Canine Compulsive Disorder: OCD in Dogs

When dogs repeat normal dog behaviors in an extreme, repetitive manner, it is known as Canine Compulsive Disorder. It is akin to obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD in humans. A behavior can be classified as Canine Compulsive Disorder or OCD if it interferes with the dog’s ability to live a normal life.

Common OCD Behaviors

Dogs who exhibit excessive behaviors may do things like licking themselves incessantly, pace nonstop or spin around in circles chasing their tail. They may freeze and stare at nothing, or snap at invisible objects. Some dogs with OCD bark incessantly. Others drink water excessively or eat dirt.

If you see your dog doing some of these behaviors from time to time, not to worry. You need to be concerned if they do these things often and find themselves unable to stop. They should be able to control when they start and stop, taking breaks to rest and eat normally.

For instance, you shouldn’t be concerned about a dog that enjoys spinning around when they are excited. However, if they are spinning for hours upon end every day, it’s time to get in touch with your veterinarian.

What Is the Cause of OCD in Dogs?

Currently, there is research being conducted regarding the genetic link of compulsive behaviors in dogs. According to the AKC, although any breed may develop OCD, there are several breeds that are more prone to developing it.

Specifically, Doberman Pinschers are predisposed to flank sucking. German Shepherds and Bull Terriers are known to spin and chase their tails.  

In conjunction with genetic predispositions, it is also believed that some dogs develop OCD due to the fact that they are lacking in physical and mental stimulation, have too much anxiety, don’t get enough attention, or are frustrated because they don’t have a job to do.

Treating OCD in Dogs

It can be difficult to treat OCD in dogs because they can’t communicate to us what they are obsessed about. Is your dog just full of energy, or is there an underlying situation there?

To find out, it is important to get a diagnosis from a veterinarian right away. When a dog has a compulsive behavior, it can become destructive to itself and your home and can become hard to live with.

Let your vet know how often your dog performs the behavior, and how long this has been going on. Bringing a video of your dog as he is doing it would be perfect.

In combination with behavior modification techniques, your veterinarian may choose to give your dog anti-anxiety medication to remedy the situation. This is because dogs that have OCD have been proven to have altered serotonin levels.

Your vet may recommend that you partner with an animal behaviorist that will help you teach your dog new behaviors.

Avoid punishing your dog for their behavior, as this can cause their anxiety to grow, making the behavior worse. Be sure to reward your dog when they are in a relaxed state.

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