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Why is my dog fixated on bikes?

(Q) I have a one-year-old Chihuahua X Jack Russell bitch who is never off the lead due to bikes. She is fixated on them and pulls like mad to give chase. What can I do?

(A) Trainer Elizabeth Kershaw says: It should be possible to improve the situation by finding a legitimate outlet for your dog’s need to chase.

Firstly, encourage your dog to chase after and retrieve a ball or toy. This fulfils the need to chase and also persuades the dog to work for you by returning the ball to you to be thrown again.

Secondly, teach a chase recall — so your dog will return even in mid chase. Chasing, to those for whom this activity is innate, is a self-rewarding activity. Your dog can learn that leaving her targeted bicycle to return to you means she gets the chance to chase after a ball thrown in the opposite direction.

Eventually you can train with a friend and their bicycle. Find somewhere where you can be far enough away from the bike for your dog to ignore it. Each time she looks calmly in the bike’s direction, praise and reward her. If she remains totally calm, start to move her slowly closer, no more than a yard at a time, and repeat the rewarding of calmness.

Over time you should be able to reach a point where you can stand beside a stationary bike, then one moving slowly, and finally one going at normal speed.

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