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Showing posts with label Car Anxiety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Car Anxiety. Show all posts

Thursday, 22 December 2011

TO CURE YOUR DOG'S MOTION SICKNESS


The only way to cure motion sickness is to face the situation head-on, do not avoid - if you avoid taking your dog in the car because of motion sickness your dog will never normalize the experience. Patience, determination, repetition is the only way to cure this condition.
  
My dog, Jordie (a German Shepherd x Alaskan Malamute) is an excellent example of how you can cure motion sickness in your dog. Like people, some dogs just acquire motion sickness. Jordie is a rescue from Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. Iqaluit is a northern climate where these dogs are used as sled dogs. Spay and neuter is not commonly practiced - there are many unwanted litters of puppies. When no one wants the puppies they are shot to death. Jordie and his litter mates were to be shot - the rescue group that I fostered for found someone willing to fly the puppies out the day before they were to be shot. The next day Jordie joined my pack. The entire litter were sick on the flight out of Iqaluit - they were only 10 weeks old, stressed, underfed. As a result Jordie developed a severe case of motion sickness.

On the way home after I picked Jordie up he threw-up in the car. It was August, 30o Celsius, this poor little guy had spent his entire 10 weeks of life up north in deep cold, he had been neglected, flown on a plane and now put in a car!


The next time I took Jordie for a ride in the car he threw-up again. The third time I put Jordie in the car he started to pant, drool and foam at the mouth and then proceeded to throw-up. I realized that I would have to cure Jordie of motion sickness and an aversion to traveling.

When Jordie sensed I was getting ready to take him for a ride in the car he hid. I would go looking for him - I would find him in his hiding spot drooling, foaming, ears down. I knew that if I gave in and did not make him go through the repeated experience of riding in the car he would never be cured. So I persisted in taking Jordie with me in the car. 

As Jordie associated travel with stress I needed to show him that travel was OK...with patience and persistence Jordie became comfortable with vehicles and the symptom of his travel stress - motion sickness disappeared. I took a full year to normalize the experience for him. With time he stopped throwing-up and only drooled and foamed, eventually that stopped too.


Because dogs live in the moment it is easier to change a dog's association of a situation than it is a human's. Humans carry grudges, dogs do not. Dogs form associations with places, things, animate and inanimate objects. Dogs are very forgiving and treat each day, each experience as a new beginning if you give them the support that they require. Make the future different than the past. You must let the past go - must not anticipate that the past will and must repeat itself - let it go from your mind. Envision a new future in which you forget about what has happened before and focus instead on what you would like to happen - a nice peaceful ride in the car with your dog.

When you change your thoughts from negative to positive you relax - this allows your dog to do the same. You are leading by the right example. Your will must be stronger than your dogs, your must have greater patience and determination.


If your dog does not want to go out to the car then you will need to take control of the situation. Leadership is an active state. If you have called your dog and your dog will not come, goes to hide (your dog realizes it is being asked to go out for a ride in the car) you need to go get your dog. Reading this article 'Does Your Puppy or Dog Shut Down and Refuse to Walk' will help you understand how to get your dog back into motion! 

Don’t give-in to your dog’s resistance to go in the car. When Jordie hid, I went and got him. If you have to bring your dog over to the door and out to the car with a leash do it! But make sure your attitude and state of being is that of a true leader or you will further traumatize your dog. Reading this article 'Is Your Dog Anxious / Over Excited in the Car' will help you understand how to work with your dog to reduce car ride anxiety.

Once you have read the two articles indicated above you will have a thorough protocol on how to move forward. The following provides the balance of information you require to work this cure.


One - When ever possible, don’t feed your dog any food at least an hour prior to a going for a drive in the car;

Two - Do not put your dog in the front seat - this usually makes their motion sickness worse! Put them in the back seat or back cargo space - you can also use a crate in the car;

Three - Make sure you cover your car seat and floor with old linen sheets that you can rinse and throw in the wash - you can also under-layer the linen with towels for better absorption. Bring extra linen and extra towels - when your dog does throw-up you can change the seat cover or crate liner and put fresh linen out. Extra towels can also be used to wipe your doggies face! If your dog drools and foams at the mouth you are going to need towels to wipe that up too. Bring a large plastic bag that you can toss the dirty linen into.

Four - If you are giving your dog a natural rescue remedy make sure you read the instructions - some need to be given well in advance of he car ride (i.e. an hour prior to getting into the car).

Five - don’t be upset if your dog throws-up - adjust your expectations - this is going to take repeated trips to cure. Gradually he stopped throwing-up but he still made a mess drooling and foaming at the mouth! After a year Jordie was cured of motion sickness.

Remember patience and understanding is key! Just like people, every dog will progress at it's own pace some faster, some slower. Many people give-in and give-up too soon. 
 
Your ability to affect change in your dog is dependent on your leadership skills and your awareness of how you and communicate. As your skill grows, your ability to affect change will too!

In combination with the  methodology above you can also try using ginger to help ease your dog's nausea.

You can use a slice of fresh or dry ginger root or a ginger capsule. Dogs do like the taste of ginger so they will usually readily accept a slice. If you are using fresh or dry ginger only give a small piece as a lot is not required. Ginger is mostly harmless to your dog so it's hard to overdose. If you want to use ginger, give your puppy the ginger about 30 minutes before you are ready to go in the car. If you are using ginger in pill form the dosage is100 mg/25 lbs (every 8 hours). 

Some people say you can also give your dog black jelly beans. The flavor of black jelly beans and black licorice is derived from fennel. I do not recommend giving a dog jelly beans due to the sugar, artificial favours and artificial coloring - all of which are inflammatory and toxic. Use real fennel, don't use jelly beans as the amount of fennel (if it is present at all) is overpowered by the amount of sugar - concentrated amounts of sugar will increase the likelihood of nausea and vomiting. For efficacy in prevention of vomiting due to nervousness, fennel is best combined with catnip.

Ginger on its own and it is very effective. The carminative (ability to expel gas) action enabled by fennel  is effective to relieve flatulence and is the primary reason for the use of fennel in herbal medicine. So even though the herbal remedy made from fennel is used as a remedy in treating a variety of other ailments, its main use is in dealing with flatulence and excess abdominal gas.



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IS YOUR DOG ANXIOUS OVER EXCITED IN THE CAR?


PANTING, WHINING, BARKING, NOT SETTLING DOWN… if the experience of going for a drive in the car with your dog has become stressful for you and your dog it’s time to address the situation. Left as is, neither you nor your dog can relax, normalize and enjoy the time spent together.

To cure the behaviour you must address and correct the root cause - this is a psychological issue – your dog’s and yours. Rescue remedies may help but they are unlikely to cure the behaviour.


FIRST LET’S TALK ABOUT HOW THIS BEHAVIOUR DEVELOPS

Here are a few examples of how we de-normalize the situation for our dogs and create the behaviour problem…

One - If you make a fuss when you are about to go out to the car, you ‘wind’ your dog-up and teach your dog that leaving and going out in the car is associated with excitement… i.e. ‘hey boy, you want to go for a ride in the car!’ by creating intense excitement you are destabilizing your dog’s state of being. You are overwhelming and flooding their senses. You are telling your dog to be excited, you are enabling an altered state. For an insecure dog this can trigger anxiety and anxiousness.

Two - If, in the past you or your dog has experienced a traumatic incident in the car and you still carry some of that stress from your traumatic experience your dog can sense your disquiet, nervousness, upset.

Three - You may have been upset or very excited when you first brought your dog home in the car.

Four - Your dog has motion sickness. When your dog gets sick in the car you get worried, frustrated, angry or otherwise stressed. For guidance on curing motion sickness in your dog you can read this article.


Now let’s talk about curing this behaviour

STEP ONE - CHANGE YOUR OWN BEHAVIOUR

I usually spend the first 30 minutes to 60 minutes of a four hour session just dealing with the human's issues - which trigger the dog's issues. When we humans start to accumulate nervousness pertaining to our dogs in certain situations (i.e. Our dog going up to another dog) we teach them to associate that situation with tension, nervousness, fear, insecurity, excitement...this is why dogs become reactive. Our dogs read our body language as our thoughts translate directly and instantaneously to our bodies. The second you feel tension, your body shows it...compression of your lips, tension around your eyes, your shoulders - your dog knows how you feel before you are aware of how you feel! You must relax and normalize so your dog can too.

To understand more about how you can inadvertently communicate the wrong message to your dog and to understand more about how to communicate the right message you can read these articles…



Because dogs live in the moment it is easier to change a dog's 'bad habits' than it is a human's. Humans carry grudges, dogs do not. Dogs form associations with places, things, animate and inanimate objects. Dogs are very forgiving and treat each day, each experience as a new beginning. It is only with difficulty that we are able to convince, permit and allow ourselves to do the same.

Make the future different than the past. You must let the past go - must not anticipate that the past will and must repeat itself - let it go from your mind. Envision a new future in which you forget about what has happened before and focus instead on what you would like to happen - a nice peaceful ride in the car with your dog.

When you change your thoughts from negative to positive you relax - this allows your dog to do the same. You are leading by the right example.


STEP TWO - SET THE FRAMEWORK AND GET READY TO GO OUT

You then have to set the framework for the car ride before you get into the car! How you go out of the house with your dog matters! You must have control of your own state of being and your dog at every step of the way. This sets the framework for good behaviour in the car.
 
A - When you want your dog to go to the front door to get ready to go, call your dog over in a calm, confident manner. Don’t wind your dog-up. Don’t say, ‘we’re going out’ or ‘do you want to go for a ride’ - you do not need to say anything at all - your dog already knows. Don’t engage your emotions, just be matter of fact - remember this should be a normal event.

B - Your dog needs to be, calm and quiet before you walk out the door, if you are attaching a leash to go out to the car your dog needs to be calm and quite before you attach the leash to your dog’s collar.

C - When you are ready to approach the door, stand-up straight - your posture should be upright, confident, not tense - be aware of your shoulders, arms and how you hold the leash in your hands. If you are gripping the leash with tension, if your arms and shoulders are stiff with apprehension and tension you are giving your dog a message - you are communicating that you are not in control of yourself and therefore you cannot be in a leadership position with your dog. You are enabling stress, anxiety, insecurity in your dog.

D - Your dog is behind you before you open the door;

E - Your dog is to stay behind you as you walk out the door (and down the steps);

F - Your dog is either behind or beside you to the garage or across the lawn (pathway) and out to the sidewalk and to the car.


If you or your dog is not calm - stop.

I see so many people keep moving forward when their dog is not calm, when they (the person) are not calm. Stop, get your dog calm and then continue moving. If your dog is reacting and you keep walking you are telling your dog it’s ok to behave as you are. Stop regain control and then move forward.

It matters 100% what state you and your dog is in before you get into the car!

Don’t engage in an argument with your dog and don't whine! Don't say to your dog ' oh, I wish you wouldn't do that'...to do so is whining and complaining, not directing - provide leadership, coach and mentor your dog. If you expect trouble you will get trouble…your dog can feel if you are anticipating an argument, instead remember to think i direct, my dog listens and that is it! Be 100% committed - your dog knows when you are not. Your dog knows when he has an edge to manipulate and control. Be fair, but be determined.

Tugging and pulling, yelling - it’s all an argument. This is a psychological test of wills - make sure your will is greater and comes from a place of confidence and strength of commitment.

Remember your dog has probably been doing this for awhile (as have you!), so have patience and persistence. Adjust your expectations too. When we are tired or stressed we don’t have the same focus, patience and control as we do when we are relaxed and refreshed. Some days are better than others – never give-up hope. Persist…change can take a little time. It takes time to train yourself to lead, communicate and direct effectively and we all have good days and bad days!

If your dog starts to get excited you must be the polar opposite – calm and directive. Don’t get sucked into the vortex of your dog’s emotion, disengage your emotions engage your working mind.

And remember if you need to disagree with any excited behaviour…

One - Make sure you are calm (without excess emotion) and ready to coach with fair, firm confidence. Don't be aggressive; don't raise your voice in anger.

Two - Lead...addressing from a distance is not leadership! Calmly but with assurance go over to your dog. If you need to move a distance - fine, move quickly, deliberately, confidently - not panicked or excited! Don't match your dog's state, if you do so, you lead by the wrong example.

Three - get your dog's attention, you can touch your dog firmly but quickly with your fingers - at its neck or waist, you can snap your fingers and say 'hey' or ‘shh’ firmly, but not with anger. Never touch or talk in anger as you then lead by the wrong example!

Four - tell your dog what you want i.e. 'shh’

Five - tell your dog what you would like it to do instead i.e. 'Relax or ‘calm’' etc.

Six – what until they are calm to move forward.

STEP THREE - GETTING INTO THE CAR

One – when you stand beside the car your dog must be calm;

Two  – when you open the car door, your dog must be calm;

Three  – you must wait until your dog is calm before you invite your dog into the car. When your dog is calm invite it to get into the car…or if the dog is small, you can then pick your dog up and put it in the car;

Four  – if your dog runs about in the car you should get it a harness and seat belt tether…or crate your dog. Your dog must learn that it cannot pace or dash about in the car.

Five  – as long as your dog has gotten into the car in a relaxed state and you remain positive and relaxed in the car you should see your dog’s  behaviour start to change, become more relaxed.

Six  – you can also use rescue remedies or flower essences  in combination with the methodology above.

Lastly, be patient and persistent, many people give-in and give-up too soon. 

Your ability to affect change in your dog is dependent on your leadership skills and your awareness of how you and communicate. As your skill grows, your ability to affect change will too! 


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