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Why Do Some Dogs Get Obsessed with Laser Pointers?

Some dogs become obsessed with the laser light.

Laser pointers are popular with pet owners because it's fun to watch your dog chase the light around, and it's a way to give him some exercise in addition to walks and other interactive play with you. With a laser pointer, you can sit and control the dot while your dog races around chasing it.

However, some dogs develop an obsession with the laser light, and it actually results in anxiety and stress for them. We'll discuss why this happens here.

The Laser Light Acts Like Prey

The bouncing and skipping of the laser light mimic the movements of a small prey animal, and that's what triggers many dogs to chase it. They are trying to catch it, and they don't understand that it isn't catchable.

For some dogs, that means extreme frustration when they never experience the success of catching what they're chasing. Instead, the prey simply disappears when you put the pointer away, which can be quite confusing and upsetting for some dogs.

Behavior Problems Can Result from Laser Play

Some dogs are so upset by not being able to catch the red laser dot that they develop anxiety. They also become over-reactive to light flashes from other sources and to shadows. They might stare at patterns of light on the floor, walls, or ceilings obsessively, always in a state of high alert.

Dogs that develop this type of anxiety can then exhibit behavior problems associated with it, like destruction of items in the home as they search for the prey, incessant barking and whining, being up at night stalking the house instead of sleeping, and generally exhibiting neurotic tendencies.

Some dogs don't get upset or anxious about the laser pointer, but the problem is that you have no way of knowing whether your dog will or not. Dog breeds bred to hunt rodents will probably be more likely to develop this problem, but any individual dog might be upset by laser pointers. And once you've triggered the problem, you could have a dog that is anxious about light and shadow for life.

What Can You Do Instead of Laser Pointer Play?

Try creating a toy like the wands made for cats to play with for your dog. Tie a dog toy to the end of a rope and drag it around for your dog. Make it act like prey, darting around, trying to hide, and sometimes freezing in fear. This is much more satisfactory for your dog because he can catch the "prey" sometimes, so he can feel like he's had a successful hunt. Just be sure to put the toy away when you're done, so your dog doesn't become dangerously entangled in the rope if he tries to play with it unsupervised.

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