Any thoughts on how to convince an otherwise well trained dog NOT to chase cars.
Spike, my maybe Lab, maybe Rotty, mix is a generally obedient dog having gone to obedience school and learned the basics pretty well.

I take him on a 3 mile walk almost every day. About half of that walk is on the sidewalk along a medium busy street.
He ignores most vehicles . . . unless they are city buses, delivery trucks, or passenger vehicles with bad transmissions (I think the sound of a dying transmission irritates him). When any of these vehicles pass by he immediately lunges at them. He weighs 60-65 pounds and when he lunges he sometimes pulls me off the sidewalk.
I got a head halter with the hope that he wouldn't be able to lunge effectively, but the smart thing has figured out he can get away with a lunge if I'm not looking in the direction of the oncoming offensive vehicle. If I see the vehicle coming I shorten the leash so he can't get any traction. Sometimes he gives up and sometimes he goes for it anyway.
The woman who taught his obedience class is no longer in town so I don't have anyone local to ask.
What techniques do the savvy folks here recommend to teach a generally compliant dog to just continue the damn walk and not try to take down the UPS truck?
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Any thoughts on how to convince an otherwise well trained dog NOT to chase cars. Spike, my maybe Lab, maybe ... teach a generally compliant dog to just continue the damn walk and not try to take down the UPS truck?

You can try distract & praise/treat but this will require you to remain vigilant about oncoming noisy vehicles. Distract him from the vehicle with a command such as "sit" and make him keep it until the vehicle has passed then praise and/or treat. Use the opportunity to reinforce keeping a stay and use a release word when you're ready to continue walking.

If he's still lunging with a head halter on then you may want to try a prong collar. They look like evil torture devices but they're not. I don't believe I've ever met a single dog who continued to lunge with a prong collar on. One attempt was usually all it took to get the lesson learned.

If you choose to try a prong collar, have someone knowledgable help you buy the correct size and fit it correctly. It shouldn't be too tight or too loose and the prong size should be in proportion. I find the medium prongs to work best with Boxers.

Tara
You can try distract & praise/treat but this will require you to remain vigilant about oncoming noisy vehicles. Distract him ... too loose and the prong size should be in proportion. I find the medium prongs to work best with Boxers.

seconded. also, you might try teaching a "leave it" or "watch me", and give the command when you think a vehicle is coming that might bother him. even a solid "sit" should help, because he can't sit and lunge at the same time. -)
-kelly
Any thoughts on how to convince an otherwise well trained dog NOT to chase cars.

You've had some good advice (incompatible behavior, "leave it", prong collar, etc.), and I've used most of them, but the simplest "fix" I've used is to simply put myself between the dog and the traffic. If you're walking with the flow of cars on your left, have the dog walk to your right, no more than a body length ahead or behind you.

Don't expect him to grow out of this behavior. My Sam, bless his pointy ears, started chasing cars at 10 weeks and never did stop. He'd chase 'em from inside my car, along the road, wherever, whenever. He did learn to control himself, but almost every long walk would have him diving at the wheels of some poor unsuspecting vehicle. It was always most likely when he was a little tired. Of course, that's also when I was likely to be a little tired, so maybe it was more my reaction time than his self-control that frayed a bit.
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Thanks one and all. I'll try giving him something else to do when a nasty vehicle comes by; having him sit and "look" (hear learned to look at me when I give that command) will be a good try. I'll also have a pocket of treats with me; he loves his "cookies"more than life itself sometime.
The prong collar is a bit harsh; I saw it used on a psychotic 7-month old German shepherd during obedience class and it looked a bit harsh, though it did work for that dog who was already so aggressive and large that his owners were terrified of him. Spike is just trying to hunt inappropriate objects; I think I can at least get him to cool it if food is his reward.
ella
Thanks one and all. I'll try giving him something else to do when a nasty vehicle comes by; having him ... to hunt inappropriate objects; I think I can at least get him to cool it if food is his reward.

just as a side note, while the prong collar "looks" harsh, it's really not. it's a great management tool, less damaging to the dog than a slip or flat collar, if the dog pulls or lunges.
-kelly
The prong collar is a bit harsh; I saw it used on a psychotic 7-month old German shepherd during obedience ... it did work for that dog who was already so aggressive and large that his owners were terrified of him.

a prong collar is actually fairly gentle, especially when compared with standard buckle collars and choke collars. next time you're in a pet supply store, try one on your arm or leg. they pinch, but because of the way they are constructed, they apply pressure uniformly around the whole neck, instead of just at the front of the neck. that makes them gentler on the dog's windpipe.
Spike is just trying to hunt inappropriate objects; I think I can at least get him to cool it if food is his reward.

good luck! if he's really food motivated, that may work. it didn't for my high-prey boy though. he's never chased cars, but crittering is his number one favoritest activity. teaching him not to bolt after animals while i was walking him was no picnic. distracting him with food did not work, as his brane was incapable of noticing it when there was a tasty bunny RIGHTOVERTHERE.
using a prong collar allowed me to break his attention away from critters and refocus it on me. his reaction to the prong collar was "oh yeah . i'm attached to a leash and there's someone at the other end of it."

shelly
http://home.bluemarble.net/~scouvrette
http://cat-sidh.blogspot.com / (updated dailyish, apparently)
just as a side note, while the prong collar "looks" harsh, it's really not. it's a great management tool, less damaging to the dog than a slip or flat collar, if the dog pulls or lunges.

yep. when in doubt, it's a good idea to try the collar on yourself. it's really not that big of a deal. then, look to the dog. my dog says it's no big deal, either.

shelly
http://home.bluemarble.net/~scouvrette
http://cat-sidh.blogspot.com / (updated dailyish, apparently)
What techniques do the savvy folks here recommend to teach a generally compliant dog to just continue the damn walk and not try to take down the UPS truck?

Big, loud vehicles are his triggers. So I would suggest desensitizing him to the triggers by exposing him to them in baby steps, under controlled conditions.
For example, you could start outside somewhere trucks are parked. Be far enough away from the stationary trucks that he doesn't react to them at all, and reward him for his calmness. Next session, move a little closer. If he begins to react, back up. If he ignores the trucks, move closer in the next session.
When he's fine close to the trucks, take him somewhere that they will be moving. Again, start far enough away that he doesn't react. Rinse and repeat.
Normally, this kind of therapy goes very slowly at first, and then you start making more rapid steps in progress.

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