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IntellectualLoafing.com Life Q & A: Why Do Dogs Chase Cars?

Why do dogs chase cars?

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  1. I don't know the answer but my personal experience says that dogs also chase (and bark at) trains; as do donkeys. Maybe this will help.

  2. It's instinct. Dogs will automatically chase things that run away from them. Evolution "encouraged" this instinct as previously a dog's lunch was basically anything that ran away from it. Post-domestication, a dog is probably also doing it for the thrill. If a cat was to stand still, instead of running, the dog would bark at it for a while and then loose interest.  This is also true of  some wild carnivorous animals. Running away from them is often the worst thing to do.

  3. How does this explain the donkey? A donkey's lunch never runs.

  4. Donkeys are herd animals, they follow large things that are following other things e.g. trains...

  5. It certainly is instinct, but what instinct it is is another question. Dogs evolved as pack animals that can attack and bring down prey many times their own size. Predation is more likely to require quiet than barking. Most large animals are herbivores, they are dangerous, and they hate pack animals that can eat them. A large animal making a lot of noise is probably giving a warning. Cars are large, they move, and they make noise, like an angry herbivore. (My dog ignores cars usually, but she never misses a chance to bark at a bus or a large truck.) A dog chasing and barking is more likely trying (instinctively, maybe without completely understanding the action himself) to scare away a threat than looking for lunch. Plus, the dog learns after a few tries that he always succeeds at scaring the car/bus/truck/train away, and he thinks he's good at it.

  6. Well hang on, if dogs are herd/pack animals like comment 5 suggests perhaps they follow cars etc for the same  reason that donkeys do (the herd instinct as suggest by comment 4). When there are two sets of huskies pulling two separate sleds, the dogs pulling the second sled instinctively follow the sled in front of them.

  7. Instinctive following may well exist, but dogs barking at cars do not look like they are passively following, they are chasing the car away as indicated by the fact that they stop running after a short distance.

  8. They have nothing else to do (no job to speak of, et cetera), so what the hey? Break up the ennui--chase a car!

  9. I once encountered a small dog that was convinced it could stop my car again and again by barking ferociously and disappearing from my sight somewhere in the vicinity of my right front tire. . . he was right, it took me thirty minutes to get out of the driveway.

  10. Yes, but did he chase you as you left or was comment nine a red herring?

  11.  I was driving to work, entered a ramp and I noticed to my right side a doe was running beside my car at the same pace. It caught my attention. It was a beautiful sight. Any thoughts re: this? Meaning? [The plot thickens, it seems that deer chase cars too... - Webmaster]

  12. In my opinion dogs chasing cars are because of rash drivers. You don't find every dog in the street running after your car, just a few of them.  They may have seen their relatives being run down by a car. [Are you sure that dogs have that kind of a memory. - Webmaster]

  13. Comments 5 and 7 seem to be the correct answer, my dog barks furiously at the milkman and comes to me very proud as the milkman goes away. They revel in an easy victory and chasing a ' retreating' car would provide one.

 

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