Why Does a German Shorthaired Pointer Chase Shadows?

Do you find that your GSP has acquired a bizarre habit, and it happens to be shadow chasing? There are many reasons for this, some silly and some serious. So, we’ll find out why they do it and what you can do to stop this odd obsession.

As you continue reading, you’ll learn much about GSPs and shadows, including:

  • The birth of shadow-chasing
  • Is shadow-chasing unhealthy? And,
  • How to stop your GSP from chasing shadows.

GSPs are natural hunters, so chasing shadows shows their hunt instincts. With their active lifestyle, it is not surprising that they chase shadows. They immediately detect them as a form of prey or enemy. If this behavior escalates, it just means that your dog is bored.

The Birth of Shadow Chasing

Chasing shadows have been a significant concern among many pet owners. At first, it starts as a cute behavior that we all naturally come to accept. But with time, we come to realize that it’s a problem and a major one at that.

Main Reasons for This Behavior

  • Lack of mental and physical stimulation: Poor environment will hinder the overall growth of your GSP, making them look for alternatives to keep themselves occupied.
  • A display of natural prey drive: GSPs will hunt their prey until they’ve gotten hold of it. And they might apply the same to shadows too.
  • Need for attention: Your GSP will most likely seek your attention by creating a scene, i.e., by chasing shadows.
  • An exceptional vision stems from other sensory disabilities: Dogs with disabilities like deafness have a limited but sharp sense. So, their focus grows more on the area they’re capable of, which might result in senseless shadow chasing.

If your GSP is involved in this habit, you should know that your dog is deprived of the requirements it needs to survive as a dog.

Dogs are very expressive by nature, and getting into a habit of chasing shadows might mean they’re not getting the means to let their emotions out.

So, don’t wait any longer because it’s time you start taking measures to stop it.

Is Shadow-chasing Unhealthy?

Considering how active the breed is and the feats they are known for, it is unlikely that a healthy GSP would chase shadows. So, if they start chasing shadows, it could only mean that you’ve been missing out on dog walks or giving them enough exercise.

This behavior indicates that your dog is utterly bored and mirrors their health conditions. It is a tell-tale sign that your GSP lacks mental and physical stimulation to keep them performing their best.

In the worst cases, your dog might even run into things and injure itself while focusing on the shadows. So, the next time your GSP starts chasing shadows out of the blue, remember that it is their involuntary response to tackling anxiety and boredom.

It’s Not Always Bad.

If you’re confident that your German Shorthaired Pointer is completely fit and fine and receives much activity, you need not stress.

Dogs sometimes love to do weird things, and a little chase and fooling around is okay. Just consider it a part of their routine and goofy behavior of trying to entertain their owners.

When to Stop

You know your GSP’s shadow obsession is unhealthy and needs to be checked if they go overboard and engage in unending chases. And this obsession stems from a lack of other activities to do.

If your GSP chases shadows like it won’t even stop until the shadow is in their grip, you know it’s time for a change. That is the sign you need to understand that your dog’s behavior has to stop.

How to Stop Your GSP from Chasing Shadows

A GSP will start chasing shadows when they notice movements. However, most of the time, they do it only when they’re bored. Distracting them from the shadows by introducing something even more exciting is the best way to stop this behavior.

Eliminate the root of their behavior. Most often, your GSP might be troubled by boredom and frustration, so here are some steps to bring your GSP back to their typical temperament:

  • Take your GSP on daily walks and make sure to tire them out. Once you get back home, they won’t have the energy to care about some shadows.
  • Let your GSP run free. If you keep your canines locked at home, they’ll probably have nothing to do and entertain themselves with even the tiniest things, such as shadows. So, let them run free in the garden or a park if you don’t have a garden.
  • Take them to hunts and challenging environments. GSPs love hunting, and when you give them the real deal, a meager shadow stands incomparable to their interests.
  • Give your GSP some toys when you’re inside or aren’t free to entertain them. If your dogs have something better than a shadow to entertain them, they won’t even bother about a futile pursuit.

Once you try all these, your GSP will be back to normal and won’t even find shadows amusing unless it’s a part of their hunting sessions.

Things to Avoid

As much as knowing what to do is essential, you also need to keep in mind a few things to avoid, and here are some:

  • Don’t leave your dog alone for too long. Even if you give them toys, they’ll no longer be amused if left without a companion.
  • Avoid keeping your GSP in a small space. They are big dogs, and that means they require a bigger space to let themselves loose.
  • Using laser lights or similar objects will not be beneficial if you want to see changes in your GSP’s shadow-chasing behavior.
  • Try to avoid keeping mirrors or light-reflecting things around your GSP so that they do not get unhealthily obsessed with them.

Final Note

Since you’ve read this far, you’re now aware that being a GSP owner means looking beyond adorability and reading the deeper meaning of your dog’s emotions.

Shadows and dogs are cute but can quickly turn sour when you leave them unattended. So, provide them all the love and attention they deserve and add daily activities to do together in your schedules.

The next time you see your GSP trying to play with shadows, don’t let the obsession develop and eliminate the cause immediately. That way, you and your GSP can enjoy a stress-free and healthy time together!


An Owner and a huge fan of GSP's! I have owned my GSP for 7 years now and learned so many things along the way to share with you all about German Shorthaired Pointers!

Recent Posts