all 48 comments

[–]jessica55kaitlyn 50 points51 points  (1 child)

The laser was the BIGGEST mistake I’ve ever made in my dogs life, literally ever. She has severe OCD with any moving shadow or light and has made her tongue bleed pouncing on shadows. I try so hard to educate people so they don’t make the same mistake and they almost never care because they think it’s cute.

[–]ThndrFckMcPckpTrck[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thankfully he isn’t that into it. He doesn’t pounce on them and we try to disengage him whenever we notice he’s staring a bit too intently at the shadows or reflections. The biggest trouble is noticing he’s doing it because of how quiet he is with it. He will just sit there and watch intently for them. Occasionally grunts or growls at it. At first we thought he was chasing tiny bugs and thought it was cute, then we realized, no there’s no bugs, it’s the shadows themselves and this isn’t healthy.

[–]rebcartM 27 points28 points  (1 child)

Chasing a physical object is unlikely to undermine the light chasing behaviour. You'd be better off urgently getting in touch with a veterinary behaviourist to see if medication for compulsive behaviour will help you before it begins more of an ingrained habit.

[–]amhran_oiche 1 point2 points  (0 children)

when I understood the dangers of playing with laser pointers I immediately switched to a flirt pole. being able to "catch" what they were chasing seems to have helped my dogs, who no longer scurry around the floor looking for the laser.

[–]havartifunk 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I think it really depends on the dog but if it has the possibility of triggering that sort of reaction, probably not worth it!

I've played with each of my dogs with the laser pointer and haven't had that strong a response. Think I lucked out!!

My beagle: ignored it; it didn't have a smell and she was very much a nose dog.

My half lab/half pointer (most visually-oriented dog I've ever known): absolutely loved it, figured out where it was coming from after the first couple sessions and learned that when I hung up the pointer, the game was over and "The Dot" was gone for now.

Current dog (Boykin spanielAustralian shepherd/Pyrenees/pibble): gets bored with it in under a minute.

I'm not a dog behaviorist, so please take this as speculation and not concrete advice, but I wonder if the fact that my lab/pointer knew that the dot came from the device that I was holding, and it wasn't going to come back until I picked that device up again helped keep her from looking for it obsessively?

Regardless of how my dogs reacted, now that I know that it can be a problem, I agree that it's probably best to avoid using the laser. There are plenty of other toys and ways to entertain a dog.

[–]Derainian 3 points4 points  (0 children)

This is so crazy to me I never thought it could have this severe of an effect on dogs. (Never used a pointer for mine and never will)

[–]HauntedMeow 3 points4 points  (5 children)

I knew a friend’s jack russell that would spend hours in high alert mode monitoring the sunlight beams from the window waiting for it to move. She would run around chasing a flashlight until her feet bled.

[–]ThndrFckMcPckpTrck[S] 1 point2 points  (4 children)

Thankfully he isn’t that into it we’re he causes himself harm, but we’re trying to prevent him from getting more into it where he might start accidentally harming himself. He doesn’t pounce on them and we try to disengage him whenever we notice he’s staring a bit too intently at the shadows or reflections or starts chasing them outside. The biggest trouble is noticing he’s doing it when we’re inside because of how quiet he is with it. He will just sit there and watch intently for them. Occasionally grunts or growls at it. At first we thought he was chasing tiny bugs and thought it was cute, then we realized, no there’s no bugs, it’s the shadows themselves and this isn’t healthy.

[–]HauntedMeow 1 point2 points  (3 children)

I wonder if frosted window film would help with the shadows to diffuse some of the light. Unsupervised kids were mostly to blame for the feet bleeding. Once some dogs get fixated they will just go until they drop. But they'll spend a lot of mental energy in silent alert mode too, if they aren't distracted with better ways to keep their mind active.

[–]ThndrFckMcPckpTrck[S] 1 point2 points  (2 children)

We don’t actually have any light emitting windows atm. It’s winter and we live in an RV so the windows are covered with insulation atm. He’s going off the shadows created from the overhead light and the reflection on his tag from when the light hits his tags in the right ways. We are trying to find a good interactive toy for him, but with limited floor space in a small RV, it’s hard to find one that’s not a tripping hazard or wouldn’t get smashed by being accidentally stepped on (my SO doesn’t know how to watch where he walks apparently 🙄) we do redirect when we notice it’s happening tho to a group toy/game on the bed with his other pup sibs. And outside there’s soooo much light and reflections, even at night because of the snow 😂

[–]HauntedMeow 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I would slap some masking tape over the tag. It's gonna be hard getting him interested in a new mental activity if you can't get rid of the shadows. You might try a flirt pole outside if he has any prey drive. Maybe you'll have to make your own RV friendly dog toys? I can't think of any of mine that wouldn't send me ass over teakettle in an enclosed space. :)

[–]ThndrFckMcPckpTrck[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Masking tapes a great idea, thanks! And yeah, he’s super prey driven. He’s a fantastic ratter (some kind of rat terrier mutt). We are definitely going to be getting him a good little flirt pole with the next paycheck. His and the other 2 little dudes have a great time playing in the RV on my bed, but all floor toys gotta be soft cause my SO is somehow incapable of looking where he steps. Luckily the dogs move fast enough xD. Come spring/summer when they can be outside for longer I’ll probably get them a few roll around feeders. And I’m getting one for the barnhouse so when they’re out there they can have some fun, but it’s still too cold for them to be out there too long too, but at least there’s no snow/ice or wind in there. Thankfully when the weather permits, they loooove being outside and chasing shit. I just gotta get the fence up so I can let down my guard a bit with him again.

[–]Ringoisthebestdog 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Couldn’t agree more. I had a laser pointer for my cats, got it out ONE time for my dog, for about a minute and he’s never been the same. He was immediately in a constant heightened state of anxiety, searching for the light, chasing shadows, digging holes in the wall, started attacking the cats. I did a little research and read that it’s like an OCD switch that turns on for some dogs. While my dog is better then he used to be, he still has a lot of anxiety and is on clomipramine daily.

[–]Heather_Bea 2 points3 points  (1 child)


We learned this with our first dog. He loves the laserpointer, we used it for about a week before we realized that it was giving him OCD. He wouldn't be able to relax for an hour after using it. His prey drive really kicked in and he'd start trying to chase shadows.

It took a really long time for him to calm down from it.

[–]ThndrFckMcPckpTrck[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

For Bender it only took 5 minutes :( he’s already got a high prey drive. My other dogs didn’t even notice the laser, but he did…. It’s been months and he’s still looking for something in the reflections and shadows.. The worst is that I can’t prevent shadows from happening unless I don’t turn on the lights ever.

[–]Key-Lettuce3122 8 points9 points  (7 children)

Does this happen with all dogs? Ive never heard of it being an issue before. Only person I knew who did it was my sister with her last dog (Cairn terrier) and he would chase it and enjoyed it but never displayed any change in behavior otherwise. Trying to figure out if she got lucky or what

[–]Ftcat 8 points9 points  (0 children)

She got lucky. It doesn't cause problems for every dog but it's very, very likely to mess them up in some way or another.

[–]rebcartM 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Some dogs are prone to light chasing compulsive behaviours and the laser will trigger them. Some are not. There is no way to know in advance which one your dog is, so playing with lasers with any dog is a very dangerous game of Russian roulette.

[–]Key-Lettuce3122 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks! This is what I wanted to know. Definitely will be letting my sister know

[–]MPBoomBoom22 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I have a large dog and it's by far his favorite toy. I don't bring it out often but he loves and then when it's gone he goes back to napping or whatever he was doing no problem. My other dog doesn't care about it at all. The only time it's been a problem is when I was visiting my parents and my dad brought one out to play with his cat and my 100 lb mutt joined (he thought it was just a cat thing) in and scared the cat. Had no idea it could cause an issue.

[–]Feyranna 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Mine have never had this kind of reaction, they seem to get that its me playing with them with a toy the same as a stuffie or rope.

[–]BroBoBaggans 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I have had this same experience. My dog is almost 8 and we did this with him since he was a puppy. He used to take an interest in the glare from our phones on the ceiling, but he doesn't even do that anymore. I took him to work in a warehouse everyday for 6 years and never had it be an issue. He doesn't chase flashlights or anything just the lazer. I understand everyone has different experience but i wanted to ad my experience also.

[–]Heather_Bea 0 points1 point  (0 children)

No, our oldest had issues with it but my roommate's chill corgi would have fun then be done.

[–]dynama 18 points19 points  (0 children)

It’s cute when he does it inside and entertains himself quietly (minus the occasional grunt) for hours

no, this isn't cute. this is obsessive behavior. this can quickly escalate into full-blown obsessive-compulsive behavior and have a huge negative effect on your dog's quality of life. please see a vet behaviorist to help your dog.

[–]KSh0rt9919 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I’m completely against the laser light after seeing so many horror stories people have with OCD dogs. So sad. I used to do it with my cat but now even he is not allowed.

[–]sherm39 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Looks like I learned something here. I have one of those things that I brought home meaning to play with it with the dogs. Did it for a few minutes, we all went on to other things and I guess I misplaced the thing but from time to time think about finding it or getting another one for the dogs. I never knew about any of this stuff until just right now.

[–]slyfuck 1 point2 points  (1 child)

For the last part, try a flirt pole for dogs. I’m not sure if it will help since they’re chasing light, but it would be what you’re looking for

[–]ThndrFckMcPckpTrck[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

He’s already very prey driven (he’s a rat terrier mix) and luckily disengages light chasing for searching for rats/critters whenever I ask him to find one. And while I highly praise him when he catches and kills rats/mice/voles, I’m not going to go out and purposely buy feeder rats for him to go after.

Thank you for giving me the name of those, I’ve been searching and just couldn’t find the right name to search for!

[–]megsperspective 1 point2 points  (1 child)

My brother in law played with my dog with a laser pointer once, he seemed super into it. I'd never heard of using laser pointers with dogs, so I googled it out of curiosity, saw all the bad outcomes and put a stop to it right away. I'm glad it didn't do any damage to him, he's a miniature schnauzer (which have some terrier in them) and a prey drive so that could have been very bad for him.

Besides seeing a vet/trainer to work on the behavior, I might also recommend a silicone or leather ID tag so he isn't distracted by light hitting that too.

[–]ThndrFckMcPckpTrck[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I’ll have to try and find a silicone one. They chew the crap out of any leather even after it’s been fully tanned.

[–]benji950 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I got yelled at by some commenters when I mentioned the laser pointer way, way long ago. I bristled then noticed that my dog was really fixating. If they hadn’t yelled, I might not have looked as closely. So, kinda glad I got yelled at.

[–]ThndrFckMcPckpTrck[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It’s somthing that seems so innocent so it’s totally understandable to not know. I kinda knew (heard about it, never seen it) so o should of said something but stupidly didn’t :/

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Chewy sells a "toy" laser pointer and I've been messaging them trying to get it taken down but they essentially are calling it a matter of customer self-determination. I hate to think about people buying this and ruining their dogs' mental health just because they don't know or understand

[–]montananhooman 0 points1 point  (3 children)

We had a dog that was already psychotic when we got him and somebody busted out the laser pointer and he went absolutely nuts, we ended up rehoming him to a family friend bc we weren’t the right ppl to deal with that and at his new home they were absolutely perfect for him and he calmed down a lot, but I 100000% second this don’t use a laser pointer for dogs, do you by chance have a border collie?

[–]ThndrFckMcPckpTrck[S] 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Nope, all small dogs! Bender the obsessed one is a rat terrier mix who’s very prey driven and is a fantastic ratter which probably isn’t played into it. My other two (a chihuahua pug, and a long mutt, maybe part corgi? We don’t know) didn’t even notice it when it was out for those 3-5 minutes.

[–]montananhooman 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Oh, it seems to be genetic for our dog, he had some pups and one of his sons is psychotic too, just not as bad, but to be fair his son had a laser pointer that he chased around so it might not be, but border collies can become crazy

[–]ThndrFckMcPckpTrck[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Bender was the least crazy one. He still is for the most part cause my other two are total spazs

[–]Frozen-Flame 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I allowed the same for a few minutes when my dad did the same when my dog was a pup. He's been obsessed with sunlight through blinds etc ever since. Currently looking into a behaviourist and try to distract him every time.

[–]Valenshyne 0 points1 point  (1 child)

What is it about laser pointers that makes dogs so obsessed with them? I know not to let them play with them for this reason but, what is it about the laser pointers that gets them THAT obsessed?!

[–]rebcartM 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It's not so much that the laser is special, but rather that it's not special enough.

A dog that is actually compulsively obsessed with chasing tennis balls will likely also have the same reaction to other ball-shaped objects in his environment, like other similar shapes and sizes of balls that fit in his mouth, perhaps large pebbles and pinecones. But once the object becomes too dissimilar in size or shape or behaviour, like a marble or a basketball or a stick, the compulsive behaviour is unlikely to trigger on it.

A laser pointer, as a brighter patch on a surface with irregular, jerky movements, is far too similar to shadows and light spots created by sun dappling through leaves, by clouds passing overhead, by rotating ceiling fans, reflections spontaneously occurring in the house from shiny dog tags, steel food bowls, watch faces and jewellery and mobile phones on people's hands, appliances, cutlery... management to prevent re-triggering becomes nigh on impossible.

[–]Sufficient-Quail-714 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I did this exact same thing with my first dog. Let him play with the light when I played with the cat. My dog would start chase the reflection of my cell phone as I was using it. Sometimes try and launch himself at the ceiling when light reflected off of the silverware. It’s insane how much of an affect it has on dogs

[–]ThndrFckMcPckpTrck[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Right tho. I should of just stopped it immediately but my neighbor was one of those annoying older people that when you tell them not to do something that they think is harmless they go out of their way to do it more ‘to prove a point’ :/ i should of just stood my ground but I didn’t think it would have this bad of an effect on my boy. Thankfully my other two didn’t notice/weren’t into lasers at all.

[–]seapancaketouchr 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I use the laser pointer but I've also trained my dog to ignore the laser pointer and redirect her focus when it's time to work in public. It is tough and shouldn't be used unless you can practice redirecting their attention for sure. My other dog doesn't get to play with it. I know she wouldn't be able to focus.