Dogs can have Compulsive Behaviors too

Narrated from: Dog Health

A compulsion is a repetitive behavior that comes with an irresistible urge to keep performing the behavior. People have them and so do animals. Most often people can talk about them and with proper therapy they can be overcome. Dogs on the other hand are not capable of telling us what they are feeling so it makes breaking a compulsion more difficult. Never fear, it can be done with the right help from your veterinarian and most often a canine behavior modification specialist. While that may sound expensive it is not as bad as you may think!

The behavior is only considered compulsive if it interferes with your dog’s daily life. If his behavior is so intense that he is unable to stop long enough to eat or play it will certainly need professional attention. Most often a compulsive behavior is one that seems to have no real purpose and can sometimes have an adverse effect on the dog. Some may lose weight or lick their paws until they have raw places that make walking difficult or they may run round in circles until they wear out the pads of their feet. Dogs can drive themselves to exhaustion just trying to keep up with their compulsive behavior. 

According to records kept there are certain breeds of dogs that are more likely to develop a compulsive behavior. Some of the most popular breeds, such as Doberman Pinschers, Labrador Retrievers and even Golden Retrievers are known to develop the problem. Some dogs develop these conditions for a good reason but some others seem to develop them for no reason at all. Most often it is nothing more than stressful situations or anxiety. Dogs which are chained up in backyards with no companionship, dogs that lack proper exercise, dogs that must withstand torment by toddlers or teens and dogs that are physically abused or punished are most likely to develop compulsive disorders. Plenty of research has shown that dogs can withstand a lot but after something traumatic happens the disorder can begin slowly and develop into a compulsion they cannot seem to stop doing even if they try. Long after an event, dogs, once they have the compulsion and the source has been eliminated, still cannot stop on their own. 

Compulsive behaviors in dogs can be things like spinning around in a tight circle, pacing back and forth, tail chasing even to the point of chewing the hair off the end of their tail, barking excessively, or having a toy fixation where they become obsessed with a particular toy and they will play with it all the time but become guarded if anyone tries to approach it. Dogs can have such bad compulsive behaviors that they cause themselves harm. If you believe your dog has a compulsive behavior your first trip should be to the veterinarian to rule out any possibility of medical problems. 

Other things you can do in an attempt to stop compulsive behaviors are to identify and remove the initial problem whenever possible, train your dog, distract and redirect your dog’s attention or to provide your dog with jobs to do. He should have plenty of both physical and mental stimulation. Exercise will do wonders in breaking your dog’s compulsion. If your efforts do not solve the problem it may be time to locate a behavior modification expert. Most chapters of the ASPCA have wonderful canine modification experts that can help you tame your dog’s compulsion!

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