What is obsessive behavior? It’s an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and behaviors your dog feels compelled to perform. And if he doesn’t, you might get a look like this poor dog…
Obsessive behavior goes beyond normal play and interactions. It’s when your dog will not change their focus or listen to your commands. It can also be dangerous because their fixation can be so strong they become unaware of possible dangers or become aggressive.
Some obsessive behaviors include:
hallucinating (fly biting)
pacing / fence running
staring/trance like state
hyper focused / fixation
pica (eating non-food substances such as dirt, rocks or feces)
So what can you do help your four-legged friend stop their obsession? Here are a few ideas:
1. Rule out medical issues or genetic predispositions. There are some neurological conditions that can cause obsessive behavior. In addition, some breeds are predisposed, such as Labrador Retrievers often have excessive licking problems.
2. Prevention: stop it before it starts. Act early, as soon as your dog starts to engage in obsessive behavior, intervene before it gets out of hand. Today he might be obsessed with a rope toy but tomorrow he may guard it with his life.
3.Interrupt and redirect. The goal is to get their focus off the object or behavior they desire. You can physically get between your dog and the object or entice them with a special treat.
4. Command. Ask your dog to perform a trick they can’t do while they are in their obsessive state. For example, if they start to chase their tail, command him or her to sit down.
5. Mental & Physical stimulation. Give your dog a toy that will challenge his brain or dedicate time each week to teach him or her a new trick. If that doesn’t work try a daily exercise regime to keep them focused on other things.
6. Never punish or reinforce. By doing this you may increase their anxious state and reinforce the behavior.