog and remote. As soon as she starts to make any noise at all, correct her. I'd start higher than you would for beginning OB, like at around 25 on a collar that goes up to 120. If 25 doesn't stop it, go up a bit higher. Pair the correction with "no", if you want (but there will be different applications of that depending on who you ask).

Another option is just buy a bark collar, a quality one, and let it do the work for you. I totally understand that it might be difficult to correct your dog - and you don't want to hesitate or not correct when needed. Dogtra makes a good bark collar. It'll do all the work for you.

If it is that distracting, not only is it annoying but it could affect your driving. So, just get a bark collar is my recommendation. With the stay at home order, you can still take her for drives to the store, or what not. I'd bet it will work fast.
 

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Hmmm, The five senses are smell, sight, taste, touch, hearing. I wonder, if your recorded the turn single and had it play on a loop to desensitise her, then a second recording of the car engine taken on a long trip, continuously played, (and recorded without her in the car), if that angle would be worth pursuing.
 

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How about putting her on the floor in front of the passenger's seat, tied to a door handle or something where she cannot reach you and interfere with your driving? There is also something like a calming cap that you can cover her face with ThunderCap Calming Cap, Small - Chewy.com.
I would not use an E collar as it will not calm her down but only add to the stress (MHO)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
How about putting her on the floor in front of the passenger's seat, tied to a door handle or something where she cannot reach you and interfere with your driving? There is also something like a calming cap that you can cover her face with ThunderCap Calming Cap, Small - Chewy.com.
I would not use an E collar as it will not calm her down but only add to the stress (MHO)
When I put her in the backseat, I do put her in a harness clipped in to the seatbelt so she can't jump up front with me. She still manages to pace though (and it doesn't do anything for the whining), and sometimes she gets herself kinda wrapped up in the seatbelt in the process.

I have heard about the calming cap, I might try that.
Does she know a command to settle down? If you've got a spare hundred bucks you could try a treat n train.
Not "settle" specifically. She knows "wait", and sometimes when she's pacing back there I yell at her to "sit" and she does, and is quieter while she's sitting; it just doesn't last long (she'll get up again after 5 seconds and I have to yell at her again).
 

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She's just nervy in general. She whines when we're about to go for a walk because she's excited. That has gotten A LOT better by me telling her "no" and just standing there staring at her, not moving a muscle until she shuts up, then I proceed with getting the leash, getting my shoes on, etc. But all that just goes out the window (metaphorically) when we are in the car. I can't exactly stop the car every time she whines or we wouldn't get anywhere.
 

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She's just nervy in general. She whines when we're about to go for a walk because she's excited. That has gotten A LOT better by me telling her "no" and just standing there staring at her, not moving a muscle until she shuts up, then I proceed with getting the leash, getting my shoes on, etc. But all that just goes out the window (metaphorically) when we are in the car. I can't exactly stop the car every time she whines or we wouldn't get anywhere.
I was thinking, if after you try all your options with minimal success, perhaps it's a sign for you to upgrade to a truck; after all you're a wildlife biologist :)

Not only would you have room for Willow to go everywhere with you, but you'd have room for a downed moose which Willow could track for you too :)

She'd love that, snuggling up by the fire with some fresh moose meat and rib bones :)
 

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When I put her in the backseat, I do put her in a harness clipped in to the seatbelt so she can't jump up front with me. She still manages to pace though (and it doesn't do anything for the whining), and sometimes she gets herself kinda wrapped up in the seatbelt in the process.

I have heard about the calming cap, I might try that.

Not "settle" specifically. She knows "wait", and sometimes when she's pacing back there I yell at her to "sit" and she does, and is quieter while she's sitting; it just doesn't last long (she'll get up again after 5 seconds and I have to yell at her again).
Is there any other time in your lives when she ramps up a little like that that isn't in the car? When you might have an opportunity to teach her what settle down means?

My first vote would be for a blacked out crate but I think you already said that you can't fit a crate.

When we used to travel in our old RV my less good traveler would also pace and whine and I had to hold a leash on him and make him lie down.

We now have a tow behind and he is in a crate in the suv towing and it is a world of difference. I've told my husband if we ever go back to a motorhome type rv there has to be room to install his crate for while we are driving because he drives me nuts doing that stuff too. He has improved a lot as he matures too. He knows settle down from the house and will do it in his crate in the truck if he gets riled up over something.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I was thinking, if after you try all your options with minimal success, perhaps it's a sign for you to upgrade to a truck; after all you're a wildlife biologist :)

Not only would you have room for Willow to go everywhere with you, but you'd have room for a downed moose which Willow could track for you too :)

She'd love that, snuggling up by the fire with some fresh moose meat and rib bones :)
lol. Well I have the work truck, but my personal car is 15 years old now so the time is coming for me to get a new one..thinking of something with a hatchback so I can put her back there and at least have a little more distance than I currently have. :) And could maybe fit a crate back there too.

Oh we're definitely car/truck camping this summer. Pretty hard to draw a moose tag here though, haha...and if I did, everyone would say it's fixed!
Is there any other time in your lives when she ramps up a little like that that isn't in the car? When you might have an opportunity to teach her what settle down means?
Yeah, just when we're about to go for a walk. She's getting better at being calm and I'll work on a "settle" command...will talk about it with our trainer too.
 

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posting again here because PLOT TWIST

I just got back from the grocery store. I had brought Willow along in the car because I had to stop at the office too, and it's empty so she likes to run around. If she can stick her head out the car window she doesn't whine.

Anyway; this grocery store always TICKS ME OFF for so many reasons (including never having more than 1 checkstand open alllll the time) so by the time I got back to the car, I was royally angry at Albertson's and at life in general. I kinda shouted to myself, clearly angry.

Willow was a perfect angel the entire ride home. Lay down and was absolutely quiet.

This actually had happened one other time, in the work truck when she was in her crate, and I was really mad at her for something beforehand and she was super quiet. So apparently if she thinks I'm mad (at her, or in general), she behaves herself. Perfectly.

So....??? Even when I get mad at her for being whiny, it doesn't seem to faze her. This is just odd to me. Makes me wonder more what the root of her whiny/excited/over-the-top behavior in the car really comes from. Clearly she can control it when she wants to (when I'm really, really mad).
 

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I would guess your body language or tone of voice is different between being mad at Albertson's and scolding for whining.
 

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posting again here because PLOT TWIST

I just got back from the grocery store. I had brought Willow along in the car because I had to stop at the office too, and it's empty so she likes to run around. If she can stick her head out the car window she doesn't whine.

Anyway; this grocery store always TICKS ME OFF for so many reasons (including never having more than 1 checkstand open alllll the time) so by the time I got back to the car, I was royally angry at Albertson's and at life in general. I kinda shouted to myself, clearly angry.

Willow was a perfect angel the entire ride home. Lay down and was absolutely quiet.

This actually had happened one other time, in the work truck when she was in her crate, and I was really mad at her for something beforehand and she was super quiet. So apparently if she thinks I'm mad (at her, or in general), she behaves herself. Perfectly.

So....??? Even when I get mad at her for being whiny, it doesn't seem to faze her. This is just odd to me. Makes me wonder more what the root of her whiny/excited/over-the-top behavior in the car really comes from. Clearly she can control it when she wants to (when I'm really, really mad).
Someone else posted this video in another thread of momma wolf getting stern and correcting pup with muzzle bite. Thought you might enjoy it ... momma meant business lol:

Momma wolf means business @2:00 on timer
 
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