My dog throws himself on cars: why and what to do?

Does your dog literally throw himself under the wheels of a car every time he comes across one? Why and what to do?

Does your dog literally throw himself under the wheels of a car every time he comes across one? Beyond the very dangerous side of this practice, you don’t understand this attitude and would like, in addition to finding an explanation, to find solutions to solve this problem?

Prevention is better than cure, so here is an article to understand why your dog throws himself on cars and above all what to do to prevent this from happening again.

Why is my dog throwing himself at cars?

First of all, you should know that if you are unable (despite the information that follows) to identify the cause of your dog’s problem, professional help is required.

It is very important to take the time to identify the cause of a problem before you begin to solve it, as each cause will have its own solutions that are adapted and personalised to each individual.

Here are a few tips to help you identify the source of the problem:

Lack of socialization

A puppy that has never been used to running into cars can develop fear and, eventually, aggression towards this “object” that he doesn’t know. This is often the case with puppies that grow up in the country and are never taken to the city, nor do they ever get into a car.

A dog will naturally be afraid of what it doesn’t know, and the reactions caused by a lack of stimulation and socialization as a small dog can be very difficult to deal with once it reaches adulthood.

Hence the importance of properly socializing your puppy, especially until he is 12 weeks old. This implies choosing a breeder for whom puppy socialization is very important because it must begin at 3 weeks of age. And you, as an adopter, you can only adopt a puppy at the age of 8 weeks, you then have only one month to perfect its socialization, it is thus preferable that it was initiated by the breeder.

A bad experience (or experiences)

Socializing your puppy is all well and good, but you still need to do it properly! Sometimes, when you want to “over-socialize” your puppy, you forget the right way to do it and accidents can happen quickly.

In fact, socializing your puppy is not the same as making him live a maximum of experiences without controlling them a minimum. It is therefore very important to avoid bad experiences at all costs, so that they do not become traumatic for the dog.
Furthermore, a puppy or dog that has unfortunately been hit by a car can develop significant anxiety when approaching a vehicle. And, depending on the dog, reactions can be different: many run away, but when this is not possible, some end up “attacking” before being attacked.

Very (too) strong instincts

Throwing yourself at a car, and generally speaking at anything in motion, can also be due to genetic reasons, deep-rooted instincts that are difficult to fight.

These problems are often encountered by working breeds: hunting, guarding and herding breeds. The hunting dog has a very strong predation instinct that makes him want to follow everything that moves. The guard dog has a protective instinct such that it does not accept any intrusion on its familiar territory or close to its master and the herding dog has a herding instinct such that it needs to control everything that is moving.

This is fairly typical of working dogs that have been downgraded to the rank of companion dog. It is absolutely not “serious” to adopt a working dog as a pet dog (I am well placed to know this since I have two Border Collies and I don’t have a herd at home…) but it is nevertheless important to be aware of the instincts of the breed you are adopting and to find alternative solutions to help them express their full potential.

Lack of expenditure

This brings us to the most frequently observed cause, namely lack of expenditure. It is a cause that is often linked to the previous one because it is mostly working dogs who are overflowing with energy and who are “unemployed” for whom this problem arises.

Then, overall, a dog whose needs are not being met will take advantage of the slightest opportunity and the slightest stimulation to let out his overflow of energy.

Following, turning and/or trying to catch the wheels of a car is a very effective expense for a dog that stays locked up in the house or garden all day long and is terribly bored.

What can I do to stop my dog from jumping on cars?

Now that you know the main causes that explain why your dog can throw himself under the wheels of cars, the solutions to prevent this behaviour from continuing are finally quite simple, you must :

Socialize your puppy

You will have understood it, it is the basis of your puppy’s education. Socialization helps prevent future problems. So, it’s important to socialise your puppy to anything and everything, so that later, as an adult, slightly unusual events are finally “non-events” for him.

Getting your dog used to or re-habituated to cars

Get your dog used to walking (on a leash, for safety) in the city, with cars nearby. At the beginning, choose low-traffic streets, then gradually increase the level of stimulation.

You can also positively reinforce your dog’s good deeds: if he doesn’t react when a car passes by, give him a treat. You can even give him a treat when the car passes so that he assimilates it as something positive. It will also help him to focus on you.

Of course, getting your dog used to getting in and out of the car also helps the habituation process.

If you’ve “missed” your puppy’s socialisation, or if you’ve, for example, adopted an adult dog that hasn’t had enough positive experiences with cars, a lot of re-habituation work will have to be done. For this, it is always preferable to call in a professional because each dog will need to benefit from a personalised follow-up according to his level of sensitivity and his ability to adapt.

Spend your dog

This is of course THE advice to follow and is valid for, roughly speaking, all the problems you encounter with your dog! Spending your dog is essential to hope to have a well-balanced doggie who is listening and well in his paws.

And let us recall it, to spend his dog well it is necessary:

  • Take it out of the garden every day for at least 30 minutes,
  • Offer him games of occupation and intelligence at home,
  • Reinforce his education through short, playful, positive and regular exercise sessions,
  • Offer him search and track games,
  • Offer her meetings with controlled, positive and regular congeners,
  • Give him bones or solid toys to chew on,
  • Playing games with him that are both educational and fun, etc.

Control/limit her instincts

When you have a working dog, predisposed to this or that task (hunting, herding, guarding), but you don’t have the intention, the time or the skills to help him express his full potential: instead of trying to suppress his instincts (which is impossible anyway) try to file and control his impulses.

This can be done initially with the help of a firm and assiduous basic education so that your dog is able to listen to you in any situation. Then, of course, this is followed by additional activities that give the dog the opportunity to use his innate skills.

For example, for a hunting dog, tracking activities (cavage, mantrailing, utility search, etc.), for a hound: running activities (canicross, cani-run, agility, etc.), for a sheepdog: gathering activities (treibball, herding course, etc.). For dogs with an important guarding instinct, it is more a work of socialization and education that needs to be put in place.

Above all, in order to avoid reinforcing (often involuntarily) the dog’s chasing instinct and thus making them even more inclined to throw themselves at cars, it is important to limit or even completely eliminate ball or bat throwing games. These games are certainly quite simple to set up and practical to physically spend your dog, but they have two major disadvantages: they drive the dogs crazy, sometimes even completely “nuts”, and they especially reinforce their chasing instinct (which is therefore incompatible when you want to prevent your dog from chasing something else…like a car in our case).

Work on renunciation and reconnection

Teaching his dog to “stop” or “you leave” can be a great help when he starts to throw himself under the wheels of a car. I therefore invite you to carefully read our articles specifically dedicated to these subjects.

These guidelines will help you keep control of your dog and, above all, help you focus on you in a positive way. It takes a lot of time, patience and above all a lot of assiduity to hope to obtain good results and to apply them in real life situations.