Why Laser Pointers are Bad for Dogs + Safer Alternatives

Using a laser pointer may seem like a convenient way for dog owners to get their dog to exercise and to have fun, but in reality, it may be doing more harm than good.

Do Dogs See the Red Dot of Laser Pointers?

You may have read online that dogs can only see in black or white but that turned out to be a myth. Dogs are colorblind, but not grey-scale colorblind. Their vision is similar to a person who suffers from deuteranopia, meaning they have some difficulty distinguishing colors like red and green.

If this is the case, how are dogs able to identify the red (or green) dot from the laser pointers? Despite being affected by red-green color blindness, dogs may be able to detect the red dot due to having a very strong sense of movement detection.

Why do Dogs Chase the Laser Pointer Dot?

Not all dogs show an interest in chasing the laser pointer dot, but those that do may chase it for many reasons. The most common cause roots back to canine characteristics. Despite being domesticated, some household dogs may still exhibit behaviors of their wild ancestors, such as hunting.

Naturally, anything that interests a dog, such as a laser pointer dot, may initiate the “hunting” process which eventually leads them to chase after it. The dog may also perceive the laser pointer dot as an intruder because it is an unfamiliar element in the environment.

Are Laser Pointers Bad for Dogs?

Dogs may show a lot of excitement and energy when they chase after a laser pointer dot but it isn’t good for their long-term mental health. The dog will start to get frustrated and develop an unhealthy obsession with the laser pointer dot. They will try harder and harder to catch it but will ultimately fail ever time.

This may eventually lead to the development of mental issues such as depression since the dog isn’t able to fulfill its obsession and reward. Search and rescue dogs are a good example of this. During the aftermath of 9/11, the dog handlers set up “mock” rescues to keep the search dogs (that couldn’t find anything) motivated and feel successful with their rescue mission.

One dog owner shared his story of how he thought it was hilarious for his dog to chase a laser pointer only to realize the dog was still searching for it after they were done playing. If you don’t want your dog to develop OCD-like behaviors then we highly recommend trying an alternative.

Healthy Toy Alternatives to Laser Pointers

There are plenty of other things you can do at home to keep your dog entertained. Here are some good indoor dog exercise alternatives to laser pointers.

Dog Flirt Pole

A flirt pole can be used to entertain dogs in small or medium indoor spaces. It is similar to laser pointers in the sense that you are having the dog chase after something except this time around it’s something tangible. With a flirt pole, your goal is to have the dog run and jump around by having them chase the toy that’s tied to the end of the rope. Your dog will get tired very quickly.

Hiding the Dog’s Toy

Take your dog on a mini hide-and-seek adventure by hiding his favorite toys around the house. Make sure the toys are placed in areas your dog can reach. Start off easy by hiding the toys in the same room. You can then gradually increase the difficulty level by hiding the toys in different rooms or in new hiding spots.

Automatic Ball Thrower

An automatic ball thrower, such as the iFetch ball launcher, is another great way to keep your dog fit. These toys will launch mini tennis balls at varying distances. You shouldn’t, however, let your dog play with an automatic ball thrower without your supervision due to specific safety hazards.

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian when in doubt.


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