Sheltie is Obsessed with Shadows

Posted by Deanna-Marie
Oct 18, 2010
Hello to everyone. This is my first post, but I have been reading for weeks and so much appreciate the advice I have found here. I have an unusual problem with my soon to be one year old male Sheltie, Kody. He has become obsessed with shadows. We go out to play ball and frisbee for about an hour morning and evening whenever time permits. Kody is very energetic and requires LOTS of exercise to keep him out of mischief. For the past several weeks I have had to schedule our play/teaching time to avoid the sun coming up or setting because when there are shadows he is on another planet. He doesn't hear, see or pay attention to anything but shadows, which he barks at. He will not obey one command or even acknowledge me. It sounds like a silly problem compared with jumping, biting and other aggressive actions (and he has some of them too) but this obsession of is stops all other action. I have searched the forum for someone else with this problem, but found nothing. I have had dogs all of my life, but never had one who goes crazy over shadows and worry about his sanity. The logical thing to do is not to take him out when there are shadows - but it's not that simple. He needs the exercise. I have tried removing the cars and working with him in the garage but the simple lighting creates shadows. Kody is very smart, learns quickly.
However - he never looks for the source of the shadows - such as my moving hand - but tries to attack them with an ear-splitting bark. When this starts, it time to put all else away because any training or playing is impossible. He just "loses" it. Can someone tell me if this is just a puppy phase that will pass? There must be something that I haven't yet tried to distract him and stop the lunacy. Any ideas would be welcome. I'll try anything to regain the quality time that Kody and I used to have. WHAT is going on here??? Thanks for your suggestions.
Posted by kjd
Oct 18, 2010
Hi, Deanna,

Wow! That does sound obsessive. Here is what Cesar Milan wrote about it: [url=]Shadow Obsession | Cesar Millan[/url]. I'm not a big fan of his, but he does have some good suggestions. What about goggles or the Elizabethan collar? They might keep Kody from seeing those shadows.

As he is so smart, he may be bored with your ideas for exercise. Have you seen whether he can herd? You may have to come up with innovative ideas to keep him interested.

You might be able to turn his obsession around at him: At night, use a flashlight and tire him out. Maybe a shadow you control: it moves, he pounces, it stops under his feet and does nothing. After a while, he decides it is boring. You make it move, he pounces again, it stops. And so on, until he realizes how positively boring shadows really are? You have to be able to control this so there are only the shadows you make. And, if it works, you are going to be bored out of your mind long before he gets the point.

Others may have had shadow dogs and have better ideas for you.

Good luck,