Car chasing is a totally natural behavior for a dog. Many car chasers are just answering their hunting instinct, which tells them anything that moves is prey. Others are responding to territorial instincts, protecting their turf from intruders. And those with strong herding genes are just trying to get wayward cars back into the "flock."
But the fact that car chasing is natural doesn't mean it should be allowed. Not only is "tire biting" dangerous for your dog (car chasers don't usually live long lives), it puts drivers and other road users at risk.
Help for the car chaser
If you have a chaser on your hands, teach him the "Come!" command very early on. Practice it often and try adding distractions, such as friendly volunteers posing as joggers or dog walkers, to test him. This will help you control the situation if your dog ever decides to bolt down the street after something.
It's also helpful to figure out why your dog chases cars. Once you understand his motive, finding a solution is a little easier.
- The territorial chaser: If your dog loves to chase a mail truck-or mail carrier—a few friendly encounters with the "intruder," perhaps involving a treat, may be all it takes to cure him. Most chases, however, are with an unfamiliar vehicle. Once your dog becomes familiar with a truck or car making regular deliveries, the chasing may stop.
- The predatory chaser: This chaser can often be corrected using a leash or an unpleasant distraction (such as a loud noise) to interrupt the start of the chase. When the dog turns his attention away from the chase, reinforce the behavior with praise and a treat. Of course, the sure-fire way to keep a dog safe from chasing cars is to keep him safely fenced or leashed. A fence may keep him safe but, depending on location, may not decrease this habit but enable it.
- The herding chaser: Try giving the dog that sees cars as wayward sheep something more constructive to do with his herding instincts. Make sure he gets plenty of exercise, including several long walks or runs each day, or play games with a dog-safe toy, like a plastic flying disk or ball. Those dogs are also good candidates for organized sports such as flyball and agility training. If your herding dog is a determined chaser, try to correct the behavior consistently with praise and treats when he resists the temptation.
If you're still unsuccessful in reforming your chaser, seek the help of a professional dog trainer. He or she can work with you and your dog to get the problem under control once and for all.