June 4, 2011 8:58 PM Subscribe
We have a reactive, defensive dog that can be barky during car rides. She is quieter if she's in a crated in the back of the van with a blanket over it. But my husband has been allowing her freedom in the car, claiming she only barks a few times each trip. I think that a few times is too many times, and that she should continue to be crated during trips unless she gets to the point where she stops reacting to stuff outside the car.
posted by SomeTrickPony to pets & animals (11 answers total)
I discovered a couple months ago that Miss Barks-a-Lot is much, much better if she's crated in the back of the van with a blanket over the crate completely blocking her view of the outside world. She went from being a royal pain-in-the-ass in the car to being a good passenger. She is crated at night at home, and cheerfully hops in her crate at the start of a trip.
Enter husband, who has recently started taking her on trips uncrated again, arguing that she only barks "sometimes" and that if she's quiet, he can reward her for being quiet and hopefully reinforce that behavior. His other argument is that he is using freedom in the car as a reward for being quiet, and that if she gets too barky he would put her back in the crate. Except, of course, he claims she only barks occasionally, and so in these experimental free rides, he's never actually put her back in the crate after she starts barking at stuff.
My concern is that allowing her to be roaming around the car and barking at stuff, even if it's only "sometimes" or "not too often" or whatever metric it is that my husband is using, is just serving to reinforce her barky/reactive/defensive response. I think my husband thinks that she has more "fun" being out of the crate, but from my perspective, she's just stressed out and on high alert the whole time--even when she's not barking.
I should add that she is reactive/defensive/barky in many situations and not just the car, it's been a difficult problem to deal with and we've made only limited progress in situations where we can't shut off the stimulus of things that set her off. My husband is honestly not good at all at getting the dog to stop barking when she gets barky at home and he's not busy doing things like...you know, driving a car...so I can't imagine that he's effective at getting her to stop barking when she's roaming about the car.