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Bonnie the Collie (from the beginning)

After we picked Bonnie up from the breeder, we found out that when she's riding in the car, she throws up. It could be that she is carsick or that she is stressed by a new environment. It's hard to know which it is for sure, but it doesn't matter. What's important is that we work on Bonnie's ability to ride in the car without getting sick.

First I set a goal. My goal is for Bonnie to ride in the car around the block without throwing up. Then I made a plan. My plan is to break up the teaching into several parts, hoping that Bonnie can learn a little at a time to become more comfortable in the car. I'm taking several days to teach her this. Here's what I've been doing:

First, I put a crate in the car. I used a wire crate instead of a closed crate because if she can see out, she might feel better. I helped Bonnie into the crate and left the door to the crate open. You can see that she wasn't too happy. I sat next to her and gave her some favorite treats.

puppy learning to ride in a car

After she relaxed a little, I gave her a peanut-butter-filled bone to chew on. The door to the crate was still open.

puppy learning to ride in a car

My next step was to close the crate door for a moment and then open it. I did this several times, praising Bonnie each time and speaking in a playtime voice. This is fun! I stayed right there with her.

puppy learning to ride in a car

Only after she seemed comfortable with the crate being closed, did I begin closing and opening the van door. Once again, I opened and closed it, playing a peek-a-boo kind of game.

puppy learning to ride in a car

At this point I made sure things were going well before going on to the next step, which is to close the van door again, but this time I moved to the front seat. Bonnie was a little concerned, not seeing where I was at first.

puppy learning to ride in a car

But soon after she spotted me in the front of the van, she seemed happy. I handed her yummy treats throughout all of the steps.

puppy learning to ride in a car

Next, I started the car and turned on the music, still praising Bonnie and giving her treats. I sat in the front seat with the motor running. I gave her treats while she felt the vibration of the car.

The next day, I repeated all of the steps above and this time I drove the car up and down the driveway a couple of times. Bonnie was still OK. No drooling or nausea.

puppy learning to ride in a car

This is as far as we've gotten. So far, so good. This afternoon and tomorrow I'll repeat all of the steps and then I'm hoping to drive around the block. Keep your fingers crossed that Bonnie keeps doing well.

Obviously the above plan doesn't pertain to children, since they can't drive. However, the idea applies to many things a young person may want their dog to do.

Kids: If you're having trouble teaching your dog something, try breaking the goal up into different parts and make those the steps in your plan. Make sure you put the steps in the right order. For example, if your puppy won't lie down, try having her sit first, and then lie down. Of course, your dog needs to be able to sit first. That plan has only two steps,  but breaking a goal into parts can make the hardest trick or command easier.


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