Lifestyles leading to dog obsessive compulsive behaviours
This is usually caused by something that enhances anxiety in a dog.
- Dogs given poor discipline where they are allowed to become the leader. This causes an internal conflict when they know the human should be doing it.
- Separation anxiety – full blown
- Negative reinforcement (punishment) unfairly handed out or irrationally done.
- Dogs not socialized off lead with other dogs, so they learn what is normal – so they can burn energy and relax afterwards.
- Dogs that are frequently tied up or confined to small spaces.
- A phobia that is allowed to remain and not resolved can keep a dog in a continual stressed state, and it will do a repetitive behaviour to relieve the stress.
Causes of Dog Obsessive Compulsive Behaviors
- Tail chasing – This is where a dog runs in a tight circle and sometimes tries to bite their tail. Tail chasing can cause physical damage to the tail or legs or can just be an annoying game the dog cant stop. When it is repeated daily for long periods it becomes and OCD.
- Spinning – This is an offshoot of tail chasing, the main difference is that they are not trying to bite their tail.
- Toy fixation – This is about dogs well out of puppy stage. Its when its a certain toy and the play is very repetitive that it can become a problem. This kind of OCD behavior is often attached to a given location as well as toy.
- Pacing – This is an extreme case of boredom and can be initially triggered by such things as separation anxiety as a dog looks to join its master or other dogs and is looking for a perimeter weakness to exploit and escape. Dogs who have this usually trot along a specific path in a fixed pattern. Pacing can be in a circle or in a straight line or perimeter searches.
- Fly snapping Some dogs chomp at the air but at nothing in particular. The action is like trying to catch an imaginary fly.
- Shadow or light chasing A dog chases shadows or light relentlessly. I have seen quite a few border collies with this affliction, and it makes their life when the sun is out a living hell (as well as their owner) they aren’t having fun, its a compulsion.
- Chewing, licking or scratching of a dog leg or paw is quite common. Be aware that some dogs that compulsively lick or chew themselves might be doing it because of a local pain or an allergy or a grass seed.
- Licking surfaces or objects. This is a very obvious ocd that when you are sure there is no particular scent left on a surface needs to be corrected.
- Excessive water drinking – Repetitively drinking of water and never getting a fill. This is sometimes done in conjunction with other OCD’s such as passing. The water stop makes a mental punctuation in the behaviour where they reset and repeat the cycle.
- Barking – this is one of the most obvious and neglected ocds. It is usually tried to be prevented when a neighbor complains or it occurs at night time and the authorities are alerted.
Note many of the above are caused through boredom, restricted movement and a dog just not being allowed to be social with other dogs in a park.
It is much easier to walk a dog than try and undo an ocd behaviour.