Cats Dogs

The Good and the Bad of Laser Pointers and Pets

This guy has a genius way of entertaining himself, and the neighborhood cats, on those sleepless nights. It almost makes me wish that I lived in a tall building, so I could try it.

The Good and the Bad of Laser Pointers and Pets

Entertaining your cat, or dog, with a laser pointer can be a very rewarding type of play, if done the right way. If misused, it can be very detrimental to the emotional health of your animal.

It’s important for both dogs and cats to have interactive play time that ends with them catching what they were after. It’s a natural instinct to chase prey, but domestic animals rarely get the opportunity. So, simulating a chase with a laser pointer can be a good alternative.

The problem is that people tend to move the laser in frantic, jerky movements that are more entertaining for themselves, but not helpful to the animal. These frantic motions don’t mimic the animals natural instinct to hunt, they only confuse them.

If a dog is overly exposed to the rapid chase of a laser pointer, without a reward, it could develop OCD like behavior with all lights. Your dog could become skittish, always searching and never at rest. It will chase after every light it sees, hoping that maybe this is the time it will catch it.

If you are determined to use a laser pointer to exercise your dog, then do it the right way. Before you start, hide a few treats in various places around the house. Use a more natural pace for your dog to follow that doesn’t include unnatural movements for them. Then throughout their adventure, lead them to the various treats that you have hidden, pausing the laser on each one. This will make them feel like they caught the prey, and will give them a more rewarding playtime.

Cats are similar to dogs in their instinct to hunt. The thrill of the chase is amazing, but that’s only part of it. The catch is very important as well. Cats have whiskers behind their paws, near the wrist area, to help them feel when they’ve caught their prey. Imagine jumping on that red light and expecting to feel it, but nothing is there. How extremely frustrating!

The proper way to play with cats is, again, to go at a natural pace that most resembles how a cat would chase a mouse. Occasionally pause the laser on a toy and let it play for a bit. Change up the toys that you lead your kitty to, for more fun. Then maybe when you are done, lead your cat to a delicious treat.

It’s best to use a variety of toys for cats and walks for dogs in order to get them the exercise that they need. Knowing the risks of using a laser pointer is important. If you are worried about putting your pet at risk, don’t use one. If you do, then always limit the amount of time you spend exercising your pet with a laser to around five to ten minutes a day. Oh and NEVER shine it in their eyes!!!

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Julie Antonson

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