Dogs That Chase are at Risk
Dogs are natural hunters, and pursuing prey is a deeply-ingrained trait. When a car or bike or child on a skateboard whiz by a dog, their prey instinct can be triggered, and they are off to the races. When dogs see something that is “running away” from them, their natural instinct is to chase it down. But just because the urge to chase is natural, does not mean the behavior is OK. Some owners find their dog’s chasing habits to be amusing, but they are actually quite dangerous. Children on bikes or skateboards can hurt themselves trying to get away from a chasing dog, people on motorcycles or driving automobiles also put themselves, their passengers and the dog at risk during a chase.
Unfortunately, most dogs that chase cars don’t live to see their golden years. The odds of being hit by a car increase exponentially when a dog is a chaser. It is important to understand why your dog chases and learn some steps that you can take to prevent your dog from chasing, and potentially save his life.
Why Do Dogs Chase?
Even though the dog has been domesticated for thousands of years, dogs still have many traits and characteristics that are inherent in wild canines. The chase of prey is one of these traits, and some dogs that still have the urge to run down wild prey may chase cars, people, or anything that appears to be fleeing. In these cases, the dog sees a wild animal, and their instinct to chase prey takes over.
Dogs that are terribly bored may also chase as a form of entertainment. For many outside dogs that have no other form of amusement, chasing may be the highlight of their day. Of course, some dogs that have many other activities may still choose to chase simply because it is a game that they thoroughly enjoy.
Chasing behavior may also occur if a dog is protecting its territory. While the street, and even down the road, may not seem like the dog’s territory to people, in a dog’s mind the range of territory often extends beyond the home. Much like a person ringing the doorbell or coming up to the front door, a moving object can be seen as an invasion of territory. In this case, once the dog has chased the intruder out of its territory it often immediately returns home.
Stopping Your Dog from Chasing
Once chasing behavior has developed it can be very difficult to stop. Pet owners can try to increase their dog’s level of activities by playing with their dog more often and taking their dog for plenty of walks. If the dog is chasing due to boredom, then livening up your dog’s life may stop the behavior.
Dogs that are chasing because they believe they are running down prey or protecting their home will need more serious forms of intervention. The best method is to prevent your dog from getting outside where it can chase people, other animals, or cars. A secure fenced in back yard and vigilance at the doors may help to prevent any escapes that lead to car chasing.
If a pet owner lives in an area that is impossible to fence, then the best way to prevent their dog from chasing is to install an electric fence. Once the dog crosses the invisible boundary when it goes to chase , it will receive a mild shock through a collar. While this is not an inexpensive option, veterinarian bills incurred through accidents and injuries from chasing can be much more expensive.
A professional behavior therapist may also be able to help a dog to stop chasing. The therapist will need to spend time at the dog’s home with the dog and the pet owner to instill behavioral modification techniques.