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How can I teach my dog not to chase cars?

My four months old Border tries to chase each and every car, so taking a walk along a busy road is impossible. How can I break this habit?

The behaviour this dog is showing is actually herding, which would normally be aimed at sheep. Some borders herd cats, leaves, rabbits, children or cars as a substitution.

Normally, the best cure is to start herding sheep with your border. If he can satisfy his herding instinct by working sheep, it will (almost) disappear towards other objects. Given its age, this is not the most sensible option. A four months old border collie is mentally not mature enough to have the strength of will to herd sheep. A sheep attacking the dog could damage its self-confidence to an extent he will be more or less afraid of sheep at a later age.

Remains the solution of associating cars with other behaviour. Try to train the dog near a less busy road, or at a quieter time of the day. Make sure you notice the cars before your dog does. Try to distract the dog with something irresistible (food, pull game, ball, etc). If the distraction is intensive enough, he won't even notice the cars.

The next step is to delay the fun activity a little every time. At start, you will allow him to play with the ball himself when a car approaches. Later, you will postpone the reward till after the car has passed. Now it has become a reward for ignoring the car.

For the rest, I would like to point out that a regular walk is kind of boring for a Border Collie. Their desire for mental challenges makes that a walk is just a physical activity. You can make the walk much more interesting (and therefore reduce the chance of herding cars) by playing all kinds of games on the way. Examples are fetch games, search the ball, all kinds of obedience exercises (down, sit, follow, come, etc).

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This page last modified: Friday, 01-Aug-2008 17:07:12 CEST
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