Shadow/reflection/fly chasing

Posted by Mal
Oct 23, 2007
We got a rescue Jack Russell almost twelve months ago. In many respects he is the model dog, obedient, playful, loving, well socialised, protective and great to be around.

However, almost as soon as we got him home from the dogs home we encountered a set of behaviors that have never really gone away. On sunny days he chase reflections, at night he chases shadows cast by light and in summer he goes absolutely nuts at the sight of flys/insects. He goes into a complete "zone" and barks/pecks endlessly until the source of his frustration is removed. It might not sound like too much of a problem but it really is quite severe. He can peck a shadow until his face is red raw, or dig at a reflection until he is worn out usually accompanied by a frenzied bark and incessant growling.

We try distraction techniques and occasionaly he responds but in the main he locks everything out and cannot be diverted. His behavior is at its worst in the car where the constant lights and shadows drive him absolutely berserk.

We have had dog trainers/psychologists round and they have suggested various tips and techniques to no avail. There is some suggestion that his previous owners may have used a laser pointer to "train" him with, which by all accounts can cause some kind of psychosis.

Any help/suggestions would be very welcome.

Posted by eyeluvdogs
Oct 23, 2007
Hi there,

It sounds as though your dog's behavior can be somewhat obsessive, and must be very concerning for you.

There are a couple of things that I would like to suggest. If he is a highly strung dog, you may like to spray some rescue remedy into his water bowl, or get a DAP diffuser which is supposed to help calm down stressed dogs. For more info, you might like to do a search on the internet.

Please ensure that he gets lots and lots of exercise. If he is bored and has pent up energy, this will only make the obsession problem worse. Perhaps try taking him for a brisk walk before any rides in the car.

When he chasing lights or shadows, you could try issuing a high pitched squeak or squeal to try and deflect your dogs attention. If he looks up for even a few moments, you should give him a tasty food treat straight away. Try this over and over again, and hopefully you will start to find it easier to distract your dog from his chasing.

Good luck!