A red dot from a laser pointer flashing on a pet dog's paw.

Are Laser Pointers Safe Toys for Dogs

There are plenty of YouTube videos showing cats or dogs incessantly tracking the red dot from a laser pointer. You might think that this is a hilarious and ingenious way to entertain your canine and compel it to play. You get to sit back and relax while your dog gets out all of its energy. But are these would-be toys truly safe for your canine companions to play with? At PetPlace, we value the safety and health of your dog just as much as you do. Today we’ll be explaining why you should forgo your laser pointer in favor of a more pet-friendly toy.

The Importance of Play for Dogs

As a pet owner, you often hear how important it is to exercise your dog. However, play is just as important. Play sessions allow dogs to interact socially, relieve stress, and learn. Healthy Pets explains that walks are just as important for mental stimulation as they are for exercise.

When dogs go for walks, they tirelessly explore their environment. And as they pick up fresh scents, their brains work continuously to process this barrage of new and exciting information. Dogs must also keep track of many things at once during walks. After all, they’re simultaneously picking up on your commands, monitoring your body language and looking out for new threats or things of interest. Play is similarly stimulating for dogs.

A Bristol University study found that dogs that don’t get enough play time can become aggressive, anxious, or distracted. About half of the dog owners in the study said that they play with their dogs two or three times a day. Ten percent of owners played with their dog only once a day, and ninety-four percent of owners reported that their dogs had behavioral issues. Put simply, when your dog wants to burn through some energy by playing, it’s almost always a good idea to accommodate them.

How Do You Know When a Dog Wants to Play?

Dogs have a few signals to let their owners know that they want to play. When dogs bow down, resting their front elbows on the floor and extending their tail in the air, they’re telling you that they want to move around and play. Their facial expressions will also let you know when they’re interested in playing. An open mouth and ears that are standing at attention are telltale signs that your dog is ready for fun. Furthermore, your dog may bark, whine at your feet, or bring you a favorite toy when it wants to play.

Can Dogs Play With Laser Pointers?

It’s no secret that dogs enjoy playing with lasers. Dogs instinctively feel the need to chase things that run from them. This behavior comes from their drive to hunt prey. However, many experts believe that stimulating your dog’s prey drive when it won’t lead to a tangible resolution (catching their prey or watching it escape) is a mistake. Specifically, the American Kennel Club states that it’s frustrating for dogs to chase laser beams that they will never catch. Their hunter instincts may not dissipate after their laser play session is over, leading to behavioral problems.

When the laser disappears, dogs can become confused. They may develop obsessive behaviors. Have you ever seen a dog frantically search for a laser beam that has been suddenly turned off? This is a sign of anxiety. Even handlers that train dogs to sniff bombs and drugs say that the dogs can get crazed if they never find the target objects. These dogs must be taken on mock missions to satisfy their urge to hunt. Consequently, when you’re looking for items to entertain your dog, we encourage you to stick with conventional dog toys.

How Can You Play With Your Dog When You’re Tired?

It’s not always possible to play with your dog more than three times a day. Sometimes, you just might not feel like running around. Luckily, there are quite a few pet-friendly tricks and tools you can use to play with your dog when you’re tired. A flirt pole is often recommended by dog experts as a safe toy for dogs. It looks just like a fishing pole with a toy dangling off a string at one end. You can drag the toy around, initiating a game of chase for your dog. Best of all, when your dog catches the toy, the game transforms into a tug-of-war contest.

Are Any Laser Pointer Games Safe for Dogs?

The safest way to play with laser pointers is to avoid them altogether. A laser that shoots into a dog’s eyes can cause blindness. Because the dog jumps into the beam, it can be difficult to avoid aiming it at the eyes. Additionally, fragile household items can be broken if you shine the laser at or near them.

If you must use a laser beam to play with your dog, tuck treats in hidden spots around the room and use the light to lead the dog to these areas until they discover all of their tasty rewards. You can also shine the beam at a spot on or near your body. When your dog reaches the light, turn it off and reward them with a treat. You should also give your dog some kind of verbal indication when you’re finished with the game to put their mind at ease.

Learn More About Pet Safety and Play With PetPlace

Be sure to message us today if you have any other questions about your favorite four-legged friends. We’d be more than happy to set you up with any information or resources you need.