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Shadow Chasing

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Hi, I have an 18 mo. old Border Collie named Hailey. About a month ago she started getting infactuated with shadows. No matter what I try I can not get her away from this. The minuet we are done with our activity she goes right back to chasing those shadows. Do you have any advise?

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This is a behavior that's fairly common in border collies. If it's ignored, it usually becomes a habit. I've dealt with it by correcting the dog mildly with a correction word ("No" or "Ahhp") and a little pressure or body language to turn him away from the shadows he's interested in. I might distract him with something else to do, but it would be something ordinary, not something he really loved like chasing a ball. I've found if you are patient and persistent -- keeping an eye on his behavior and correcting it every single time -- it doesn't take long before he stops doing it. So getting your point across is time-consuming, but only for a matter of days. Good luck.

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Hi, there!

 

I've got a 13-month old BC named Kaylee who has been a shadow-chaser since she was about six months old. Somebody played with her with a laser light: one session is all it took to make her obsess. I began to work with her immediately, but seven months later, it's still an issue.

 

I've been to wits' end and back with this, but this is what I've learned. This is an OCD, an obsessive-compulsive disorder, which in dogs is called "canine stereotypy". It is a neurological condition which has been linked to small seizures in the brain. You may not be able to train your dog out of doing this behavior without medical support. Here's an article that explains it well: http://doglinks.co.nz/problems/barry_place...0stereotypy.htm

 

I took my dog to the vet for this, and she did a careful exam of Kaylee's eyes, then put her on a six-month run of good ol' Prozac. It's not a pill to prevent shadow-chasing, but it will make your Hailey less anxious/frustrated and more distractable from the OCD, so that you can then train her attention to other things, see Eileen's good suggestions.

 

Watch your dog carefully to see if there are triggers in your environment that stress her out, or if she's really, really bored. What happens right before she starts staring? If nothing happens, it's because nothing is happening, and she needs something to happen.

 

UP THE EXERCISE! Get her out of her usual environment every day, even if it's just a slow walk around the block, to sniff every bush. Run her buns off, make her run/play hard every day, if you can. Create challenges at home: hide things, play games, play ball down the stairs or down the hall (aka Collie Bowling). My vet has me feeding Kaylee every meal out of a Kong, a challenge for her busy head. PLAY TUG A LOT! Let her win: it's a frustration-buster. Socialize her: play dates with other dogs are great, Dog Park is great. She won't be chasing shadows if there are other dogs to chase. Bones are good, too. I keep them in the freezer. They keep Kaylee busy for a long time.

 

I am betting she is an only dog: is that the case? (Mine is, too.) Can you consider another dog, who would fascinate her and bug her to play all day?

 

Do your best to minimize the shadows (keep blinds drawn, etc.), do not yell at or punish her for the behavior, just do your very best to distract her with good things, food, toys, games, over and over and over. Teach her "Look at me!" and treat him or click him the second he makes eye contact. Do this a lot, it needs to be a strong command. It helps with all training, not just dealing with the OCD.

 

The Prozac is helping us a lot.

 

But now I have to figure out what to do: she is shadow-chasing to get my attention, so I'll play with her. I've noticed that she only does it now if somebody is watching, especially if there are guests in the house, and she's overexcited and wants attention. She's still psycho, but it's shifting, and she's a smart little minx...

 

Keep checking in here with your progress. I'll help if I can, and there are others with lots of experience and good ideas that will be supportive.

 

Good luck! She's still a good girl, she just can't help it.

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Hi, there!

 

I've got a 13-month old BC named Kaylee who has been a shadow-chaser since she was about six months old. Somebody played with her with a laser light: one session is all it took to make her obsess. I began to work with her immediately, but seven months later, it's still an issue.

 

I've been to wits' end and back with this, but this is what I've learned. This is an OCD, an obsessive-compulsive disorder, which in dogs is called "canine stereotypy". It is a neurological condition which has been linked to small seizures in the brain. You may not be able to train your dog out of doing this behavior without medical support. Here's an article that explains it well: http://doglinks.co.nz/problems/barry_place...0stereotypy.htm

 

I took my dog to the vet for this, and she did a careful exam of Kaylee's eyes, then put her on a six-month run of good ol' Prozac. It's not a pill to prevent shadow-chasing, but it will make your Hailey less anxious/frustrated and more distractable from the OCD, so that you can then train her attention to other things, see Eileen's good suggestions.

 

Watch your dog carefully to see if there are triggers in your environment that stress her out, or if she's really, really bored. What happens right before she starts staring? If nothing happens, it's because nothing is happening, and she needs something to happen.

 

UP THE EXERCISE! Get her out of her usual environment every day, even if it's just a slow walk around the block, to sniff every bush. Run her buns off, make her run/play hard every day, if you can. Create challenges at home: hide things, play games, play ball down the stairs or down the hall (aka Collie Bowling). My vet has me feeding Kaylee every meal out of a Kong, a challenge for her busy head. PLAY TUG A LOT! Let her win: it's a frustration-buster. Socialize her: play dates with other dogs are great, Dog Park is great. She won't be chasing shadows if there are other dogs to chase. Bones are good, too. I keep them in the freezer. They keep Kaylee busy for a long time.

 

I am betting she is an only dog: is that the case? (Mine is, too.) Can you consider another dog, who would fascinate her and bug her to play all day?

 

Do your best to minimize the shadows (keep blinds drawn, etc.), do not yell at or punish her for the behavior, just do your very best to distract her with good things, food, toys, games, over and over and over. Teach her "Look at me!" and treat him or click him the second he makes eye contact. Do this a lot, it needs to be a strong command. It helps with all training, not just dealing with the OCD.

 

The Prozac is helping us a lot.

 

But now I have to figure out what to do: she is shadow-chasing to get my attention, so I'll play with her. I've noticed that she only does it now if somebody is watching, especially if there are guests in the house, and she's overexcited and wants attention. She's still psycho, but it's shifting, and she's a smart little minx...

 

Keep checking in here with your progress. I'll help if I can, and there are others with lots of experience and good ideas that will be supportive.

 

Good luck! She's still a good girl, she just can't help it.

 

Thank You for the advise. I so have another dog, babe, a retriever/chow mix and they used to play all the time, Since I work for the Humane Society, we had a dog there that was getting to the point of being unadoptable at only 15 mo., so I brought him home. Hailey and Harley played all the time. I found Harley a home and it was at this point that my golden/chow quite playing with Hailey all the time. That was when I think she started shadow chasing. My husband and I take the girls for a long walk every morning. And my husband finally remembered to bring a frisbee along to see if Hailey would play with it at the school. She loves it so I am trying to see if he can't play frisbee with her more often. But the minuet she starts walking again she chases shadows. Thanks for the good advise. I haven't given up on her and we will be trying other things to keep her mind occupied.

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Going back to what Eileen said about giving her something else to do, puzzle toys or treat dispensing toys might be a good idea. You can get several different kinds where you stuff some kibble or treats inside and the dog has to figure out how to get them out, this might be something of a good idea if you want to distract her from the shadow chasing and keep her mind working at the same time.

 

Good luck.

julie

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