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Dog Chasing shadows & Lights

September 27th, 2003, 02:08 AM
Hi, I have had my dog for 6 months now, I got her from the SPCA so her history is essentially unknown, however she seems to have been well treated. However, she is completely obsessed with chasing/watching shadows and light reflections. It seems to cause her anxiety, despite the fact her tail is wagging. I have read it could be related to her natural predatorial instinct. However, I am wondering if there is any way I can help her to stop doing this... She becomes completely uninterested in anything else - people, balls, food, etc.. Thanks.

September 27th, 2003, 09:47 AM
It does not sound like the dog is experiencing anxiety.

It sounds like she is completely engrossed in the 'game'.

What makes you think this is anxiety and not FUN?

Are you sure it's not you that is anxious because the dog is focused on something else?


September 27th, 2003, 01:17 PM
thanks for the reply. However, i do think she is anxious whne she is "waiting" for shadows to appear. Yes, she gets excited when they finally do, however, she not only pounces on them she also scratches and at times tries to bite them. At times i am worried she willhurt herself as she will run and hit her nose on a wall or try to run into the street or jump around in the car when I am driving. Perhaps you are right, it may be me who is more anxious than her but that is because I am concerned about her safety. Any suggestions?

September 29th, 2003, 02:05 PM
I could be wrong here, but it sounds like the same behaviour that a dog would exhibit if you were about to throw a ball. To me it sounds like ANTICIPATION and not anxiety. You are right though it does seem like a hard-wired predatory behaviour. But is it bad?

That said, if the dog is absolutely obsessed by it to the point that that's ALL she wants to do then you have a problem and a vet visit is in order for a checkup and possibly some medication.

One thing to note though...if the dog is bored due to lonliness or lack of attention at least this gives her something to do. I suspect that if given the choice to play with you or go for a walk, then those activities will win she IS still a puppy. She will probably eventually figure out that in reality she is chasing something that she CAN'T bite or chew.

If it really bothers you to the point where it's making YOU too anxious, then try to refocus the dog with a different activity (ie fetch, walk, grooming etc. )

I wonder how others on this board feel.


September 29th, 2003, 09:34 PM
I think you may be right, in that a vet visit is in order. It sounds bizarre I know, and even funny but she truly is obsessed. She does get a lot of attention, play and walks, she comes to work with me some days as well and is showered with attention there And I do distract her from it to take her for a walk, she will come but is very eager to get back inside to watch the walls. A ball or similar game very rarely interests her during this. In addition, she is actually an adult, I got her at the SPCA (pound) and she was about three years old then, so now she would be at least 3.5 years. So i do not know whether perhaps she was reinforced in some way before for this behaviour. I too wonder what others think about this and would appreciate any advice or ideas. People who have seen her have suggested it could be OCD or an eye problem, but her vision seems fine aside from this.
Ok thanks again for your suggestions.

October 1st, 2003, 08:35 AM
I think a vet visit IS called for. OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder is something that is treatable with medication, training or a mix of both. You need to know just how severe it is.

This is only a suggestion.

Try getting one of those cheap red laser lights that teachers use for pointing at blackboards and annoying kids use to shine on movie screens (or even a flashlight). Let the dog see that YOU are pulling out the 'toy'. Shine the light around and let the dog chase it. After a few days choose the SAME time of day to play with the dog with the light.

The goal here is that the dog doesn't wait endlessly for the light. The dog associates the light with YOU so that YOU are in control. It becomes less of a disorder and more of a game...but do go see a vet and let us know how it turns out.



October 2nd, 2003, 01:39 AM
Thanks Homer. Your suggestion sounds very worthy of a try, I will keep you posted on how things go with this "experiment" and the vet's advice.