How to Stop a Dog from Chasing Cars

A working-bred dog with no work to do may learn to enjoy lying in wait to ambush a passing car.
dog in field image by Kevin McGrath from

Some dogs have such high prey drive that from the time they are small puppies, they will go after moving objects without hesitation. Prey drive and other drives associated with it are necessary for survival in the wild, and they are necessarily strong in dogs selected for work ranging from hunting to sheep herding. The prey drive is also at work when your dog goes after an object you throw. You can judge his prey drive by how unhesitatingly and tirelessly he chases thrown objects. Prey drive is necessary in a working dog, but if a bored-to-death, high-energy, high prey-drive dog is left to his own devices, he can get in trouble. He may decide it's great fun to chase runners, bicyclists, animals or cars.

For some dogs with nothing better to do, chasing cars becomes an obsession. Such dogs endanger themselves, and they can cause wrecks. If your dog wants to chase cars, confine him securely in an area where he doesn't see traffic. Then you can take steps to change his behavior.


Step 1

Build your dog a secure, roofed kennel to prevent him from escaping to chase cars.

Step 2

Put up a fence that your dog cannot see through if the sight of traffic causes him to attempt to escape his yard.

Step 3

Place an electronic fence inside a metal one along the space where your dog can see moving traffic. Such a fence consists of an insulated wire boundary and a special dog collar. When the dog approaches the wire boundary, he receives an electric shock from his collar that he will associate with approaching the boundary, discouraging the behavior.

Step 4

Give your high-energy dog sufficient daily exercise for his needs.


Step 1

Teach your dog to understand clicker training. This allows you to teach your dog several commands to stop him from chasing cars. Make a click with the clicker and follow immediately with a treat. Repeat this process for 10 to 15 minutes at a time daily day until your dog consistently expects a treat when he hears a click.

Step 2

Train your dog to respond to the verbal command to sit. Hold a treat in front of your dog and slowly move it over your dog's head, reaching toward his tail, until he sits. At this moment, click the training device and give your dog the treat. Repeat this exercise for 10 minutes at a time each day until your dog always responds to the command by sitting.

Step 3

Teach your dog the stay command. Command your dog to sit; when he does, say "stay." Wait a few seconds after this command, then click and treat your dog if he remains seated. Slowly increase the time between the stay command and the click and treat. When your dog responds to the stay command by sitting still for a minute or two, begin taking a few steps away before clicking and coming back to treat your dog if he remained in place. Continue this training until your dog remains sitting while you walk away from him or move around him.

Step 4

Train your dog to understand the recall command. Tell your dog to sit, then tell him to stay. Walk away from your dog, then say "come," and pat the ground in front of you to encourage your dog to come to you. If your dog approaches, click and treat him. Continue training this command for 10 minutes daily until your dog regularly responds to your verbal recall command by quickly coming to you.

Step 5

Make the training more exciting by taking your dog outside on a long training leash and running away from him. Command him to come. Click and treat him when he runs after you. Once he finishes his treat, command "stay," and run away again, then command him to come to you. Repeat this training until your dog consistently obeys this command.

Step 6

Walk your dog on a leash in a low-traffic area such as on a residential street. When a car drives by, give your dog a treat to focus his attention on you; do this each time a car passes, to associate the moving car with focusing on you for a treat.

Step 7

Command your dog to come, sit and stay if he begins to pull on his leash to try and chase a car while outdoors or on a walk. Give him a dog treat if he obeys these commands and stays put while the car continues on its way.


  • If your dog shows extreme aggression while trying to chase cars, people or pets, seek the help of an animal behaviorist to prevent possible injury to others, recommends the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

  • Never allow your dog to chase a car off-leash as part of his training; he can easily be injured.

  • Don't strike your dog to punish him for chasing cars. This is considered cruelty. It won't discourage the behavior, and it will increase his level of aggression.

  • Keep your dog on leash at all times when he's where he can see moving vehicles. For safety at a dog park or during training, use a longer training leash to allow him to roam a larger area. Call him to you if he tries to chase a car.


  • Prevent your dog from jumping over a fence to chase cars by adding a 45-degree overhang to the top of the fence.

  • Confine your dog securely when you are not present.

  • When clicker-training your dog, start in a quiet room with no distractions. As your dog shows a positive, consistent response to these commands, add some distractions, such as people walking by. Eventually, take your sessions to your back yard to continue teaching the dog that he must obey commands indoors and outdoors, even with distractions.

  • Use a calm voice when you give your dog verbal commands, even when you are outdoors in a stressful situation; your dog may not recognize your command if it sounds strained or comes out as a yell.

  • When playing with your dog outdoors, keep him on leash or behind a secure fence; if a car drives by, distract him with a toy or a game.

  • Refrain from talking to your dog during clicker training. Use your voice only to give commands and praise.

Items You Will Need

  • Kennel
  • Fence
  • Electronic fence
  • Clicker dog training device
  • Dog treats
  • Leash
  • Long training leash



About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.

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