Dogs That Chase Cars
One of the most serious, and unfortunately most common,
problem behaviors among dogs is that of chasing cars. Dogs must
be trained as early as possible that chasing cars is not
acceptable. That is because dogs that chase cars eventually
become dogs that catch cars, and car plus dog always equals big
There are many reasons that dogs chase
cars. For one thing, chasing moving objects is an ingrained,
instinctual behavior that can never be completely removed.
Chasing behaviors, however can and should be controlled through
a combination of good training and supervision.
Some dogs are more apt to chase cars, bikes, joggers,
cats and other dogs than are others. Dogs that have a high prey
drive, including breeds that have been bred for hunting, are
particularly susceptible to the thrill of the chase. Herding
breeds are also apt to chase cars, attempt to herd the
neighbors children, or express other undesired traits of their
One reason that many dogs chase cars in particular is
that they have learned to associate cars with good time and fun
things. Most dogs love to ride in the car, and when they see a
car they may try to chase it down for a ride.
No matter what your dog’s motivation for chasing cars,
however, it is important to curb this dangerous behavior as
quickly as possible. Training the dog not to chase cars starts
with teaching the dog the meaning of the “Off” command. The
“Off” command is one of the basic tenets of obedience, and it
must be mastered by every dog.
Teaching the dog to stay where he is, even if
interesting, exciting things are happening elsewhere, is very
important to all aspects of dog training. In the world of
professional dog training, this is sometimes referred to as
distraction training. Distraction training is very important,
and it is applicable to teaching the dog not to chase cars.
Teaching this important lesson is not something you will
be able to do on your own. You will need at least one other
person – a volunteer who will slowly drive by and tempt your
car with his bright, shiny object. You will stand with your dog
on his leash as the volunteer drives by. Having the volunteer
drive your own car can provide an even greater temptation,
since dogs are able to distinguish one car from another. If
your car is the one that provides his rides, it is likely to be
the most tempting object in the world.
When your friend drives by, either in your car or his,
watch your dog’s reaction carefully. If he begins to jump up or
move away, repeat the “Off” command and quickly return your dog
to the sitting position. If he remains where he is, be sure to
give him lavish amounts of praise and perhaps a treat or
Repeat this process many times over the course of a few
days. Once your dog is reliably remaining seated when your
friend drives by, start lengthening the distance between
yourself and your dog. A long, retractable leash works great
for this process. Slowly lengthen the distance between you and
your dog, while still making sure you have control.
Even after your dog is trained to not chase cars,
however, it is important to not leave him out off the leash
unsupervised. Leaving a dog unattended, except for within a
properly and securely fenced in yard, is simply asking for
trouble. Dogs are unpredictable, and it is always possible that
the chase instinct could kick in at exactly the wrong moment.
The best strategy is to confine the dog when you cannot