Some dog behaviours go beyond the norm of simple quirks. If your dog seems to have a compulsion for a certain behaviour, he could suffer from something called canine compulsive disorder, or CCD. Here’s what you should know about CCD and your pet.
What is CCD?
CCD is the canine equivalent of obsessive compulsive disorder in humans. A dog with CCD will compulsively engage in a negative behaviour such as scratching, licking, tail chasing, persistent barking at nothing, eating non-foods (pica), sucking on their flank or blanket, and shadow chasing. They may also experience hallucinations or fixate on objects. Some eat or drink compulsively.
Why it occurs
A dog may develop CCD for a number of reasons. Usually, there’s an underlying problem for each type of compulsive behaviour. Environmental factors, poor diet, and a lack of attention or exercise can all play a role in CCD. Anxiety and stress can be triggers for CCD, and the behaviours are simply the dog’s way of dealing with the stressful situation.
What you can do about CCD in your dog
First, rule out any underlying medical condition or illness by taking your dog to the veterinarian for a complete checkup. Physical problems can cause the same symptoms as CCD, so let your vet rule out a medical problem before attempting behavioural training. Don’t delay seeking treatment--the longer the problem persists, the harder it will be to treat.
If your dog truly has CCD, you need to develop a training plan that will address each symptom/behaviour. The compulsive behaviours are learned as coping mechanisms, so you’ll need to teach your pet new ways to cope with stress and anxiety. You may need to make changes in your pet’s environment and diet to help reduce the triggers for the compulsive behaviour.
CCD is treatable and with time, you can help your pet develop healthy coping skills to replace the unhealthy ones. With patience and perseverance, you can help your dog overcome the disorder.
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