Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a human anxiety disorder that causes those affected by it to disrupt their daily life by getting caught up in patterns. For example, the urge to turn the light on and off 33 times before you leave any room. It is not a very well understood disorder, and can be very difficult to live with. Oftentimes, you will hear someone make a joke along the lines of “oh yeah, I’m so OCD about that”.
You might also hear people make similar jokes about their dogs who are very obsessive over things like the tennis ball. The unfortunate news is that dogs certainly can have OCD. In dogs, it is referred to as Canine Compulsive Disorder, or CCD.
How do I diagnose Canine Compulsive Disorder in my dog?
There are a few common symptoms of CCD that make it relatively easy to spot. The big ones are:
- Obsessive tail chasing.
- Chasing shadows or flies, when there aren’t any flies.
- Sucking on their flank or blankets.
- Obsessive paw licking.
The difference that makes these behaviors obsessive is that your dog will often start the behavior as the result of an event. A loud noise, or new element that gives them anxiety. The behavior will also last a lot longer than typically expected. Dogs will often perform these behaviors to the point of injury if left to it.
So, can I stop CCD in my dog?
If your dog is exhibiting compulsive or unusual behaviors, your first step should always be to go to your vet and make sure that there is no underlying medical issue causing the behaviors. Sometimes when our dogs are in pain, or don’t feel well, they exhibit behaviors that don’t necessarily go along with what they are feeling.
A physical from your vet, and a full blood work panel, are the best ways to eliminate the possibility of a medical cause. If your vet finds nothing wrong, then it is time to start some behavior modification.
Be very careful not to punish, or get overly excited about obsessive behaviors. Punishing the behaviors will only cause your dog’s anxiety levels to go up. Then, the behavior will either get worse, or they will find another obsessive behavior that doesn’t result in punishment. Giving it too much attention can also backfire and cause them to perform the behavior as a way to get your attention as well.
The best thing to do if they are in a loop is to distract them with something else to do. It can also be extremely helpful to keep them mentally stimulated, so they are less likely to get anxious in general. Keeping them busy with training sessions throughout the day, and feeding them out of puzzle toys can be a huge help.
If you are finding that distracting your dog, and keeping them busy isn’t enough, you may need the extra help of anxiety medication. If you feel that this is the way to go, then consult a Veterinary Behaviorist. A Veterinary Behaviorist is a vet who specializes in behavior problems and medications.
Can I prevent CCD in my dog?
Unfortunately, there is strong evidence that CCD is a genetic condition. This means that certain dogs are predisposed to developing compulsive behaviors. In fact, Dobermans are the breed most predisposed to the condition. If you want to take every precaution, start early with training.
You should practice lots of impulse control behaviors with your dog. Make sure your dog remains mentally stimulated. The best recommendation to is to always avoid using a laser pointer with dogs. It can easily increase dog’s arousal levels, and can create frustrations that can easily lead to compulsive behaviors. This is due to the fact that your dog will never successfully catch the laser. It might be funny to you, but it can be maddening to your dog.
I’m still not sure what to do, where do I start?
If you are worried that your dog may have CCD, or you want to work on some compulsive behavior with your dogs, talk to our trainers today. DogBoy’s Dog Ranch is dedicated to helping owners and their beloved dogs live together better. We will help you find the right treatment path with your dog.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to contact us.
dog by University of Liverpool
_DSC… by John Corlew
Rocket by Paul Schadler