Why do dogs chase?

Posted by Argos, 26 November 2015, last updated 2 March 2023.

Whether it’s their tail, another animal or even a person, some dogs will chase after anything and everything that moves. Here we are going to explain exactly what may be motivating your dog to chase and how to potentially prevent them from doing so going forward.

So, why do dogs chase? The desire to chase stems back to when dogs would spend time in the wild, hunting for food. Just like you don’t teach your dog to dig, you don’t teach them to chase either, it is instinctive.

A Jack Russell terrier chases a grey squirrel up a tree

Why won’t my dog stop chasing?

Put simply, they won’t stop chasing because they enjoy it.  Chasing is a fundamental characteristic which dogs inherit from their ancestors, which is why some breeds like to do it more than others.

In fact, the ‘high’ they receive is so big they close down all of their other senses to fully concentrate on it and there isn’t much you can do to stop this.  Not only do they love it, they feel the need to do it, which is why your dog will constantly be on the lookout for the chance to chase.

With this in mind, it is better to try to control the object they chase rather than deny them the chance to chase.

Can I help to control my dog’s desire to chase?

Unlike other unwanted dog behaviours, giving your precious pet a treat is not going to deter or stop them from wanting to chase. That’s because they don’t value a biscuit as highly as the internal ‘high’ they will get from taking part in a chase.

This behaviour doesn’t mean our pets are deliberately being disobedient, they are just obeying a stronger instinctive urge. Owners tend to despair when their dog chases after cars, rabbits, deer, sheep, runners, bikes and children because this can lead to dangerous and possibly disastrous outcomes.

So, rather than see our dogs chase the ‘wrong’ target, the key is to divert their attention onto a different object and encourage them to chase the ‘right’ target, like a ball, frisbee or toy.

A Border Collie dog chases after a frisbee

Tips to stop your dog chasing

Before trying to introduce a new chase object, it may be an idea to try to add other things into your dog’s life which will improve their emotional balance.

  • Giving them new food or experience may help to reduce their need to get a ‘high’ from embarking on a chase.
  • If they like to chase specific objects, like rabbits, don’t take your dog anywhere near them on their regular walk.
  • If their desire to chase is preceded by stalking or searching, keep an eye out for this mannerism.
  • It is also still important to stay aware and watch for other potential triggers, like runners or bikes.
  • As well as changing your walk route, try keeping your pet on a lead at all times to reduce their desire to bolt and run.
  • Introduce a chase object you can control and that is similar to the one they like chasing the most.
  • Practice getting your dog to chase after it in a place where there are no distractions and do it every day so they get into a new routine.
  • Once your dog is desperate to play the game, it may be a good idea to hide the ‘chase’ toy so that you create a buzz when they see it on the field.

Remember, you must keep this game up on a regular basis or your dog will go back to finding its own target and you’ll be back to square one again.

Now you understand your dog’s behaviours a little more, remember to keep yourself protected from unexpected vet bills with Argos Pet Insurance provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc. Explore our dog insurance policies today.

Share this with your friends Apple download app image Apple download app image