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  • April Schrader, CPDT-KA

Why Dogs Love to Chase

We have all experienced that moment when our dogs suddenly take off in hot pursuit of something intriguing – be it a squirrel, a bird, a ball, or even a passing car. The sight of our furry companions running with incredible speed and determination can leave us both amused and puzzled. But why do dogs love to chase? In this blog, we will delve into the fascinating world of canine instincts and explore the reasons behind our furry friends' innate drive to chase.

An Ancient Instinct: Chasing is an instinct deeply rooted in a dog's genetic makeup, harking back to their ancestral heritage as hunters thousands of years ago. In the wild, their ancestors relied on their chasing skills to survive, using this innate urge to pursue and capture prey for sustenance. While domestication has transformed dogs' lives, this ancient instinct persists in their DNA, influencing their behavior even in modern settings. Understanding this evolutionary history provides valuable insights into why dogs continue to exhibit their natural chasing tendencies today.


Prey Drive: Prey drive is the term used to describe a dog's instinctual urge to chase and capture objects that resemble prey. This drive can vary significantly among individual dogs, depending on their breed, temperament, and early experiences. Some dogs, such as hounds or herding breeds, may exhibit a strong prey drive due to their historical roles as hunting or working dogs.

Satisfying Their Curiosity: Dogs are naturally inquisitive creatures, and their keen senses are constantly on the lookout for movement or new stimuli in their environment. Whether it's a passing animal, a fluttering leaf, or a speeding bicycle, these captivating sights can trigger a dog's innate drive to chase. Their curiosity and instinctual tendencies come together, compelling them to embark on a thrilling pursuit.


Energy Release and Fun: Chasing fulfills not only an instinctual drive but also serves as a source of physical and mental stimulation for dogs. This behavior provides an outlet for their surplus energy, which is especially significant for high-energy breeds. The act of chasing in itself is self-reinforcing, as it can be immensely enjoyable and rewarding for our furry companions. The pleasure they derive from pursuing moving objects reinforces the behavior, making it more likely to recur.


Learned Behavior: At times, dogs acquire their chasing habits through unintentional reinforcement. Any attention we give to our dogs in those moments of chasing can inadvertently reinforce the behavior. Whether it's out of excitement, concern, or frustration, our reactions can signal to our furry companions that chasing is a desirable or attention-worthy action. As responsible pet owners, it's essential to be aware of how our responses can inadvertently impact their behavior and to find constructive ways to address their natural instincts.

Managing Chasing Behavior: While chasing is a natural behavior for dogs, it can be challenging to manage, especially when it poses safety risks. For example, a dog running after a moving vehicle or bolting after a small animal can lead to accidents or injuries. To keep your dog and others safe, consider the following tips:

  • Engage in regular exercise and play to help burn off excess energy and give your dog outlets for their chasing desires

  • Teach and reinforce reliable recall cues to call your dog back when needed.

  • Use long leashes when walking in open areas to give your dog some freedom while maintaining control.

  • Train your dog to focus on you and respond to cues, diverting their attention from potential triggers.

  • Consult with one of our professional dog trainers at Best Buddy Dog Trainer to address and modify this behavior effectively. Our team of experts is here to provide personalized guidance and support for you and your furry friend. 📞 Call/Text: 301-231-1907 📧 Email: jeff@bestbuddydogtrainer.com

Understanding why dogs love to chase is key to effectively managing and redirecting this instinctual behavior. While chasing is a normal aspect of canine nature, responsible pet ownership involves ensuring the safety of our dogs and those around them. By providing appropriate outlets for their energy and curiosity and implementing positive training methods, we can foster a harmonious relationship with our four-legged companions, allowing them to lead happy and fulfilling lives.


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