Many dogs seem to take great delight in chasing, and it can be great fun and exercise. Unfortunately, some dogs don’t discriminate about what they are chasing, whether that be your neighbor’s cat, the mailman, or a passing jogger. A dog which habitually chases anything that moves is not only a potential danger to himself, but may also be a danger to the object of the chase. We’ll call this “problem chasing”. Understandably, people who are on the receiving end of your dog’s attention do not always react favorably, since a dog bounding toward them could be either friend or foe!

If you find that your dog has a tendency to be a “problem chaser”, be sure to keep him on a leash whenever you are out and about in public places, especially when there may be cars or other dangers nearby. While at home, be security conscious of your yard, so that your dog will not be able to jump over a fence, or dig under it, to escape into the neighborhood while chasing some small animal.

For many dogs, the need to chase is instinctive. In the wild, dogs habitually chase and hunt their prey. Without this instinct, they would not survive. While domestic dogs do not have the need to hunt, they cannot always fight against their natural instinct. For some dogs, this is also their favorite mode of play.

Treating The Issue

Some dog breeds are more likely to chase than others. Cockapoos, being the offspring of two very successful hunting dog breeds, may delight in chasing smaller animals, even if they have no intention of harming them. This can be both dangerous and annoying, but it does not mean that there is no point in trying to train your dog not to chase. Cockapoos are excellent learners and can be taught to resist the pull of their instinctive urges. Such training will take time and patience on your part, and may be best accomplished with assistance from a professional trainer, although basic obedience training done at home can also help.

If you decide it is best to enlist the help of a trainer, there are still some initial training steps which you may wish to start on your own, before you progress to professional training. Begin by increasing the amount of exercise your dog receives. Taking him to the park and allowing him to run after a ball for extended periods will mean that he has less energy for random chasing. Increase the amount of mental exercise which your dog enjoys, by spending time in obedience training and by using interactive toys at home. Include the command to come, rewarding your dog when he obediently comes when called. Giving your dog praise for obedience will help him to learn acceptable behavior.

Enrolling your dog in agility classes can help fill your dogs need to run and chase, but in a controlled environment. Encourage your dog to learn appropriate chasing by playing fetch with a quality durable ball in a color highly visible to dogs. Reward your dog as he retrieves the ball, so that he recognizes that chasing the ball is acceptable, but chasing a nearby cyclist is not acceptable.

A valuable tool when training a dog which chases is establishing a command which never fails, and which is rewarded with your dog’s very favorite treat. Such a command must be considered almost a last resort, but which your dog recognizes as being a command he must obey, because he will be rewarded by his obedience. This no fail command should be used when the command to come has been ignored, and when your dog may be in danger of bolting away. So that the command retains its effectiveness, you must provide the reward when obedience is given by your dog.

If your dog engages in “problem chasing”, there are a few other things you can do to prevent the habit from getting out of hand. First, try not to encourage chasing inadvertently, unless this is a behavior you are willing to deal with in the future. If your cockapoo makes a game of stealing your slippers and running away, resist the urge to chase after him. Dogs love to play chase with humans and, unfortunately, if you engage in the game it will send the message to your dog that chasing is acceptable.

Giving your dog obedience training will establish a strong foundation to help him to develop acceptable behavior. It will also help you to grow a stronger bond of friendship as your dog looks to you for guidance on his behavior.