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car chasing/training to stay out of street?

Discussion in 'Behavior' started by Rileys mom, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. Rileys mom

    Rileys mom Forums Enthusiast

    May 6, 2013
    My apologies in advance for the long post and many questions. This ended up longer than I expected.

    I had a bad scare with Riley today. I let him off leash at home after a walk and he chased a car and ran about 3 houses away before I got him to come to me instead. Normally when outside I have him in a harness and dragging a 25' line. With the exception of losing his brain getting caught up in the excitment of running in the woods with my parents Springer, Riley has a good recall. He is smart and does really well in obedience class. When I practice recalls at home by putting him in a sit/wait or down/wait then call he does really well. I don't have a fenced in yard and I am usually outside wiith him but it would be nice if I could atleast send him out to potty on his own at some point in time. Or if I am out of town for a weekend (rare occurence) I don't have to worry about him running in the street when someone else is watching him.

    He was reactive with cars going by on the walk but I brought treats and was trying to have him sit and watch me. It worked about 80% of the time (stopped at a park to train and ran out of treats for the walk home). I wasn't paying enough attention and Riley running after the car driving by took me by surprise.

    Riley has chased other dogs/people a couple of times but up untill today the last one had been a couple of months ago. I give positive reinforcement (praise with treats) when he comes, I don't want to ever punish him (possibly making him think coming = punishment, therefore not come) but he needs to learn running in the street in unacceptable.

    After car incident I have been getting a lot of unwanted advice from family about dog training. I keep hearing about how some hunters train with shock collars and how well those dogs are supposed to listen. I don't ever plan on getting shock collar. I want Riley to listen from respect not fear. I was away at college when the Springer was trained but I have heard she got punished a few times for not listening. She listens but I do not feel punishment (spanking, etc.) is anyway to train a dog. I would like to show that positive reinforcement works better than training with force.

    My questions are:

    Can I work on getting a recall after I have lost attention? I react at the same time he does but by then my recall is ignored.

    How can I positively train Riley it is unacceptable to go in the street unleashed?

    Is the above question too much to expect of a 9month old puppy?

    I plan on getting him neutered in late Jan/ early Feb. Will neutering have any effect on stopping his chasing?

    He has chased cars twice and people/dogs about 3 or 4 times. In allowing it to happen so many times have I created a car/people chaser?

  2. Caro

    Caro Moderator

    Jan 14, 2009
    Canberra, Australia
    If it is a game or 'drive' thing then maybe, if it is herding instinct then no, you can't ever trust him not to chase a car.

    Deska is a car chaser. He has an instinctive need to stop anything with a human from leaving. I can call him off animals no problem. Tully on the other hand barks at cars going past, and I can't call off chasing animals. The difference between the two is Tully is a high drive dog, she wants to chase something, with Deska it's instinct, people are his flock and he has this irresistible need to stop them leaving.

    How do I know this. I have consulted more behaviourists and trainers than I can count. I have tried every technique available and yes, even a shock collar. I can tell you the shock collar did nothing - he is so ramped up with adrenalin that he doesn't notice the zap, the vet behaviourist wasn't surprised, farmers for years have been trying to stop their dogs chasing cars with electric collars and it doesn't work for them either. As for hunting dogs - the hunters just get rid of the dogs that don't work out.

    The last person I consulted was a vet behaviourist who specialises in herding dogs. Her answer was Deska can never be trusted off lead around cars (or bicycles), his herding instinct is far too strong and there is nothing that can be done to reliably overcome that. So even tho most areas here are off lead, Deska stays in a harness on a flexi lead if he wants to have some freedom, and only goes off lead in the bush.

    If it is the case that Riley has a strong herding instinct there are a few things that can help temper the issue. One is to take him to herding classes, another is to give him something to chase (we make a game of Deska chasing birds or me). As for recall, if he's focused on a car you'll have to do something drastic to get his focus back - like lay on the ground and scream. Cut out the treats when a car goes past - you are just adding more value to them (and he can still listen to the car and eat a treat at the same time) - try playing a game or something that will fully distract him. Download sounds of cars from the internet and play them over and over and over so the trigger sounds mean less.

    You need to make yourself more fun than the car. If he wants to run or chase then let him run/chase you. Don't let him around cars when he's excited, make sure he is calm when he goes outside, if he's hyped up he'll be looking out for something to chase. If he is walking loose have a long piece of rope attached to him so you can step on it if he tries to chase. If he does chase, forget the fanfare or treats or punishment, he is too pumped up on adrenalin - just put the lead on, don't give him your attention and just stop and wait for him to calm down.

    I wouldn't be letting a 9mth old adolescent off lead at any time, too easily distracted at that age.

    I'm afraid you can't really teach them that going outside without a leash is unacceptable. Neutering makes no difference to instinctive behaviours. Punishment doesn't work if they are ramped up on adrenalin.
  3. Katagaria

    Katagaria Forums Enthusiast

    Jun 23, 2012
    It could be something he'll grow out of. Cosmo was quite interested in cars when he was about 9 months old, whenever a car went by he would pull on the lead and try to go after it. He doesn't do it any more, he has no interest in cars at all now and I never told him "no!" or anything like that whenever he showed this behaviour, I simply gave it no attention. No treats, no words, simply acted like he was doing nothing and kept walking.

    Just my opinion, but I'd avoid trying to connect this behaviour to any particular words or treats (even if you're trying to distract him with treats) at this time, it might make an imprint in his mind whenever he chases cars, that something different happens on the walk when he does it, it might encourage him to keep doing the behaviour. I definitely wouldn't test him off leash at this age though unless you're in a secure area, keep to using a long leash instead if you want to give him a bit of freedom at times.

    I don't know if it's connected at all, but when Cosmo did this he wasn't neutered.

    Do train him with kindness, you do want your dog to trust you. Shock collars are a very old fashioned way of dealing with things.
  4. Mignarda

    Mignarda Forums Enthusiast

    Jan 17, 2013
    Dover, Delaware
    To my mind the problem isn't so much recall as it is getting their attention when their minds are distracted by other, more appealing things.

    I had an incident the other day when walking with my daughter and her little Schipperke behind the Governor's mansion, where there's a little park set on either side of the river that cuts through the city. The nearest street is about 300 yards away, and since there are seldom any people on the one side I like to let Dickens off-leash there. I asked my daughter if she wanted to let Callie off-leash, to which she replied a very adamant "NO." We could see a flock of geese about 200 yards away, and she was sure Callie would run off after them.

    All very well and good. But after a few minutes, Michelle decided that it was just insufferable that Dickens should be off-leash and Callie not. So she decided to trust her little angel. Big mistake. Callie was off like a shot, completely focused on the geese and oblivious to anything else. She covered about 150 yards in less time than it takes to tell. And there I was, at 61 years old, sprinting like an Olympic athlete after her, desperate to cut her off before she she could reach the busy street beyond.

    Michellel's last Schipperke was killed last year in just this way, and we could both sense disaster looming. Fortunately the geese took a turn back toward us and I was able to get ahead of Callie in time to keep her penned in. I joked about having a heart attack, but if anyone was going to have a heart attack it was poor Michelle. She knew perfectly well that she had made a mistake in letting Callie off-leash, and the experience was very sobering for her. I doubt if Callie will ever be off-leash again, unless it's in a securely enclosed area.

    So I'd say there are actually two facets to recall, the most important one being getting their attention during times of distraction. Perhaps that's the one that merits the most work.

    For the curious, here's a video of that naughty little Schipperke:


    Ironically we were out there working on recall, and at that time she behaved admirably!
  5. trini

    trini Premium Member

    Nov 13, 2013
    upstate ny
    I may be going out on a limb here and putting myself in the minority...but I honestly don't think a dog, even one with years of ob training, should ever be off lead when outside a securely fenced area. I have known too many "perfectly trained" dogs, whose owners were very proud of their dog's instant recall, that have been killed the one time they didn't respond or didn't respond fast enough.

    I know our shelties are incredibly smart dogs...but there is no way a dog can truly "understand" the danger that a road can hold for them...and sadly someday there may be an inticement that is just too much for them to resist and in that split second their life can be taken.

    Trini and my gang.
  6. Mignarda

    Mignarda Forums Enthusiast

    Jan 17, 2013
    Dover, Delaware
    I don't know; I believe that, as with everything else in life, you have to make an honest assessment of the risk, including the dog's breed and temperament, the actual physical conditions, and your particular knowledge of the dog. Caution is good, but paranoia is another thing altogether.
  7. Emmasmom

    Emmasmom Premium Member

    Apr 2, 2010
    My dogs are on leash anytime they step outside the fence. It is not so much that I don't trust them, it's the other people, the other dogs, what could snag their attention. All it takes is one split second and disaster can happen.

    Herding instincts can be strong, as Caro mentioned. I could not live with myself if something happened to one of mine just because I decided to trust them off leash. Too many get hurt, too many get lost.
  8. Mom2Melli

    Mom2Melli Forums Enthusiast

    Oct 2, 2013
    Central California
    I'm in the no off-lead group. I had be belovd first aussie on leash/collar only when an RC jet nearly hit us. Poor boy bolted and I was left with the "oh God now what" feeling that ripped my heart to shreds instantly. Fortunately, a parking detail on horseback tracked him and they got me to him via quad. He circled back to me and I secured him thankfully. That dog would bolt from time to time out a door, if let off lead in a schoolyard, etc. I have never trusted another dog off lead or on collar only (unless in class or somewhere fenced and secure). I have seen and heard too many stories where peoples' animals got killed or were gone. I have a friend whose dog bolted out of yard and was picked up by a passing car and they took it. Just not worth the risk. Sorry to be in the no off-leader group, but they are too precious.
  9. Rileys mom

    Rileys mom Forums Enthusiast

    May 6, 2013
    Right now, I agree with no being off lead. I don't plan on letting Riley off lead for a long time. He will get his exercise on walks or on a 25' lead. Hopefully when he is older he can be trusted off lead but it will take a long time for him to earn that trust.

    In January where I train is offering a Mind Your Manners class, which is designed to help dogs deal with distractions. I am going to take it with Riley, as it would be helpful to work in an enviroment with controlled distractions.
  10. JacqueZ

    JacqueZ Forums Enthusiast

    Oct 4, 2012
    Akron, Ohio
    From what I've read, it's not the dog ignoring us when they bolt like that, it's that they are so focused in that instant that they literally can't hear us. I suppose a shock collar might be useful if it could snap them out for a few seconds, long enough to hear us, but I've seen how focused honey can be, and I suspect that a shock strong enough to get her attention would be strong enough to knock her to the ground

    We had honey chase a car once, we were walking (back before she got car reactive) and one passed us and she snapped after it, no idea what set her off, but I was completely unprepared and the leash flew out of my hand. She was around the corner and halfway down the block before I could blink and I was convinced any minute I was going to hear the worst sound ever.

    Now that she's car reactive and does that with almost any car, I've seen her snap the lead hard enough to sweep herself off her feet and not even blink, just straight back to lunging, trying to chase the car, hence my haveing no faith in a mild shock doing anything.

    If you are giving him treats when cars pass, make him sit and wait until the car is a good distance past before he's allowed to eat the treat. Good luck, I understand how hard it is to have a yard for the dog and not be able to let them run in it!

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