Obsessive Pups: Can Dogs Have OCD?

Posted by Stacey Venzel
Tim Mowrer/Flickr

If your dog is repeatedly doing a behavior, he might have a compulsive disorder.

It's rare, but canine compulsive disorder exists. However, it is distinct from human obsessive compulsive disorder which is founded upon irrational thinking.

Because we don't know what thoughts bounce around a dog's brain, repetitive canine behaviors aren't labeled as OCD. They are, however, categorized as a compulsive disorder.

When a canine begins repeating a normal behavior with increased frequency, he is showing signs of compulsion. Spinning, tail or fly biting, chewing, licking, or even barking are examples of normal behaviors that can be classified as abnormal if occurring too frequently.

Oftentimes, compulsive disorders are the result of stress or anxiety; treatable illnesses if the right precautions are taken to mitigate these feelings. It's important to treat the underlying problem, such as stress, not just the compulsion, such as excessive licking that results in a hot spot.

Amy Thibodeau/Flickr
Amy Thibodeau/Flickr

The repetitive behaviors can result when a stressed canine finds the activity calming, physiologically reducing heart rate and firing neurotransmitters initiated in panic.

Sometimes, needy behavior can be mistaken for compulsion, such as barking or whining. If the dog receives attention or a treat to stop the behavior, he is likely to actually repeat the behavior, but this does not make the behavior compulsive.

Behavior modification and medication can help lessen compulsive behaviors, but sometimes, the disease is genetic and your dog will deal with it for life.

If you're concerned that your pooch might be a victim of compulsive disorder, seek help from a veterinarian.

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Obsessive Pups: Can Dogs Have OCD?