Amazingly this is outside of the top five dog behavior issues recently found in a survey of dog owners.
The first few issues have been discussed in previous articles. And ironically many of those were to do with dogs not being walked and socialized enough. Not burning a dogs energy so they are bored, anxious or barking.
IN the case of a strong chase mechanism, again it is nothing unnatural that a dog has picked up. it is not necessarily BAD dog behavior, but NATURAL dog behavior.
Dogs evolved from wolves and wolves have to hunt continually throughout the day for their very survival. Their owners don’t pop over to the supermarket to bring back some wheat snack.
The closer a dog is in DNA to a wolf (not just look) the more likely it is to have a chase mechanism. Then of course there are dogs that man created specifically to chase and run down animals (mainly vermin. The sight hounds are a particularly strong candidate for this. They see the prey and given a signal from the owner chase at high speed to get to the animal. Training by the owner only enhances what was already enhanced in these breeds.
You will find the same in any hunting dog breed to chase, or any dog bred to fight (often illegally in modern times).
When you don’t want the dog chase mechanism
As the majority of dogs in America (and the world) are companion animals, they often live in homes with other species of animals like cats, or small children. This is the last place you want your dog hunting down things that could turn into prey.
Worse than this is in dog parks. Dog parks are created for social dogs to socialise and get exercise. that means that most dogs are or should be off lead in these dog parks. If you have an off lead dog chasing down another off lead dog, and attacking it, that is a completely NON social behavior that will get owners and society condemning the actions.
The problem with strong chase mechanism is not that all dogs have it to some degree, but for the dogs that have it to a high degree and the owners have not learnt how to reduce it to an acceptable level.
When owners don’t get their dog trained not to chase or be aggressive. then the dogs usually just get abandoned in the back yard, and that means they will develop all of the other bad dog behaviors discussed in the previous articles such as boredom, barking and digging etc.
TRAINING DOGS NOT TO CHASE
I have worked with many retrievers who love nothing more than chase, but they dont attack when they catch up with the dog. They only want to play or out run the dog and show they are superior (its a game).
However some dogs like staffies and pit bulls can get very excited when chasing dogs, and when they catch them, not knowing their own strength they can bite and cause damage to other dogs. NOT all of the dogs in these breeds do this, but their strength makes it a major concern when they have not been trained properly to stop when they have started a chase.
Positive reinforcement is always recommended to change any dog behavior, but some owners in frustration, under council instruction etc end up using shock collars when their dogs are out to modify the dogs chase mechanism. Done correctly this can reduce the chase and attack mode.
Alternatively some people are happy to have a professionally fitted bite muzzle on their dog, just in case a dog that has previously had issues decides to relapse.
Please ensure your dog and other dogs are safe if they have a strong chase mechanism and use a method that keeps them under 100% control when in public spaces.