One weekend morning I needed to go to work to fix a ridiculously small problem. Given the ridiculousness and the travel time required, I decided I’d take Rain along and then take her for a long walk along the nearby slough once I was done. Rain needed to wait in the car while I was inside the building—a little over ten minutes.
A tiny detail: I work across the street from the runways of Portland International Airport.
When Rain and I got back from our walk, she did not want to get in the car—and I have had problems getting her in my car ever since.
She has put on her little doggy brakes so hard at times that her harness has started moving forward on her body. She’ll generally do anything for a cookie, and I have managed to lure her in using many, many cookies—but it doesn’t always work.
She’ll still leap into my mom’s car with no problem, it’s just my car that’s scary. My theory is that during that ten minutes alone in my car near the airport, some of the Air National Guard jets must have taken off. They’re really loud.
I just tried luring her into the car for a while, but it wasn’t improving the situation. This method took several minutes, and sometimes I’d still have to just pick her up and put her in anyway. Given that Rain’s Uncle Atticus loved going for places in the car, it’s just so foreign to have a dog so averse to going for a ride.
Molly, our agility trainer, suggested helping her associate the car with good things, working on it really slowly, perhaps starting by just feeding her inside the car. Car off, door open. Then work up from there. So that’s what I’ve been working on the last week or so.
It’s going really well! Rain is already jumping in the car for her dinner without hesitation. (She also uses this position to try and jump on me to get the food ASAP.) I’ll probably work out a fear hierarchy for her, inching her closer to the goal.
If none of that works, I’ll just have to get a new car.