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Ask the Trainer: Training a Dog to Stop Chasing Cars

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Dear Kevin,
This question is for a friend. His dog Duke just started chasing cars! How does he get him to stop?
Thank you


Hey A.J.,

Chasing cars can obviously be very dangerous. Firstly, it is extremely important that Duke is not allowed out off leash. If he is off leash he will be able to rehearse the unwanted behavior, and also could potentially get hit.

I recommend establishing a cue that gets Duke to look at you. I usually use the dog’s name. It goes something like this:

-Human says dog’s name.
-Dog looks at human.
-Human says “good boy/girl.”
-Human rewards dog with food or toy.

With a little repetition Duke will start to look at you when you say his name. Practice this inside with no distractions and when that is going smoothly start to add in distractions which will make it a bit more difficult. Distractions can consist of dropping toys and then saying his name etc. The hardest distraction will probably be moving cars. When you practice this with cars, start off very far away. You want to be far enough away to the point where Duke is showing little to no interest in the cars. When he is looking at you when you ask, start to get closer to the moving cars. Continue to play the game of getting him to look at you when you ask. What will start to happen is Duke will start to anticipate looking at the car, and then you asking for him to look at you. So he will start to do this on his own without you asking. This is what we are looking for. When he starts to do this it gives us the opportunity to tell him “good boy” and reward him for looking at the car and not reacting, which is exactly what we want. When this is going smoothly keep getting closer to the cars.

This looks something like this:

-Duke looks at the car and then looks back at you without barking.
-You tell him “good boy” and then reward him with food or toy.

With repetition of this game you will have a dog that looks at cars and does not react. Remember to take your time. If you try to rush this you won’t have much success.

Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org)  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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