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He puts a smile on your face as soon as you walk through the door. He’s the only member of the family that always looks happy to see you. He’s playful, courageous and always up for a cuddle on the sofa in the evenings. However, because of his small stature, you worry about your little dog, especially near roads. He doesn’t seem to grasp the seriousness of staying away from cars. In fact, he actively tries to play and run around when he’s near them. This needs to stop and now.
Training your small dog to stay away from cars could well save his life. Not to mention, if he causes an accident someone else could suffer a serious injury. In addition, this type of training will reinforce your position as pack leader and instill some much-needed discipline. That discipline could then be used to tackle other bad habits too.
Training a small dog to stay away from cars is thankfully pretty straightforward. While you won’t be able to convey to him how dangerous cars are, you will be able to take a number of steps to deter him getting too close to them. You will also need to incentivize him to stay close by your side while near roads. In fact, if you can teach him to walk calmly by your side when out of the house, this will be the most effective way to keep him safe when cars are around.
If he’s a puppy he should be a fast learner and eager to please. This means you could see results in just a week or so. However, if he’s older and this habit has been developing for many years, then you may need several weeks to fully fix the problem. Succeed and you’ll never have to panic again when you see a car approaching and your little dog is some distance from you.
Before you get to work, you’ll need to get your hands on a few bits. A deterrence collar and a water spray bottle will be needed for one of the methods. You will also need to stock up on tasty treats. Alternatively, break his favorite food into small pieces.
A short training leash will also be required. Then set aside 15 minutes or so each day for training. You’ll need a nearby road to train near. Try to avoid really busy roads to start with.
Once you have all that, just bring patience and an optimistic attitude, then work can begin!
The Deterrence Method
The simplest technique, if you want to remove all temptation, is to secure him to a relatively short leash whenever you are outside the house. If he can never get near cars, he will soon give up trying to altogether.
Whenever you are out on a walk or a near a road and he strays too close to a car, it’s important you react. So, quickly go over and give a firm ‘NO’ if he gets too close to a car.
Water spray bottle
To further emphasize your disapproval, carry a water bottle with you at all times. Whenever he gets too close to a car, give a quick spray near his face. You don’t want to terrify him, but make sure he understands you are not happy.
These can be bought from a range of online and local stores. Simply hit the remote button whenever he approaches a car and an unpleasant spray of citronella will be emitted. This will soon make him associate cars with negative consequences.
Stand road side
When you are out the house, always try and position yourself in between your little dog and the road. This will create a physical barrier between him and the cars, increasing your ability to react in a situation.
The Positive Reinforcement Method
A clicker is a fantastic way to communicate with your small dog. Simply click whenever he follows an instruction correctly or behaves as you would like and immediately provide him a treat. This could seriously speed up the learning process.
Now whenever he moves away from a car, click and treat. This will let him know he has done something right. He may not know what yet, but he will quickly catch on.
Enroll him in obedience classes. The earlier he starts going, the sooner you will see results. These classes will teach him all the basic commands, increasing your overall control. So, when he does go near a car, he will be more likely to listen to you.
Whenever you are out the house and he moves away from the road, hand over a tasty treat. You can also give him some verbal praise. Over time, he will start associating moving away from cars with positive consequences.
Take a favorite toy with you when you’re out of the house. Then if he starts to pay attention to a car or move towards one, pull out the toy and use it to lure him away. This can be an effective way to distract him in tense moments.
The ‘Come’ Method
Hold out a treat
Take him to quiet room and then take a few steps away from him. Now hold up a tasty treat that he can see clearly. The more he loves the food in your hand, the sooner training will yield consistent results.
As the same time as you hold out the treat, give the ‘come’ command in a clear, friendly voice. Be high-pitched and animated. You want him to think he’s playing a game. Dogs learn best this way.
As soon as he comes charging towards you, hand over a tasty treat and give him some verbal praise. You want him to associate coming to you with mouth-watering food.
Practice makes perfect
Now spend several minutes a day doing this. But do it in a range of situations. After a few days, you can also introduce distractions. The idea is that over time he will develop a habit of staying close to you in the hope of food. Plus, you’ll now be able to quickly call him to you whenever a car approaches.
Lose the treats
Once he fully gets into the swing of it and you can call him over swiftly without any problems, you can start to phase out the treats. At this point it will be habit to respond to you every time, even when cars are around.
By James Barra
Published: 02/14/2018, edited: 01/08/2021