When you are at home hanging out with your dog, you may come up with different ways to keep them stimulated and busy. You can try throwing them a ball, playing tug-of-war with a rope or you could even try to use a laser pointer to get them to chase it. Laser pointers are best known as the best cat toy in the world.
However, have you ever tried to get your dog to chase after one? You quickly move it from the floor to the wall in the hopes that they will jump for it. Almost every pet owner has done it, but one question does remain. Can a dog actually see the laser pointer? Are they only able to detect it from the movement it creates?
The Signs That Your Pup Sees The Laser
When you are playing with your pup, they are usually excited as can be. Playing is one of their favorite things to do and no matter what kind of toy they are playing with, they are going to show you just how excited they are. When you are playing with a laser pointer, dogs may react differently to this than a normal toy.
One sign to look out for is insane tail wagging - they will get exceptionally upbeat when they see that laser. They have almost an inability to ignore the laser, so they will go nuts when they do react to it. Another sign to keep an eye open for is if they start jumping. If you point that laser at the wall there is a good chance your dog will hop up at the laser.
Your dog may also bark at the laser because when they see a laser it activates their prey drive, so they will want to chase after it. Lastly, a dog may tilt their head when they first see the laser because they are trying to figure out exactly what it is. All of these signs are proof that dogs are somehow able to react to a laser pointer.
The History of Dogs and Laser Pointers
It is hard to actually tell just how long laser pointers have been around for. It has been proven that in 1958, the theory was created to produce the first laser by researchers at Bell Labs. After this, lasers have been used in numerous different ways, including being used as a toy for cats and dogs alike.
Since laser pointers have been created for the purpose of playing with animals, there have been various different stories and videos posted on the internet about how animals are reacting to the laser. There is a discrepancy in whether or not dogs can actually see the laser though.
Over the years, studies have been created to figure out if dogs can actually see that red light or if they are somehow able to respond to it in a different way. Many studies show that they don't actually see the color, but they do see the motion of the laser pointer.
Dogs react to it in a very predatory way. It stimulates their brain when they see the quick movements and are almost required to chase after it because of their predatory system reacting to it as if it were a smaller animal.
The Science Behind Laser Pointers
If you are playing with a laser pointer and your dog is nearby, they will chase after it. There is no other way for them to react. When they see the laser pointer, they do not see the color; they see the movement. When they see this, they react to it as if it is their prey and they are the predator. They will chase the laser until it is finally turned off.
However, when the laser is turned off, they will continue to search for it. This is because they will feel unfulfilled since they were never actually able to capture the laser. It has been said by different studies that the laser pointers somehow mess with a dog's head and that once they have seen the laser, they won't be able to stop obsessing over it.
They can become anxious and frustrated because of their inability to catch their prey or even find it anymore. This can often lead to behavioral issues in your furry friend. On top of this, they can become restless and exhibit obsessive-compulsive behaviors, so you will need to be careful when deciding whether or not to bring out that laser.
Training Your Dog With a Laser Pointer
As previously mentioned, introducing your dog to a laser pointer can do more harm than good. There are some studies out there that say laser pointers are not dangerous to a dog, but more often than not, you will find your dog reacting to the laser in a different way from any other toy they have ever played with.
Many people have been known to train their dog to turn on and off light switches by pointing the laser pointer at the light switch. This more than likely will not work because the dog will be too caught up in trying to catch the laser. They are not thinking about whether or not the light is on or off and if they do hit the light switch, there is a high chance that they did so accidentally.
The best way to train your dog would be to not use a laser pointer at all. While it may be fun to play around with your dog's senses with the laser, it may not be so funny when they begin to exhibit anxious or frustrating qualities because of their run with the "toy".
If you do use a laser pointer and have noticed your dog becoming obsessive, you can usually give them another toy to get their mind off of the laser. Dogs are pretty simple creatures when it comes to their prey drive, so when you use a laser pointer and activate their senses, they will be pretty much untrainable.
Written by a Keeshond lover Molly Martin
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 03/02/2018, edited: 04/06/2020