It seems that there is nothing more a dog enjoys in this world than that wiggly little bead from a laser pointer. You see them jumping up and down and running around going after that elusive light. Admit it, seeing a dog happily chase a pin point of light can be very hilarious. However, if you have done your research, you will understand that chasing laser pointers can be more frustration than fun for your beloved canine.
Many dog owners think that it’s funny to watch their canines play and chase that little red dot. Some even believe that all that running around can help burn off some of the dog’s energy, but a game of laser pointer chase can lead to behavioural problems.
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The Root of the Behavior
Dogs instinctively chase the little red dot of light because they are moving. Any movement triggers the prey drive of canines. As a matter of fact, a dog can’t NOT chase the moving red dot because it stimulates their predatory system and they find it very difficult to control. According to animal behaviorists, laser toys are not a good idea for dogs because it can quickly become an obsession from which behavioral problems develop. Not being able to catch their “prey” affects the dog’s psyche.
The unending game of chasing the laser light has no closure for your dog because they can never catch the beam of light. This is very different from chasing a toy or a food which they can eventually catch. Even after the laser pointer has been kept away, your dog might still continue to look for the light beam and this can be very confusing for your dog. This can easily create obsessive-compulsive behaviors such as staring at the last place where the light beam was, becoming very reactive to flashes of light, and frantically looking for the light. If you see these behaviors in your dog after playing with laser lights, this means that he is anxious, frustrated, and confused.
Dogs are also unable to connect the fact that the red dot comes from the laser pointer. It is very much different from playing ball, for instance. When the dog sees you take out the ball, the game of fetch is very obvious to them. Their owner has the ball, their owner will throw the ball, they chase the ball, they will get the ball, and they will bring it back to their human. On the other hand, the red dot is not attached to the human and canines are unable to figure out when the game starts and when it is supposed to end.
Encouraging the Behavior
Before taking suggestions on any laser pointer games which will be able to satisfy your dog’s needs to be a prey, experts would like to underscore that foregoing the laser pointer game at all, is the safest choice.
There are other alternatives to laser light toys such as puzzles, as well as treat-release toys that can stimulate your canine’s drive to hunt and give them a reward at the end. What you can do to utilise the laser pointer and not harm your dog is to hide dog treats all around the house and occasionally focus the beam on a treat so that your dog is able to “catch” the prey. If you have a dog that loves to chase but does not always have the energy to run around with a toy, you might want to try a flirt pole. It is just like a fishing rod with a rigid stick section with a rope or a string attached to the end. There are also commercial flirt poles sold by pet supply stores for a reasonable price.
It is important to understand that not getting any reward or prize for being vigilant can make your dog loopy. They become psychologically disturbed if they are unable to find what they are supposed to be looking for and this is the last thing you want to happen to your beloved canine.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Be honest with yourself if you have been letting your dog play with laser lights. What is the level of damage? Has your dog been doing weird stuff such as freaking our when seeing headlights or staring at the wall? If such is the case, you need to get professional help as soon as possible. This is something which you obviously will not be able to fix yourself.
If you have not been playing with laser lights too long and do not see any evident damage on your dog, what you can do as an alternative is to stash treats around the house and use the lights to lead your dog to them. This will give your canine a sense of satisfaction because he “caught” something. You can then gradually phase out the game entirely.
Taking good care of your pet means ensuring that they get enough exercise, as well as healthy food. Regardless if your intention for purchasing a laser light was to help your canine exercise, you should take heed from all the warnings and avoid it altogether because it will only leave your dog confused. Opt for better and safer alternatives and both you and your dog will be so much happier.