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Old 10-28-2014, 07:35 AM   #1
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Long dog, narrow Interstate - anyone else have issues?

This one falls squarely into the "never would have predicted that" category, although if I had been thinking like a dog instead of a human, I might have seen it differently.

Our dog is is one of those car-loving canines who is so enamored with our minivan that she would probably live in there if we allowed it. She went six thousand miles cross country in the thing this past summer and was totally contented the entire way (unlike the rest of us).

So imagine our surprise when she began exhibiting clear signs of disliking the AI that we recently purchased. We humans perceive it as a really large much better van - a huge upgrade. But she perceives it as claustrophobic.

The problem is that she is 40 inches nose to rump, whereas the AI's center aisle is only about 20 inches. That means that she has to do the rough equivalent of folding in half to turn around in it, and she does not like that one bit (no such constriction exists anywhere in the minivan). Dogs are capable of backing up, but they prefer not to, and she clearly feels entrapped when she gets into the AI.

Has anyone else noticed a similar reaction with their dog? If so, are there any steps that you took to make your dog more comfortable with the vehicle? Did they get more accustomed to the long, narrow configuration over time?

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Alison and Lawrence
League City TX
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Old 10-28-2014, 07:50 AM   #2
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Suggest that you fold down the sofa into a bed (but not necessarily fold out the side seats) and put down a claw-proof cover (the blankets used by movers to pad furniture in a moving van are ideal), and just let the dog have the sofa while en route.
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Old 10-28-2014, 08:25 AM   #3
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We have three Boykin Spaniels who also love riding in our SUV but needed a little time to warm up to the AI. To help them get comfortable we spent time with them just sitting in it in our driveway. We drank coffee, read the paper and allowed them to get used to maneuvering around in it. On our first couple of long trips we used seat belts and confined them to an area (two on the sofa and one on the ottoman. They seemed to appreciate the belts.....at first. Now we have assigned seating but no belts. Our two oldest like the captain chairs behind the driver and the youngest likes the sofa. If we are heading out on a trip we have started making up the bed in advance of leaving and that has seemed to help as well. Sometimes an older one will stretch out back there with the youngest. We have started using a gate to keep them out of the driving cabin completely. It is safer and allows us to get out while keeping them contained. Hope this helps! 🐶🐶🐶


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Old 10-28-2014, 08:40 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
Suggest that you fold down the sofa into a bed (but not necessarily fold out the side seats) and put down a claw-proof cover (the blankets used by movers to pad furniture in a moving van are ideal), and just let the dog have the sofa while en route.
This is, indeed, one of my anticipated workarounds. Our 2007 has the older longitudinal jack-knife beds and what's really cool about this design is that you can put one side down while keeping the other side up WITH the table still in place (tight squeeze but it works - I wonder if the fit was actually an accident on Airstream's part moreso than intended design). Therefore the dog can have one side while I have the other for computer work.

The other question I had, which relates to a couple of separate non-Interstate forum threads, is whether dog claws damage Ultraleather, which is what we have on our seats and couches. That product is commercial-grade and used in a variety of furniture products, not just RV interiors. So far what I've read on the internet suggests that dog claws will not tear it up (cat claws will), but I am not finished with research on that one.

Of course, then there's the issue of the legendary roughness in the back of the Interstate. We knew about this prior to making our purchase decision but still, I was surprised when on a rough section of IH-10 east of Beaumont Texas, my rear end actually left the couch and I became airborne. THAT is what I call rough! Not sure how doggie is going to feel about that kind of thing, because it definitely does not occur in a minivan.

My husband is already gearing up to procure spousal approval for the really expensive suspension upgrade. He says it's much cheaper if done DIY. We shall see.
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Old 10-28-2014, 08:41 AM   #5
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Suggestion: Take her in on a lead, then turn around and take her outside. Do this a number of times, staying inside longer and longer each time. I train dogs in my retirement, mainly abused (dog fighters or bait dogs) and neglected dogs at a local dog rescue we started last year. One thing to now keep in mind, you are anticipating that she will not like the confined space, so she picks up on your feelings, she does not know why you feel the way you do or what it is about, but it's negative and she may not act "normal". Give it some time, FunWaggins idea is a great one as well.

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Old 10-28-2014, 08:53 AM   #6
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LOL - 7 year old Lab; he likes to sleep in front of the bathroom door while the wife and I are in the bed. He has figured out that he has to backup to the area between the 1st & 2nd row seats to turn around. While we are driving he likes to sleep on the floor between the 1st row chairs - tries to lay his nose on the gas pedal sometimes.....

Took a few trips but he figured it out. Just like it took the wife & I a few to realize no matter how romantic it was for both of us to walk through the galley at once; it was best to keep that a one lane road.

Another 'dog' note is that the automatic step concerns him; he isn't sure if it will be there or not as sometimes the van is running when we open the door (stopped of course) and there is no step; and sometimes it is not running so there is a step. I think once or twice I started the van while the step was out & door open, but he & the wife were not completely loaded - so as he was trying to get in van - the step retracted.

(another got to fix that: make van step retract when door closed, and extend when door open - even if engine running).

Protag: you are retiring soon - maybe you could travel the country making all of the mods to our vans while we all continue to slave away at life!

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Old 10-28-2014, 09:12 AM   #7
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(another got to fix that: make van step retract when door closed, and extend when door open - even if engine running).
Doable. All it would take is disconnecting one relay. I think someone with an Interstate here on the Forums has already done that to facilitate curbside pickup of passengers.
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Protag: you are retiring soon - maybe you could travel the country making all of the mods to our vans while we all continue to slave away at life!
Not happening. I come up with ideas just fine, but actual execution of those ideas, not so much. You've heard of being "all thumbs"? Well I'm worse than that… when it comes to handyman projects, I'm all toes!
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Old 10-28-2014, 09:21 AM   #8
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Here's a pic of our first seating assignments....Click image for larger version

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Old 10-28-2014, 10:15 AM   #9
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Lily has spent many thousands of miles, over 4+ years, in our Interstate and I can tell you for certain that dog nails do not harm the ultraleather. I trim hers myself, too, so they are not super-short.

I suspect your dog will adapt to the Interstate, motivated by a driving need to be with you. I doubt she is actually claustrophobic, is simply reacting to the change or maybe thinks she has a choice to ride in it or not.

Leaving one bench down is a good idea, or just encourage her to jump on the other bench and turn around or stretch out. Show her what to do.

Lily prefers to ride up front, either in the passenger seat or on a soft area we made for her between the two. She will walk to the back to stretch her legs, but always returns within a minute or two. Yours may also prefer the passenger seat.

Good luck!


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Old 10-28-2014, 10:17 AM   #10
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Our dogs have learned to fold in half to turn around in the aisle, and to back up down the aisle.

Also, we removed our second row seats, so they have lots of room to sprawl in the front of the AI. This also makes our aisle shorter, so backing up isn't as much of a problem for them or for us.

EDIT: They used to ride in the back, on the bed, but after some super bumpy roads, they now hate it back there, and refuse to ride back there unless I'm with them (while husband drives).
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Old 10-28-2014, 02:19 PM   #11
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MILATV,
Here is the wire to pull to allow the step to extend with the engine running...

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Old 10-28-2014, 02:21 PM   #12
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My Lab also learned to back up rather quickly in the Interstate. But this is the only van she's ever been in so she doesn't know that a larger RV exists 😃🚐
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Old 10-28-2014, 07:34 PM   #13
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One last note...you have to learn to step over your dog(s). It's really the only way to make peace with the situation.
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Old 10-28-2014, 08:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post

Of course, then there's the issue of the legendary roughness in the back of the Interstate. We knew about this prior to making our purchase decision but still, I was surprised when on a rough section of IH-10 east of Beaumont Texas, my rear end actually left the couch and I became airborne. THAT is what I call rough! Not sure how doggie is going to feel about that kind of thing, because it definitely does not occur in a minivan.

My husband is already gearing up to procure spousal approval for the really expensive suspension upgrade. He says it's much cheaper if done DIY. We shall see.
I've been following all of the suspension mod threads/posts and as far as I can tell most of them have succeeded in improving handling and stability but none have eliminated the launch pad effect when hitting moderate to large perturbations in the road surface.

Someone did mention an air bag suspension that sells in the $10K range plus installation. It's hard to make a 1 1/4 ton chassis ride like a limo.
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