5 compulsive behaviors in dogs

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Behavioral problems in dogs is a fact that must be taken seriously, as it is one of the main causes of abandonment. All negative behaviors appear gradually, so it is very important observe our pet and see if something causes him to change his behavior.

It can seem funny for a dog to continually chase its tail, start jumping for no reason or grab certain objects, showing aggression if it is tried to remove. However, these are not positive behaviors, as they negatively influence their well-being.

If you think your dog may be developing compulsive behavior, continue reading this AnimalWised article. You will learn to differentiate these behaviors, why they occur and what guidelines you can follow to help your pet. Discover 5 compulsive behaviors in dogs:

You may also be interested in: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Dogs - OCD or Stereotypies Index
  1. Obsessive compulsive disorder in dogs (stereotypes)
  2. 5 compulsive behaviors in dogs
  3. Causes of stereotypes in dogs
  4. Compulsive behaviors in the dog associated with the breed
  5. How to treat OCD in dogs?

Obsessive compulsive disorder in dogs (stereotypes)

Obsessive compulsive disorder in dogs or stereotypy (erroneously called OCD in dogs) is characterized by a repetitive and invariable sequence of activities or movements that have no obvious purpose or function. Although these behaviors usually derive from normal behaviors such as grooming, feeding or playing. Repetitive behavior interferes with the normal functioning of the behavior.

Obsessive disorder in dogs is very different from what humans can suffer from. People are ashamed of being like this and it is usually associated with a personality with a high sense of responsibility and a great need for social acceptance. Compulsive behaviors are abnormal because they show out of context and are usually repetitive, exaggerated or maintained over time.

5 compulsive behaviors in dogs

We can classify the compulsive behaviors of dogs into 5 groups: locomotive, oral, aggressive, vocalizing and hallucinatory.

  1. Locomotive compulsive behaviors: go around in circles, chase the tail, walk from one side to the other, jump in the same place or stay "frozen".
  2. Oral compulsive behaviors: nibbling their limbs, self-licking, air chewing, compulsive nose licking, chewing or licking objects, obsessive eating, continuously drinking large amounts of water and biting (eating non-food objects).
  3. Compulsive behaviors related to aggression- Self-directed aggression, such as growling or biting parts of your body, attacking your food plate or other objects. Aggression redirected towards people, which is usually unpredictable, would also fall within this group.
  4. Compulsive vocalizing behaviors- Vocalization may be rhythmic barking or compulsive whining.
  5. Hallucinatory compulsive behaviors: looking at shadows, looking at reflections of light, and suddenly waking up for no apparent reason.

Causes of stereotypes in dogs

There are several reasons why a dog may end up with a compulsive disorder. Knowing and understanding these causes, we may be able to help our dog to solve its problem..

  • Stress and anxietyCompulsive behaviors are conflict behaviors caused by situations that occur around you. For example: a conflict can occur when there are two equally strong motivations, such as calling a dog and scolding him immediately after the animal approaches us. This happens a lot in dog parks, where we see people calling their dogs and, if they do not respond to the call right away, the human will scold them when the animal comes. This behavior causes frustration and stress in the dog. Any environmental factors that result in frustration (such as not relieving themselves outside the home) or stress (such as the presence of other stressful behavior problems, such as social conflict with another dog, separation anxiety, or illness) can contribute obsessive compulsive disorder.
  • Genetic predisposition: genetic predisposition is probably present in any case of stereotypy. Dogs can be genetically susceptible to the development of compulsive behavior. Large breed dogs appear to be more likely than small breed dogs to develop a stereotypy.
  • Organic causes: When a dog has a small scratch or a surgical wound, it is normal for it to lick itself, but little by little it begins to lick other areas. Persistent licking can cause other injuries that have nothing to do with the original. Stress associated with physical injuries or irritations, such as allergies, can contribute to the development of stereotypes, like any other illness that increases stress or irritability, such as a dermatological disease or hormonal imbalance.
  • Conditioning- Most people pay attention to their pets when they engage in compulsive behavior. Therefore, most cases of stereotypy tend to be aggravated because the person who takes care of the dog pays excessive attention to it, it knows it and begins to perform the behavior only in the presence of its favorite human.

Compulsive behaviors in the dog associated with the breed

Certain breeds tend to present very specific stereotypes, for this reason, here is a list of the breeds with their compulsive behaviors most recurring:

  • English Bull Terrier: running around, tail chasing and "freezing".
  • German Shepherd: running from one side to the other and chasing its tail.
  • Dalmatian and Rottweiler: hallucinations.
  • Doberman pinscher: flank lick.
  • Border collie: chasing shadows.
  • Australian Cattle Dog: chasing its tail.
  • Miniature Schnauzer: Look Back.
  • Large breed dogs: limb licking.

How to treat OCD in dogs?

As we always highlight in AnimalWised, before any new or strange symptom in our pet we must go to a vet as soon as possible.

Handling the situation

First of all we must identify the trigger source of stress, conflict or frustration if possible, establish daily routines, keep our pet stimulated both physically and mentally and avoid fighting or any other type of punishment, as we will increase the level of discomfort of the dog.

Behavior modification

While behavior problems should always be supervised by a specialist in behavior modification, such as a ethologist, dog educator or trainer, here are some basic tips so that you can start working with your dog and try to lower stress and anxiety levels until the visit:

  1. Teaching your dog basic obedience with the use of positive reinforcement (food, petting or kind words) will help him develop basic skills and reduce boredom. Training with Clicker it can be used as a training strategy if desired. The goal is for these behaviors to become automatic and replace problem behavior.
  2. Avoid or eliminate triggers, for example, if a dog tends to eat or nibble on certain objects, we must remove them from the home to prevent them from showing such behavior.
  3. Identify the stimuli (sounds, activities, visual triggers) that cause the dog to engage in negative behaviors to increase the likelihood that appropriate behaviors will appear. An example is covering the windows to prevent the dog from seeing the activities that take place outdoors if this is the reason why the animal has problems.
  4. Eliminate attention as a reward for compulsive behavior. Only interact when the dog behaves appropriately. In the early stages of the development of a stereotype, attention can become the reinforcing factor.
  5. Engages the dog in alternative behaviors to replace the problem behavior.

Clinical treatment

When compulsive behaviors in dogs reach levels that are intolerable or impossible to manage, the vet may prescribe the use of drugs to improve the dog's behavior. This option is usually used in extreme cases, when the welfare of the animal is null or very poor..

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