How to Train Your Dog to Stay Away from Cars

Medium
1-2 Months
General

Introduction

Can you really teach your pup a modicum of common sense? That is a tough question to answer, but when it comes to running into traffic, your pup may lack the common sense it takes to play somewhere else. Many dogs just do not have the fear of moving traffic that humans do and will simply walk out into traffic fearlessly and without a second thought. While many do so all the time without a problem, it only takes one small misstep to have the trip across the road end in tragedy.

Worse than this, far too many dogs seem to love chasing cars, which also ends in disaster more often than not. The good news is that there are ways you can train your dog to stay away from cars as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort. 

Defining Tasks

Allowing your dog to run out in the street, by not training him to behave in another manner, is tantamount to allowing him to risk his life every time he decides its time to play with the cars on the highway. You can avoid this in several different ways, such as boundary training that keeps him "locked" in his yard or using a training collar or even long leash training. You can even use the 'down from a distance' method. Anything, as long as it keeps your dog from chasing cars, running out into traffic, and most importantly of all, from being badly injured or killed.

Until you can be sure your dog will no longer chase cars, you should never leave him outside unattended or off his leash. Not only will this give him the opportunity to chase cars, but also joggers, pedestrians, motorcycles, and cyclists, all of which could end up with someone, including your dog, being injured. 

Getting Started

There really isn't much you need in the way of supplies in order to train your pup to respect cars and stop running around in traffic. For this one, you will need:

  • A long leash: Look for one that is 20 to 30 feet long.
  • Treats: To use as rewards.
  • Time: You need to be able to set about 15 minutes a day for this training every day.
  • Patience: Teaching your pup to stay away from cars is going to take plenty of patience, because no matter what, you cannot yell at your dog when he disobeys. This will only excite him and make him more likely to run out into traffic instead of coming back away from it. 

The Distraction Method

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1 Vote
Step
1
Time for a walk
Take your pup for a walk on his leash along a road with a moderate amount of traffic.
Step
2
Spot that car
As soon as you spot a car approaching the two of you, move far enough away that your dog will remain calm as the car passes
Step
3
Make noise
As the car passes you, make a loud noise to distract your pup's attention away from the car. Once the car passes, give your dog a treat and praise him.
Step
4
Repeat as needed
During your first few walks, you may feel as though you are fighting a losing battle. But you have to keep trying. If you give up, your pup wins the battle.
Step
5
Getting closer
If you had to start out far away from the traffic, now is the time to start working your way closer to the cars until your dog, in anticipation of a treat, will no longer go anywhere near them. Be patient, this may take some time.
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The Down Method

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1 Vote
Step
1
Out in the yard
Take your dog out in the yard on a long leash with plenty of treats in your pocket.
Step
2
Allow him to roam
Allow your dog to roam until he reaches the end of the leash or the edge of your property.
Step
3
Down, boy
Give your pup the 'down' command and when he lies down, give him a treat.
Step
4
Rerun
Repeat this every time he goes out and a car comes by. Each time he does so, call him back and reward him with plenty of praise and a treat.
Step
5
In time
In time, your pup will learn to associate cars passing by with lying down and getting a treat.
Step
6
No more leashes
Time to work with your pup off-leash. By now, he should be able to watch the cars go by from a position where he is laying on the ground. You can slowly wean him off the treats and never have to worry about him wandering out in the traffic.
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The Stay Method

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0 Votes
Step
1
Start indoors
Start by working indoors when the house is nice and quiet. Your dog will learn better without distractions.
Step
2
Sit, stay
Have your dog sit and give him the 'stay' command. Step back a pace or two. If he stays in place, give him a treat.
Step
3
Moving up and out
Now that you have him staying in place, you can start increasing the distance from where you give the command and time that he needs to stay in place.
Step
4
Take it outside
Time to go outside and play with the traffic (or not)! Try to pick a time of day when the traffic is not heavy. Each time you see a car approaching, give your pup the 'sit/stay' commands. When he obeys, give him a treat and praise him.
Step
5
Work it
Once your pup seems to be doing what you tell him on a quieter road, you can take him out during progressively busier times of the day. Work with him until he anticipates your command when a car is approaching and automatically assumes the 'sit/stay' position. Repeat until he won't move an inch unless there is no traffic, or you tell him it's okay.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Arttu
AnimalBreed object
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Arttu
AnimalBreed object
5 Years

At our summer house Arttu runs free on the yard. Occasionally cars go by the road next to the house. Arttu runs straight to the car very fast and starts to jump around the car to see who is inside. He is small and if the driver doesn’t know that Arttu is free, the driver might run over him.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Hello, you are right - this is a dangerous situation for Arttu. You may want to buy a sign stating to be careful of your loose dog, just so people are aware. Then, I would work on the Come Method, which is well-described here and will be handy to know in many situations. The method is explained here: https://wagwalking.com/training/not-run-after-cars. I would practice this command every day for at least 10-15 minutes (and once it is mastered, use the command often) so that obeying it is like second nature. Work on it enough, and it will become a good habit, responding to the command. I think it should help deter Arttu's behavior, but I would still have a sign for safety as well. Good luck!

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Question
Layla
AnimalBreed object
3 Years
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Question
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Layla
AnimalBreed object
3 Years

While walking on leash, goes after cars and sometimes people aggressively

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

Hi there. This is a tricky behavior to correct as an adult. It will take time and patience, and a lot of practice. If you are consistent, you will start to see improvement in roughly a month, and hopefully a complete turn around within 90 days. To prevent your dog from ever starting to chase cars, you need to catch the first moment he shows interest in the motion of the car and redirect his attention to you-something else fun! When you’re walking him and you see that he shows any interest in the movement of cars, you want to teach him to associate moving traffic with good things from you. Before you go out on your next walk, prepare by bringing delicious treats or a favorite toy. While you’re walking, as soon as you see your dog looking at a car, call his name. When he turns toward you, praise him and give him a treat or two or whip out the toy and wave or throw it for him. If he doesn’t turn to you when you say his name, wiggle a treat or his toy in front of his nose and lure his head around toward you. When he turns toward the treat or toy, give it to him. Continue to do this each and every time a car passes by until your dog automatically looks at you in anticipation of treats or a game whenever he sees a car moving. You can slowly wean him off of his treats, but don't start the weaning process too early. I would wait until the halfway point, a month and a half. This is a very remedial solution. But like I said, as time goes on, it will improve. You can use this same method in regards to his responses to people. Anything you want him to break his attention from, this is a good method.

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