I accidentally shut the car door on my dog's tail and now we're having problems with him getting back in the car. What should I do?
Hi. I have a 6 year old lab, never had problems going in the car, loves car rides. Today we got in the car and I was talking him to the duck pond for a walk on a nice day. On the way we saw one of his dog friends so we stopped to see him. Well, as I was getting him back in the car after he saw his friend I accidentaly closed the door on his tail. One I saw what he was yelping about I opened the door and got him out to see if he was ok, and he was. He was acting happy, but wouldn't get back in the car. One of my friends stopped to help me, we got him in her car once. Then we took him back to my car and got him in with a lot of praise. I took him out to see if he would do it again, but no. ... So I decided to walk him back home since he wouldn't get in the car, I was only around the block. On the way back my mother drove by who has the same model car as I do. I told him to get in and he did. Twice. Without any hesitation. Took him out, walked him back to my car and he wouldn't get in. So I took him back home, went back to my car and drove home, and decided to get his leash and see if he would go in, and he did. ... I praised him, decided to take him out and try it again, but he wouldn't go back in. It seems like he'll only go if his mind is on something else, like going to the park or whatever. How can I train him to go in the car again?
Since he had a negative experience with the door slamming on his tail, I don’t really blame him for being reluctant to get back in the car.
I would use positive reinforcement to make getting in the car a fun thing to do. I would work on getting in and out, without having a plan to go anywhere. You will basically just want to build his confidence back up until getting in the car becomes a fun thing where he gets lots of treats and praise.
I would suggest you read the article Ed wrote titled Training With Markers. There are three phases of training, the learning phase, the distraction phase and the correction phase. We use markers to introduce our dogs to the LEARNING PHASE of training. I also use markers whenever I am trying to get the dog to like an activity that he may intitially resist (like cutting nails, or getting in the bathtub or car).