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My friend's dog - german shepherd is addicted to shadows. It's one year old fit dog. Everything is fine but looking all the time (when is light) at shadows -  peoples, things', plants', other animals', his own. This is quite tiring for him and for his owners.This dog all sunny days  works - he tries to catch the shadow, eat it, lick it.  He can't lie down and rest. The same is at home in the evening when the light is turned on. Only solution is to switch the light off or wait for cloudy weather.

Did anyone have such a experience with a dog? Is there any other solution to switch the dog off?

Thanks for any advice:-)

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Hi. We had a setter who started this sort of behaviour at about the same age. I can remember vividly the first time he saw and chased his shadow, on a sunny day at a show when we had let him off for a run. He just kept running! After that he was obsessed with shadows and reflections. It was very difficult to live with I must say.

We had to try and break him of the habit. When out walking on bright days we put him on a head collar so we could control his head and stop him looking down...unfortunately, no free running on those days:( In the evenings we would sit without lights on, and again very often we would have his halti on or sit beside him on the floor to play and distract him to stop him looking for light and shade. Watching TV was a nightmare!

I can't remember exactly what the vet thought....

In the end he did grow out of it or maybe we succeeded in training him out of it. Either way he turned out to be one of the best ever, and well worth all the hard work and upset.

I feel for your friend but persevere...it'll be worth it.

Its generally what is known as obsessive compulsive disorder, and there are many reasons for this.  If it is a real problem, your friend can try training out of it by giving something else to do, or sending the dog to an area of 'safety' as soon as it starts the behavior, such as a cage etc. This takes a lot of time and persistence and consistence.  Sometimes a period of drug therapy can assist, providing appropriate behavior therapy is giving at the the same time.  This can only be done by a vet who also does behavior work, or who works with a fully qualified behaviorist.

Thanks Sue and Fran for info and advice. So there is hope to change his habit. The dog is absolutely normal and beautiful, he started it few months ago. And this is terribly tiring for both sides. His owner is training him in obedience now. I tell her your advices. She is studying veterinary (now starts third year), she asked her  teachers but nobody knew such a case.

Sue, do you remember  how old was your dog when he finished with this obsession.

Fran, what kind of drug, what kind of specialist she should find - neurologist, behaviorist...?

Thank you

Hi Anna.  If she is studying veterinary medicine, she ought to look up the work of Prof.Daniel Mills at the University of Lincoln in the UK.  They have done quite a bit of work on these kind of problems and can probably advise, particularly with regards to the pharmacology.

I agree with the advice given by Sue & Fran. I would recommend the owner try to stop the behaviour - and sooner rather than later as if it is allowed to continue it is very likely to become worse and the dog may completely loses his ability to 'shut off'. Border Collies and other herding breeds come to mind with this problem.

Normal Vets - unless trained as behaviourists - don't usually have the knowledge about how to treat compulsive disorders. Training the dog to keep eye contact to the owner is one way of interrupting the shadow chasing. Like Fran suggests I'd also consider putting the dog in a crate for short spells of 'time out'. And seek professional help.

Thanks Fran:-) I passed the message down to Agata

Thanks Susan:-)

I told Agata what she had to do.




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