By East Valley Dog Training
Answers to questions are based on the information provided. It’s always a good idea to have your pet thoroughly examined by a veterinarian when having behavior problems. Although I can give general information and management suggestions on serious behavior problems such as aggression, issues such as these can be a very serious problem and a certified dog trainer should be consulted.
We have a car-obsessed, shrieking collie who will abandon her walk to return to the car whenever it suits her, then screams in the car for the length of the journey.
I don’t know enough to speculate on why the dog ends her walks. There are a lot of variables such as age, length of the walk, physical condition of the dog, weather, etc. However, it sounds like she’s just ready to go home. If she’s overweight, or in poor condition, I would put her on a leash at the point you feel she’ll want to return to the car, and take her just a bit further, gradually increasing the distance. However, if she’s elderly or sick, I wouldn’t push her. This is more appropriately a question for your veterinarian.
As to shrieking in the car, this is actually more common than you would think. Again, there’s not a lot of information, but my best guess would be that the dog is excited. The car probably represents going to fun places. There are different things you can try, so I’ll list a couple of them, here.
1) Purchase a ThunderCap. This is the simplest solution if it works. It will reduce outside stimuli, and tends to suppress this type of behavior. You may have to desensitize your dog to wearing it.
2) Train the dog not to shriek. Get in the car with the dog and just sit there until she stops shrieking (it may take a while, at first, but she’ll stop eventually – take a good book!). Then, turn on the car, if she starts shrieking, just wait for her to stop. Then try driving; if she shrieks, pull over and wait. Eventually, she’ll figure out that you only go someplace if she’s quiet. This assumes she’s excited about going someplace. If she’s upset, it will not resolve the issue.
If you have questions for the trainer, please send them to STT@EastValleyDogTraining.com. Susan Smith, CDBC, CPDT-KA, is a dog trainer in San Tan Valley, AZ, specializing in pet dog training as well as cat and parrot training—from obedience behaviors to serious problems such as aggression. She can be contacted at email@example.com. Sue is also the owner of Raising Canine, LLC which provides professional education to animal trainers.