I have a 2 year old black lab, and an approximately 12 or 13 year old large breed mix (who my husband got several years before I met him). They are both not cautious around moving vehicles and will run right up to them. They are never outside unsupervised, but the problem occurs because we rent from my in-laws and their home is secluded and has only a large front yard, which is not fenced, and has a private driveway. Therefore, if I’m outside playing ball with dogs and someone unexpectedly pulls in the driveway, the dogs run right up to the car. How can I correct this behavior and help them to be “car smart”? Thank you so much!

Andrea from Utah

Boy can I relate to this! My dog Dontae is a Border-Aussie mix and has an intense herding drive around large trucks. Three weeks after rescuing him, I found out just how intense it was after he escaped my grasp and ran in front of a large gravel truck and was struck by the bumper. Amazingly, he walked away with one broken nail, however, the ordeal stirred me up enough to begin intense self-control training IMMEDIATELY.

This type of training will bring you back to square one. We can’t be expected to read if we haven’t learned our ABC’s yet, right? Same goes with basic obedience training! In order to have full control around high distractions, we much be sure our dog understands basic commands such as sit, down, stay and come 100% of the time. These specific cues are excellent in teaching your dog the beginning steps to gaining self-control and environmental awareness. Chasing after cars is your dog’s highest level of distraction. You must build up an incredible positive association with listening to your commands as opposed to chasing after vehicles. In order to do this, your must speak dog. In other words….bust out those treats!

When training, be incredibly liberal with treats and reward/praise heavily for all desired behaviors. The point of this is to make you more rewarding than any other distraction out there! Chasing after cars is not just a thrill for your dog, but a purpose! Find other ways to give your dog a job such as providing new mentally stimulating toys, walking them with a weighted down back pack, or have them chase a toy on a flirty pole. Dogs who are not able to release enough energy during the day will take it upon themselves to do so…typically in ways we do no appreciate.

Until you can trust your dog with their stay and come commands 100% of the time, you must be sure they are restrained and monitored at all times. Outside of long leads and underground fencing, there is another tool some of my clients use. An e-collar is a great option for dogs in need of a reminder for where they need to be in case they are getting themselves into a dangerous situation. The handler has full control of the corrections and once the startlement is given, you will have the opportunity to regain their focus and channel the energy onto something more positive. Continuing with heavy rewarding during this training is crucial. E-collars can be easily abused – which is why I recommend all first time users to educate themselves heavily or consult with a professional before implementing one into their training regime.

Your dogs must EARN the right to roam off lead. Go back to basics to give them a better understanding of what is expected of them and you will see a difference in their overall behavior!

Happy Training,