Canine compulsive disorder (CCD) affects many breeds. The most susceptible seem to be the hunting breeds. Other breeds that may suffer from these afflictions would be the working class dogs. Genetic predisposition is a major factor in whether a dog might develop canine obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Why did this happen?
Good breeders have done their best to breed this problem out of their pedigree. Unfortunately, we still live in a society where many dogs come from “puppy mills” that care little if anything about breeding out undesirable traits. I was a “puppy mill” dog. I have a severe under bite along with a pee pee problem and I am a shadow & light chaser.
Most canine compulsive disorders are brought on by boredom. Others may manifest themselves through stress. To treat the compulsion, you must treat the cause. If you are simply looking for a house pet then hunting and working breeds are probably a poor choice.
What is happening?
Dogs are self-groomers and predators, which are behaviors that can become obsessive with them. These compulsions are performed over and over again and out of context. Prevention of dogs from engaging in their particular compulsions can create anxiety in its own right. As previously stated, these otherwise normal behaviors become obsessive. The one thing you should remember is your dog is not trying to annoy you, he/she is trying to tell you that something is not right.
Lick granuloma in the canine is equivalent to hand washing in the human. Affected dogs lick their wrists or hocks excessively, over-cleaning or over grooming themselves until the skin in these regions becomes ulcerated.
Spinning, self biting and shadow & light chasing are predatory traits taken to extremes. If allowed to continue, these compulsive behaviors can become so repetitive that a dog will forgo food and water. Fortunately, my parents recognized, while sometimes funny and entertaining, my shadow chasing was not normal behavior.
Have your veterinarian rule out other medical conditions
Medical conditions such as skin infections and tumors can manifest themselves in repetitive behaviors. It is wise to rule out these types of conditions before labeling a behavior as CCD. A few simple tests can rule out other underlying conditions. Your veterinarian may run blood work and x-rays in addition to a physical examination.
Treatment for Canine Compulsive Disorder
If the problem is determined to be CCD, a combination of drug therapy and behavior modification are usually effective treatment. The two drugs are commonly prescribed are Reconcile and Clomicalm. While behavior modification alone can be successful, drug therapy without behavior modification is useless.
The key to behavior modification is consistency. Punishment is likely to lead to more stress and increased compulsion. Traditional training methods and items such as shock collars may stop one behavior but frequently another unwelcomed behavior will manifest because there has been no treatment of the underlying cause.
Whether the cause is boredom or stress, spending more time interacting with your dog is important. Increasing the dogs exercise is also effective. And instead of punishing the compulsive behavior, redirect your dogs attention to some other activity. You would be amazed how simply calling your dog over for a good petting will take their mind off the compulsive behavior.