Understanding Canine Compulsive Disorder

Image of a dog chasing its tail.

If your dog has developed a tendency to pursue the same pointless activity -- sucking on his flanks, chasing his own tail, barking or snapping at thin air, et cetera -- he may be suffering from canine compulsive disorder, or CCD. Fortunately, treatment and training can help him overcome his obsession.

Defining CCD

National veterinary organizations define compulsive behavior in animals as an activity that the animal pursues so single-mindedly that it has a significant negative impact on his quality of life. Canine compulsive disorder seems to bear at least some resemblance to obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans; in fact, a recent university study has found that both conditions are associated with similar brain structure anomalies. The condition may also be the result of abusive confinement and lack of socialization, physical abuse, extended separation from owners, constant aggression from other pets in the household, and other sources of prolonged anxiety or mental trauma.

Compulsive Behaviors

Dogs with canine compulsive disorder may chase their own tails; lick, chew or suck obsessively on their skin or fur; snap at nonexistent creatures in the air (a phenomenon known as "fly snapping"); spin around and around for long periods of time; feel compelled to chase lights, shadows or other visual phenomena; become fixated to playing with a particular toy; or bark constantly, even when there is no obvious reason for alarm or excitement. It is important to note that while many of these behaviors may correspond in the short term to normal animal behavior, such as the love of a favorite toy or the desire to lick at an injury, constant and/or unfounded repetition of the behavior may indicate underlying CCD. Compulsive dogs, however, will perform these activities for hour after hour, often to the exclusion of everything else.

While veterinary evaluation is necessary to eliminate other possible issues, and thus to diagnose CCD, and then determine whether medication can help (see right-hand column), a combination of training and attentive owner care can help affected dogs break the cycle of compulsive behavior. Professional dog trainers can help you teach your dog obedience skills to control his behavior gently and humanely. Activities that stimulate and challenge your dog mentally and physically can also provide welcome opportunities to burn off excess energy while giving your pet something else to do besides obsess. Introducing your dog to new places, sporting activities, puzzle games, people and animals can all prove immensely helpful in steering him toward healthier and more productive behavioral patterns.

Sources:

Nofsinger, Rushmie. “Dogs, Humans Affected by OCD Have Similar Brain Abnormalities.” Tufts Now. June 2013.

ASPCA. “Compulsive Behavior in Dogs.”

Your First Visit is FREE

Office Hours

Monday:

8:00 am-8:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am-8:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:00 am-8:00 pm

Thursday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Friday:

8:00 am-6:00 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am-2:00 pm

Sunday:

9:00 am-2:00 pm

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonial

  • "Countryside is wonderful!!! I take all three of my cats here, and I'm always so impressed with how they accommodate for each cat based on their personalities. They handle each one according to their unique needs. My most timid female is getting over a UTI. After they weighed her in the back, they brought her back over to me loosely wrapped in a blanket that felt fresh out of the dryer! I absolutely LOVE that attention to detail and genuine care that my furkids receive here."
    Melissa D. / Yorkville, IL

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • What to Do If Your Pet is Stung

    Don't get us wrong, we love the bees! But we don't love when our pets get stung. Follow our tips to treat and prevent bee stings on your furry best friend. ...

    Read More
  • Tips for Traveling With Your Pet

    Do you dread hitting the road with your pet? These tips may make the trip more comfortable and enjoyable for you both. ...

    Read More
  • 6 Questions to Ask At Your Senior Pet's Next Check Up

    Want to keep your senior pet healthy and happy? Ask these six questions at your pet's next check up. ...

    Read More
  • Why the Controversy About Pet Vaccinations?

    As with anything, pet vaccinations can be too much of a good thing. Similar to parents who are learning more about vaccinations for children, veterinarians and pet owners alike are beginning to question some of the standard wisdom when it comes to protecting pets. There are certain fatal diseases against ...

    Read More
  • Pet Clothes: A Fashion Statement or a Necessity?

    There is nothing cuter than a pet in a colorful sweater, but do our furry friends really need to wear clothing? Although clothing is not a necessity for every pet, some animals benefit from a little extra protection during cold or damp days. Others enjoy wearing festive clothing during holidays or other ...

    Read More
  • Introducing a New Pet to Your Current Ones

    Pet Proofing Your Home Introducing your new pet to your current one is only a single part of the equation relating to taking a new pet home. You also have to make sure your new pet is comfortable in your home, which is a foreign environment to the animal. Like humans, animals can experience high levels ...

    Read More
  • Put Some Teeth Into Your Pet’s Dental Care

    According to the American Animal Hospital Association, nearly two-thirds of pets suffer from dental problems because their owners do not provide dental care for them. Imagine what would happen to your own teeth if they were never brushed or examined by a dentist. The same thing can happen with your pet’s ...

    Read More
  • Managing Pet Allergies in Kids

    Are you concerned that your child's allergies may mean that you will have to give up your pet? Although rehoming a pet may be necessary if allergies are severe, most children can live with pets if you are willing to make a few changes. The Problem About three in 10 people who have allergies are allergic ...

    Read More
  • Euthanasia: Saying Goodbye

    It's not easy to say goodbye to cherished pets, even those that have lived long, happy lives. Although you may hate the thought of life without your pet, euthanasia can be the kindest decision you can make when your friend is suffering. Making the Decision If your pet has been seriously injured in a ...

    Read More
  • Is a Wet Nose a Sign of a Healthy Pet?

    Have you ever heard that a wet nose is a sign that your pet is healthy? Although that's often the case, it's not always true. A moist nose can benefit your pet in several ways, but it doesn't necessarily guarantee good health. How Does a Wet Nose Help My Pet? Have you ever been woken at 5 a.m. by a cold, ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles