Laser pointers endlessly entertain dang near every species of animal, and dogs are no exception. It might seem like innocent play, but there’s actually a big pawblem.
The moving spot of light activates your pup’s instinct to hunt; your dog can’t help but chase it. But when there’s the thrill of the chase without a victory, your pup can get seriously stressed!
Life’s Little Mysteries spoke to Professor Nicholas Dodman of Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine:
“(Dogs) can get so wound up and driven with prey drive that once they start chasing the light they can’t stop. It becomes a behavior problem. I’ve seen light chasing as a pathology where they will just constantly chase around a light or shadow and pounce upon it. They just spend their whole lives wishing and waiting.”
Ummmmm, that is SUCH a bummer. Even drug and bomb-sniffing dogs get discouraged if they don’t find their intended target. To maintain sanity, they are taken on dummy missions where they are allowed to “find” things to keep them sharp. Basically, let them win or they’ll totally lose it.
Dodman suggests toys that are similar to prey that actually offer a reward. The Talk to Me treat-dispensing ball moves on its own and has an option to add voice recordings. (We’ve got some treat-dispensing toys in BarkShop, too!) If you really must point the laser beam, make sure your pup is rewarded with strategically hidden treats. Otherwise, it might come back to bite you in the….