Here's the scenario. You are casually walking with your dog down a semi-busy street. There are plenty of people around. Cars going up and down the street. Kids playing on the sidewalk. Bike riders. Joggers. In other words, it's a typical sidewalk in a small or medium-sized town. But there's a problem. Your dog wants to run after everything that is moving.
This might sound extreme, but it really isn't. When you have a dog that is chase-obsessive you would face this situation on a daily basis. Dogs like this are often seen as aggressive by people who don't know the dog. And such behavior can be very dangerous to the dog if it does manage to get away from you.
These dogs must remain on a leash when walking it in public. And you will need a good fence that is high enough to prevent the dog from jumping or climbing over it. But, most importantly, you must train the dog to not chase after anything that moves.
What Causes A Dog to Want To Chase Things?
The first thing to remember here is that all dogs have an inbred instinct to chase prey. This is an instinct that is a matter of survival for the dog. Before they were domesticated they had to hunt their own food. Today we practically feed them on a silver platter. But the instinct remains. And if the dog was not properly trained as a pup this instinct can take over and off goes the dog. And they'll chase anything to satisfy that urge.
How To Treat The Chasing Problem
Not all dogs are equal in this department. Some breeds, like Greyhounds and certain breeds of terriers, are natural-born chasers. However, with a little training, and a lot of patience, all dogs can learn to control the impulse to chase whatever moves.
It is advisable to get the help of a professional trainer as this is a process takes time and effort. But there are some things that you can do to help the process along:
- Because this is a behavior issue you should provide your dog with as much mental and physical exercise as possible. A dog that is satisfied with mental and physical stimulation is less likely to chase than a dog that just lays around the house all day.
- Give your dog plenty of ways to release their energy. Enroll the dog in an agility class. Play games with your dog. A good game of fetch is great as it teaches the dog that the only things they are allowed to chase are the things you throw while playing fetch.
- Teach your dog the "come" command. The goal is to get the dog to obey that command no matter what. Trainers often call this the emergency recall command as it could save the dog's life.
- Teach your dog new tricks regularly. When a dog is able to respond to many different commands it helps your dog to learn impulse control. Plus it provides a high level of mental stimulation for the dog.
- Teach your dog a no-fail cue word. But there's a catch to this one. A no-fail cue word is a command that your dog will absolutely obey. Why? Because they get their absolute favorite treat when they do. Just be sure that anytime you use this no-fail cue command that you immediately give the dog its treat.
Can the Chasing Problem Be Prevented?
Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to behavior problems. And the best way to prevent any unwanted behavior is with a very strong foundation of obedience. You need to create an environment of respect and trust with your dog. Doing so will make you the pack leader. And it is only by becoming the pack leader that your dog will look to you for guidance.
To establish your role as the pack leader you need to teach your dog to absolutely obey the commands "come" and "off." You also need to teach her how to behave both on and off leash. You also should not encourage any type of chasing. In other words, don't chase after her when she steals your slippers and wants you to try and get them from her. Playing by her rules will only encourage the bad behavior of chasing and will take control away from you.
Putting It All Together
From the very beginning, you should establish a training program with your dog. Your goal is to acquire the position of pack leader so that you have absolute control of your pet. But just remember that all dogs love the thrill of a good chase. And chasing can actually put an animal in harm's way.
To keep your dog from becoming a chaser it is always best to prevent the behavior from the beginning. This is done through being the pack leader which will give you absolute control over your dog.
If your dog is already a chaser it would benefit both you and the dog to seek professional help. It is very hard to break a habit in an animal. With professional training, you will have a better chance of success.