Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Considerate Canine Chase Drive Training Tip

Lowcountry Dog Magazine

The Problem:

I need help with my dog who likes chasing bicycles and runners.

The Solution:

Having a dog who chases fast moving objects can be quite frightening, dangerous and embarrassing, but you certainly are not alone. Motion can trigger the prey/chase drive in many breeds. But it does not have to be a deal breaker.

Good management is vital while you work to help your dog develop a different pattern of behavior. Don’t allow your dog off leash where he is likely to be confronted with fast moving objects. When you see a bike approaching step behind a car, tree or put your body between your dog and the bike. Teach your dog a great sit/stay, come when called and watch me.

Please be sure that you practice these skills in a place with few distractions rather than expecting him to comply with your request in the presence of a bike or runner. As he learns to respond to your cues, take it on the road, practicing in more difficult places.

Using classical conditioning to change the way your dog responds to these objects can be most helpful. By pairing something that your dog loves ( cheese, chicken, hotdogs, etc.) with the approach of a bike, the bike begins to act as a predictor of good things to come.

It is helpful to have another person available while working with your dog.

Start with your dog near a bike that is stationary, feeding him treats for being close to the bike while not reacting.

Begin to move the bike slowly, just a few inches at the time while you feed your dog for being calm.

When he can handle this small amount of movement, begin to move the bike a little faster ( proceed in very small increments) while giving him treats. If he reacts to the movement, back up to the last point he was successful.

Gradually begin to increase the speed of the bike, treating the entire time.

The next step, have someone on the bike, then riding it slowly, adding speed as you proceed.

Be sure that you do not push your dog too fast, too far. If he begins to get worried or react, give him a break, possibly waiting until the next day. Your dog gets to decide what is comfortable for him. It takes time and patience to help a dog who is reactive to anything, the longer he has practiced this behavior the longer it may take to change it.

I hope that your walks will become more pleasant as you work together to change his reactions.

Happy Training!

If you have a question for Cindy Carter of Mindful Manners Dog Training, email your question to leah@lowcountrydog.com using the subject line: The Considerate Canine.

Cindy Carter has been training dogs in the Charleston area for the past 4 years, the last year as owner of Mindful Manners Dog Training. Cindy is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, CGC evaluator for the AKC, and member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. She has written articles for local publications and been featured in several publications focusing on local business owners.

As the owner of two dogs with “issues” she is uniquely qualified to help owners develop and implement management and training plans. She brings commitment and empathy to owners struggling to help their dogs have better lives.

For more information about our training programs visit us at www.mindfulmanners.net

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