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Canine OCD

Overview

Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, as a fairly common issue that comes in varying forms and levels of severity. Basically, it is repetitious behaviour that has no obvious purpose.

Some of these behaviours might seem cute, such as obsession with a ball or chasing non existent flies for example, however it is important to note that this is not an enjoyable state, and instead, their addiction is somewhat of a prison.


Symptoms

Your dog may become obsessed with an array of varying behaviours, all with their own scales of severity. Biting or scratching themselves might start out as nothing more than the usual display, but as the behaviour develops, it can intensify into uncontrollable self mutilation. The same is true for other behaviours, such as obsession with objects, chasing tail, fence running etc. If left too long, the obsession can manifest into a larger issue.

Boredom and confinement can be contributing factors.


Treatment

The first port of call if you start to notice any obsessive behaviour, is to take them to a vet. They will be able to perform a series of behavioural and physical tests to determine the severity. Recording your dog’s behaviour to show your vet, will help with a speedy diagnosis.

Seemingly harmless obsessions that do not hurt your dog or anyone else, can be managed with proper advice. However, more intense instances, may require hospitalisation and medication. Anti-anxiety medication and behavioural modification programs, specifically designed for your dog’s case, are known to work.

Some of this behaviour may be extremely annoying for you as an owner, but it is important to know that punishment is one of the worst avenues to go down. Your dog does not necessarily want to behave in this way and punishment will only lead to greater anxiety and a more intense state of obsession.


Prevention

Dogs usually start to display signs of OCD at around 12 - 36 months so it is important to monitor your dog closely, especially in the first few years of their life. Responsible exercise to burn off any excess energy is a massive step to preventing any obsessive tendencies.

Early intervention is a must, so make sure you monitor their behaviour and seek help if you think they’re tendencies are abnormal.