Chasing is a natural behavior of puppies, one that they engage in with their siblings as young pups. It's also a productive way to exercise your pup, but only when played with strict rules to prevent problem behaviors from developing later in life. When done correctly, this game shouldn't encourage your pup's prey drive toward animals and children or cause him to run away from you.
When playing chase, use a toy on a string as the "prey" for your puppy to chase. Allow your pup to chase the toy for a few minutes before he is allowed to catch it. Once he does, command him to "drop it"; only when he does should you allow the game to continue, recommends Vetstreet. If Fido refuses to drop the toy, immediately stop the game. Soon your pooch will learn that catching and guarding the toy will only result in a stop in play, keeping you in control of the game. Periodically, during the game, stop the chase and have your pup perform another behavior, like sitting or performing a trick to prevent him from becoming overly excited during play.
Things to Avoid
When playing chase with your pup, never chase after him or allow him to chase you. This can encourage aggressive behaviors toward you, which you want to avoid. It also can lead to your pup thinking you are playing a game with him whenever you run after him. Should he escape your yard or home and you chase after him, your excited pooch will run away from you, creating a potentially dangerous situation for him if he runs into traffic. You also want to discourage your pup from chasing after either children or animals by teaching him the "leave it" command to stop him during a chase, recommends VeterinaryPartner.com.
Only allow your pup to chase toys, balls or flying discs and never people, who may get hurt by an overzealous pup's bite, especially as he grows bigger, warns the Partnership for Animal Welfare. Pups also can chase other dogs in a dog park, which is a natural part of normal canine play, recommends Cesar's Way. Remember to ask the owner of the other dog before allowing such games between the two pups. Always start the game yourself, first asking for a behavior like "sit" from your young pooch, then allowing him to chase an inanimate object. Stop the game when you desire as well, so your pup knows that you make the rules of play.
Only play chase in a fully fenced area or dog park, even if your little pooch knows basic recall commands. If you are unsure how secure an area is, keep your pup on a drag line for the pup's safety and to control any bad behavior such as inappropriate chasing of animals or people, recommends Wayne L. Hunthausen, DVM of the Westwood Animal Hospital. Observe your pup's behavior during chase games and if you see any signs of aggression like snapping, biting of the toy, growling or staring, stop the game immediately. This will discourage aggressive behaviors later in life, recommends the Hartz website. If these signs continue, stop playing chase and switch to another game like fetch.
- Cesar's Way: Good and Bad Play Behavior
- Westwood Animal Hospital: Teaching Your New Puppy the Right Way to Play
- Partnership for Animal Welfare: Dog Tip: Safer Play (Part 1)!
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Dogs Chasing Children
- The Whole Dog Journal: How To Stop Dog Chasing Children
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Chasing
- Petfinder: My Dog Chases My Cat. How Do I Stop Him?
- Vetstreet: Teach Your Dog the Right Way to Play
- Association of Animal Behavior Professionals: Puppy Play-Biting
- Hartz: Dog Games: Teach Your Dog the Right Way to Play
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.