By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Affairs and Alliances
While it may not be the nicest way to think of our dogs, we share our lives and our homes with predators! Thankfully, most are far enough removed from their wild ancestors they don’t look at us as potential prey. But, the instinct is a very powerful thing, and most dogs have an innate desire to chase things that are moving away from them. Chasing can get dogs into a world of trouble. Chasing cars has led to countless, often fatal accidents. Chasing people leads to injury and potential lawsuits. Chasing other animals leads to suffering for one or both and can lead to bad relations with neighbors or friends.
During all the years I was conducting school programs teaching kids how to prevent being dog bites, I always stressed the importance of standing still and backing away slowly. I reminded them dogs have four legs and they only have two, so dogs will ALWAYS outrun them. Out-witting them is a different story! Training dogs to heed an owner’s call is the most effective way to break them of chasing behavior.
Chances are you’ve seen your dog fixate on some small, fuzzy creature. I’ve known many dogs around whom one had to spell certain words—words like c-a-t or s-q-u-i-r-r-e-l, because the mere mention would send them into a literal tailspin.
As with most undesirable behaviors, chasing can be overcome with training and consistent monitoring. What can be done?
Secondly, start your dog with solid, basic obedience training. Most communities offer options for training classes and there are many professional dog trainers available who offer group or individual training. A dog with a basic understanding of his owner’s expectations is far more likely to listen to his owner—and come when he’s called, even when he’s highly aroused by the thrill of the chase!
Consider training your dog using a remote training collar. Collars are designed so that the
trainer/handler can communicate with the dog from a distance. In order to reinforce a desired behavior or disrupt an undesired behavior, a harmless signal is sent via a transmitter to a receiver on the dog’s collar. The signal may be an electrical stimulation, a spray or a vibration. Each dog responds differently and the type and level of correction should be geared toward the individual dog’s personality. Training usually begins by combining the training collar with a traditional collar and an extra-long leash. The dog is taught to respond by turning toward the owner and coming back when called. The remote trainer serves as a sort of “tap on the shoulder” reminding the dog to pay attention to the handler.
It should be noted there is no one training tool that works perfectly for every dog, and there is no tool that substitutes for good, consistent training. If in doubt about your choice of training methods or tools, always consult with a professional trainer for advice and support.
What does your dog chase the most?? With this advice, you can quickly transform your dog’s chasing behavior.
Jim Tedford serves as PetSafe’s Director of Animal Affairs and Alliances. Working on the front line of animal welfare for over 20 years, Jim has served as CEO for organizations in New York, Louisiana and Tennessee. Prior to joining PetSafe, Jim provided marketing and fundraising services to animal welfare organizations nationwide. Jim holds a degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Jim and his wife Ann share their “empty nest” in the Smoky Mountains with adopted dogs Bodie, Sam, and Lila and a formerly homeless macaw, Gipper.