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Training Your Dog to Stop Chasing Cars or Bicycles

Training Your Dog to Stop Chasing Cars or Bicycles

Dogs chase moving objects like cars and bicycles for a variety of reasons. Some of the common reasons include:

  • Instinct – Chasing moving objects is natural predatory behavior for dogs. Their instinct tells them to chase anything that moves fast. This instinct dates back to when dogs were wild and needed to hunt for survival.

  • Excitement – For many dogs, the sheer thrill and excitement of chasing a fast moving object overrides their training. The adrenaline rush can become addictive to them.

  • Play – Young energetic dogs may see chasing cars and bikes as a form of play. Especially if they get positive reinforcement in the form of attention from their owner when they chase.

  • Territory – Dogs are very territorial and may chase vehicles that enter an area they consider their domain. They see the object as an intruder and give chase to scare it away.

  • Anxiety – Dogs with separation anxiety may chase after their owner's car due to distress at seeing them leave. Dogs left alone for long periods may also chase cars for attention.

  • Lack of training – Dogs that are untrained lack impulse control. If they spot a cyclist or car they may simply act on their instinct to chase without thinking.

  • Prey drive – Some breeds have an especially strong prey drive that kicks in when they see a fast moving object. Herding breeds and terriers for example are prone to high prey drive.

No matter the reason, chasing cars and bikes is very unsafe for both dogs and people. It's crucial owners train dogs not to chase.

How Chasing Cars and Bikes can be Dangerous

Chasing moving vehicles pose a major danger to dogs and humans alike. Some of the risks include:

For dogs:

  • Getting hit by the vehicle they are chasing. This can lead to severe injuries or death.

  • Colliding with another vehicle while in pursuit. Again risking injury and death.

  • Getting feet burnt from hot asphalt and concrete, especially in summer.

  • Getting lost while too focused on the chase. Can end up in unfamiliar areas.

  • Getting stolen if they corner the vehicle and a malicious person takes them.

For humans:

  • Driver distraction if the dog darts across the road unexpectedly. Raises risk of accident.

  • Driver swerving to avoid the dog, potentially hitting pedestrians or other vehicles.

  • Motorcycle/bicycle riders getting injured if the dog causes them to crash.

  • Lawsuits if the loose dog causes vehicle damage or rider/driver injury.

It's clear that allowing dogs to chase cars and bikes is irresponsible not just for the dog but for the whole community. Proper training is essential for everyone's safety.

How to Train Your Dog Not to Chase

Training a dog not to chase requires patience, consistency and positive reinforcement. Here are some effective techniques:

Use Desensitization

  • Start by exposing your dog to a parked car/bike at a distance. Reward calm behavior with treats.

  • Gradually move closer as the dog stays relaxed. If he gets agitated, move back to a comfortable distance.

  • When desensitized to a stationary vehicle, have someone move it slowly as you continue rewarding calmness.

  • Very gradually increase speed as you train until dog remains composed around moving vehicles.

Teach An Alternative Behavior

  • Teach a solid "Look at me" cue to redirect their focus from the distraction.

  • Ask for a sit and reward eye contact when a car/bike passes during walks.

  • Teach them to go to their spot or bed when vehicles approach. Toss treats to keep them there.

Correct Chasing

  • When the dog takes off, use your recall cue once. Praise if he returns.

  • If he doesn't respond, walk away in the opposite direction so he gets no reward.

  • Be sure to reward with high value treats whenever he disengages on his own.

Increase Distance

  • As your dog masters ignoring nearer vehicles, practice from farther distances.

  • Vary locations – street corners, parks, trails etc. Dogs don't generalize well so proof the behavior.

  • Use higher value rewards when distraction level is high to reinforce obedience.

Consider Leash Restraints

  • Keep your dog leashed whenever cars/bikes are around until his training is solid.

  • Use a front clip harness to gain better head control if your dog pulls towards traffic.

  • Retractable/long lines can allow safety and freedom while preventing chasing.

Manage the Environment

  • Block access to busy streets with fencing if possible. Stop opportunities.

  • Walk your dog during quieter hours to avoid high traffic periods.

  • Muzzle your dog if his chasing drive is extremely high despite training.

Enrich Their Environment

  • Make sure your dog gets adequate physical and mental exercise. A bored under-stimulated dog is more likely to chase vehicles.

  • Provide interactive puzzle toys to engage their brain and work off energy in the yard.

  • Obedience training and canine sports like agility are great outlets and build better self-control.

Seek Professional Help

If your efforts don't reduce your dog's chasing, consult an animal behaviorist. They can assess your dog's behavior and prescribe customized training protocols using desensitization, counter-conditioning and positive reinforcement. Medical issues can sometimes contribute to obsessive chasing, so a vet exam may be recommended.

What to Do If Your Dog Gets Loose

If despite precautions your dog does get loose and starts chasing, here are some tips:

  • Don't chase after the dog yourself, it can further encourage chasing.

  • Remain calm, move slowly. Call your dog in a happy tone to avoid heightening their arousal.

  • Bring out a smelly treat or toy to capture their attention. Squeak a toy if voice isn't working.

  • Get down low, pat your legs and continue calling in an upbeat voice.

  • Wait for the dog to pause or look at you then praise and reward. Their chase instinct is on so you want to motivate them to stop with something more enticing.

  • If they return to you, give treats immediately. If not, don't punish. Just secure them quietly then practice engagement cues at home.

  • Ensure your dog's identification tags are updated so if you can't catch them quickly, they can be easily returned.

  • Alert authorities if your loose dog is continuing to harass traffic. They may be able to help capture them before harm occurs.

How to Regain Control in High Drive Chasing Situations

High prey drive dogs can be especially challenging when their chase instinct kicks in fully. Here are tactics to regain control and de-escalate the situation:

Stay Calm

  • Yelling will only add to the frenzied energy. Take a deep breath, speak softly.

Divert Their Attention

  • Throw a toy away from the street to break their locked stare.

  • Having a squeaker or making an odd sound can capture their focus.

Run Away

  • If your dog is chasing you, run in the opposite direction.

  • Turning your back and stopping play discourages the behavior.

Create Distance

  • Increase space between your dog and the chase target.

  • Get them behind a fence or barrier if possible. Reduces arousal.

Offer Rewards

  • Have tasty treats ready when they disengage from the chase.

  • Praise and reward calm behavior, even brief moments. This builds consistency.

Use Obedience Cues

  • Have them do simple cues like sit once their arousal has lowered slightly.

  • Keep it short and reward, don't drill repetitive commands.

Leash Restraint

  • Use your leash to gently but firmly guide your dog away from the road once the chase impulse passes.

Regain Trust

  • Don't punish high drive chasing. It can damage your bond and worsen the behavior.

  • Redirect to appropriate outlets like fetch sessions and scent games.

  • Rebuild engagement through fun training sessions at home.

Breeds Prone to Chasing and How to Help Them

Certain breeds are more prone to high prey drive and chasing due to their genetics and original purposes. Some examples include:

Herding Breeds

Breeds like Border Collies, Australian Shepherds and Corgis are wired to nip at heels to move livestock. Translate this to chasing bikes and cars.

Sighthounds

Breeds like Greyhounds, Whippets and Salukis are built for speed and will instinctively bolt after anything that moves fast.

Terriers

Feisty terriers like Jack Russell's were bred to hunt vermin. Their high energy and tenacity lends to chasing anything that grabs their attention.

Sporting Breeds

Retrievers, Spaniels and Pointers have strong prey drive since they were bred to help hunters. They love chase games.

For these dogs, extra diligence is required in their training:

  • Start anti-chase training early in puppyhood when they are more malleable.

  • Practice engagement cues like "watch me" around distractions frequently to keep their focus on you.

  • Exercise them vigorously to drain some of that energy and chase drive. Interactive toys help too.

  • Set clear rules and boundaries using positive reinforcement training methods. They thrive on structure.

  • Keep them leashed or in a safe enclosed area when vehicles are near until their training is bombproof.

  • If they have slipped up and chased, don't reprimand them harshly. Redirect their energy effectively.

With time, consistency and positive incentives, even breeds prone to chasing can learn to resist the behavior. But their extra impulse control challenges should never be underestimated.

What to Do If Your Neighbor's Dog Chases Your Car

Loose dogs that chase vehicles aren't just risky for their owners. As a driver, you may encounter neighbor's dogs rushing your car as well. Here's how to respond:

  • Don't slam your brakes or swerve suddenly. This could cause an accident or injure the dog.

  • Slow down gradually and drive to safety. Pull over if the dog continues pursuit.

  • Sound your horn firmly. Sometimes the loud noise can startle dogs into stopping the chase.

  • If the dog has cornered your vehicle, edge carefully away using your horn. Don't make sudden aggressive moves.

  • Call the dog gently using silly voices to distract without encouraging them near your vehicle.

  • Capture the dog if possible and look for contact information on their tags. Secure them in your yard or garage if needed.

  • Document details like date, time, location and a description of the dog. Photos and video can help too.

  • Go to your neighbor's home politely and express your concerns about the chasing. Offer help training tips.

  • If the issue persists, contact animal control. They can mandate secure fencing, leashing or other measures to prevent repeated chasing incidents.

Dealing with a neighbor's dog chasing your car isn't always comfortable. But remaining calm, safe and polite can help resolve the problem reasonably for everyone.

Preventing Chasing – Start Young With These Tips

Starting anti-chase training early in a dog's life makes the process easier compared to trying to retrain an adult dog with established chasing habits. Follow these tips with young puppies:

Socialize Safely

Get puppies gradually used to vehicle sights and sounds during key socialization windows using positive association and rewards.

Obedience Basics

Practice basic cues like come, stay, focus, leave it. Build their impulse control muscle.

Leash Manners

Teach polite walking and not to pull or lunge towards cars or bikes during leashed walks.

Set Boundaries

Reinforce rules like sitting calmly before crossing a street instead of charging into traffic.

Praise Restraint

Notice and reward any moment your pup chooses not to chase something moving. Capture calm behaviors.

Play Chase Games

Have fun playing chase with toys on strings. Gets the chase desire out in a safe controlled way.

Use Distractions

Redirect attention with a squeaky toy when they start focusing too intently on a passing car.

Limit Access

Fence yards securely so puppies don't have access to chase opportunities until thoroughly trained.

Starting young sets a strong foundation. But you must keep reinforcing training consistently as your dog matures. Adolescence is a common time for new behavior challenges to emerge.

How to Stop Your Dog From Chasing Its Own Tail

Dogs chasing their tails can be puzzling and disruptive for owners. While it may look cute, excessive tail chasing usually indicates an underlying issue. Some common reasons include:

Boredom – Lack of mental and physical exercise leads to pent up energy and tail chasing becomes an outlet. Rotate toys to keep them engaged.

Stress/Anxiety – Dogs chase tails to self-soothe anxiety. Ensure their needs are met and give them relaxing outlets like chews.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Dogs with OCD tendencies can become obsessed with tail chasing. Consult your vet.

Attention Seeking – Dogs learn tail chasing gets a reaction from you. Ignore the behavior and reward calmness.

Medical Cause – Issues like allergies, anal gland problems or neurological disorders can induce tail chasing. Seek a vet exam.

To curb tail chasing, address the underlying motivation:

More Exercise

Ensure your dog gets daily walks, play time, training sessions to burn energy.

Reduce Stress

Give them a safe space, soothing music or massage to relax. Limit loud noises and changes in routine.

Training

Teach the 'enough' cue when tail chasing then redirect to a toy or treat puzzle.

Distract

Interrupt and divert their attention with a fun game or Kong stuffed with food when they start.

Discouragement

Squirt water or shake a can to startle them out of constant chasing, but don't punish them for it.

Medication

For severe cases related to OCD/anxiety, anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds prescribed by your vet can help.

Tail chasing isn't just normal dog play. Persistent chasing indicates an issue needs addressing for their wellbeing. Seek professional advice if the behavior is excessive.

How to Stop Your Dog From Chasing Other Dogs

Having a dog that chases other dogs when on walks can be stressful and dangerous. But the behavior can be corrected with effort. Here are tips:

Obedience Training

Solid cues like 'leave it', 'watch me', 'heel' and 'sit' help refocus their attention on you when seeing a potential chase target. Practice these diligently.

Desensitization

Start by exposing your dog to another dog at a distance where they are calm. Slowly decrease distance as you reward relaxed behavior. This builds tolerance.

Correction

Use a firm "no chase" when they start to bolt, then redirect their attention positively back to you. Be consistent.

Prevention

Carry a citronella spray that can be sprayed near your dog to deter chasing. Use sparingly but effectively.

Praise Restraint

Verbal praise and treats when they disengage from staring or lunging at a passing dog helps them choose that behavior more often.

Head Halter

A head collar gives you control over their head to easily bring their gaze back to you instead of the distraction.

Sniff Games

Let them sniff and explore on walks rather than stalking other dogs. Take lower traffic routes to avoid triggers.

Socialization

Set up controlled play sessions with friend's polite dogs to teach social skills versus chasing.

With diligence and stopping the behavior before it starts, your dog can unlearn the chasing habit through alternative positive behaviors. But the earlier this is addressed the better, especially for high prey drive dogs prone to giving chase.

How to Stop Your Dog From Chasing Wildlife

Preventing your dog from chasing local wildlife like rabbits, squirrels and birds keeps both your dog and the wildlife safe. Here are tips:

Obedience

Reinforce solid recall, leave it, look at me and heel cues when wildlife is spotted on walks to refocus them.

Leash Control

Keep dogs leashed in areas with wildlife. Use a short leash to gain better control if chasing is a problem.

Distract

When you spot wildlife ahead, immediately engage your dog's attention on you using a fun squeaky toy or treats before they notice the animal.

Avoid Triggers

Take routes that don't have squirrel hot spots or obvious bird nesting sites to limit temptation to give chase.

Discourage Stalking

If your dog locks into stalking mode, interrupt that focus by walking away calmly in the opposite direction.

Praise Disengagement

Watch for any moments your dog looks away from the wildlife and reward that heavily with treats and praise. Reinforce their good choice to disengage.

Head Halter

A head halter gives you control to turn their head away from the temptation and back toward you.

Prevent Access

Use fencing like coyote rollers to stop your dog accessing wildlife habitats in your yard. Limit their temptation.

Chasing wildlife usually stems from high prey drive. With time and consistency, even dogs strongly wired to give chase can learn to resist the instinct when given the right direction.

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