Ask Moses: My dog loves the red dot a little too much! 2


Dear Moses,

We bought a laser pointer for our cat to play with, but our dog gets a lot more excited about that bright red dot than our cat does. But now we can't even turn on a flashlight without him going bonkers and chasing it. Why is he like that? 

– Dog has Gone Bonkers

Dear "Bonkers", 

Even though dogs don't see the color red very well, that doesn't mean they can't tell light from dark. Laser pointers are bright and interesting. When "Bonkers" sees the red dot he sees something small moving erratically that makes his hunting instincts kick in. It's fine to play with laser toys if your dog doesn't become obsessed with chasing every light he sees.

But some dogs start to get confused or even obsessed when they chase something over and over but can't catch it.  Officers who train bomb-sniffing dogs report that they need to hold exercises for the dogs where they actually find fake bombs, otherwise they become stressed and unhappy, and it can affect their health and emotional wellbeing. The same thing can happen to your companion dog – he may become depressed that he can't catch that dot, or obsessed with trying.

If your dog is starting to chase any light he sees (or possibly every shadow), it's time to put the red dot away for a while, and play with toys he can actually catch. In extreme cases, where a dog won't eat or sleep because he is chasing lights or shadows, a visit to the veterinarian is important to make sure that a medical condition isn't causing his unusual behavior, and to evaluate whether your dog might benefit from seeing a canine behaviorist. 

The ASCPA has some helpful information about Obsession Behavior in Dogs at this link.

You can always call us here at the office if you are concerned about your dog. And keep your questions coming – I'll be happy to answer them. 


Phone: 954-421-2244   Serving Deerfield Beach, Coconut Creek, and Boca Raton from our offices at Hillsboro Blvd and  Powerline Road in the Dunkin' Donuts plaza.    © Deer Run Animal Hospital 2017