Is Laser Pointer Dog OCD a Problem in Your Dog?
Dogs can be lovable bundles of energy born to run, play and please their humans. So one would think that laser pointers would be the perfect toy to give an active dog a bit of exercise. That would be a logical assumption, but are laser pointers actually bad for dogs?
Can Dogs Develop Laser Pointer OCD?
Chasing games are a great way to exercise your dog. Chasing is extremely stimulating and a healthy way to boost your dog’s agility, attentiveness and intelligence. High energy dogs need that natural energy release chasing provides, it also stimulates their instinctual prey drive.
But that’s where we run into a problem. In a typical predator prey relationship the dog as the chaser must hunt down and capture it’s prey. When the “prey” is a laser light that cannot be captured or worse suddenly disappears the dog is left confused.
This confusion can lead to anxiety and obsessive compulsive behaviors such as frantically searching for the light, fixating on the light’s last location or becoming overly reactive to other flashes of light.
Shadows, sunlight reflecting off of shiny objects, the glare of your phone or tablet or even the sudden flash of a smart watch going off all can cause your dog to become anxious or aggressive.
Physiologically a dog that has developed laser light OCD never finds closure by reaching its goal. The resulting behavioral problems can be extremely difficult to correct. Some dogs become so obsessed with the laser movement that they chase anything that moves.
“But I Use a Laser Light With My Dog All The Time and He is Fine”
High-energy dogs and dog breeds with a high prey drive are more susceptible to this condition. However, it can happen in all dog breeds.
It’s true not all dogs will react the same to a laser toy, but the effects can happen quickly – even after only one session.
Take this reddit thread as an example. There are many people chiming in about their experience with laser toys for dogs.
“My aunt had a dog that was downright neurotic over it enough that he would bite her when she tried to calm him down. He could chase it for hours if he could. Then after he’d be searching and pacing and barking for it for a long time. He was even always on edge for anything reflective to attack.”
This shows you how quickly a dog can develop serious issues. Dogs that become unhealthily fixated with chasing anything that moves can develop behaviors that consume their entire day. These dogs have to undergo vigorous behavioral adjustment training and rehabilitation.
Help, My Dog has Laser Pointer OCD, What Do I Do?
If your dog is showing early signs of OCD behavior it should be taken seriously, and immediate intervention is necessary to prevent the behavior from developing into a debilitating disorder.
If your dog has serious issues the best advice is always to consult your veterinarian or a canine behavioral specialist. But depending on the severity of your dogs condition you can try to desensitize your dog on your own.
Phil is a four and a half year old French Bulldog that developed a fixation on light reflections and laser beams. You can watch the training methods used in this video below that helped him overcome his obsession.
Laser pointers Can Also Hurt Your Dog’s Eyes
Everyone knows dogs can see better than us humans, especially in the dark. That’s why they navigate throughout the house at ease in the dark while we bang our pinkie toe on every possible corner.
Dogs have better vision in part because they have more rods in their eyes than we do. Rods are the receptors in eyes that detect light and dark.
The more rods the better you can see in low light conditions. But that has a drawback when lasers are involved. A dog’s eyes are more sensitive to light. Shining a laser pointer in a dog’s eyes can be very dangerous for the health of their eyes. It can cause permanent damage or even vision loss.
Alternatives to Laser Pointer Games for Dogs
There are plenty of alternative ways to introduce chasing games with dog play. So there really isn’t a reason to risk harming your dog in any way by using a laser pointer to play with your dog.
The good ‘ol Frisbee or tennis ball is the perfect simple toy to interact with your dog and give him the exercise he needs to be happy and healthy.
If the weather outside is frightful and you need ideas for inside games to play with your dog we have plenty of suggestions too. Be sure to read our top fun games to play with your dog indoors.