OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOUR

I am often called in to help owners whose dogs have become obsessed with an activity or show unwanted behaviour as a result of certain stimuli.  It becomes such a nuisance or even a danger to the dog (self harming) that the owner realises that what may have originally been amusing or even encouraged is now totally out of hand. 

 

flickrperce-percy-bournewood-2708416-hOCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) occurs in humans, and in dogs it is a learned automatic response to certain triggers.  Over a period of time the dog develops behaviour such as excessive digging, barking at shadows, clouds, car headlights, manically chewing a door frame when the door bell rings or just lying and sucking a blanket for hours on end.  Even “minor” OCD behaviours can prevent a dog from leading a normal life, i.e. gazing into a tree for hours looking for the squirrel it saw three weeks ago, obsession with ball play, obsessive response to chasing cars, bikes and more, which can, if not prevented, lead to serious accidents, both for the dog and others.  

 

OCD behaviours are often caused by stress, anxiety or boredom or with such “games” as getting a dog to chase a torch or laser beam.  The dog’s body will release certain chemicals during such “play” creating excitement and the physical response releases tension leading to a learned desire for the dog to repeat the action, again and again.   In self motivated OCD’s i.e. air licking, tail chasing, cloud staring it is usually the human reaction to it that inadvertently encourages the behaviour.

 

TIPS FOR DEALING WITH OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOURS

 

This may seem obvious, but don't encourage behaviours that can develop into obsessive behaviours.  Don't play with torches or laser lights, laugh and encourage your dog to chase its tail, allow your dog to constantly chew or suck on items and so on.  Instead provide rich and varied mind stimulation for your dog so that this energy is channelled into more productive behaviours.  

 

Excessive digging, barking, pacing and tail chasing is often caused by boredom and in these situations it is important to engage your dog in alternative activities; both mental and physical, a tired dog is a happy dog. This doesn’t mean you have to walk your dog for 3 hours!  Mental activities like hide and seek the toy, or treat, training, agility, flyball, providing interactive toys and a good long chew on a recreational bone will help to divert his attention.  For details of indoor games you can play with your dog click here and for outdoor games with your dog click here.   

 

© Xandert / Image From Morguefile© Xandert / Image From Morguefile

Of course, walks are an important part of a dog’s life, so if your time is limited, consider employing one of the many excellent dog walking services or doggy day care facilities that are a growing area for hard pressed dog owners.  By reducing boredom in this way, you will be improving the bond with your dog, his ability to relax and to de-stress thereby reducing the need to employ OCD reduction techniques.  For further information on exercising your dog click here.  

 

As already mentioned the huge variety of obsessive behaviours may also be caused by a physical or medical problem. A physical problem such as a spine slightly out of alignment may cause pressure on nerves creating a tingling sensation in tail or foot, producing spinning and tail or leg chewing.  This can be difficult for a Vet to pick up so if you suspect there may be a physical problem consult a Galen Myotherapist who is a specialist in canine massage and will provide a report after treatment to your Vet.  For further information on canine massage therapy click here.  Occasionally, there may be more serious medical issues such as, epilepsy, hypothyroidism or brain lesions as a contributing factor.  It is therefore essential that a full investigation into those possible reasons is carried out by your Vet who will assess your dog if a medical or physical reason is suspected, prior to any tailor- made behaviour therapy starting.

 

 WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU CANNOT STOP YOUR DOGS OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOUR?

The good news is that if the behaviour is purely a learned response and not medical, then behaviour training can reduce and often completely eradicate the issue by employing the Bark Busters methods shown to you.  I will help identify what the behavioural triggers are for your dog and put in a program that will allow both your dog and yourself to have a happier and more rewarding life together.

 For expert professional help and advice on your dogs obsessive compulsive disorders

 

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