Should You Play Chase With Your Dog?

By Tom Ryan

Chasing is in your dog's repertoire of natural behaviors, and a rousing game of chase undoubtedly makes for a fun way to exercise your pup. However, you have to choose the right time and place to do it, because if you engage in a game of chase at an inopportune moment, you could stir up trouble.

Who's Chasing Who?

Though this is a contested assertion, some experts believe that unless you have a dog very well-trained in re-call, YOU should NOT be the one who is chasing. According to Dr. Karen B. London, "if you play by chasing your dog, you risk teaching her that moving toward her means the game is afoot, making her more likely to run away even when you approach her for another reason." She further explains that this can also hinder your ability to recall your dog, and can lead to injury if she charges into the street or other unsafe area. Chasing your dog is only advised if your dog is so well-trained that you can stop the game and successfully call her back to you at any time.

Inappropriate Chasing

Playing chase with your dog at an inappropriate time or place can confuse him in his training and can attract the wrong kind of attention from other animals. For example, playing a game of chase with your pooch in the company of unfamiliar dogs, such as at the dog park, can encourage aggressive behavior. Playing chase during a training session can undermine your authority, and make it difficult to encourage your dog to come or obey other commands. A game of chase in an area packed with people, or near a street, or with otherwise dangerous elements, is ill-advised.

Choosing Playtime Wisely

When you and your dog are alone in a safe space and just enjoying some playtime, chase is a healthy activity for both of you. Make sure that there is nothing potentially dangerous in the area, like other dogs that may misunderstand your game and try to join in. Keep your play sessions and training sessions separate to avoid confusing your dog. As with training, you can keep your chase sessions short; but let your dog expend plenty of energy before you deny him one last round.

By Tom Ryan

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About the Author
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.