Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Compulsive Behaviors in Dogs

Much like humans can have OCD, dogs can have compulsive behaviors too.  Compulsive behavior, for both human and animals, is defined as an act of persistently and frequently preforming an action without the act necessarily leading to any reward or pleasure.  Dogs can display many different kinds of compulsions.  Some of the most common are spinning, pacing, tail chasing, fly snapping, barking, and excessive licking.  Keep in mind that dogs who do not have compulsive behaviors also might engage is some of these behaviors.
Another thing to remember is that some breeds are more likely to develop certain compulsive disorders. Breeds like Dobermans, Golden Retrievers, and Labradors tend to partake in excessive licking; Bull Terriers are known for repetitively spinning; and German Shepherds have strong tail chasing compulsions.  Dogs that have the tail chasing compulsion, like German Shepherds, will even bite and chew their tails when they catch them.
Why do compulsive behaviors happen?  Good question!  Compulsive behaviors develop for many reasons; sometimes dogs start these behaviors for no obvious reason and other times dogs develop compulsion behaviors due to their lifestyle, which can cause anxiety, or following physical conditions that cause them to lick or chew themselves (like a paw injury or hurt leg.)
Stereotypical Compulsive Behaviors:
  •         Spinning  
  •         Pacing along a specific path in a fixed pattern
  •         Tail chasing  
  •         Fly snapping (Some dogs bite at the air, like they are catching imaginary flies.)
  •         Excessive barking  
  •         Toy fixation  
  •          Shadow or light chasing  
  •          Abusive chewing, licking or scratching  
  •          Leg or thigh sucking  
  •          Licking surfaces or objects  
  •          Excessive water drinking  
  •     Coprophagia (stool eating)


Some of these behaviors could be signs of serious injury or illness.  Remember to take your pup to a vet to have this ruled out before labeling them as compulsive behaviors.  If these are compulsive behaviors check with your vet about products that can help to prevent or reduce some of these behaviors.  Yuk 2E can help with chewing, licking, and sucking of body parts and limbs.  For-Bid helps prevent stool eating.  Stop That! can help with barking and comes highly recommend from several of my customers, as well as customer reviews online.  Another product to keep in mind for animal anxiety in general is pheromone products, but that’s another blog all together.