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Because canines are natural predators, many pets love the thrill of the chase. Unfortunately, cars, minivans, and bicycles aren’t exactly traditional prey items for canines.
Chasing behavior is largely instinctual in canines, especially in certain breeds of terriers, sighthounds, and herding dogs. You won’t be able to eliminate your pet’s desire to chase, but it is possible to control this dangerous activity. The easiest way, of course, is to cut off his access to the street. Does your yard have an escape-proof fence? If it does not have a fence, keep your dog secured on a tether when you are not around to supervise him. And companion canines should never be allowed off-leash in heavily-trafficked areas. No matter how well-trained your pet may be, accidents can and do happen.
There are several remedies you can try if your dog already is an established car or bicycle chaser.
Have a friend who your dog doesn’t know well bike or drive past your pet. The test vehicle shouldn’t be yours or any other he’s familiar with. If your dog starts to chase the vehicle, the friend should come to a stop, squirt him with a water pistol and give him a firm “NO!” You can also substitute a noisemaker for the squirt gun – the louder, the better. As your pet gives chase, your friend should sound the horn. It’s easiest to do this exercise at a time of the day when there won’t be much road traffic. Great care needs to be taken, so your dog does not get into, or cause, an automobile accident during training.
the SIT command
As an alternative, secure your dog on a 10- or 20-foot lead. As your friend slowly drives or bikes past, command your dog to “Sit.” Offer him a food reward for sitting on command as the car or bike passes. Repeat this exercise several times, with the friend very gradually increasing speed; at the end of the session, give your dog a favorite toy.
Repeat the exercise the next time out, but don’t offer food rewards and use his toy as a distraction. As a final step, as the friend moves past, throw the toy for your dog to retrieve in the opposite direction of the moving vehicle. The idea, in this case, is to distract him from the chase.
As you retrain, it’s a good idea to assess your dog’s current activity level. Is he getting enough exercise? If not, your dog may view car chasing as the perfect way to combat boredom and meet his exercise requirements. Be sure to get in two good walks every day, as well as some structured games – especially ones that involve an element of the chase, such as fetching. If he persists, you may need to work with a professional to solve this difficult problem.
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