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6 Reasons Why Dogs Chase Cars (And How to Stop It)

Ed Malaker

If you have a dog that chases cars, you know it can be a terrifying experience for everyone involved, and you want to learn how to prevent it immediately. If this sounds like your situation, you’ve come to the right place. We will discuss several reasons why your dog might be chasing cars, and in each case, we’ll give you some tips that might help you stop it.

divider-pawTop 6 Reasons Why Dogs Chase Cars:

1. Dogs Have A Strong Predatory Instinct

One possible reason your dog might be chasing after cars is that it has a strong predatory instinct. Many breeds are hunting dogs, and they may see passing cars as an exciting animal that they can chase. Dogs that hunt small game like most hounds may mistake the movement of the hubcaps for a small animal and take chase.

Irish Red and White Setter Dog running_Glenkar_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Glenkar, Shutterstock

What Can I Do About It?

If your dog is chasing after the hubcaps, you might be able to reduce it by building a short fence around your property so your dog can’t see them. If your dog is chasing after the car, you might need to build a fence to hide the car entirely.

2. Dogs Are Playful

Some dogs are extremely playful, and chasing cars is simply another game that they enjoy. Some dogs will chase after anything that moves, including animals that run through the yard and even dead leaves.

Happy dachshund dog playing
Image Credit:
otsphoto, Shutterstock

What Can I Do About It?

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about a playful dog besides building a tall fence. If your dog is still a puppy, there is a good chance it will grow out of the behavior, especially with proper training.

3. Dogs Are Protective

One of the most likely reasons your dog is chasing after cars is because it’s territorial and is attempting to protect its family from what it perceives as a threat. We’re not sure, but there is a good chance the dog sees a car as a large monster, and it is trying to scare it off. If you live in a corner house, the engine’s sound can reinforce the illusion by creating a growl.

a white swiss shepherd dog running
Image credit: Nicole Köhler, Pixabay

What Can I Do About It?

Like the earlier answers, the best option might be to build a tall fence. Training, either by an experienced owner or a professional, can also help curb the behavior if you start early.

4. It’s Bored

Most dog breeds have a lot of energy to herd sheep, swim to collect ducks that the hunters shoot, and chase small game into trees. If your dog spends too much time sitting around, it can become bored. If too much energy builds up, it can start to misbehave, digging holes and chasing after cars.

greyhound running outside
Image Credit: herbert2512, Pixabay

What Can I Do About It?

Fortunately, this is one of the easier ones to fix, and you only need to set aside a little more time each day to help your dog get some exercise. If you don’t have a lot of time, we recommend choosing something like Frisbee or fetch that will tire your dog out quickly. Jogging will also work if you are physically fit. Thirty minutes per day should be enough to keep your dog from misbehaving in the yard while you are at work.

5. Positive Reinforcement

Unfortunately, one of the reasons your adult dog might be chasing after cars is because you didn’t prevent it or even encouraged it as a puppy. Puppies do many things that new owners think are cute or harmless, only to have it backfire later in life when the pet is fully grown, and chasing after cars is often one of them. Sleeping in bed and begging for food at the dinner table are others.

Image credit: DTeibe Photography, Shutterstock

What Can I Do About It?

The best way to prevent puppy behaviors from becoming adult behaviors is to make sure you don’t encourage it and take the proper steps to teach the dog that it is unacceptable behavior. For instance, Making the dog go back inside when it chases a car can be a powerful way to train your pet.

6. It Gets Attention

One last reason that your pet might be chasing after cars is that it notices it get a lot of attention when it does. If you come running every time the dog chases a car, it might do so when it wants your attention. If your dog spends a lot of time in the yard and gets lonely, it might start to rely on this technique to get attention.

woman running with dog
Image Credit: Khakimullin Aleksandr, Shutterstock

What Can I Do About It?

Dogs chasing after cars for attention tend to do it only after they have been sitting alone for a while. If you think your dog is chasing after cars to get attention, we recommend resisting the urge to give in to it. You can also try to make sure your dog doesn’t sit alone for too long. Call it in a few minutes early and give it a treat if it doesn’t chase after cars but not if it does. There is a good chance it will catch on and find something else to do while it waits.


We hope you have enjoyed reading over this list and found it helpful for answering your questions. If you don’t have experience training dogs or the option to build a tall fence, a professional trainer can help you quickly change your dog’s behavior. Most trainers will also train you, so you have the experience to prevent any future dogs from chasing cars.

Featured Image Credit: Artem Avetisyan, Shutterstock

Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.