Teaching a Herding Dog to Stop Chasing After Cars

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 26, 2018

For this Council Bluffs dog training session we shared tips to stop 2 year-old Australian Cattle Dog Dexter from chasing or trying to herd cars that pass by.

Dexter was excited when I knocked on the door, barking in an alerting sort of way. His guardian was on him right away, but since I was there to fix dog problems, I asked her to let him do his thing. However, on the walk from the front door to the upstairs living room, I counted over 20 corrections or commands that she made.

When I mentioned this to the guardian, she recounted how many issues Dexter had when they first adopted him from the Humane Society. But since she has done such a great job sorting out his other issues, its time for her to start laying back a bit and using a different approach.

As a dog behavior expert, anytime Im dealing with a dog who behaves in a way that I do not want, I try to re-create the situation to help the dog learn a new behavior.

I remove some of the elements and distractions to increase the likelihood that the dog will select the behavior that I’m seeking. Then I break the activity down into small steps and help the dog practice each step over and over until it is behaving how I want for that step. Once the dog is behaving how I want on step one, I move to step two and repeat the process.

Once the dog has completed all the steps the way I want, then I practice the situation over and over again until the dog is behaving the way that I want in the easiest version of the scenario. At that point I start to add back in the distracting elements and work her way back to a real-world situation.

Next I went over the importance of rewarding desire to actions and behavior which I like to call Petting with a Purpose and Passive Training. I have seen thousands of dogs do desired actions or behaviors only to be ignored by their humans. But as soon as the dog grabs the remote control, starts barking or does some other unwanted behavior, people are all over them. Because attention itself is validating, this often trains dogs to misbehave as a way of getting their human’s attention.

Getting into a habit of rewarding the dog for desired behaviors or asking for one before you pet it is a great way to develop a healthy leader follower dynamic and teach your dog what it can do to make you happy. These will be a big part of Dexter’s rehabilitation.

Now we were ready to address Dexter’s habit of chasing after cars that pass by. Dogs from herding breeds frequently have this problem, however anytime you have a dog chasing after or trying to correct a car, it’s not gonna work out very well for the dog.

I had one of Dexter’s guardians get into my car so that he could drive up and down the driveway while I showed his guardian how she could use counter conditioning to stop a dog from trying to herd cars.

Teaching a dog to stop running after cars or trying to bite the wheels to correct them is actually pretty easy if you follow the approach I explain in the above video. The key is to practice at a distance and speed where the dog is able to sit and take the treat and be calm while it watches the car.

Once the dog can sit and observe the dog car passing by at that distance a few times in a row, then the guardian is able to take another step closer towards the car. Sometimes you need to vary the rate of speed of the car is traveling at or change out cars if the dog is reactive more to trucks, tractors, motorcycles or different types of cars.

I had the guardian practice this technique after eight we filmed the above video and she was equally successful. I’d like to see the guardians practicing this technique a couple of times a day on their driveway. But because the street in front of their home has a good deal of traffic, she could make this a daily practice exercise when people are returning home or going to work.

To help the guardian remember all the positive train dog training tips that we went over in this in home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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