Does your dog exhibit compulsive behaviors such as excessive digging, barking, tail chasing or pacing? More often than not this behavior has developed simply as a learned response from human or environmental inputs. The dog develops an associated obsession towards a part of its own body, or items within the dog’s immediate environment as a response to these inputs. At first glance, some of these behaviors can appear amusing to humans, but often if not dealt with, can lead to self-harming and interfere with the dog’s ability to function normally in its social environment, detracting from the dogs overall well-being. In any case, provided that an underlying medical condition has been ruled out, effective behavior modification therapy can be employed with excellent results.

Here are some of the signs/symptoms (or a combination of two or more) in a dog that may have compulsive disorders:

  • Attacking of shying away from inanimate objects
  • Barking
  • Circling
  • Continuous biting
  • Digging
  • Fence running
  • Flank sucking
  • Licking
  • Pacing
  • Scratching

Again, many healthy dogs engage in some or all of these behaviors from time to time. Dogs with obsessive compulsive disorders repeat them over and over, and then over again. This behavior occurs most often in dogs who are stressed, anxious, or bored, and can be a very frustrating experience for the owner. These behaviors typically result in destruction of items within gardens, households and vehicles, angry neighbors, and sometimes uncontrollable aggression.

When boredom is the cause, it often presents as excessive digging, barking, tail chasing and pacing. In these situations, the first step to take is to increase your dog’s activity level to discharge energy both mentally and physically. A tired dog is a content dog. Take simple measures such as increasing exercise, engaging in training activities, and providing interactive chew toys and recreation bones. Consider taking longer more interesting walks, and if you find your own busy schedule limits the time you have with your dog, then perhaps consider a doggy daycare or dog walking service. By expanding your dog’s energy through increased mental and physical exercise you not only ensure that your dog is happy and satisfied, but you also increase the bond you share with your dog, and perhaps even improve your own personal fitness along the way.

Causes for compulsive disorders may be an underlying medical issue or be influenced by your dog’s genetic make-up. Certain breeds are pre-disposed to these behaviors, such as Bull Terriers and German Shepherds are commonly seen for tail chasing, Labrador Retrievers can be orally fixated and driven to pick up any object and eat it. Doberman Pinschers are well known for flank sucking, whereby the dog holds and sucks on the skin of the flank for long periods.

There can be any number of underlying reasons contributing to obsessive behaviors. As with any serious dog behavioral issue, you may want to consult your veterinarian to rule out any health problems. The good news is that any learned behaviors can be unlearned under the guidance of an experienced dog trainer. Bark Busters are experts on dog behavior, and have the expertise and know-how to diagnose the source of the issue and put the appropriate therapy in place to solve the problem.

Canine obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) can interfere with a dog’s quality of life and health and cause problems in your relationship with your dog. Let Bark Busters help to reduce or eliminate the abnormal ritualistic behaviors(s) through our effective behavior modification program.