Why Do Dogs Give Chase?

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Our dog, Charlie Brown, has developed an annoying habit of chasing (and barking at) every single car, bike, person who goes by our house, crazily running along the inside of the fence and barking like a maniac.  This is especially worrisome because it’s not only dangerous but around here in the summer, there is a steady stream of every kind of traffic you can imagine — tourists taking photos of the nearby lighthouse, people carrying surfboards, boogie boards, riding bicycles, scooters, pushing strollers, or dragging beach chairs and coolers up and down the road.

We don’t know what breed mix makes up our Charlie Brown, but we were told he is a Collie/Hound mix.  The hound part is obvious–he looks like a gigantic Beagle!  But the Collie part basically had me in disbelief until this chasing thing began.  Collies are herding dogs.  Hector used to herd cars, but he really trotted behind them and went from side-to-side just like he was herding a livestock.  We always thought he was part Border Collie.

This chasing in Charlie’s case is definitely out of boredom.  It’s been a tricky few months, extreme weather being part of it, and a few other things, so when you’re dealing with a dog who isn’t even two years old, that’s a recipe for bored, bored, bored.  A bored dog behind a fence makes up his own entertainment. Charlie has invented the chase-and-bark game and plays it better than anybody!

All of this got me thinking, why do dogs give chase, anyway?  It turns out the main reasons are territorial behavior, boredom, fear, thinking that a game is being played (such as when a dog chases a jogger), and of course, instinctual prey behavior when the dog sees something moving very rapidly.

There are many ways to break a dog of chasing, but the best thing to do, experts say, is stop the behavior before it starts.  For us, it’s too late, we are going to have to break him of this game he has invented.  Of all the dogs we’ve had in the past, none of them did this before.  We’re making progress.  Charlie is now chasing and barking at only 80% of the traffic that goes past the house!  Tonight, he actually laid down in the yard and didn’t chase any for at least 15 minutes.  If we can extend those quiet times longer and longer, and still have him enjoying the back yard — success!

K.S. Mueller is a travel executive living in Massachusetts who writes essays about dogs, cats and other topics in her spare time. Check out her web sites: ksmueller.comk2k9.com; and fibroworks.com. Follow K.S.Mueller on Facebook and Twitter.

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