Are laser pointers unhealthy?

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by ihartgonzo, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    I've heard several people say that laser pointers make dogs go crazy, chase car lights, etc. What do you think?

    Laser pointers are the only "chase" toy that Fozzie gets into. He will complete a formal retrieve, but he doesn't enjoy it... he gets super excited and zooms around after his laser though! The only other "toy" he will chase is sprinklers/hoses. I think he must have really high prey drive. Gonzo totally ignores the lasers but is a fetching nut like all BCs.

    I always break up laser chasing with sending him out to sniff around, obedience breaks, or playing tug. He only does one lap chasing it at a time, then breaks off by himself.
     
  2. OwnedByBCs

    OwnedByBCs Will Creep For Sheep

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    IMO, yes. I do not encourage any obsessive behavior in my BCs. They're already SO predisposed to mental problems. Sometimes those behaviors are funny at first, but when you see *how* obsessive they get it starts to be scary.
     
  3. Mr. Vega

    Mr. Vega New Member

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    Agreed. They can develop some serious mental conditions from those things
     
  4. Southpaw

    Southpaw orange iguanas.

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    Depends on the dog!

    I'll occasionally play with Juno with a laser pointer. She runs around and around chasing it, the light goes off, she might look around a little bit like "where'd it go...?" But I tell her "all done" and put the light away and then she continues living her life.

    Some dogs though you just can't do it. No, I don't really know how to determine if it's safe to do with a particular dog or not... I just had no reason to believe that Juno would become obsessive about it. My friend's completely neurotic dog chases lights and shadows, so no way should anyone play with him with a laser pointer. I have no idea how he got that way in the first place though - maybe his original owner used one with him and that's what started it?

    It's one of those things that I never recommend to people, and if I were asked about it I would probably caution against it. But with my own dogs, I know them, so can judge if I think they'll be able to handle it or not.
     
  5. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    Gavroche loves to chase lasers and flashlights. He's done it ever since I got him. I don't let him do it often, and I don't let him do it for long periods, but he loves it so I do let him chase it sometimes. My dog is not a rabid light-chasing manic that will run into the street to chase a headlight or dive into a body of water because there is light reflecting off the top. He knows the light comes from the flashlight/pointer and will go get the flashlight and bring it to me if he's excessively bored. The other day I was going to play with the flashlight with him, and I clicked it on and pointed it at the ground, and he looked - and the battery was dead. He was soooooo disappointed lol.

    I'm sure there are some dogs that cannot handle even small amount of light-chase. You know your dog - if he's been doing it, and it hasn't caused problems yet, and you don't go crazy with it, you're probably fine. You have to use it responsibly, just like you do anything else. There are people who have let their dogs chase tennis balls until they've died of exhaustion - some people are just stupid and don't know when to stop. If you DO notice something going awry, then STOP.

    Logan absolutely doesn't care about the laser. I can squeeze a few laser-directed retrieves out of him when he's focused, but aside from that he just doesn't acknowledge it exists, and he's certainly not going to *chase* that thing. He probably thinks Gavroche is slightly nuts :lol-sign:
     
  6. Flyinsbt

    Flyinsbt New Member

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    Yes, I'd be too worried to use it. There are probably some dogs that can light chase safely, but finding out that yours isn't one of those can be a really bad thing.

    I had a dog who was a light chaser. I never showed him a laser pointer, fortunately, but did use a flashlight. I didn't know any better. And it didn't turn out terrible He was a little crazed about it, and he'd also chase any other spot of light that showed up, which could be destructive, and hard on him physically. But I really think I got lucky. He had a lot of mild stereotypy behaviors; light chasing, tail chasing, obsessive tongue flicking. And just none of it ever got totally out of hand. But I also stopped encouraging the light chasing when I found out how bad it was. I think much more of it could have pushed him over the edge.
     
  7. MicksMom

    MicksMom Active Member

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    What she said. Caleb has chased a laser pointer since he was a puppy. I've also incorporated it into our training to proof his stays from the beginning (yes, even when he was a 12 week old puppy). He also knows "All done" means we're finished with whatever we're doing. Oh, he will stand under the key rack and stare at the pointer for a couple more minutes, but that's it. The only issue I ever had was when we had a fire drill one of the first times I had him at school when he was about 4 months old. Instead of walking nicely next to me like normal, Caleb was pouncing at the floor and trying to play. Once I realized he thought the flashing strobe lights reflecting on the floor was the laser, I just told him "Leave it", and off we went with no problems. We've had firetrucks go past at night and all he does is go to the front door to see what's going on. But, I will repeat, it totaly depends on the dog. I'd never use a laser with a breed or individual dog that tends to be obsessive.
     
  8. Snark

    Snark Mutts to you

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    I've tried the laser with Riley a couple of times and while he will chase it, he doesn't obsess about it, it's just another toy. Mick and Murph have zero interest in little dots of light. Of our cats, two are obsessed with it (they know what drawer the light is kept in and start milling around/talking if it's opened). The rest of the cats think those two are crazy. To end a session, we'll run the light up to the ceiling and let it wink out - the cats accept that as game over and leave.

    There is a gal at agility class who uses a laser light as a reward for her Aussie - after a successful sequence, she'll flash it around her feet for a few seconds.
     
  9. BigDogBuford

    BigDogBuford New Member

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    My Boxer girl is obsessed with the drawer that the laser pointer is kept in. I have to be careful because my dogs get so overstimulated it will start a fight. I use it just mostly for the cats.
     
  10. Red.Apricot

    Red.Apricot Active Member

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    I've never played with one with Elsie, because she's obsessive anyway.

    My sister's cat started to go crazy, and can't be around them anymore. He'd sit in the middle of the living room waiting for the dot for hours.
     
  11. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Some dogs can handle it. But I've seen a lot of dogs develop OCD type behaviors from the use of them. Plus, I think they're "mean." lol...they can never catch the "thing." It's always just out of reach...seems like it could be frustrating...no satisfaction gained because the grab and kill motor patterns aren't used. I'd rather throw them something or have them chase something on a string that they get to chase, grab, and catch in their mouths...more like prey. This light does not behave the way natural prey does. It's so intense that it's the only stimuli affecting their brain...I believe the other senses are not really working very well when their focused on a laser.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012
  12. Snark

    Snark Mutts to you

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    I read somewhere - possibly on a cat board, that a good way to end the game with some cats is to throw down a high value toy (catnip mouse, etc) and bring the light to the toy so the cat pounces something tangible at the end. Guess that could work for dogs, too.
     
  13. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    lol Snark. I was just editing my post when you put your post up. Yes, perhaps that might make it better. I guess whatever floats one's boat. I guess I'm just old fashion and am fine with throwing real things for my dogs.
     
  14. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

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    I think it depends on the dog. Pip loves to chase the laser pointer (discovered by accident while playing with the cats) but he's never become really obsessive about it. When you put it away, he just goes and does something else.

    Squash and Maisy don't even appear to see it, or at least they've never paid any attention to it.
     
  15. MicksMom

    MicksMom Active Member

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    Our cat was to "sophisticated" for that. She'd watch the light for a bit when Caleb was playing with it. When I ran it up to where she was sitting, she'd reach out for the spot. But, as soon as she realized there was nothing to catch, she'd just sit back and watch again.
     
  16. BigDogBuford

    BigDogBuford New Member

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    Three of my dogs don't even see the red dot. It's weird. lol
     
  17. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    It certainly does happen that playing chase games with laserlights or flashlights triggers a light/shadow chasing OCD in some dogs. There's not any way to predict which dogs it will have that effect on. Some dogs can play fine with them for years and others after one or two exposures to it are obsessing over light spots coming through the windows or shadows on the ground. So given that, I would never really consider it to be a "safe" toy.
     
  18. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    My cousin tried it once with Mia. Mia loves chasing toys and especially bugs. It took Mia a couple seconds to realize it wasn't a real bug to catch and she just ignored it. His JRT will go crazy for it but doesn't seem to have any problems with regular lights.

    I don't think I'd try it with any of my dogs and Im probably lucky Mia figured it out that fast because she is a dog that will obsess very easily.
     
  19. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    Yeah, depends on the dog. But if you find out the hard way that it's not a good idea for your dog, it can be a tough situation.

    Luce will chase the laser pointer. It's hilarious (she makes ridiculous pig noises) and she's never been obsessive about it.

    I had some lady suggest to me when Steve was very young that I should use a laser pointer to reward him in agility. I was like ARE YOU FREAKING INSANE?? Obsessive dog is obsessive enough as it is.
     
  20. CharlieDog

    CharlieDog Rude and Not Ginger

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    Enzo doesn't care about it. Indy and Knox don't even see it. Ozzy will look for it for hours after it's put up. He started chasing the flashes off of his tag on the patio. That was the last of the laser pointer when I realized he was chasing "tinkerbells" off of his name tag.

    I caught one of my brothers friends running him around in circles on the patio one night after that. I think I scared the hell out of him when I ran out there yelling at him (I'd told them not to do the laser with the dog once already) to figure out WTF he thought he was doing and snatched it from him and chucked it over the fence.

    It took him a little while to stop looking for it, but he did. I'm of the opinion that they can be extremely extremely dangerous for certain dogs. I've no doubt that if we didn't know any better Ozzy would be constantly chasing lights and shadows.
     

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