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Desensitizing the Car Experience

Do you find yourself panting and moving around the car when your hooman takes you for a road trip? How about stubbornly pulling back when your hooman walks with you towards the car? Let’s be honest, do car rides make you scared?

A while ago Mom started to notice a pattern with my behavior every time she took me for a ride in the Mini Cooper. The routine started at home, whenever she said “Let’s Go!” I’d react extremely excited and followed her on leash toward the garage. She’d open the car door and ask me to jump inside, only to be met with my hesitation. I used to freeze-up, not wanting to go in. Back then it was not unusual for my mom to be late to wherever she was going, so she’d give up easily, pick me up and put me inside the car herself, rather than wait for me to work with her.

Because I like to be close to mom, my preferred spot has typically been the passenger seat right next to her. But as soon as I started getting comfy Mom would start driving and suddenly my anxiety started to build up again. By the time she hit the freeways I found myself panting, drooling and fidgeting around the car, trying to jump on Mom’s lap, seeking comfort.

The car rides became a nightmare for me and it also became apparent that they brought a lot more stress to Mom. Not only was she struggling due to possibly being late, but my behavior added to her stress and made her nervous and even distracted her from paying attention to the road. In an effort to calm me down, Mom woul