Posted on: June 12, 2022 Posted by: Petsynse Comments: 0
Car training

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by Carlene White

The pups are working on getting into and out of vehicles, which brings me to two points to ponder about dogs and cars.

One of my house dogs — Sizzle — all of a sudden refused to get out of my car, and she was slightly lame. I usually just wait to see if it goes away on its own … but it didn’t, and she was refusing more and more to get out of the car. So, after questioning (hot muffler? funny smell?) I decided something was wrong with her and took her to the vet.

I can practically guarantee that if a Great Dane that limps, somebody is going to say it’s either their hips or their elbows, but the X-rays were all fine.

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Vet decided “neurotic dog,” so I started slowing down, watching her and talking to her about this problem. Just because we couldn’t figure it out did not mean the dog was wrong … until one day.

I had a towel in my hand as I was discussing with her the fact that she didn’t want to jump out, and I just happened to drop it. Bingo! She jumped right out and landed her two front feet on that towel.

This took me back to my high school physics, and I realized that there’s 150 pounds of dog landing on about 12 square inches. I had parked the car on hot top, which was laced with just a few pebbles here and there. Aha!

Now I carry a towel that I pull out if there’s any question about the footing, and she jumps out no problem — I just throw the towel back in the car. And to give it a little class, the towel is now a bright red — and people can make fun of me giving my dog the red carpet. So be it.

A second problem was an older service dog suddenly refusing to get in the car — a huge problem when an owner is totally dependent on the dog. They had moved to Washington, D.C., far from the Service Dog Project. Their vet X-rayed, medicated, and psychoanalyzed to the tune of $5,000.

Finally, as a last resort, they came here, since I had trained the dog. He willingly jumped in my car but was still a no-go into his car. After 24 hours of experimenting, I got in the back of his car with his dog. Bingo!  It was the “jackrabbit” starts and stops that were throwing the dog (and me) off-balance. It was scary back there!

I taped a wineglass to his dashboard and filled it to within 1/8 inch of the rim (with water) and said, “Don’t spill it!”

After some reassurance, he was once again the perfect service dog.

Carlene White is founder and president of the non-profit Service Dog Project on Boxford Road in Ipswich. She trains and raises Great Danes to donate to the mobility impaired. Read more of her columns here.