The Chase Is Up!

Is your dog a chaser? 

The urge to chase turns some dogs into frenzied running machines who are difficult to stop. Their brains seem to leave their bodies as they launch themselves after tennis balls, cyclists, cats or every dog on the horizon. Chase behavior can be embarrassing and obsessive, as well as dangerous. Some breeds may be more prone to chase-related issues, such as sighthounds who were bred to chase and catch prey, or herding dogs who were bred to control movement.

Chasing makes your dog feel good

Chasing is inherently reinforcing for many dogs – it releases a burst of feel-good chemicals which are difficult to resist. This is why dogs may chase even when exhausted or in pain, or why your border collie only has eyes for the ball and won’t engage in anything else in the environment. This lack of control isn’t your dog being deliberately naughty – they are acting on instinct, performing a behavior sequence completely natural to them.

Chasing – Stop it before it starts

If you feel your dog’s chase behavior has become an issue, the first step is to prevent them from practicing this addictive behavior. The more often they chase, the harder it is to break the cycle. This may mean your dog spending more time on lead and avoiding places full of chase triggers. If your dog is fixated on chasing cars, for example, seek out quieter roads or times of day while you work on things. Once your dog’s brain and body have had a chance to disengage from frequent chasing, you can begin reinforcing the behaviors you want to see instead—like focusing on you. The key is to do this slowly so you and your dog are successful every step of the way. Reducing chase behavior is possible. To enjoy a calmer dog and more relaxing walks faster, engage a force-free trainer to help.

Meet the Trainer
Picture of Lola Carey

Lola Carey

I hold the LIMA (Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive) approach to behavior modification and training. This approach requires that trainers/behavior consultants work to increase the use of positive reinforcement and lessen the use of punishment in work with companion animals and the humans who care for them. Check out my extensive training background.