Think Like A Dog – How To Stop Your Dog From Chasing Bike Riders
Have you ever been embarrassed by your otherwise well-behaved dog as she chases or barks nonstop at other people as they ride their bicycles or jog your way? It can be quite stressful trying to get her to stop this type of behavior especially if she happens to be a large breed dog like my Husky/Shepherd mix, Matsi! In my past experience as a veterinary technician handling powerful, strong-willed dogs, I’ve come to realize that the primary thing that helps against situations like these is to think like a dog.
Let’s consider this situation from a canine perspective: dogs perceive joggers and bikers as strangers and because of that may show signs of anxiety - either by running away or standing their ground and barking to make the ‘threat’ go away. Alternatively, some dogs may perceive these strangers as possible playmates and may simply want to join in on the run/ride (and then the chase ensues). Whatever the case may be, your ultimate objective is to control your pet not only for the safety of yourself and others butalso for the safety of your dog.
Darlene and Dan Oshop with their BARF dog, Annabelle.
The main objective when controlling your pet in this scenario is to get her attention…and what better way to get you pup’s ears perked and tail wagging by offering her a tasty treat or her favorite toy? The moment your dog shows signs of distraction or excitement, call out her name and offer her a high value treat or her favorite toy (preferably with a squeaker) so she cannot refuse.
By teaching your dog to focus her attention on you when something unfamiliar comes along, she will begin to rely on your instruction on what action to take.
Using your dog’s name and offering a treat/reward will reinforce the idea that “If I pay attention to Mom/Dad something good will happen!” Every dog is different and learns at their own pace so don’t despair if it takes some time for your pup to make the connection. With practice, your pup will eventually learn to focus on you during moments of distress or distraction.
It may take some time to get your dog to break their habit of chasing or barking, especially when the distraction is close.
The next step is to have your dog sit calmly by your side as bikers and joggers go by. Instruct your pup to sit as the jogger or biker comes near you. Once they calmly sit while focusing on you, go ahead and give your pup a treat.
With consistent training and a set routine, you’ll master this challenge with your dog and in the long run this will make you and your dog happy, without worry of bikers of joggers being a problem ever again. -Thomas Benin
Thomas Benin is a freelance animal photographer and former veterinary technician. He and his husky/German shepherd mix, Matsi are avid travelers and love to go hiking, running, mountain climbing and sight seeing.