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One of my very beloved dogs suffered from some strange habits. The main one (and probably most obvious) was that she would continually chase her shadow, or reflections caused by glass, cutlery, CD’s and watches.
This became quiet a problem at dinner parties as my very large dog would bound playfully at the feet of guests in hope of catching that elusive glass reflection on the ground. Needless to say there were a few wet and frazzled friends.
To my absolute horror, some also thought it was quite amusing to have her chase the reflection of their watches on the ground. I always suspected that her addiction with anything ‘shiny shiny’ was simply not healthy…ends out I was 100% right.
After some research, and talking with endless professionals she was finally diagnosed with CCD (canine compulsive disorder), similar to OCD in humans (obsessive compulsive disorder). We were lucky and caught the disorder early and were able to control her ‘chasing light issues’ with boredom busters, distractions, positive reinforcement and using doggles when things got crazy…like when she would run around the table trying to catch the reflections of the cutlery on the roof!
We found popping doggles on her (goggles for dogs) and telling her “no” reinforced the message that this was not an acceptable behaviour. Soon enough we could just leave the doggles on the bench and point at them while saying “no”.
One thing that is paramount with this condition is not to allow ANYONE to reinforce the behaviour by using lasers, torches or reflections. It is not funny, and can leave the animal feeling stressed and anxious, while also strengthening the dogs desire to continually chase light/shadows. Also loads of positive reinforcement, exercise and play really helped our pooch overcome her obsessions.
So what other strange behavior could be a sign that something is not quite right in your dog’s world?
Urinating When Excited
Yep, we’ve all been there! That dog who is so happy to see you and your friends they just can’t help but run around the home peeing over everything. This is caused from excitement and common in younger dogs. First; make sure you visit your vet to ensure there are no underlying medical problems like a urinary tract infection. However, if it is just excitement the best way to deal with this is not to look or greet your dog inside. Make sure you are always outside for the initial ‘hello’ or if inside, do not look at them or speak…head for the backdoor and let them outside before making a fuss. If your dog is showing symptoms of submissive toileting (they tend to cower while peeing), your dog could have a self-confidence issue. Solution? Training. Seek out a professional trainer and get some self-confidence training.
This one is extremely common. Firstly the word WORMS springs to mind, but some dog’s just boot-scoot even when not affiliated by the dreaded worm. Some causes can be:
- Irritation and inflammation
- Allergies and skin conditions
- Soiled fur that can cause a pulling sensation
- Fleas (yep the annoying pests normally like to infest there)
Head to the vet for a check up to make sure there is not an underlying problem associated with your dogs boot-scooting problem.
Many dogs lick themselves. Some canine companions, however, just can’t seem to stop. So what about obsessive licking?
- Anxiety. If a dog is licking all of the time, and everything in sight it could be an anxiety problem. Speak with your vet about this behavior and how it can be corrected through training and/or treatments.
- Arthritis. If your dog is constantly licking in one area it could be a sign of arthritis or pain/inflammation in the joint.
- Tummy distress and dental problems. Your dog could be telling you something is not right and that they need a check up.
Some dogs tremble for no reason at all and in fact can be something that just comes with the breed. Some which are predisposed to tremors are Chow Chows, Springer Spaniels, Dobermanns, Labradors and Dalmatians. The trembling is a rhythmic movement of the muscles that look like the dog is twitching. But be aware that trembling can be a sign of a much more serious condition including:
- Nervous system problems
- Chemical or plant toxicity
- Kidney failure and problems
- Side-effects of drugs
With any unusual behaviour it is always best to speak to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Many studies have indicated that when dogs change their behaviour, it could be an indication of something else that needs to be investigated.
Knowing the signs and knowing your dog is vital to keeping your pooch happy. With the right treatment, and more importantly understanding, many pet aliments are simply a part of life.
A BIT ABOUT THE BLOGGER:
Nadia Crighton is a well-known and accomplished Australian Journalist and pet magazine Editor. As a busy mum of four humans, two dogs, 50 sheep, three cats, a handful of chickens and a goat named Billy, she simply adores animals and pets.