Watching Scruffy chase a laser beam dot may seem like a fun and innocent form of entertainment, but you might feel anxious if Scruffy starts an obsessive chase any It casts light on any surface – especially if that surface is a dog or another person! If you’re trying to shed some light on your dog’s uncontrollable urge to chase light, then read on.
Lights, especially lights that move as bright red dots produced by laser beams, attract dogs because they stimulate their innate prey drive. While a dog’s eyes aren’t much distinct when it comes to color, they are blessed with light-sensitive cells that were developed for modern motion detection. With their quick reflexes, powerful heals and fast legs, many dogs turn into hunting machines that can’t help themselves chasing down anything that moves.
Some dog breeds seem to have a tendency to chase lights. Border collies, a dog breed known for eye-going livestock, are prone to developing compulsive behaviors that are triggered by moving objects. Terriers, on other paws, are a group of dogs known for high levels of predisposition, a selectively bred trait that instills a desire to hunt dangerous pests underground. In these dogs, it almost seems as though there is a connection between genetics and light-chasing behaviors, according to Veterinary Partner.
The case with the lights
The “Scruffy”‘s evolutionary past as a predator may be a difficult reality to accept for some dog owners. The full word predator sequence includes eye, stalk, stalk, bite, bite, kill and slicing eat. When the dog is chasing the light, it does not skip the sequence. This may lead to frustration and subsequent behavioral problems. Some dogs will constantly chase and pounce on lights and shadows and this fun game will quickly become pathology.
In some cases, laser lights and flash lights are known to cause obsessive-compulsive disorders. Often, dog owners obsess over lights through play, which leads to obsessive staring, chasing and barking at any lights and shadows. By laughing at first and paying attention, dog owners are inadvertently reinforcing the behavior. Then, once the behavior becomes persistent and annoying, owners continue to reinforce the behavior, but this time by scolding the dog and giving it negative attention.
A cure for light obsessions
Treating a dog affected by hypomania can be quite a challenge. And some dogs are so focused on their tasks in a light pursuit that they might care less even if it’s raining hot dogs. Treatment for a chasing flare may require behavior modification focused on removing reinforcement, training incompatible behaviors, and in severe cases, administration of veterinarian-approved drugs. Punishing a dog for engaging in obsessive behavior will only exacerbate the problem. If your dog has developed an obsession with lights, it is best to consult a behavioral veterinarian immediately.
Written by Adrian Varcelli