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How to Train Your Dog to Not to Run in Front of Cars

How to Train Your Dog to Not to Run in Front of Cars
Hard difficulty iconHard
Time icon1-2 Months
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Does your heart come to a crashing halt when you see your dog going near the road? No one wants to lose their furry family friend because he ran out in front of a car. But the burning question is, "Can you teach a dog not run out into the road and play with the traffic?"

You would think that dogs should be afraid of cars and other vehicles on the road. After all, cars are much bigger and faster. However, the reality is most dogs are not afraid of cars.  You must train them to be afraid of them, which is not going to be easy. A much better option might be to train your dog to simply stay out of the street.

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Defining Tasks

There is nothing worse than that feeling when your heart leaps in your throat, you stop breathing, and the whole world seems to halt as you watch your dog dodging between cars on his way across the road.

The ultimate goal is to teach your dog to stay out of the street whether you are with him or he is out on his own. What starts out as obedience training could save your dog's life. You can teach any age dog to follow instructions, but the younger they are the faster they are likely to learn. The only thing needed before you start is to have your dog trained to follow basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘down’ and ‘come’.

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Getting Started

In order to properly train your dog not to run out into the street and in front of cars, you will need a few supplies and plenty of training time.

  • His favorite treats: Good training involves the use of treats and praise as positive reinforcement rewards. 
  • A long-leash:  A long leash of 20-30 feet lets you work with your pup from a distance.
  • Patience: Training your dog to stay out of the road is going to take time and plenty of patience if you want to succeed.

The big thing to remember is that training your dog to stay out of the road could one day save him from serious injury or possibly death. No matter which method of training you decide to use, be prepared to see it all the way to the end, no matter how long it takes for your dog to learn to stay out of the way of moving cars.

One tip to remember is that you should be getting your pup used to being around traffic by the time he is 16 weeks old. This will make training them to avoid the road and any cars on it much easier.

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The Sitting at the Curb Method

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1

Walk your dog

Take your dog for a walk on his leash, heeling by your left side.

2

Keep going

Instead of stopping on the curb, keep going until both of your feet are out on the road.

3

Stop and turn

At this point, stop and turn around. Observe your dog, if he sat on the curb and did not follow you, give him a treat.

4

Sit at the curb

If your dog headed right out into the road after you, practice ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ at the curb until you can step into the street without him following you.

5

Increase distance

Now that he understands he should not follow you, expand the distance between you and keep doing so until you are on the other side of the road, using the 'stay' command to keep him on his side.

6

Repeat the process

Once your dog has proven he can behave, train him to do the same thing without a leash. Use plenty of treats and praise to let him know going close the road is not a good idea.

The Down Method

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1

Show him a treat

Hold a treat in front of your dog's nose and place it on the ground.

2

Introduce the 'down' command

As your dog lays down, give the 'down' command so that he puts the command and the action together.

3

Repetition for success

Repeat this process until he will lay down without a treat.

4

Increase distance

Once he obeys the down command, start moving away from him and having him obey. Use treats as rewards.

5

'Down' by the road

Use the command every time he goes near the road. In time, your dog will simply lay down by the road or avoid going near it altogether.

The Permission Method

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1

Walkies time

Place your dog on a leash and step to the edge of the street.

2

Stop and wait

Stop at the edge of the street whether there is traffic or not.

3

Sit

Make your dog sit by your side.

4

Stay in place

Make your dog stay in place until you deem it is safe to cross the road.

5

Let him cross

Say "Okay" and then proceed to cross the road. If he does as asked, be sure to heap on the praise and give him plenty of treats.

By Amy Caldwell

Published: 12/28/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Georgia

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Hound/Rottweiler mix

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3 Years

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When I take my dog Georgia out on walks she runs out in front of me to jump at cars that are driving by and I’ve tried telling her no and it doesn’t seem to be working. I don’t know what else to do

Oct. 6, 2021

Georgia's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nadine, First, is pup being walked on leash when jumping at the cars? I am assuming the answer is yes, but it pup isn't leashed, I would start by leashing pup and walking pup only on leash in those areas, for both pup's safety, the driver's safety, and so that you can effectively train. First, I suggest teaching a solid Leave It command to pup. Follow the Leave It command using the Leave It method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Second, teach pup a structured heel - practice away from cars at first. Check out the article and video linked below Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo At this point, where you go from here depends on how severe pup's chasing is. If it's not severe, check out the video I have linked below. The obedience practice in this video is great for pup in general either way, but whether it alone will be enough for your dog depends on the severity of their car chasing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buaZctWLWR0 For harder cases, I would also purchase a high quality remote training collar with stimulation, learn how to fit it properly and find your dog's "Working level" - which is the lowest level that your dog feels and responds to. Only use a high quality collar such as E-collar Technologies, Dogtra, Sportdog, or Garmin. Check out the videos below: Fitting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Working Level finding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Jeff Gellman cat aggressive dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y More e-collar work with cats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8lkbX0dhT0 Fourth, teach an e-collar heel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJaZsZdcjwU Fifth, put it all together. Walk pup on a collar or harness that's secure. Practice your e-collar heeling with cars in sight. Whenever pup starts to fixate on the cars or break the heel position, tell pup "Ah Ah Heel" - If breaking heel, or "Ah Ah, Leave It" - for fixating on cars, and correct on pup's working level on the e-collar. Practice around cars a lot until pup will ignore them and focus on you around them. Any other training you can do to help with impulse control is also great, such as a long Place, Down-Stay, waiting at doors, not exiting a crate until told Okay, ect... Once pup is leaving the cars alone and heeling better and paying more attention to you, you can at that point also reward pup with treats and calm praise for especially good heeling and attention to you on the walk. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Oct. 6, 2021

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Pooch

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Mixed

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1 Year

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I adopted him a little over a year ago. He was a rescue dog and he was very scared. I felt his pain so I loved him, perhaps too much. At first he cowered constantly, tail between legs. He was afraid of me, doors, corridors and hallways, children and men with hats. During the past year, he has been with me all the time while I worked from home. I could not take him to obedience classes, so I taught him the basics myself. He was castrated last May and then recovered and became more confident, with bouts of fear here and there. Now I think he thinks I am his territory. He does not like when my husband tries to walk him. In fact, he does not act normally, like he doesn't want to be walked by anyone but me. He has tried to bite my husband, growls at him often - though they are ok sometimes, if I am not around. He has also bitten our closest neighbor who he knows extremely well. We were both petting him and he turned and lightly bit her. If my husband comes close to me on sofa (where dog and I usually sit together), Pooch gets aggressive and turns into little monster. In the last month, I have stopped many of my own behaviors such as allowing him to sleep in the bed. He is now not allowed in the bedroom and sleeps in the living room away from me. From sitting next to me all day on the sofa while I work, he is now down to 1 or 2 hours with me only in the evenings! I miss him, but I know it's for his own good. He knows how to sit, stay, down, roll over and comes (about 80% of the time). Tonight, he was distracted, howling at another dog and ran out in front of a car although I was calling him to come. This scares me of course. I am inconsistent in trying to teach him to heel. He is still scared of many things. He growls and chases children. Despite all this, he is much better than a year ago. Can I fix this 'territoriality' of me and the apartment and everything? What else can I do other than create more space between us and make him more like a dog? I am sure I am suffering more than he is...

March 25, 2021

Pooch's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mary, The space was a good start. It sounds like pup is needing the fear addressed - for behaviors like acting aggressive towards kids, and the aggression addressed through building respect for you. We love our dogs so much, but they are still animals and they have a need for boundaries to be healthy in their relationships with us. Giving boundaries can decrease a dog's stress level and certainly yours, so you don't need to feel bad about laying down rules, requiring pup to work. The Working and Consistency and Obedience methods https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Commands that are good for respect building - Out, Leave It and Off are especially important for giving pup directions right now. Place, Down and Heel are especially good for respect building. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Since this involves both you and your husband, I suggest you both work on building pup's respect for both of you, your husband working with pup when you aren't around at first, to decrease their reactivity toward him. I also recommend introducing pup to wearing a basket muzzle and temporarily having pup wear a basket muzzle and drag leash while you are both home, especially when your husband is working with pup or you are going to be around your husband in pup's presence, so that when pup behaves aggressively, you can calmly pick up the end of the leash and make pup leave the room. This should be done with a calm and confident attitude - when you tell pup to do something, you mean what you say, but you are calm when enforcing it. No body should react angrily or by petting and soothing pup - angry can encourage a defensive fear response, and petting and soothing pup when they behave that way rewards the aggressive behavior - simply pick up the end of the leash and lead pup out of the room and keep them from returning until they are willing to do a couple commands like Sit and Down and return with your permission. Don't allow pup to be pushy at other times either. No standing on laps, climbing onto you uninvited, nudging or barking for attention or food, ect...Anytime pup wants something, even petting, command pup to do something like Down first before giving it to them - have them work for everything they get right now. To introduce the muzzle, first place it on the ground and sprinkle his meal kibble around it. Do this until he is comfortable eating around it. Next, when he is comfortable with it being on the floor with food, hold it up and reward him with a piece of kibble every time he touches or sniffs it in your hand. Feed him his whole meal this way. Practice this until he is comfortable touching it. Next, hold a treat inside of it through the muzzle's holes, so that he has to poke his face into it to get the treat. As he gets comfortable doing that, gradually hold the treat further down into the muzzle, so that he has to poke his face all the way into the muzzle to get the treat. Practice until he is comfortable having his face in it. Next, feed several treats in a row through the muzzle's holes while he holds his face in the muzzle for longer. Practice this until he can hold his face in it for at least ten seconds while being fed treats. Next, when he can hold his face in the muzzle for ten seconds while remaining calm, while his face is in the muzzle move the muzzle's buckles together briefly, then feed him a treat through the muzzle. Practice this until he is not bothered by the buckles moving back and forth. Next, while he is wearing the muzzle buckle it and unbuckle it briefly, then feed a treat. As he gets comfortable with this step, gradually keep the muzzle buckled for longer and longer while feeding treats through the muzzle occasionally. Next, gradually increase how long he wears the muzzle for and decrease how often you give him a treat, until he can calmly wear the muzzle for at least an hour without receiving treats more than two treats during that hour. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s I do recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like fear and aggression, works with a team of trainers so they can practice introducing pup to various new people on staff carefully, and who comes well recommended by their previous clients for this area of training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

March 26, 2021


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