You and your partner settle down with a well-deserved glass of wine and this week's episode of your favorite show. Only your dog has developed a somewhat irritating habit of going berserk at the sight of his own shadows and chasing them around until his energy is spent. It makes for just about the least relaxing atmosphere to watch TV in. It’s the same when you have guests over, he charges around the room causing havoc. It was entertaining to begin with, but now it’s time to stop.
Getting this training right won’t just be good for your sanity, it will also help his too. The shadows may actually scare him and he could be working himself up into a terrified state each evening. A happy dog is a healthy dog!
Thankfully, you can train this bizarre behavior out of your dog relatively easily. The main thing you need to do is motivate him to be calm around shadows. You need to show him with food and a variety of other things that he’s safe around shadows and so can relax. If he’s a puppy and this habit is new, then getting a handle on it could take just 5 days or so. If he’s older and been chasing shadows for many years then you may need a couple of weeks to fully break the habit.
Succeeding with this training is essential if you want your evenings back. You also need to do it for his benefit too. If he’s getting worked up and stressed out by these shadows it could have an adverse effect on his health. You don’t want any expensive vet bills to contend with.
Before you can get going with training you need to collect a few bits. You’ll need his favorite food broken into small pieces and some mouth-watering treats. You’ll also need to get a couple of new and enticing chew toys. These will all help to distract him when shadows make an appearance.
You’ll also need some quiet time to practice training. Take him to a quiet room where you won’t be distracted by a noisy household.
The only other things you need are patience and a positive attitude. With all of that, you can get to work!
She not only jumps at shadows she has started being snappy at meal times eating from my other dogs bowl instead of her own. Which is confusing my other dog as they have always had there own bowls in different placez in kitchen
Hello Dolcie, I suggest feeding both dogs in crates separately. For the shadow chasing I suggest consulting your vet or a veterinary behviorist. Shadow chasing is an obsessive compulsive behavior most of the time. It is important to interrupt the behavior but there also might be an underlying chemical or phycological reason also. Low levels of seratonine or dopamine can sometimes be involved or other unaddressed medical causes. Both the behavior and any possible medical causes need to be addressed. A veterinary behaviorist is someone also trained in animal behavior, who can often address both. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We got Lily just a few weeks ago, and this past week we've noticed this awful habit of chasing shadows. It only happens outdoors, though, even if she sees shadows inside. Once she goes outside, if there are shadows, even at night with few lights, she runs at full speed, tugging at the leash, back and forth. It's worrisome. Even though she's only 6 pounds, she is a strong little bugger, and she nearly escaped her harness tonight during her shadow chasing fit. I think the suggestions here are great, but I'm not sure if they will help so much outside as it's not quiet out there. We're having trouble enough potty training, and this is making matters more difficult!
Hello Kelsey, I suggest purchasing an electric collar that has a wide variety of stimulation levels and vibration and when she fixates on the shadows correct her by vibrating the collar. When she is calm around shadows reward her with treats. Make sure you are stimulating her mentally through training often, things like puzzle games or food stuffed chew toys, and other interesting activities. If the vibration has no effect, find her working level with the electric collar stimulation (the lowest level she responds to at all when calm) and use that. E-collar working level: https://youtu.be/1cl3V8vYobM Do NOT use a laser pointer with her - you may not be but that can lead to light and shadow chasing and OCD behavior. If you do not see improvement through correcting with the collar and rewarding calmness, I suggest visiting a veterinary behaviorist and getting her evaluated for obsessive compulsive disorder and hormonal imbalances. Many puppies do chase things like lights, flies, and leaves, but if she isn't responding to training seek professional help to figure out if something else is going on. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My pup broke her back leg racing after light reflections from the sun on the glass door. Now while waiting for her leg to heal, I carry her around and I notice that she is watching my shadow. I have turned off the light from the fridge but she still is watching the shadows. Is there a way to "dull" shadows indoors, even on a cloudy day, but I need to see. I have been using Quiet Moments and she doesn't seem as reactive to the shadows. She really hates the dark big shadows of me while taking her out at night so I take her to the side yard so I can see but my shadow is reduced. I have been giving her lamb bones to chew on, so am I changing one obsession for another?
Hello Carolyn, You may want to look into window shades like cellular shades, and use overhead lights that might produce less shadows. Honestly, I would speak to your vet about this or a veterinarian behaviorist. Shadow chasing can be due to a chemical Imbalance in the brain. Many puppies will do it a bit for fun, but when it is a strong obsession something obsessive compulsive may be going on. Sometimes medication to help brain function or hormone imbalance can help (I am not a vet though so cannot diagnose). Using a laser pointer can also leave to light and shadow chasing. If she ever chases one of those, stop using it immediately and permanently. I would also correct the behavior. Use an interrupter when she gets fixated, like a quick leash tug or buy a Pet Convincer and spray a squirt of unscented pressurized air at her side, to make the shadow or lights less exciting if she seems excited about them. If she seems fearful around the lights, work on her earning treats for ignoring shadows and lights and focusing on you instead. For excitement you want to interrupt and calm down with a gentle correction. With fearfulness you want to work on her being in the presence of that thing and focusing on something else positive instead. I think giving her the chew toy is fine. While you may still need to address a medical underlying cause with your vet if she feels there is one, a chewing habit chewing her own durable toys is much safer for her and the chemicals released doing that activity are different than the highly arousing ones released while light chasing. Things that are calming, like chewing, can potentially benefit her. Working on obedience commands that build impulse control can also help. Such as: Heel Place Down Stay Sit Stay Watch Me Waiting at doors General manners and structure in her routine Working for what you give her by having her do a command before hand, such as Sit before being petted or for a walk. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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