How to Train Your Dog to Stay Away from Cars

Medium
4-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

Training your dog to do new behaviors and tricks can be a lot of fun. Who doesn't want to show off how smart their canine bestie is, with all of his 'sits' and 'stays' and 'hi-fives'? But there are some behaviors that go beyond party tricks.

When your dog is well-trained, your world can open. Knowing that your dog knows when to 'come' when to 'stay' and what dangers to avoid--and consistently follows those rules--means that you can take him anywhere and around anyone, and never worry for his safety.

One danger that owners worry about is that of passing cars. When a dog becomes interested in approaching or chasing speeding cars, there is the very real possibility that he could break away from you and be hit. Teaching your dog to avoid cars is essential to safe walks and bigger adventures, especially for those who live in the city.

Defining Tasks

In this case, there are a few different techniques you can use to teach your pooch to keep him safe, all with the same goal. Whether through repeated behaviors while outside or using sheer distraction, these training methods all have the goal of keeping your dog away from cars.

Getting Started

As with any training, make sure that initial sessions are done with as little distractions as possible - learning a new behavior will be easier if your dog gives you his full attention. Roads with less and slower traffic are good training grounds.

Try not to overwhelm Fido - training sessions should be brief (no more than 10-20 minutes each) and repeated daily, rather than forcing your dog's attention for extended periods.

What you'll need:
  • Treats - something that your dog really likes, that will reward him highly
  • A clicker (if your dog is used to clicker-training)
  • A short leash
  • Patience!

The Curb Method

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Step
1
Use what you know
This method is best used when your dog already knows how to 'sit' and 'stay'.
Step
2
Introduce the curb
Making sure that your dog is on a short leash that will keep him by your side, find an obvious curb between the sidewalk and street close to home to practice with.
Step
3
Curb = sit
Approach your training curb. When you are at the curb, give your dog the 'sit' command he is used to. Reward him with a treat. Walk away from the curb with him, then back toward it. When you're back at the curb, give the 'sit' command and again reward your dog with a treat.
Step
4
Repeat, repeat, repeat
Repeat this step until your dog automatically comes to 'sit' when you hit a curb.
Step
5
Sit... and wait
Now that your dog has been trained to sit at the curb, you need to let him know when it is OK to stand and walk into the street--but only when you say so. Now when he comes to sit at a curb, give him his 'stay' command.
Step
6
Learning when to stay...
Practice stepping away from your dog after giving the 'stay' command. Only praise him and give him a treat when he successfully stays on the curb rather than following you into the street. If he follows, repeat this step until he is consistently staying on the curb at your command.
Step
7
...And when to go
Once you are able to step away from the curb and your dog and he is staying put consistently, incorporate a phrase and gesture that will serve as the "all clear" when you are ready to step into the street together. Try "come on!" and gesturing toward him with an excited wave. Again, acknowledge the correct performance of this behavior with a treat.
Step
8
Practice make perfect
After practicing these steps on a short leash close to home, try going on walks to new streets with new distractions and giving your dog the trio of commands at every curb you encounter - "sit," "stay," "let's go!" Consistency is key here. Over time, your dog should start sitting and waiting for your go-ahead before crossing any street. Now you control when he's on the road, and can make sure he only crosses when it's safe.
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The Replacement Method

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Step
1
Use your dog's repertoire
This training method is best practiced if your dog already knows how to sit on command.
Step
2
Don't go chasing passing cars
This training method is best used on pups who have a tendency to want to approach and chase passing cars. You are going to teach your dog that paying attention to you and your commands is more rewarding than chasing moving vehicles, and replace his bad behavior with a good one.
Step
3
Go for a walk
With your dog on a short leash for better control, take him for a walk in a well-known area with a wide sidewalks and where cars drive slowly (a residential street, for example).
Step
4
Ask your dog to sit
As soon as you see a car approaching, ask your dog to sit. Hold a treat in your hand, which should get his attention. Continue to give him the 'sit' command with the treat in view until the car passes. If he holds his attention to you and the treat and maintains his sit, give him the treat.
Step
5
Walk the other way
If your dog looks at the car or makes a move to approach it, pull on his leash in the opposite direction, calling him excitedly and brandishing the treat. When he turns back to you, give him the treat.
Step
6
Practice
Repeat this sequence every time a car approaches. Over time, your dog will come to associate passing cars not with the chase, but with the chance to practice one of his behaviors for you, and be duly rewarded. He will sit, turn away and give you his attention. A much safer choice!
Recommend training method?

The Distraction Method

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Step
1
Take your dog for a walk
With your dog on a short leash for better control, take him for a walk in a well-known area with sidewalks, where cars drive slowly (a residential street is ideal).
Step
2
Make some noise
When you see a car approaching, rather than replacing chase behavior with another command, simply make a lot of noise. Get your dog's attention by calling to him, being sure to sound excited, and treat him when he looks toward you and the commotion.
Step
3
Repeat the scene
Do this every time a car approaches you on your walk. Distract from the vehicle using your voice and hands, and reward his distraction with a treat (as long as it's you he's being distracted by).
Step
4
Less drama
With repeated efforts, your dog should come to look to you for reward when a car passes. Over time you can phase out the intensity of your distraction.
Step
5
Phase out treats
As your dog consistently focuses on you, rather than traffic, begin treating or praising intermittently.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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