Car-chasing dogs is a serious problem; more serious than a lot of owners realize. Not only does car-chasing put the dog at risk, but it also puts the car’s driver and many other road users at risk too. Chronic car-chasing dogs often do not live to an old age. We’ve gathered some useful information for retraining your dog not to chase cars, bike riders or runners.
Many owners think that their dog’s car-chasing habit is amusing, and may even joke about it, but they will think otherwise when their dog is injured, or worse if a child or adult is hurt because of their dog’s car-chasing habit. A car-chasing dog will also chase motorbikes, and push bikes. It really is not funny to be chased by a dog when on a bike, and it is far more dangerous to the biker.
Car-Chasing is a totally natural behavior for a dog, as a dog’s natural instinct is to chase anything that moves, be it a cat, rabbit, a jogger or a bike. But the fact that car-chasing is natural does not mean that it should be allowed to happen or even worse become a habit. Car-chasing can and may occur because of a dog’s predatory instincts or out of playfulness, or possibly out of territorial instincts chasing away an intruder. Car-chasing can become a problem with regular callers like the delivery man, the paperboy or the postman, who call regularly. Your dog will soon come to anticipate their arrival and lay in wait for them, chasing them off of the premises; this is a guarding instinct and one that they come to enjoy. If left unchecked, this could even become dangerous to playing children as they run around outdoors. Although the animal would not be chasing them for aggressive reasons, his excitement at the chase may result in injury to the running children who may become scared, possibly inciting aggression by the dog.
If your dog has the car-chasing habit, he should never be allowed to run loose, where he would have the opportunity to chase cars, runners or bikers until he can be controlled by a command from you.
Training tips to help stop car-chasing:
- First of all, never chase the dog, that only encourages them to run more.
- Trying to lure your dog with a treat seldom works, either. The dog will generally snatch the treat and bolt again before you have time to grab their collar.
- Firmly call your dog's “nickname” (not actual name), in a tone that is definitely not playful. This will at least get your dog’s attention almost immediately, as he recognizes the name. He may not come to you right away, but getting his attention as quickly as possible is a key first step in the right direction. Using the nickname is critical, especially when you’re using a firm or loud tone, as he will run away from you if you use his actual name, as he will know he’s done something wrong and punishment may follow.
- Start at home, with your dog on a lead. Keep commands simple using single words. Throw toys for him, and immediately command him to “leave” or call him to you. If your dog does not respond you can enforce your command with a firm tug on the lead. Practice this routine until he responds properly. It is very important during training to offer a reward “every” time he responds quickly and correctly. It is just as important to make it clear by a firm tug on the lead that he has not responded correctly or fast enough “every” time he fails to listen. It may seem like your dog is never going to get it right, but patience and consistency will reward you and your dog.
- Next get a friend to run, cycle or drive past you and your dog. Practice commanding your dog to “stop” or “leave” if he attempts to chase. Continue to practice until your dog no longer chases or stops 100% of the time when given a simple voice command. Always reward the correct behavior and never reward failure to adhere instantly to your command.
- Sometimes dogs chase cars because they have pent up energy. Try to take your dog for a walk whenever you get the opportunity to help squelch that need to run and burn off energy. When walking your dog make sure he is always on a leash, no exceptions. When beyond the boundaries of your home, a dog should know that certain behavior is required; a leash helps the dog learn control.
- Get your dog to chase you! Dogs love to play with their owners and this will give both of your great exercise and yet another opportunity to burn off energy and bond.
What to do if you are being chased by a dog:
Runners can buy small handheld devices that either emit a very loud noise (anti-attack devices) or emit a high pitch sound that cannot be heard by humans but are not liked by dogs. With an appropriate loud “No” followed by a “good boy” in a friendly voice, and possibly a tidbit, they may deter the chasing dog. It is best to proceed in a walk rather than a run, at least until out of the dog’s sight or range.
Bikers, that are subject to car-chasing dogs, could use similar devices, along with a water-filled spray bottle. Dogs do not like water sprayed into their faces. Bikers are at a disadvantage because they run the risk of falling of the bikes and being injured, plus use of their hands are limited.
Car drivers need to act carefully. Car-chasing dogs do not like the sound of hard braking, and it only has to be applied a couple of times to make the dog weary. This can only be implemented if the dog is beside you where you can see them, or behind you as you drive off. You do not need a lot of speed, but when you can see that the dog is in a safe position, press firmly on your brakes. The sound of the wheels sliding on tarmac, or even better on gravel, will cause the dog to back off. He may come back for a second try, but runs off after a second dose. You will notice that the next time you meet the dog, he will still be interested in “having a chase”, but will be weary and one braking application will send him away.
Of course, the easiest method is to not let your dog run off at all, but for most dog owners, that is an unrealistic goal. Even a well-trained dog who comes on command may decide he'd rather burn off some extra energy with a sprint around town. Keeping your dog interested and happy with what's going on at home, and making sure that he gets some regular exercise, will help keep your dog at home where he belongs!