Why Dogs Chase Shadows? 7 Reasons Why Dogs Chase Shadows

why dogs chase shadows

Why Do Dogs Always Chase Shadows? Dogs are known for their uncommon antics and suspicious behaviors and you could spend hours on social media laughing at videos of them scrolling around. Some of them are shadow chasing, which is something that needs more research.

Because their sense of sight is better suited for recognizing movement, which might cause their prey drive or urge to chase. Isolated situations may be beautiful and amusing to observe, but when they remain for a long amount of time, they may indicate boredom, frustration, or anxiety in dogs. In rare cases, your dog may even develop an obsession as a result of frustration at not being able to catch it.

Dogs are intelligent animals, but sometimes they don’t understand why certain things happen in their environment, such as thunder, reflections, and other loud noises. Dogs are not able to process the frightening things that can suddenly appear in their environment.

Young dogs will usually chase shadows and just as they grow out of chasing their own tails, this behavior also passes. But frequent behavior like this in dogs may be a sign of an issue. Dogs use this behavior to cope, yet it seems strange and even pointless to us. Dogs that are confined or receive not enough mental and physical stimulation are likely to show this behavior.

How Shadows are Perceived from a Dog’s Perspective?

Dogs are not as aware of shadows as people are and from their point of view, shadows can be scary objects that should be avoided at all costs, especially if they appear suddenly, or they can be strange entities that stimulate their curiosity and inspire a natural desire to chase them.

Normal Chasing Vs. Compulsive Chasing:

Obsessive or compulsive shadow chasing behavior can be differentiated easily from worrying shadow chasing behavior. Young dogs usually chase after shadows for a minute or two at most, and then give up. But you need to figure out the reason behind your dog’s constant shadow chasing.

7 Reasons Why Dogs Chase Shadows:

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For a variety of reasons, dogs chase shadows and some are funny to watch and not to be worried, but others need to be taken to the vet.

Curiosity and Excitement:

Puppies and dogs are curious animals and anything that moves or looks strange will catch their attention. Similar to a ball being thrown, a dog may also get excited at the moving object. While puppies are still developing their sense of identity, they shouldn’t go after shadows more than once or twice.

Prey Drive:

When shadows move, dogs’ built-in prey drive could get activated. While not true for all dogs, this is especially true for breeds used for hunting and herding, such as German Shepherds and Border Collies. While a dog’s prey drive is usually the main cause of shadow chasing, there may be other factors at play if the behavior becomes obsessive or constant.

Expelling Excessive Energy:

Your dog can show odd behaviors like chasing shadows and tails when they are extremely excited to be outside. This might just be an expression of joy and enthusiasm. A dog that shakes their body while it’s dry is another sign that it’s too excited.

Your dog can become excited due to stored energy and without getting enough exercise. But too much excitement can be a symptom of understimulation, both mentally and physically, so it’s probably time to step up the workout routine.


Your dog is going to discover other ways to pass the time if they get bored, like chasing shadows. This is especially true for indoor dogs who don’t get enough mental or physical exercise. If your dog shows signs of boredom, such as chasing shadows or digging up the garden, it may be a sign of boredom.


There are a number of reasons why our dogs may feel anxious just like us. Anxious dogs often show unwanted habits, some of which may even become excessive. Dogs may become anxious due to being alone, loud noises, or even routine changes like moving to a new house. Following shadows could mean anxiety.

Canine Compulsive Disorder:

Dogs that show obsessive repetitive behavior might get focused on a motion or object. Excessive shadow chasing can develop into a severe form of canine compulsive disorder, if it is not treated from the very start.

CCD has a negative impact on your dog’s quality of life and is quite similar to OCD in people. CCD symptoms include spinning, tail-chasing, staring, and licking for a long duration of time, which can result in self-harm. You need to talk to a behaviorist and your veterinarian if you think your dog has this illness.

Energy Outlet:

Your dog may chase after shadows in order to let out their pent-up energy, especially if it is setting up from your busy work schedule or any other excuse for missing their regular walk or run.

Even with regular exercise, pent-up energy in dogs can still lead to excitement. But excessive excitement often indicates a lack of mental and physical stimulation, so you may need to up the physical activity level.

How to Stop Your Dog From Chasing Shadows:

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Managing the root cause is the simplest way to train a dog to stop chasing shadows. While distracting your dog will prevent them from chasing their shadow shortly thereafter and this will only work as a temporary solution. 

Some Methods or Solution to Stop Your Dog From Chasing Shadows:

  • Instruct your dog in basic commands like ‘stay’ and ‘sit’ and sometimes you have to give your dog a command to get them to give up being wondering about shadows. If you give your dog treats after they have calmed down and obeyed your command, they will stop chasing shadows.
  • Regularly go for walks and runs with your dog and a dog that is tired cannot become bored and is less likely to chase after shadows or engage in other inappropriate activities or behaviors.
  • If your dog has a problem with chasing shadows and there’s no way to take their attention away, it might be time to bring in an expert for assistance. You can get helpful advice from a qualified behaviorist on how to train your dog to behave differently. A vet may suggest medication for dogs suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder.

Watch this video if your dog is chasing shadows repeatedly and you are not able to fix it. In the video, there are some methods to stop your dog from chasing shadows.

Final Thoughts:

Since it might seem odd and funny to watch a dog chase shadows at first, it all makes logical sense when we understand why the dog does it. Dogs have a natural ability to chase because of their prey drive, especially in herding or hunting breeds. It is best to get in touch with animal behaviorists and your veterinarian if your dog chases shadows repeatedly in order to find out if there are any underlying issues that need to be solved.

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