Why Do Dogs Chase Vehicles and How to Stop a Dog from Chasing Cars

Why do dogs chase cars? How to stop a dog from chasing cars. How to prevent a dog from chasing vehicles. Why is my dog chasing cars? What can I do to stop my dog from chasing cars? I want to leave my dog loose but every time I do he chases cars, this is dangerous, how can I train my dog not to chase cars so it does not get run over?
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Not all dogs chase cars but for those that do it can be a dangerous habit. When a dog chases a car it is on the road and could be hit by other vehicles, or the one it is chasing could turn and hit it, or the driver could be startled as the dog dashes out onto the road and they could get into an accident. In some areas it is illegal to allow a dog to chase cars. Understanding why dogs chase vehicles is important to getting them to stop.

Why Dogs Chase Vehicles

Dogs chase cars for several reasons depending on their breed, and experience. Some breeds have a high prey drive, they love to chase, the same thing applies to herding dogs – they love to chase. Dogs who have tendencies to guard, may also start to chase cars. In any case the dog chases vehicles often enough and through experience learns that every car it chases... leaves. The dog (especially guard dogs) think they did a good thing, chasing the intruder away. Essentially every time a vehicle drives away, the dog feels rewarded.

Dogs who are not mentally stimulated enough in their day may start chasing cars out of boredom. It is worth noting one of the breeds of dog that commonly chases cars is the border collie – these are extremely smart dogs, breed for herding – and very smart – if bored they look for things to do to entertain themselves, and car chasing seems to be a habit of choice when their mental needs are not otherwise met.  Boredom often leads to negative behavior - some bored dogs dig, some bored dogs bark, some bored dogs chase cars.

Ultimately a dog chases vehicles because the owner has done nothing to stop it.

dog waiting to chase a car

photo source - Dog Waiting to ambush passing cars - note the dog is of an intelligent herding breed.

How to Stop a Dog from Chasing Vehicles

The first, and most obvious method, is to keep the dog contained so it cannot chase cars.

Proper training is the other method of getting dogs to stop chasing cars, this takes time, and can be done different ways.

With the dog on leash have it in a sit position, giving it rewards for sitting and behaving (dogs who have had obedience training, particularly clicker training, will learn quicker than those who have not had proper training). Have a friend drive by, keep the dog focused on you, praise it and offer it treats (these should be soft treats cut small), if the dog looks at the vehicle, or tries to go after it, restrain it, but do not talk to it - until it sits and focuses on you again, only then continue to praise and offer treats.

This will need to be repeated a few times for several days, until the dog shows no interest in running after a car. You may have several people drive by (in different vehicles – or on bikes). After each training session be sure to engage the dog in some sort of activity it likes, such as a game of catch or Frisbee.

It is very important that the dogs needs for mental simulation be met, or that the dog be confined (not chained) to prevent it from chasing cars when it cannot otherwise be watched.

*Never yell at, or punish a dog for chasing cars - dogs do not understand this as a punishment and often consider the attention given as a reward.

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Heather Tooley
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