Has this happened to you? Your dog is standing near you one second – and the next, it is chasing a car down the street. Your heart is in your throat. When you catch up to your dog, you gather your beloved pet safely to you. But at some point – you might not be so lucky.
Chasing cars isn't just annoying, it's dangerous for both your dog and the driver. In an attempt to not harm your dog, the driver risks his own life avoiding traffic and other obstacles, which may include pedestrians. Because dogs instinctively forage for prey in competition with other members of their pack, chasing a vehicle may be your dog’s way of claiming territorial rights. Cars represent something to chase just as a fast animal may be chased as prey. It's important that you teach your dog what it can chase, and what must be avoided.
How do you stop your dog from chasing cars?
• Figure out why it is chasing and then fill that need
If your dog always chases the delivery truck, for example, maybe it simply wants to be social. In that case, you can put your dog on a leash and let it greet the delivery driver safely.
• Recognize instinctual behavior
If your dog is a herding dog, it's in its nature to round things up. Shelties and collies, for example, exhibit this type of behavior naturally. Enrolling your dog in trials or agility training can help your dog focus more positively so that chasing cars becomes less enticing.
• Put your dog on a leash or behind a fence
If your dog is of a breed that is a natural "chaser," recognize that you'll never be able to quash this behavior entirely. Control your dog whenever you're out near traffic by putting it on a leash. Keep your dog indoors or in a well-fenced backyard unless it is on a leash, all the time.
• Take charge
Remember that above all, you're in charge. Make yourself the authority and learn to control your dog by command with your voice. When your dog is a puppy, teach it to obey you by clapping loudly to get its attention and then rewarding appropriate behavior with a treat or exuberant praise.
• Contain, contain, contain, contain, contain
Whenever you're in doubt, put your dog in the house, away from danger. Better safe than sorry – and remember, even the most well-behaved dogs may have instinctual behaviors that simply can't be totally controlled with behavior modification. Take your time, be patient, and reward whenever you can. While you may never completely control the behavior, necessarily, you can certainly take great strides toward minimizing its dangers by removing your dog from intimidating environments whenever necessary.