Sunday 21 January 2007

Training your dog not to chase cars.

One of the most serious, and unfortunately most common, problem behaviors among dogs is that of chasing cars. Dogs must be trained as early as possible that chasing cars is not acceptable. That is because dogs that chase cars eventually become dogs that catch cars, and car plus dog always equals big trouble.

There are many reasons that dogs chase cars. For one thing, chasing moving objects is an ingrained, instinctual behavior that can never be completely removed. Chasing behaviors, however can and should be controlled through a combination of good training and supervision. Some dogs are more apt to chase cars, bikes, joggers, cats and other dogs than are others. Dogs that have a high prey drive, including breeds that have been bred for hunting, are particularly susceptible to the thrill of the chase. Herding breeds are also apt to chase cars, attempt to herd the neighbors children, or express other undesired traits of their breeding.

One reason that many dogs chase cars in particular is that they have learned to associate cars with good time and fun things. Most dogs love to ride in the car, and when they see a car they may try to chase it down for a ride. No matter what your dog's motivation for chasing cars, however, it is important to curb this dangerous behavior as quickly as possible.

Training the dog not to chase cars starts with teaching the dog the meaning of the "Off" command. The "Off" command is one of the basic tenets of obedience, and it must be mastered by every dog.

Teaching the dog to stay where he is, even if interesting, exciting things are happening elsewhere, is very important to all aspects of dog training. In the world of professional dog training, this is sometimes referred to as distraction training. Distraction training is very important, and it is applicable to teaching the dog not to chase cars. Teaching this important lesson is not something you will be able to do on your own. You will need at least one other person - a volunteer who will slowly drive by and tempt your car with his bright, shiny object.

You will stand with your dog on his leash as the volunteer drives by. Having the volunteer drive your own car can provide an even greater temptation, since dogs are able to distinguish one car from another. If your car is the one that provides his rides, it is likely to be the most tempting object in the world. When your friend drives by, either in your car or his, watch your dog's reaction carefully. If he begins to jump up or move away, repeat the "Off" command and quickly return your dog to the sitting position. If he remains where he is, be sure to give him lavish amounts of praise and perhaps a treat or two. Repeat this process many times over the course of a few days. Once your dog is reliably remaining seated when your friend drives by, start lengthening the distance between yourself and your dog.

A long, retractable leash works great for this process. Slowly lengthen the distance between you and your dog, while still making sure you have control. Even after your dog is trained to not chase cars, however, it is important to not leave him out off the leash unsupervised. Leaving a dog unattended, except for within a properly and securely fenced in yard, is simply asking for trouble. Dogs are unpredictable, and it is always possible that the chase instinct could kick in at exactly the wrong moment.
The best strategy is to confine the dog when you cannot supervise him.

Training your dog with a training collar and leash.
The leash and training collar is the most basic piece of equipment used in training a dog. Using the lead and training collar properly is vital to successful dog training. The training collar is designed to apply a specific amount of pressure each time the leash is tightened. The amount of pressure put on the leash controls the amount of pressure placed on the training collar, and the pressure can be adjusted according to how the dog responds.

How each dog responds to training with the leash and training collar is quite variable. Some dogs barely react the first time they encounter a collar and leash, while others fight this strange contraption with all their might. It is important to recognize how your own dog reacts, and to adapt your training program as needed.

The first part of training with collar and leash, of course, is to purchase a quality, well made training collar that will fit your dog properly. There are many types of training collars and leashes on the market. The most important thing is to choose one that is sturdy and well made. The last thing you want to do is chase your dog down after he has broken his collar.The length of the collar should be approximately two inches longer than the circumference of the dog's neck. It is important to accurately measure the dog's neck using a measuring tape. In order to get an accurate measurement, you must make sure that the tape is not tight around the dog's neck.

Most training collars come in even sizes, so you should round up to the next size if your dog's neck is an odd number. It is important that the chain that attaches to the collar be placed at the top of the dog's neck. That is where the training collar is designed to apply the best pressure. The ability to apply varying degrees of pressure, and to relieve that pressure instantly, is what makes a training collar such an effective tool. It usually takes new users a little while to get used to using the training collar, and some styles of training collar require more finesse than others. If you are unsure which collar to choose, be sure to ask a professional dog trainer, or the management staff at your local pet store, for help.

After you have become familiar with the way the training collar works, it is time to begin using it to train your dog to walk properly on a lead. The well trained dog is one who will walk at his owner's side on a loose lead, neither dropping behind nor charging ahead.The well trained dog will also vary his pace to meet that of his handler. Under no circumstances should the handler be forced to change his or her pace to match that of the dog. If the dog does begin to charge ahead, it is important to correct the dog promptly by giving a quick tug on the leash. This will give the dog a good reminder that he needs to change his pace.

It is important to quickly relieve the pressure as soon as the dog responds. The training collar is designed to relieve pressure as soon as the leash is loosened. Most dogs will immediately respond to corrections by a good, properly used training collar. If the dog does not respond as directed, it may be necessary to apply greater pressure. This can be especially true of large dogs or those who have pre-existing behavior or control problems. If you are still unable to get a response from your dog, it is possible that you are using a training collar that is not large enough for your dog. If you think this may be the case, be sure to ask for expert advice before proceeding.

Using rewards and positive reinforcement to train your dog will be discussed next.

1 comment:

Philippine Art Scene said...

Thanks for posting this entry. It is very relevant and informative especially for pet owners like me. I learned a lot from it.

-andrei
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