5 Easy Steps to Train a Dog to Avoid Cars
Is It Even Possible to Teach Road Sense?
There is a lot of disagreement on this issue. The argument is similar to that of “snakes and guns”. Most people are afraid of snakes, even to the point of where a phobia of snakes is not uncommon, but few people have an irrational fear or phobia about guns, despite guns being a lot more dangerous than snakes.
Why is that? Snakes have been around people for millions of years, and our distant ancestors have learned that snakes are dangerous and something to be afraid of. Guns, however, have only been around a short time, and we have to learn to be afraid of them.
Guns might be likely to kill you, but we have no instinctual fear of them, or maybe they have not made it into our DNA.
Dogs are afraid of a lot of things, but most of them are not afraid of cars.
It just isn’t an instinctual fear, and hasn’t made it into their DNA. Training a dog to be afraid around cars is very difficult, but there are a few things you can try.
Have you ever had a dog hit by a car?
This video shows one method of teaching your dog to sit and wait before crossing the road. If a dog is around a busy street, and becomes distracted, the dog may fail to respond, which is why so many people recommend a leash be attached at all times.
Why Should You Teach Your Dog to Avoid Cars?
Is it better to teach road sense or keep your dog on leash at all times?
In my own situation, I keep my dogs on a leash when there are other people around but I want to walk my dogs off leash every night. Walking dogs on a leash all the time is obviously safer. In fact, most writers will recommend that you never run your dogs off leash in an area where there are cars.
However, you need to consider what happens if something goes wrong. What about a broken leash? A broken collar? What if you fall and drop the leash? Will the dog run off and dash into traffic, or stand next to you and wait to have his leash put on again?
Maybe you do not see the reason to teach a dog road sense, but you should anyway.
Your dog may benefit someday.
Methods to Teach a Dog to Avoid Cars
1. Each time you reach a road, whether or not there is traffic, have your dog sit at your side and only release him to cross after giving him the okay.
2. Teach your dog basic obedience, including the ability to obey the “down” command from a distance.
3. Train your dog to respond to the “touch” command.
4. Allow your dog to walk around traffic and learn by himself. Some dogs learn, some dogs never will, and might die.
5. Have someone hit your dog with a slow moving bicycle or car.
Which Method Is Best?
The first method, that of teaching a dog to sit and wait before crossing, is easiest to teach and usually works fine. All dogs should be walked around traffic during their sensitive socialization period, before 16 weeks of age.
If the dog is going to be off leash at times, be sure to work on the second method, that of teaching your dog to go “down” from a distance. If a vehicle is approaching, and I cannot call my dog to my side, I can tell her “down” even if she is chasing a bird in the water or running through a field. By using this command I am sure my dog is not going to run in front of the vehicle in order to get back next to me.
The third method is also important for all dogs that might be off leash. You can expect your dog to come when called over 90% of the time, but is he always going to respond? If you teach the “touch” command, the dog receives a treat every single time he comes to you. He must touch his nose to your hand, and when the command is taught you should not use it as casually as you do the recall (come when called).
My dog is trained to respond to the safety word “touch”, runs over next to me and sits if a vehicle is approaching, and always stops and sits when we reach a street. She does not cross until I give her the okay. The other night, however, we were returning from a short walk in the middle of the night and she wandered into the street. I was walking down on the beach and did not see her, nor did I see the motorcycle moving rapidly along the road.
She was hit, despite all of her training. Fortunately, no bones were broken, but she is now nervous when we walk along that area at night, and does seem to be more nervous around vehicles at night.
So, despite being well trained in the first three methods, and it is obvious that there is no good road training for a dog. To be safe, dogs should be on a leash at all times when outside.
But what about street people that walk around with their dogs? When I tried to discuss this problem with some street people, some of them just suggested that some dogs learn, some dogs get hit. The consensus among them seemed to be that the fifth method was best: puppies are best trained by being hit with a slow bicycle while still young. After that, I was told, the dogs learned to stay close to their master and were not even inclined to go out into traffic.
Sorry, street people, your dogs are obedient but this is not the method I want to use to train my puppies. No matter how carefully this method is applied, some dogs are going to be injured, perhaps seriously.
The first three methods seem best, but no method is as safe as walking your dog on a leash.
More About Dogs and Cars . . .
- My Dog was Hit by a Car : What Happens Next?
Stay calm, if you have made it to the clinic the worst is over. This article will tell you what will happen to your friend when she is taken in after being hit by a car, and maybe how you can avoid it.
- What Should I Put in a Dog First Aid Kit?
Your dog may need first aid for several reasons and you should be ready. Make up a first aid kit and keep it available at all times. This article will show you what you need to include.
- Natural Treatments for Lameness in Dogs
If your dog´s lameness does not respond to conventional therapy, you might want to search for alternatives. Alternative, natural therapies take a lot longer to start showing effects than conventional therapy so do not expect a quick cure. This articl
Questions & Answers
We taught our 5-month-old pug to use the cat door. When we come home, she runs out in front of the car. What can we do to stop that?
You need to move the cat door around to the back. Having that cat door at the front is a very dangerous situation for your dog since she can get out at any time, and not just when you are there. Move it around to the back of the house so that she will only go out to a fenced in yard.
© 2014 Dr Mark