Ever wonder why your dog just won’t stop chasing everything that moves? You’re not alone.
Dogs are natural hunters, and chasing prey is in their DNA. While adorable in puppies, this behavior can be downright dangerous as dogs get bigger and faster and can also create situations where your animal is outside your control.
These situations can potentially strain your relationship with neighbors or cause consternation at places like the dog park.
The good news is you can train your furry friend out of this habit. In just a few short weeks, you’ll have a well-behaved companion who no longer darts after wildlife, cars, or other dogs.
Why Is My Dog Chasing Just About Everything That Moves?
Why do dogs chase things like squirrels, cars, and other dogs? It’s in their nature.
Dogs are natural hunters descended from wolves, so chasing prey comes instinctively to them.
Other common reasons why dogs chase includes:
- Boredom or excess energy: If your dog doesn’t get enough exercise and stimulation, it may chase out of boredom.
- Prey drive: Some dogs have a high ‘prey drive,’ meaning they instinctively want to chase small moving objects that act like prey.
- Lack of training: Your dog may not have learned proper behavior and impulse control. With obedience training and practice, you can teach your dog to stop on command.
- Anxiety: In some dogs, chasing can be a compulsive behavior linked to anxiety. Calming aids and training may help.
The good news is, chasing is a behavior that can be modified. With patience and consistency, you can easily learn how to train a dog not to chase other animals and come when called.
Provide your dog with mental and physical exercise, give them appropriate outlets for their energy, and work on training them to ‘stop,’ ‘stay,’ and ‘come’ on command. It will take time and practice, but you can definitely still teach an old dog new tricks.
Teaching Your Dog the “Stay” Command
To teach your dog to stay when you tell them to, start with the basic “stay” command. Practice this command during playtime when your dog’s energy level is high, and their desire to chase is strong.
Have your dog sit, hold a treat in your hand and say, “Stay.” If they remain sitting, give them the treat and praise them.
Repeat these two steps multiple times per session. Once they’ve mastered staying for a few seconds, increase the time.
Only give the treat when they’ve stayed for the full time. You should also practice the “stay” command when there are distractions, like toys, other dogs, or wildlife in the area.
Start with low-level distractions and lots of praise and treats when your dog obeys the command. Slowly make the distractions greater as your dog improves.
Playing games like fetch or tug-of-war can also help satisfy your dog’s chase drive in a constructive way. Provide interactive dog toys that make them work for a reward to keep them engaged when you’re not playing.
Be patient through the training process and give them plenty of positive reinforcement, and over time, your dog will learn to control their impulse to chase when told to “stay.” Eventually, they’ll become much better at obeying your commands, even when their chase instinct kicks in.
What Other Commands Should I Teach My Dog Before Teaching Them the ‘Stay’ Command?
Before teaching your dog to “stay” and not chase, it’s important to make sure they’ve mastered some basic obedience commands. These commands will make further training and breaking of unwanted habits much, much easier.
- “Sit” — Have your dog sit before giving them any treats, meals, or walks. This teaches them to be calm and wait for their cue.
- “Leave it” — Use this when your dog shows interest in chasing something. Say “Leave it”, redirect their attention to you, and reward them when they do. This teaches them that chasing something ultimately results in them losing your attention while obeying comes with rewards.
- “Come” — Practice this command on walks or in the yard. Call your dog to “come”, give lots of praise when they do, and provide a high-value treat. This makes responding to your call very rewarding, so they learn to come when called instead of chasing.
- “Heel” — Walking calmly next to you, or “heeling,” is important for dogs that tend to chase. Put your dog on a short leash and practice having them walk beside you, giving treats and praise when they do. This reinforces that staying close to you is the behavior that gets rewards.
Once your dog has mastered these, you’ll have the foundation in place to start training them to “stay” when they have the urge to chase. Be patient through the process, use positive reinforcement, and stick with short, frequent training sessions.
Redirecting Your Dog’s Attention
To stop your dog’s chasing behaviors, you need to redirect their attention to you. When your dog starts chasing something, immediately call their name and command, “Come!” or “Leave it!”
Give the command once, loudly and clearly. If they obey, reward them with a treat and praise.
Conversely, if they do not listen to you, do not repeat the command, instead, go get your dog and bring them to the spot where you gave the command. Then reward them.
This technique helps teach your dog to stop chasing on command and come to you instead. Eventually, your dog will learn to avoid chasing in the first place.
You can also try engaging your dog in a game of fetch or tug-of-war when they start chasing to redirect their energy into an appropriate outlet.
Another important rule is to make sure to give your dog adequate exercise and play every day to prevent the boredom and pent-up energy that could lead to chasing behavior. Puzzle toys, chew toys, and other interactive dog toys are all great tools for keeping your dog stimulated.
Fun fact: these toys can work even when you’re not actually playing with them.
What Games Can I Play With a Dog Who Likes to Chase?
Dogs looking for stimulation often find chasing to be the most exciting activity. The trick is to convince them that other games are worth their while.
Playing fetch and tug-of-war with your dog are great ways to redirect their chasing instinct into an activity you can both enjoy.
This gives them an outlet to run and chase in a controlled setting. Be sure to teach them to “drop it” and “leave it” when playing so they learn to release the toy on command.
When playing tug of war using a dog-safe toy, also use the moment as an opportunity to teach them “take it” and “drop it.” This game helps release pent-up energy in an engaging way for your dog.
Redirect your dog’s natural tendency to sniff out things and track down prey by hiding treats around your yard before letting them out. You can also play the same game indoors, keeping the dog outside or in a closed room until it’s time to let them out for the hunt.
Because these games are interactive, they’re ideal for high-energy — i.e., chase-prone — dogs. They provide mental and physical stimulation so your dog can chase, run and grab all to their heart’s content, but in a way that will be fun for both of you.
Ultimately, staying in control of games and setting clear rules will make a big difference in curbing unwanted chasing.
Is It Okay For My Dog to Chase Other Dogs at the Dog Park?
At the dog park, it can be tempting to let your dog run free and chase to their heart’s content. However, chasing other dogs often leads to trouble. Here are just some of the reasons why chasing other dogs is a bad habit that should be curbed:
- It can make other dogs feel threatened or stressed. Not all dogs enjoy being chased, and it may provoke an aggressive reaction.
- It can encourage other dogs to chase as well, leading to a riled-up pack mentality. This high arousal and excitement often spill over into rough play or fighting.
- Your dog may become so focused on chasing that they ignore your commands to come back. This situation can be dangerous if a fight breaks out or another dog becomes aggressive.
- Chasing can become an obsession or compulsion for some dogs. It’s best to teach your dog from an early age that chasing is not appropriate behavior.
Instead of chasing other dogs, encourage your dog to play in other ways at the dog park, like fetching, swimming, or running together. You should also practice the ‘leave it’ and ‘come’ commands with your dog before going to the park.
If your dog starts chasing another dog, call them back immediately and have them sit, praising them when they obey. With consistency and positive reinforcement, your dog can learn chasing is not okay and will become a well-behaved member of the dog park community.
How to Train a Dog Not to Chase Other Animals
Greenlin Pet Resorts are here to help. Our team offers everything from immersive play and train days, where your dog can learn how to play with the team and other dogs in a safe, positive way, to a full Puppy Academy to help you train your pup up right from the get-go.
So if you’re looking for a little help curbing your dog’s chasing behaviors — or don’t even know where to get started — contact the Greenlin team today at one of our six locations in the Central Pennsylvania area.