If your Labrador has been chasing shadows you are probably wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you common reasons why they do it and what you can do about yours doing it.

So, why does my Labrador chase shadows? Possible reasons are that it is anxious or bored, it is a compulsive behavior or that it was just playing when it did it.

Since there are a number of possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the cause, it will be easier to figure out what you should do about it.

Why your Labrador chases shadows

Below are common reasons why Labradors do it and what would make them more likely to be the main reason why yours has been doing it.

Anxiety

The cause could be that something is causing it to be anxious. This would be more likely if it starts doing it when something might be making it feel anxious or if it has started doing it since something happened that could give it anxiety.

Things that might cause it to become anxious could be:

  • The sight of you preparing to leave for work
  • Thunder, sirens or lightening
  • Someone being around that it does not like
  • Being ill or injured
  • Separation anxiety

Boredom

Labradors are a breed that is meant to get a lot of exercise on a daily basis. When they do not get enough exercise they will often do things to stimulate themselves and chasing shadows could be your Labrador’s way of getting rid of excess energy.

Generally, it is recommended for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day when they are healthy adults. If your Labrador is not getting that much, it would help to make sure that it does.

Compulsive behavior

It could also be the case that it has been chasing shadows compulsively. This is where it has an irresistible urge to chase shadows. This would be more likely if your Labrador has been chasing shadows excessively over the course of weeks or months.

Possible things that could have happened that caused it to develop the behavior could include:

  • Someone mistreated it
  • Another dog was aggressive towards it
  • It was separated from another dog

Look here for more information about compulsive behavior in dogs.

It was just playing

It could also be the case that your Labrador was just playing when it did it. This would be more likely if it just did it once or twice. If it has been doing it repeatedly, it would be less likely that it was playing and more likely to be due to a different reason.

Things to consider

Below are a number of things you can consider to help figure out the main reason why it has been doing it.

How old it is

It would help to consider the age of your Labrador since its age will have an impact on the most probable cause.

If it is just a puppy then it would make it more likely that it was just playing at the time. However, if it has been doing it repeatedly then it would make it more likely that there is something else that is causing it.

If it is older then it would make it less likely that it was just playing and it will be important to figure out the cause if it has been doing it repeatedly.

When your Labrador started chasing shadows

It would help to consider when your Labrador first started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that triggered it to start.

If your Labrador started doing it suddenly, it would make it more likely to be due to things such as something making it feel anxious. It would help to consider what else changed when it started doing it.

When it does it

If it tends to do it more at certain times, it might also be the case that the timing has something to do with it.

If it seems to be doing it at certain times, it would make it more likely to be due to things such as anxiety. It would help to consider what is different at around the same time that it starts doing it.

Whereas, if it does it at random times, it would be more likely to be due to things such as boredom or compulsive behavior.

How often it chases shadows

It would also help to consider how often it has been doing it.

If it just did it once or twice, it could be the case that it was just feeling energetic at the time. Whereas, if it has been doing it a lot, it would be more likely to be due to one of the other reasons mentioned above.

How to stop your Labrador from chasing shadows

Below are some things that you can do about your Labrador chasing shadows.

Get help from a vet

If you cannot figure out why your Labrador has been chasing shadows, you cannot get it to stop or it seems to be doing it compulsively the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so you will be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular Labrador.

Train it to do other things

One option you have is to learn to recognize when it is about to start chasing shadows and then to redirect its behavior onto doing something else such as laying down. By doing so you could be able to get it out of the habit of chasing shadows.

Avoid negative reinforcement training

It might be the case that you have been inadvertently training your Labrador to chase shadows. This would be more likely if you have been giving your Labrador things such as toys, treats or attention when it does it.

Instead, it would help to reward it when it is well behaved and to try to redirect its focus when it is about to start chasing shadows.

Give it exercise

As mentioned above, it is important to make sure that your Labrador is getting exercise on a daily basis. You can give your Labrador exercise by walking it or by getting a dog walker to do it for you.

Give it other toys to play with

In addition to doing the above, it would also help to give it lots of things to be distracted with so that it is less likely to start chasing shadows. Things that you could give it would include puzzle games or toys that it can roll around or chew on.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.