For a dog owner, there are few things scarier than the thought of your dog running out into traffic. It can be frustrating that they don’t see and understand why this behavior is dangerous and instinctively keep themselves away from spaces of so much risk. The survival instinct tends to be strong in dogs and they’ve carried a lot through the domestication process. However, when it comes to unnatural aspects of the human world, such as a busy road with human-made cars, something doesn’t translate. And your dog doesn’t have the common sense to not go running into risky situations.
Why do dogs chase cars? And how can we stop it?
Understanding Why Dogs Chase Cars
First, let’s try to understand the behavior and where it is coming from. Sometimes chasing after cars is instinctual, and sometimes it is a learned behavior. Back in the old days, your dog’s ancestors had to hunt down their food in the wild, and they were predators. While this has morphed into a much more playful trait, many breeds love to chase.
For the most part, they can’t help it, it’s a part of their nature. As a car is driving down a road, the flashy metal spinning on the tires can look very similar to the way a small animal would move, which can be very enticing to a dog’s eye. It’s important to have some empathy for your dog’s natural instincts and understand that the human world is unnatural. The chase instinct would be perfectly safe without the confusing happenings of the human world that put all animals in harm’s way.
There is also the chance that they are trying to protect you. Cars make a lot of sounds that your dog hears much more intensely than you do. Especially if you live near a busy road, it can feel like cars are coming into your space, and your dog may feel threatened.
Chasing cars can also be a behavior that puppies learn and carry into adulthood. That’s why it’s very important to catch this behavior early on. Some dog owners may think it’s cute that their puppy wants to run after their car while they are leaving and may accidentally encourage the behavior. Make sure to not do this. It gets much harder to train your dog to not chase after cars as they get older and the behavior gets more ingrained.
How to Stop Dogs From Chasing Cars:
If you have a dog that loves to chase cars, the most effective thing you can do to keep them safe is to keep them out of situations where they have the opportunity to chase the cars. You will probably want to keep them on a leash when you are in public, especially if you are anywhere near a road or if they aren’t the best at coming when you call. Also, one of the other most effective preventive measures you can put in place is a fence around your yard. This gives them space to run around and be free without you having to carefully watch their every move, and you can know they are safe.
Of course, if your dog is an escape artist like mine, it is almost inevitable that they will get out, despite whatever precautionary measures are taken. If you have an adult dog who chases cars and you are frightened for their safety, it may be worth calling in a professional to work with your dog for a few sessions. It is difficult to train an adult dog to not chase cars if this is behavior they are very used to. However, a few sessions with a professional dog trainer can be very effective.
They can identify your dog’s specific needs and give you training tools and techniques specific to your situation. While it’s great to put as many preventative measures in place to keep your dog from getting out and having access to cars in the first place, some professional training can offer you some peace of mind in these almost inevitable situations of your dog getting free.
The Phenomenon of Chasing Cars
Overall, dogs chasing cars is frightening for everyone involved. It’s scary to think that your dog doesn’t have the common sense to not put themselves in such extreme danger. However, when we take a moment to have a little empathy for their natural instincts it is understandable why they run after cars. Every dog is different and every home situation is different, but if your dog is a runner or a car chaser, you will need a plan of action to keep them out of harm’s way. This will look a little different for every dog and every home, but hopefully you have picked up a few ideas to implement into your situation to keep your dog safe.