Cattle Dogs

Car Chasing - Why Do Dogs Risk Death?

The brakes squeal, the car quickly changes direction, the inevitable THUD of a car hitting a dog is followed by the unbelievable crash of the swerving, uncontrollable car. The victims? The dog, and the occupants, presumably. But who's fault was it? The dog's owner!

Whether guilty by the law or not, the one responsible for the dog's actions is the dog owner, just like a parent is responsible for the actions of his offspring.

Are We To Blame?

There are many reasons why dogs act in such an unfortunate way. Foremost, it is simply the thrill of the chase. Instincts are strong in canines. Mothers warn their children to “never run from a dog” because it triggers an instinctive trait in the dog to chase, and emerge the victor.

The undomesticated dog chased down his prey. Nature gave him the instincts and speed needed to accomplish its mission. Chasing prey in the wild is serious business, and it is a necessity survival. And of course, there has always been the thrill of the chase.

The domesticated dog no longer has the need to chase prey to ensure its survival, but the thrill of pursuit is still an important part of his natural instinct. Man indirectly benefits from that instinct when sporting dogs in the field. Man exploits the greyhounds' instincts by making them “racing dogs”, chasing mechanical rabbits. And, dogs trained to be combat trackers chase elusive enemies through the jungle.

In many cases, an instinctive protectiveness is responsible for dogs drive to chase cars. They choose to chase only the cars nearing “their territory”. Communication is what is needed here. Being able to simply sit down with our pets and explain to them why certain things are off limits would make our job much easier, but unfortunately, things just don't work like that. And even if your dog obeys when told "NO' or "STOP" as he sees a moving car, he will chase the car when you aren't around.

Minimizing The Thrill

A way to limit the thrill and emphasize possible consequences of chasing moving automobiles must be found. The thrill of the chase is instinctive, and will not ever be entirely erased, but it is possible to minimize it, and make it less important than the possible consequences of the behavior.

Many dogs learn to steer clear of situations they know may have a negative impact. However, dogs that have survived being struck by a vehicle typically will not retain the experience. The reason for this is because the initial shock of being hit by a car is so sudden, and so severe, that the dog just isn't able to relate the pain to its contact with the car, or his behavior prior to the chase.

But along with the natural instinct to chase, nature has also endowed something else; the dog's capability to learn by association. He is capable of learning by associating his actions with good or bad results. You, the owner must educate your dog on the dangers of fast moving automobiles, and bicycles.

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