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My now seven month old pup has on a few occasions shown interest in cars (from loose leash to tight leash but not lunging and strangling himself). We live in the city and although he came from a working ranch, he has been with us since 8 weeks old and he sees cars every day.

How much do I need to worry about this? It happened with me once a few days ago. He was a bit tired from our morning hike and I had left our older dog at home so he was solo (not the norm but it happens a few times a week). He did it twice, not consecutively and there were many cars in between. When I mentioned it to my husband, he said it had happened to him a few times (but he was not super helpful remembering specifics). So maybe 4-5 times during the last month, walking kids to school and back every day twice.

It doesn't seem to be a case of it steadily getting worse and it is quite infrequent (this actually makes it more challenging to deal with it training wise because we can go days/weeks without a single incident).

Any suggestions? Is this an age thing? Is 7 months a year stage?

I included a photo, just in case people like to see/visualize the dog is question.




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If you've read any of my recent posts, you'll know I'm no expert, but something I read somewhere (I forget the source) had an impact on me: make the thing you want your pup to ignore boring. As in, "ho-hum, there goes another car, how dreadfully dull that is." 

For example, Finnegan took an early interest in my 5-year-old daughter's ankles. I would sit down with Finnegan and have my daughter run and skip and jump near by (she thought this was loads of fun!) all the while I would be yawning and quietly chatting with Finnegan telling him how boring little kids' ankles were. We've done this routine for many things like bikes, skateboards, people playing sports, geese, etc... Once, I saw Finnegan take interest in a car driving by our house. For a while, I would take him out by various roads, sit him down, and go through the whole "it's so boring" routine.

I can't say for sure that the technique worked, but I can say that he hasn't shown any elevated interest in the things we've made boring.

(Writing this post makes me feel a bit silly because I'm having trouble with Finnegan becoming amped up when other people or dogs walk by. I guess I should put my money where my mouth is and work on my pup before I start doling out advice!)

Good luck and great looking pup!!

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Puppytoes: Worry about this a lot. Or, more to the point, don't worry but train your dog not to be reactive to cars. If you don't, it may not "get worse", but it only takes one time of getting away from you and chasing a car to get the dog killed. Work hard starting today on extinguishing this behavior. There are many posts on this topic that you can find if you search the forums.

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^^ Agreed.

What I'd do is simply to redirect and reward the instant that gorgeous pup breaks mental contact with the vehicle.

There's no way of knowing for sure whether this will escalate or not as he matures, but you really don't want to take the chance that it will. Much better to discourage (by redirection rather than correction) now before it becomes habitual than it will be to try to undo it later when it's a firmly established response and much more difficult to reverse.

As for why he reacts to some vehicles and not others, it could be something he's noticing that you're not aware of. It could be the sound of the engine's different or even the color of the vehicle.

I'd actually forgotten this, but when I first adopted the dog in my avatar, who'd been a stray, he would lunge and snarl at red vehicles. It was only ever red ones, whether sedans, trucks, SUVs, but never vehicles of any other color. (So much for the myth that dogs are color blind. LOL) I often wondered if his former owner had a red vehicle and might even have dumped him from it. Whatever it was, with redirection and his gaining confidence and security in his new home, it eventually stopped.

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