Is Your Canine Compulsive?
Dogs can display signs of compulsive behavior in the same manner as people. Depending on
Dogs can display signs of compulsive behavior in the same manner as people. Depending on their repetitive activity and its severity, owners may find their pets' behavior amusing, annoying, and even frustrating. It can be especially vexing when the activity is destructive.
If your pet is showing signs of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), it is important to understand its origin so it can be properly addressed. Given that some repetitive activities can lead to your dog's injury, resolving the underlying problem is vital. With this in mind, we'll take a closer look at the ways in which OCD manifests in canines. You'll also learn the reasons the behavior occurs, and how to work with your pet to help him get past it.
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Types Of Repetitive Behaviors
There are myriad ways in which your canine might display OCD. For example, he might chase his tail relentlessly, and ignore others' attempts to divert his attention. He may also bark incessantly. This activity can be extremely irritating to owners since their pets may refuse to stop, even under threat of punishment.
Some canines spin their bodies in a circle, similar to chasing their tail. Others follow their shadows, or the shadows of their owners and their families. Still other pets drink water continuously while showing no signs of physical exertion that might explain their thirst.
A lot of dogs pace back and forth, or along a specific pattern. Others will scratch or chew themselves, though there are no signs of fleas, ticks, or skin irritations (other than those that are self-inflicted). Some dogs will suck on their skin.
Given the wide range of repetitive behaviors displayed by compulsive pets, curbing an obsessive activity begins with identifying its cause. You may find that resolving the problem is as simple as changing your dog's environment.
Reasons Your Pet May Be Compulsive
One of the most common triggers of repetitive behavior in canines is anxiety. Many factors can cause stress for your pet. For example, he may be suffering from separation anxiety when you leave your home. Being separated from you might cause him to pace or bark. Stress can also be caused by fear of an object, person, or animal within his environment.
Another trigger of compulsive behavior is boredom. This, too, can be caused by several factors. For instance, if your canine is confined in your backyard with nothing to occupy his attention, he may dig, bark, or spin in circles in order to entertain himself.
Also, particular breeds often display obsessive traits. The compulsion may have nothing to do with anxiety or boredom. For example, Dobermans are known to suck on their flanks; Labrador Retrievers often lick their feet and legs; and German Shepherds often chase their tails.
Sometimes, dogs develop behaviors as the result of a health issue, and continue doing them long after the issue has been resolved. For instance, your dog may begin to chew a specific area on his body due to a persistent skin irritation. Once the irritation disappears, he might continue chewing the area.
How To Address The Problem
The first step is to make sure your canine's compulsive behavior is not due to a medical problem. If you suspect it is, have his veterinarian examine him as soon as possible since dogs can be quickly overcome with internal health issues.
Once you're certain your dog is physically healthy, determine whether his compulsion is due to stress or boredom. If something in his environment is causing him anxiety, remove it, if possible. If your canine is bored, give him more exercise so he can use his pent-up energy.
There will be times when removing something that is causing your dog stress will be impossible. Desensitization training will prove valuable for helping him become acclimated to the presence of the stress-inducing stimulus. This approach requires time and patience, but will help curb your canine's compulsive behavior.
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