Why Dogs Chase Humans

Common
Concerning

Introduction

Dogs love to chase humans and that's a fact. Have you noticed how you can run a few laps around the lawn with your dog right behind you, ears flapping, tongue lolling, tail wagging and he'll show absolutely no intention of giving up the chase? He'd carry on for as long as you can and even when he was out of breath, he'd still want to chase you some more. You could probably run a marathon and, after the full twenty-six miles, where would he be? Yes, you guessed it, still right behind you. What is it that makes dogs like chasing people so much?

The Root of the Behavior

Have you ever considered that your dog loves you so much he would follow you anywhere? It's true. To him you are the leader so when he's chasing after you, he's just obeying his inborn instinct to follow the leader and run with the pack. The same as a team of Huskies when they're hooked up to a sled, when the lead dog runs, they all go after him and there's absolutely no stopping them. Where you lead, he will follow because his loyalty knows no bounds. Running is a joyous occupation for a dog. You only have to watch them doing it to know how much they really love it. If he sees you doing it, he'll chase you as there's no way he's going to miss out on the fun of doing one of his favorite things. He's sees you all excited and thinks something is going to happen and he doesn't want to miss out on that, does he? He's going to run with you until you both get to where it's all happening, no matter where that may be. What if it's not you that your dog is chasing? If it's another human being, had they happened to stray onto your property, seen the dog or heard him barking at their impromptu intrusion, and then ran because they're either afraid of dogs or were planning on getting up to some mischief? By chasing after that person, your dog was doing what he knows best, which is defending both you, his lucky owner, and his own territory. Yes, you know the house and backyard belongs to you, but your dog thinks differently. As far as he's concerned, it's all his. Dogs have strong feelings about who should be close and who shouldn't, which can, on occasion, be a good thing. Dogs have a built-in sense about people and often, for no discernible reason, they'll take a dislike to someone. The same way we do. Although we tend to be more adept at covering up our personal feelings, a dog has no social inclination to do so and, with intent, will chase away the person they dislike, given the appropriate opportunity.

Encouraging the Behavior

For a dog, chasing humans can provide some valuable exercise. Whether you are at home or in the park, your dog will have a great time chasing after you, it's a fun occupation for our canine friends. From when he was a puppy and you were trying to teach him the command to come to you, can you remember running a short way in front so he could lope after you, then praising him for following? He'll always want to continue that behaviour because he knows he's going to get some pats and affectionate attention when he does it. Somewhere in his doggy brain he'll recall that time, so why wouldn't he want to replicate it by chasing you again? It was a fun and happy time for the both of you. However, a dog chasing humans is not always a good thing. It's okay if he's being protective of your property and chasing a prospective thief away, but what if you've got young children running around? Or, maybe the person he likes to chase is a jogger running past the house on an innocent morning run? It's hard for your dog to differentiate between what he can chase and what he can’t, to him it's all fun, but that fun can easily turn into an accident. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

Even if you know your dog is friendly and would never bite anyone, he really shouldn’t chase people. Chasing after people running by, someone's child on a bike, or even the mailman or trash collectors is a behavior which needs to be prevented. It can upset the kids, alienate the neighbors, and land you with a lawsuit if your dog's chasing causes any injuries. Joining in with some sessions with a professional dog trainer will help him and you make sure he only chases after the right things. What if your dog has always run after you and suddenly decides he just can't be bothered with the whole effort of sprinting to catch up? He may well be feeling his age and in pain from something like arthritis. Or, if he's not getting on in years, he may be under the weather with another doggy ailment which you haven't detected. If he's stopped chasing anything that moves, it might be an idea to get him checked out by your vet.

Conclusion

Dogs love to chase things. It's part of their primeval make-up. They're never happier than when they are running, head into the wind and paws going as fast as possible after something. All you need to do is make sure they chase the right things. It could be you, it could be a ball, or if you're lucky, a frisbee across the damp sand of a beach as the sun sets on the distant horizon.