Have you ever come across videos of dog parents using a laser pointer to play with their pups? At first glance, laser pointers seem like a fun and harmless game for your dog; however, laser pointers can be dangerous for your precious pup. Okay, we know this might sound a little dramatic, but hear us out.
1. Laser pointers are bad for the psychological wellbeing of your dog
Most dogs love to chase. Whether they are chasing balls, birds,s or a frisbee, chasing games are extremely stimulating and good exercise for your dog. Chasing is also a healthy way to boost your dog's confidence and ego, because they (and you) are extremely proud when they have caught the ball, and even more so if they have retrieved it. Chasing is a natural way for dogs to release energy and it stimulates their prey drive.
Read more: Exercise Improves Dog Behavior
The main difference with using a laser pointer as a chase toy, is that your dog will never actually catch the laser. This can lead to serious confusion for your dog. The main issue is that your dog will never find closure by reaching its goal, which can lead to unhealthy obsessions and behavioral problems. Some dogs can become so obsessed with the moving red pointer that they start chasing anything that moves, like any shadows, reflective lights, and even glares from a swimming pool or a tablet screen.
Remember that your dog cannot rationalize as we humans can, nor do they understand the concept of what a laser is. Most dogs simply don't understand where the "prey" went and would keep staring at the last place they saw it. In the example below posted by a Reddit user, this is exactly what happened to his dog. We can see just how terrible laser pointers might be for your pup from this Reddit user’s story.
In this user's comment, he states that
“I feel horrible. I've got two dogs. German Shepherds. One 8 months and one 3 years. I got a laser pen and decided to have some fun. The dogs went crazy chasing it about, having a great time. That was two days ago. It has confused the older one. For two days now she's been refusing to leave the room and hasn't stopped looking for that red dot. Just staring blankly at the floor, ceiling, and walls. Taking her out on walks snaps her out of it until she gets back home. I feel so bad. She's even refusing her favorite treats.”
This shows you how quickly you can mess with your dog's head. I have seen dogs become unhealthily obsessed with chasing anything that moves, so much so that it consumes their entire day. These dogs had to go through vigorous behavioral adjustment training and rehabilitation. It is advised to stay away from laser-pointing games, in general, to avoid your dog developing unhealthy mental behaviors.
2. Laser pointers can hurt your dog's eyes
While laser pointers can seem fun and harmless, they can cause physical damages to your dog’s eyes. Dogs have more rods in their eyes than humans. Rods are the receptors in our eyes responsible for detecting light and dark; therefore, dogs can see in the dark much better than humans can. Since dogs have more rods, they are more sensitive to light. Whether on purpose or while playing a game, shining a laser pointer into a dog’s eyes can result in permanent damage or loss of vision for your pup.
In addition, your dog might get too excited while playing with laser light. If not careful, your pup may potentially knock over tables, chairs, and anything the laser beam touches. This game may cause your pup to injure himself or small children in the house.
There are so many different alternatives for chasing games with your dog. Soft toys, balls, and frisbees can be just as fun and engaging. . If you HAVE to play a laser game with your dog, make sure to end the game with a physical goal such as a treat. This way, the laser is not the reward, but the treat at the end of the laser is. Please make sure that the laser is kept far away from your dog's eyes while playing this game to avoid causing any injuries. Generally, it is not recommended to use a laser as a game, because it can trigger immediate obsession in some dogs and is simply not worth the risk.