How to Train Your Dog to Not Run After Cars

Medium
1-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You love your dog nearly as much as you love your children, and possibly more than you love your partner. So when you see him constantly try to chase cars when you go out for walks, you can’t help but fear the worst. You’ve had more than one or two moments when your heart has dropped into your stomach as he has leaped into the road and charged after a truck.

It isn’t just the fear of losing him that worries you, it’s the thought that he may cause a serious accident and other people may be seriously injured too. For your peace of mind and for his health, you need to get this bad habit under control, not to mention it doesn’t set the best example of road traffic safety to your kids. 

Defining Tasks

Thankfully, training your dog not to chase after cars is relatively straightforward. You will need to rigorously use obedience commands to increase your control over him. You will also need to take a number of steps to deter him from traffic sports.

The younger your dog is the more receptive will be quicker to respond to training. Older dogs can also successfully be trained to stop running after cars, but it may take several weeks before they finally kick the habit.

While some tricks and commands are trained into dogs for fun, like fetching the newspaper, this sort of training is essential to save the life of both your dog and other road users. You don’t want to lose your canine friend and be held responsible for a life-changing traffic collision too.

Getting Started

Before you begin training you will need to get together several things. First, your dog's favorite food or some doggie treats will be essential to incentivize and reward him during training. A secure leash and potentially a body harness will also be needed if you have a big, strong dog. Some quiet space, free from distractions and away from seriously busy roads, will also be needed.

Once you have these bits together, just come with a positive frame of mind and you’re ready to get to work!

The Come Method

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Step
1
Quiet field
Head into a quiet field with your dog and some tasty treats. You are going to teach him to return to you whenever you call him. That way you can always bring him to your side, even when there are distractions like moving cars.
Step
2
Step away
With him on a leash, take several steps away from him. You need to ensure there is enough distance between you both that he can’t get to you too quickly, but that he is close enough that his attention will be solely on you.
Step
3
'Come'
Say ‘come’ and lure him over with a treat in hand. As soon as he comes to you, give him the treat and shower him with praise. It is important you give him the treat quickly so he associates the action with the treat.
Step
4
Repeat
Repeat this training daily for 10-15 minutes. Each day, take more and more steps away before calling him over. Lose the leash when you can call him over from a distance the leash doesn’t extend to. Consistency is key, so be sure to keep up the training each day for at least a couple of weeks until you can call him over from 30-40 yards away.
Step
5
Slowly introduce distractions
Now he understands and responds to the command, introduce distractions and continue calling him over to you. Start by going to places where there are other dogs, then up the stakes and go onto quiet roads. When he still responds quickly to your ‘come’ command, slowly reduce the frequency of treats until you feel confident taking him around busy roads again.
Recommend training method?

The Monitor & Exercise Method

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Step
1
More exercise
Increase the length you walk him or increase the tempo on walks. Many dogs chase because they have pent up energy. Simply tiring him out with more exercise can often kill the desire to chase moving vehicles. If you can’t walk him more frequently, throw them a tennis ball throughout walks, the constant sprinting will quickly tire him out.
Step
2
Extendable leash
Use an extendable leash when you are close to roads. You must be responsible around roads, so until his chasing is under control, always keep him on an extendable leash around dangerous areas. He will still have the flexibility to walk around and sniff plenty of unpleasant places, but you will also be able to pull him back if needs be.
Step
3
Consider a body harness
If your dog is big and strong, a body harness can seriously increase the level of control you have over your canine friend, plus it puts less strain on his neck when you pull at the leash. They can be bought from a range of online retailers and local pet stores and are straightforward to fit.
Step
4
Always secure him
If you live on a busy road, always secure him when he is outside. A long rope tied to a tree or an extendable leash will do the trick and it will totally remove his ability to chase cars.
Step
5
React swiftly
Be firm when your dog does chase, by shouting "No!" or using a compressed air can to make an unpleasant sound. As soon as he tries to chase, emit the sound close to him and it will quickly send the message of disapproval. Consistency is key, so be sure to discourage the behavior every single time until he slowly kicks the habit.
Recommend training method?

The Reduce Pulling Method

Effective
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Step
1
Set off
Secure him to a leash and head out down a quiet road. You are going to train him to always walk calmly next to you, so he knows chasing after cars is an absolute NO!
Step
2
Wait
Wait for him to reach the end of the leash and hold onto it securely. Keep a close eye on him, you need to be able to react instantly.
Step
3
The 180
As soon as he pulls you, yank the leash in the opposite direction and start walking the other way. Repeat this every time he pulls, even if you walk the same 5 steps back and forward for 10 minutes. Practice doing this for 15 minutes each day and soon enough he will realize that if he wants to walk anywhere, he will have to wander calmly next to you within the confines of the leash.
Step
4
Introduce distractions
Start by walking in places where there will be other dogs and repeat the same process as above. It may be challenging to start with, but dogs gradually learn that pulling isn’t acceptable.
Step
5
Final few treats
Now try walking him on a quiet road and bring some treats with you. Repeat the same training as before, but now each time a car goes past and he doesn’t try to chase them, quickly give him a treat and praise him. Continue doing this until he stops trying to chase cars altogether, then slowly reduce the frequency of the treats until they are no longer needed.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Ninja
Labrador Retriever
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Ninja
Labrador Retriever
4 Years

Hello, my dog tends to run after cars and I've tried to get her to stop. I need help on how to get her to stop doing it. Please help!!!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ashley, I highly suggest hiring a local professional trainer who is extremely experienced with using electric collars, and also uses positive reinforcement. Car chasing is a very serious, often prey driven, behavior. You need to teach a strict avoidance. You can teach this the way that you would stop livestock chasing. Always practice such training on a normal or long leash, never off-leash, so that your dog cannot get to a car at any point, even if you think she is doing well. You want a trainer to help you find the proper collar stimulation level to train her on, and work on teaching her a command that means get away from that, like "Out" or "Leave It". When she starts toward a car or fixates on it, give her the command and if she turns away from the car, then praise and reward her. If she does not leave it alone, then correct with the e-collar remote on the proper level, and then when she is "snapped" out of her fixation and obeys your command, reward her. Start doing this on a six or eight foot leash for control and make sure that she cannot slip out of the harness or collar that you are using for her. You may want to clip her into both for added safety. As she improves on the six-foot leash and can obey you while you are right beside her or the car is further away, then purchase a twenty-foot leash and work on her obedience while you are further away from her but she is still securely leashed. If she is pretty strong, then attach the end of the leash to something secure and not yourself, like a column on your porch, as a backup for safety. Eventually, you can even attach her to something very secure in a safe area, like your neighborhood and front yard, and hide somewhere close-by where you can still see her but she cannot see you. When a car drives by, if she attempts to chase it because you are not there to stop her, then correct her with the electric collar remote. Doing that will help her to associate the correction with the car and not just you, so that she is not as likely to try to do the behavior when you are not present or prepared for it. Do not simply go out and buy an e-collar for this. Cheap, poorly made ones can be dangerous and there is a very specific, safer way to use them. Get the help of a qualified trainer. High quality brands include: Garmin, E-collar Technologies, Dogtra, and SportDog. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Luna
Golden retriever x poodle
13 Months
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Question
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Luna
Golden retriever x poodle
13 Months

Started 2 months ago chasing slow moving 4WDs on the beach (where we walk for 2 hours every morning playing fetch and playing with other dogs) She gets lots of exercise (another 50min walk at night each day and some play time during the day)
She also likes chasing wildlife and birds (plentiful where we live).
I use a whistle, followed by come command or here and arm signal which results in about 80% recall. Lots of distractions on the beach (buried bate, dead fish, other dogs, birds, fishermen etc). She has 90% recall when none of those distractions around, but not always on the first command. I have had her since she was 7 months old.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to give you information on how to teach recall. Recall: STAGE ONE – 'Catching' or Charging Up the 'Come' Cue Start in a distraction free environment so that your dog can focus only on you. Whenever your puppy or dog is coming to you on his own, wait until he is a couple of feet from you and then say his name and the word 'come.' When he gets to you, make a big fuss. With this exercise, your dog will learn that coming to you is a really good thing. After a while, you can lengthen the distance between you and start using the word when he is coming to you from a greater distance. Coming to you should always be rewarded, whatever the circumstance and no matter how long it took your dog to respond. Motivate your dog to come by being exciting, running away from him, waving a toy, or having delicious food for him when he gets to you. This will show him that coming back to you the best thing he can do. STAGE TWO – Solidifying the Cue Through Play Make sure you play the Back and Forth game with another person that your dog is comfortable with. Start the game in a quiet environment so it is easy for your dog to focus on you. Hold your dog back while the other person calls him excitedly. Try not to use his name or the cue word but talk excitedly to ‘gee’ him up. Do not release him until the person calls his name followed by the cue word “come.” When the cue word is given, release your dog and let him go running to the person calling. As soon as he reaches them they should praise and reward him with a game of tug or a food reward. When your dog has had his reward, have the other person hold him back as you call him and release as you say his name followed by the cue word. When he comes to you reward him with another game of tug or food reward. Repeat this game back and forth but only do a few repetitions so your dog does not get bored or too tired. Keeping it fresh means the game is always fun to play. STAGE THREE – Adding Vocal Cue With Hand Signal Inside Now your dog knows what the word “come” means you can use the cue word to call him to you while adding a hand signal to the word. Hand signals are always good to build with vocal cues so that even if your dog cannot hear you he will understand what the hand signal means. This is good if your dog is a distance away from you. Start in a quiet environment. Walk away from your dog and call his name followed by the cue word and a hand signal. Praise and reward him when he comes to you. Start increasing the distance you call him from and praise for his compliance. If he does not respond, go back to the previous distance and repeat. Only practice this cue for a few minutes so your dog does not get bored. The secret to success is to always keep it fun, exciting and fresh. When your dog recognizes the hand signal, try calling his name and using the hand signal by itself without the vocal cue. You will then be able to use a combination of vocal cue only, hand signal only and the two together. Now your dog knows what the cue word means you can start to call him from different rooms or from areas where he cannot see you. This will encourage him to respond even when you are out of sight. STAGE FOUR – Adding Vocal Cue With Hand Signal Outside Now your dog is consistently coming to you in a distraction free environment you can proof your recall cue by taking it outside. Practice the recall in your yard and then gradually build up to the point where you can use it in the park or similar environment. The ultimate test is to use the recall when your dog is engaged in a different activity. Wait for a lull in that activity and then call your dog to you. Praise his decision to comply.

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