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Thread: My dog chases shadows!?

  1. #1

    My dog chases shadows!?

    Hello everyone, lately my dog has been very interested in shadows, been pawing at them, chasing them, for hours on end!

    Is this something that you've heard of? Does your dog do this? Should I be concerned?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    State College, PA
    My dogs don't do it, but I doubt it's any reason to be concerned--sounds cute!!
    Emily, Kito, Abbey, Riley, and Jada

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Yes....Asia does this. She has been doin ever since she was little to. Sometimes I'll be playin w/ her w/ a ball of frisbee....n' she'll chase the shadow instead of the actual "ball" or "frisbee"

    Don't be concerned~!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Vancouver, BC
    Kai doesn't do this....he doesn't even chase the ball. He'd much rather sleep, eat or beg for attention. LOL I wouldn't worry about it..It's just a unique thing that some dogs do

    Kai [Sheltie], Kaedyn [Sheltie], Keeva [Malinois], Kwik [Malinois]

  5. #5
    Whew, I'm relieved because I went to an website today that said if dogs chase shadows, they could have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I just about had a heart attack!!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Vancouver, BC
    they COULD I guess...but I don't think your dog would fall into that category. I'd be concerned if that was all they did..instead of eating...chasing shadows..instead of walks...chasing shadows...etc
    Last edited by binka_nugget; 06-13-2003 at 07:29 PM.

    Kai [Sheltie], Kaedyn [Sheltie], Keeva [Malinois], Kwik [Malinois]

  7. #7
    good point indeed, there are alot of factors involved.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Not to alarm you, but have you had his vision checked by the vet?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Kelowna, BC
    My dogs don't, but I've been after them to chase the light from the flashlight lol. I see dogs do this all the time, mostly border collies, and I wish that mine would, it just looks so cute...
    I've been BOO'd!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    My australian border collie, Pappy, does that ALLL the time. he always has.
    he'll just sit there and bark at nothing and chase it around and stuff. I dont think it's anything bad.

  11. #11
    It really is cute when Ceebers stares at the shadows, he even stares at the shadow of his own tail...LOL.

  12. #12
    My dog chases shadows as well... shes only 4 months old. I looked online, and this is what I have found on the problem.

    The behavior describe is obsessive-compulsive behavior, which in dogs is referred to as a stereotypy. This is the equivalent of a human with OCD washing his hands 100 times a day. It is a compulsively repetitive motor pattern over which the dog has no control. It is also called Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD). Other examples of canine stereotypies include spinning (tail chasing), chewing on paws (Acral lick dermatisis), and appearing to snap at invisible flies in the air.

    There is a chapter in Nicholas Dodman's book, The Dog Who
    Loved Too Much, called "Shadow of a Doubt," which tells the
    story of a dog that has the same disorder as the two dogs you
    have described. I have worked, as a trainer, with three dogs
    that had stereotypies, but not specifically with a shadow chaser like your dogs.

    Robert is absolutely correct... You should have a veterinarian who has experience with stereotypies or a good canine behaviorist examine your dog as soon as you can. Behavioral treatments (training) usually have little effect on this type of disorder unless they are combined with medication. Anticonvulsants, mood stabilizing drugs such as Prozac (SSRI's) and/or tranquilizers are often prescribed to reduce the severity of shadow chasing and other stereotypies.

    There have been a number of reports of shadow chasing
    stereotypy beginning after a laser pointer was used for training or playing with the dog, as Jane mentioned. Laser pointers or flashlights should never be used as training aids with dogs for this reason.

    Although a stereotypy like this can increase in severity and can overshadow a dog's and owner's life, the good news is that what you have described is a well-known and identified disorder that usually responds to therapy with the types of drugs I mentioned.
    Faye, what you heard is correct: Many specialists in this area,
    including Dodman, believe that many stereotypies are the result of small seizures or convulsions that occur in the brain. This has been verified by doing a specialized type of EEG on dogs with these disorders. That may be why anticonvulsant medications seem to help many dogs. This disorder also tends to occur more in certain breeds, and both Labrodor and Golden Retrievers are among those breeds.

    Although the medications, IMO, are almost always necessary to
    really change the behavior, there are two things you can do that may have a positive affects. First, ignore the dog when it does the light/shadow thing. Do not give it any attention because this may unintentionally reinforce the behavior. Second, try to provide a varied and stimulating environment for the dog. Anxiety and boredom may increase the frequency of a stereotypy, so it is important to exercise the dog well, challenge it mentally with food toys, play, training, or whatever other activities seem to distract it from its obsessive behavior.

    The stimulation and exercise by itself may make a difference in some dogs because it is unlikely that all CCD's are caused by convulsions.
    Zookeepers are well aware of the development of compulsive
    behaviors in zoo animals that are held captive without adequate
    stimulation or in environments that remain unchanged for long
    periods of time. Obsessive spinning has also been seen in dogs that were kept in small cages 24 hours a day at experimental facilities.

    If you search the Internet for phrases such as "canine stereotypy" or "shadow chasing,"or "Canine Compulsive Disorder," you will find many articles on the subject. This should be thought of as a medical condition, so again, your first step should be to see a vet or behaviorist. The earlier the medical intervention, the better the dog's chances of recovering most fully.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Southern California
    Your dog probably has a lot of prey drive - the behavior of chasing things that move. If it is not keeping him from normal daily behavior like eating, sleeping, etc., then I wouldn't worry. But if, as the previous poster said, it is interferring with his life activities, I would see a vet specialist. In the meantime you might read up about prey drive and look for activities that utilize this drive in constructive and fun ways.
    Jan and 7 yo collie Bailey, CGC,TDIAOV

    How to Love Your Dog

    Therapy Dogs.Net

    Bailey at Dog of the Day
    Cody at Dog of the Day

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