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Why Do Dogs Chase Cars? 6 Reasons & How to Stop It

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

Dog running after the car

Why Do Dogs Chase Cars? 6 Reasons & How to Stop It

If you have a dog that chases cars, you know it can be a terrifying experience for everyone involved, and you want to learn how to prevent it immediately. If this sounds like your situation, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we discuss several reasons that your dog might be chasing cars, and in each case, we provide tips that might help you stop this behavior.

The 6 Reasons Dogs Chase Cars

1. Dogs Have a Strong Predatory Instinct

One possible reason your dog might be chasing after cars is that they have a strong predatory instinct. Many breeds are hunting dogs, and they may see passing cars as exciting animals that they can chase. Dogs that hunt small game, like most hounds, may mistake the movement of the hubcaps for a small animal and take chase.

What Can I Do About It?

If your dog is chasing after cars’ hubcaps, you might be able to reduce this behavior by building a short fence around your property so your dog can’t see them. If your dog is chasing after entire cars, you might need to build a tall fence to hide the cars entirely.

2. Dogs Are Playful

Some dogs are extremely playful, and chasing cars is simply another game that they enjoy. Some dogs will chase after anything that moves, including animals that run through the yard and even dead leaves.

What Can I Do About It?

Unfortunately, there is not much that you can do about a playful dog besides building a tall fence. If your dog is still a puppy, there is a good chance that they will grow out of the behavior, especially with proper training.

Happy dachshund dog playing
Image By: otsphoto, Shutterstock

3. Dogs Are Protective

One of the most likely reasons your dog is chasing after cars is that they’re territorial and are attempting to protect their family from what they perceive to be threats. There is a good chance that the dog sees a car as a large monster, and they are trying to scare it off. If you live in a corner house near a busy interaction, the growling of car engines can reinforce this illusion.

What Can I Do About It?

The best option might be to build a tall fence. Training, either by an experienced owner or a professional, can also help curb the behavior if you start early.

4. They Are Bored

Most dog breeds have a lot of energy because they were once required to herd sheep, swim to collect ducks that hunters shot, and chase small game into trees. If your dog spends too much time sitting around, they can become bored. If too much energy builds up, they can start to misbehave, digging holes and chasing after cars.

What Can I Do About It?

Fortunately, this is one of the easier behaviors to fix, and you only need to set aside a little more time each day to help your dog get some exercise. If you don’t have a lot of time, we recommend choosing something like Frisbee or fetch that will tire your dog out quickly. Jogging will also work if you are physically fit. Thirty minutes per day should be enough to keep your dog from misbehaving in the yard while you are at work.

jack russell terrier dog on couch looking sad
Image By: KAZLOVA IRYNA, Shutterstock

5. They Received Positive Reinforcement

Unfortunately, one of the reasons your adult dog might be chasing after cars is that you didn’t prevent the behavior or even encouraged it when they were a puppy. Puppies do many things that new owners think are cute or harmless, only to have it backfire later when the pet is fully grown, and chasing after cars is one of them. Sleeping in their owner’s bed and begging for food at the dinner table are others.

What Can I Do About It?

The best way to prevent puppy behaviors from becoming adult behaviors is to make sure you don’t encourage them and to take the proper steps to teach the dog that they are unacceptable. For instance, making the dog go back inside when they chase a car can be a powerful way to train your pet.

6. Chasing Cars Gets Attention

One last reason your pet might be chasing after cars is that they have noticed that they get a lot of attention when they do. If you come running every time the dog chases a car, they might do so when they want your attention. If your dog spends a lot of time in the yard and gets lonely, they might start to rely on this technique to get attention.

What Can I Do About It?

Dogs chasing after cars for attention tend to do it only after they have been sitting alone for a while. If you think that your dog is chasing after cars to get your attention, we recommend resisting the urge to give in to it. You can also try to make sure your dog doesn’t sit alone for too long. Call them in a few minutes early, and give them a treat if they don’t chase after cars but not if they do. There is a good chance that they will catch on and find something else to do while they wait.

woman running with dog
Image By: Khakimullin Aleksandr, Shutterstock

Final Thoughts

We hope that you have enjoyed reading this list and found it helpful in answering your questions. If you don’t have experience training dogs or the option to build a tall fence, a professional trainer can help you quickly change your dog’s behavior. Most trainers will also train you, so you have the experience to prevent any future dogs from chasing cars.

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Featured Image Credit: Artem Avetisyan, Shutterstock

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