Is your dog so crazy for chasing things he'll even chase a laser pointer? Some dogs just love chasing laser pointer lights, so much so, they would chase them all day if you let them. You can discount the fact he may have developed a fixation for the days of disco when Saturday Night Fever was topping the billboard charts, and he's invented his own version of jive talking. Well, that is unless you've been playing some old discs in the house, and he's taken a liking to the rhythm. If you have been, you've only got yourself to blame. At the end of the day, a laser pointer emits just one focal point of light and it's not quite comparable with a glittering disco ball. But your dog loves it anyway, and he'll follow that spot of dancing light all around the floor, if you wave it about, as if it was his favorite dance partner. Yes, as long as you keep shining it, your pup and that light will be as close as a couple performing an intimate version of the Funky Chicken.
What is about laser pointer lights that makes dogs chase them?
The Root of the Behavior
Stalking prospective prey is a canine characteristic which dates back to their days in the wild. If you've ever noticed your dog trying to sneak up on something without being seen or heard, you can guarantee he's using the genetically programmed skills which, although minimized by generations of domesticity, have never left him. For him, trying to sneak up on the light of a laser pointer is an initiation of the hunt and will probably be closely followed by stage two of the hunting process, the chase. Dogs love to chase things. It's part of their nature. Mostly, it doesn't matter what it is they chase. If it moves, it's worth going after or, to coin a phrase, is fair game. It could be a chicken, a ball, another dog, even a human, but in this instance your dog's favorite article to chase is a laser pointer. He is, in some ways, expressing his hunting instincts because he's not just wanting to chase it. He has, in his mind at least, got every intention of catching that thing. One day, somehow, no matter how many times it appears, disappears, and reappears, he is going to get it. Your dog is super sensitive to your moods and tone of voice when you talk to him. He knows you're having a good time watching him chase that light around the house. Just as long as you're happy, laughing and are fully focused on his antics, he's going to milk the moment for all the attention he can get. Can you blame him? You may know you're flashing a laser pointer light around for your dog to chase, but your dog doesn't understand what a laser pointer light is. To him, it is something that has caught his attention because it is flicking about everywhere and, as far as he's concerned, just doesn't belong in his environment. It's an intruder and your pup is going to make sure it doesn't stay where it's not wanted. Well, he would if only he could get hold of it.
Encouraging the Behavior
When a dog chases a laser pointer, it awakens in him the urge to hunt. This is a primal sense which, for your dog, should end with the fulfillment of catching his prey. Even though he may chase it with persistence, he can't physically catch a laser pointer and so this need in him is never going to be satiated which can give your dog some seriously disturbed emotions. Chasing a laser pointer light for a dog, although it may seem like a genuine form of giving him some healthy exercise, is in reality just creating sheer canine frustration for him. It may look as if he is having fun snapping away at the light and trying to pick it up in his mouth, but he really isn't and will be disappointed he is unable to ever really catch hold of the thing. If you stop to think and compare how he reacts after a session of chasing the light to one where he returns a ball to you, you will realize the difference. There won't be a lot of tail wagging when he's been playing with the light, which in itself is a big enough sign he's just not enjoying the activity.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If you continually let your dog chase a laser pointer around the living room, you could be encouraging him to develop an obsession. The more he tries to catch it, the more it avoids his reach. He'll never understand why, but he'll still keep on trying. Desisting from playing with your dog with a laser pointer could help him to avoid developing a serious obsessive compulsive behavior disorder. Has your dog got a fixation for laser pointers? If you think he may have, it's a good idea to consult with his vet as he may need some specialized treatment. You can also join in with some training sessions with a professional dog trainer who will be able to advise you on healthy and safe ways to keep your dog entertained.
Laser pointers may seem like a fun way to play with your dog, but they're not. They're a tool better kept for their original purpose of pointing during a lecture or classroom presentation. They really just aren't made for canine entertainment and as your dog can't read and definitely doesn't understand the concept of diagrams, he's much better off without one.