Disciplining the Car-Chasing Dog

Doc, border collie, working the head of a Black Angus bull calf

Doc working the head of a Black Angus bull calf

I caught Doc chasing cars again yesterday morning. He’s a 2-year-old border collie. He chases things. Not a surprise, but I thought we’d gotten to the point where he wasn’t hauling freight after vehicles.

So I got on my big girl voice, hollering away at him, throwing out the big BD (bad dog). And then I pulled up short when I realized what I really should be shouting was BH – bad human.

Instead of tossing blame on my dog, I started thinking about why he’d started chasing cars again. And the 2-part answer was immediately clear:

a) I had stopped running/biking/walking with him every day. He’s a bundle full of energy with nowhere to channel it. It’s why he’s been digging in his pen during the day, why he gets a little too aggressive with the cattle.
b) After Doc got hit last winter, I worked with him constantly. He stopped chasing vehicles, because I made a concerted effort to train him not to. And then I stopped. And so he started chasing again.

Most of the time, issues that pop up with animals are rooted on the human side of the equation. Environment plays a role, and there are some downright ornery animals out there. But a lot of the time, it’s something we have done that contributes to things going awry.

That can be hard to handle. I don’t know about you, but it’s a lot easier for me to stomp around and get a good grump going on towards an animal who can’t talk back to me than it is to admit I’ve screwed up.

So. It’s back to running with Doc and working with him again on letting vehicles pass by the house without harassing them. It’ll be good for my waistline and good for his discipline training. Double win!


  1. I think you have identified the #1 thing that makes good dogs (and children). The saying is a tired dog is a good dog.

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