Laser Pointers Could Be Bad for your Dog

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When your dog sees that little wiggly bead of light from a laser pointer, nothing matters to him more than catching it. Unfortunately, there’s nothing there to ‘catch’, since it’s just an ungraspable bundle of light. And, it turns out, the lack of closure your dog experiences from endlessly trying to catch it may actually be screwing with this head.


Dogs instinctively chase those bright red laser dots simply because they’re moving; stimulating their natural prey drive. The laser beam’s incessant moving taps into this prey drive and the dog can’t help himself – he has to chase it, according to Nicholas Dodman, a professor of animal behavior at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

But, according to Fox News:

laser-pointer…should you really be stimulating your dog’s prey drive when it won’t ever lead to triumph — the catching of light? Probably not such a good idea. “They can get so wound up and driven with prey drive that once they start chasing the light they can’t stop. It becomes a behavior problem,” Dodman said. “I’ve seen light chasing as a pathology where they will just constantly chase around a light or shadow and pounce upon it. They just spend their whole lives wishing and waiting.”

Never getting a reward for their vigilance “makes dogs loopy,” he explained. Along the same lines, trainers of bomb- and drug-sniffing dogs have found that their dogs become psychologically disturbed if they never find bombs or drugs, so they must occasionally be taken on dummy missions.

If your dog loves to chase, Dodman recommends using more tangible toys that he can actually catch. Or if you must use a laser toy, one solution is to hide treats around the room and occasionally land the laser light on the treat to surprise your pup.


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His name was Virgil. He was left tied to the front door of the vet's office I worked for many moons ago, shivering, scared and badly beaten. We locked eyes and my heart instantly belonged to him. No tennis ball within a mile radius would go untouched and neither of our worlds would ever be the same again.


  1. I reintroduced the laser back into our bulldog’s play time. The difference is we don’t do the quick back and forth between his paws where he’s twisting and turning, but aim it 20 feet away and then back towards where I am standing. He loves it and it ensures he gets some great exercise. He knows its a game, but its less obsessive then the quick movements back and forth. Frankly, everything is bad for everything if you check the internet for headlines or look in the comments.

  2. I have had 6 dogs in my life. The only one to pay the laser pointer any attention is the Pit/boxer mix. We now have 9 cats. 5 of them will play with Shane and the pointer. He gets so mad when it lands on his paw. Then, if it lands on one of the cats, he *throws* himself between it and them.
    When done, we put the laser away quietly. They all go off and do their thing. Which is usually sleeping. Sometimes, Shane will grab one of his toys and play fetch with himself.

  3. But, according to Fox News… They have “Dr.” Keith Ablow. Am I supposed to take any psychological advice from them seriously?

  4. My dog Peanut was playing with a laser and after I was done playing with her she started staying around me waiting for the laser. It was weird.

  5. My dog has been staring at me and the floor for two days since we played with the laser.,, I’m worried. She seems demanding. What do I do!? She just stares at me all serious, it’s creeping me out

  6. My dog LOVES playing with laser and I don’t believe that can harm her much. Of course I use another toys to entertain her, IE balls, bones etc. I’m even thinking of purchasing petcube (a pet toy controlled from a phone with web-camera and a laser). You just have to use it all moderately, I guess that’s the main rule.

  7. My dog was a trained Search & Rescue dog. Even tho she was great with people, sometimes when going through an airport or large crowd, she would get a little anxious. All we had to do is point the laser light a few inched in front of her and she would never even notice all the people she was so focused on the red dot. It was her favorite toy/reward, but she was smart enough to know it was a game. Once the game was over and I said done, it was over until next time. Believe me, my girl was not loopy, deranged or neurotic.

    • You are almost there sharon. They can catch those things. they can never catch a ‘ll aser. Also they are not in the home. My brother made my dog slightly neurotic about reflecting light off watch’s, Tv, tablets etc. He never did as t before being teased with a laser.

      If your dog likes playing with other toys, I suggest staying with toys with no down side.

      The neurotic behavior even extended to hard laughing, as people were gut busting laughing at him trying to catch the laser. For about a year, if you watched tv and laughed really hard he would come charging into the room, chest puffed out, ready to do battle with the laser monster. The word was only said a few yimes. You cant say lazer around him or he starts pacing and looking for it.

      No joke.

  8. i have used one of these with my dog who has a high prey drive it started as a way of distracting her from chasing the cat, she isn’t loopy or deranged her and the cat are best of friends now it’s never been over used if the red dot lands on a person or on an animal she will NOT go for it and will sit and wait for the light to move back on to the floor, not saying that my way is correct all dog’s are different and will react differently to different things