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I was seriously considering a laser pointer to help Spirit release her extra energy. Anytime I try to run around to burn her out I end up burned out while she runs around waiting for more.

But besides the risk of eye injury, would I be endangering my dog's mental well being if I let her chase a beam of photons? Are our dogs that mentally fragile that we can make them "psychologically disturbed" during play?

How many of you have destroyed your dog's sanity?

article said:
When a wiggly little bead of light catches a dog's eye, nothing in the world matters more than capturing it. Unfortunately, "it" is just an ungraspable bundle of massless photons. The lack of closure in laser-beam chasing could be messing with your dog's head.
(snip)
"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."
(snip)
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.
http://www.mnn.com/family/pets/stories/will-laser-play-drive-my-dog-crazy
 

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A family member gave us a laser pointer for Biscuit for Christmas. We tried it once and seriously thought we broke our dog. She kept hunting for the red dot obsessively for hours after we put the pointer away. Luckily the effect eventually wore off, but I can see how a dog could become permanently unhinged or start chasing car headlights or something. I cannot explain why, but there's something there. This phenomenon is totally real.
 

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I used to play with the laser pointer with Gunther all the time. It was especially fun in the winter when it got dark early and he could jump and dig in the snow. However, I haven't done in about a year, for basically those reasons you posted from the article. I never read anything about it, but I could see that he was obsessed with it. After we were done playing, he would sit and stare at me and look around the room for it to appear. If I reached in my pocket for a lighter or my keys and he would jump up and look around for the red dot to appear somewhere. I had to put an end to it. It's fun while they're chasing it, but it seems they keep thinking about it obsessively after it's been put away.
 

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A dog with a form of obsessive compulsive disorder may become unhinged. (I believe the technical term is "throw a gasket.")

I probably wouldn't use a laser pointer. As I have mentioned so many times that I should probably just add it to my signature, Esther recognizes only three entities: Humans, dogs and prey.

I believe she would recognize a laser dot as prey, since it is obviously not human or canine.

(Please don't ask if the refrigerator is considered prey. If it started dancing around the room and climbing the walls, it would be prey.)

Would you seriously want a dog who does this, hurling herself around the room chasing a tiny red dot?

 

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We tried it once and seriously thought we broke our dog.
I had just finished a glass of Pepsi and it's a very good thing I was not drinking when I read the broke dog problem:)
 

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I purchased a laser pointer .... only used it a few times because of what is being stated. Although Abbylynn was too smart for it ... she literally will attack the actual laser pointer itself and not chase the beam. :/

I quit using it. I value my hand.
 

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Although Abbylynn was too smart for it ... she literally will attack the actual laser pointer itself and not chase the beam. :/
I guess Esther must be a genius 'cause she doesn't chase the water. She goes right for the source.
 

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I think Kabota would lose his mind. He's an odd little dog to start with and like Esther, the world is human, dog and I MUST CATCH AND KILL IT. Yesterday, I was playing with him in a full skirt and the motion of my skirt caught his eye and he went for it. (we had a little talk.)

The way I see it, it's like me and alcohol. Alcoholism runs in my family, I'm not risking it, so I don't drink at all. I also don't use laser pointers with dogs.
 

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I use them and love them. I use them carefully.

Only one of my dogs takes to the laser like crack to a pipe. One gets bored with it, the other just jumps up and crushes the hand holding the light. So I won't play with those two. But my dog who loves it really LOVES it, so I use it was the ultimate reinforcer.

For example, she was a dedicated lagger. She would always lag off leash. On leash, she was perfect, but take the leash off and she would heel about 6 inches back looking bored. So I started bringing the light out when she heeled off leash in the correct position. Once she was in position, out came the light for 15 seconds or so. Then, back to heeling. I would ask for a few more steps in correct position, and then out with the light. The key, (I think...) is keeping it clear when the light is available and when it isn't. I only use my light in our training space in our finished basement. I will also use it in formal training settings away from home, but never in our living room. And access to the light is always started with work and always follows a verbal "yes" marker. I use it in place of food. When the reward time is over, I say "All Done" and pocket the light. In order to get it back, she has to work hard. Most of my training is food-based. I only bring out the light for a few short sessions a week and I save it for issues where motivation and drive are a problem. It is interesting to see how she has come to associate off-lead heeling with being happy. She used to deflate when the leash came off. Now, she gets excited even when there isn't a laser. The saying that Pavlov is always on your shoulder appears to be correct.

Spitting the fun up with heeling or other formal work seems to keep her from going over the top with it. I am certain I could and would ruin the dog if I took the rules out of the game. As it is, the light has completely solved my lagging problem without a single correction. There are about a million perils in using a laser light. I watch for signs of insanity!!! I know how wildly unpopular the lights are among people who love and understand dogs.

(FWIW- she will also attack hoses with great relish and blow up like a wood tick if not stopped. Not an ounce of self-preservation in this dog!)
 

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They are not good, they can cause problems. If you want to exercise the dog or burn some excess energy, get a flirt pole. Dogs usually love them and its good for mental and physical exercise.
 

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I use them occasionally. My dogs know that the light comes from the thing I hold in my hand. When I take it out, Crystal will actually look at the device, then follow a straight line down with her eyes to where she knows the light will show up when I push the button. She likes to chase the light, but when I put the thing away, she stops. She's never barked at or chased reflected light from other sources.

That said, if I had a dog that seemed to be getting obsessed, or searching for the light after I put the thing away, I would discontinue playing with a laser pointer.
 
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