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Why Do Dogs Chase Cars?

How many times have you seen a dog chase cars? Whether it’s domestic or stray, leashed or not, whenever there’s a car passing by, a dog gets that crazed look, almost like an instant hypnosis, right before darting off straight towards it and barking all the while. So why does this happen? The simple answer is – their prey drive. It is natural. They see a fast moving object, be it a car, a toy ball, a passing jogger or a cat, and they are compelled to chase it. It is a playful exercise of their ancestral hunting skills. Much the same is true when they have mock-fights with other dogs. Serious biting is rare, as this is not motivated by aggression, and you will often see them tackling, lunging at and withdrawing from each other. It is all an elaborate game of tag, equally intended for practice and fun.

Of course, this behavior has another component. Some dogs do it for attention – their human spectators often encourage it by openly laughing at them in their compulsive chase. Dogs will see this reaction from people as a form of positive reinforcement and thus might result to this game solely for their owners’ amusement.

However, such a pastime can be dangerous. A dog running after cars on the road is likely to get seriously injured, and not necessarily by the one it’s chasing, but rather by the one behind it. Drivers are often startled and forced to swerve around them, which endangers not just your pet, but the whole traffic.

Luckily, there a few simple ways to prevent it. First off, when you’re walking your dog down the street, make sure it’s on a sufficiently tight leash. Secondly, it’s not enough to just walk it regularly, it also has to get enough of other forms of physical activity in order to expend its energy – and in the appropriate
areas, such as a park or a yard. Finally, you must catch the moment it shows interest in the motion of a car and immediately divert his attention. Call its name, throw it a
reat or talk to it, just keep its focus on you and away from the dangerous road.