Compulsive Canines

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder-yes, dogs have it. I was reminded of my dog’s compulsive behavior this morning as her head went from the water bowl to the foot bowl-nose touching each, then touching the floor outside the bowl in a sweeping motion. Oreo would touch the water, the food, then the floor, around and around. I happened to be standing near her, so I interrupted the behavior by throwing another small tidbit of chicken in her bowl. This discontinued her behavior.
Oreo used to do this A LOT before we did training and added anxiety meds. She would not only make a mess in her food, but she would spend over 15 minutes with this round about behavior. When she was younger, she also had obsessive fixation on certain toys. It wasn’t the cute kind of fetch or chewing, it was very aggressive, whale eye, I can’t stop myself from chewing this ball/bone/toy. 

  
So where do these obsessive behaviors come from? Obsessive behaviors that interfere with your dog’s life should be checked out by a veterinarian. Your vet can rule out any medical problems. Many obsessive behaviors can be neurological, while others can be caused by anxiety or environment. Dogs that are very intense, hyper, motivated, and in the working group are the canines most likely to develop obsessive compulsive behaviors. 

It’s best to address these issues when they start. Here are some ways to treat the behavior:

Create a routine. Many times these behaviors can be from stress or anxiety. A clear and regular routine could soothe your dog’s fears and reduce the ocd behavior.

Exercise. Exercise will not only help keep your dog’s mind at ease, but it will help them feel better.

Try T-touch or massages (if your dog is used to them, if not-read up on T-touch it has many benefits). This can relax your dog and release stress.

Use a thunder-shirt to help your dog relax (it has helped my dog!)

Train your dog using positive training. This will allow your dog to know what’s expected and if you want to interrupt the behavior, you can with some tricks you taught your pup.

Involve a positive trainer. Trainers can help identify what your dog is motivated by and stressed by. They can also teach incompatible behaviors. For example, my dog is highly driven by food and toy rewards. When she started her food/water obsessive behavior, I interrupted it by adding some chicken to her food. I also can stop her excessive licking by giving her a toy. 

Training and routine are VERY important for dogs that are stressed-so is exercise. Try writing down the things that stress your dog. Next, eliminate them if you can. If you can’t eliminate the stress, then manage it, train your dog, make a positive association, or give them something else to do (example: if they are stressed by you leaving, give them a kong filled with peanut butter when you walk out the door). If you have tried all of these it may be time to visit a behavioral veterinarian. They will be able to help you analyze your dog’s behavior, try training and medicine to help.

Don’t be afraid to use medicine if training does not work. Find a GREAT positive trainer (your dog deserves the best). If with training the compulsive behavior does not work, get a vet involved. Put yourself in your dog’s paws-would you want to be in their position? Wouldn’t you want help? Help your pup!!!

Trusting a Select Few

  This picture would’ve seemed impossible years ago, but now Oreo trusts my dad so much she jumped up on his lap to lounge.

Some dogs trust a select few people in their short lives. Oreo is one of them. Oreo’s fear and anxiety is caused from being taken away from her mother and siblings too early. Pups should stay with their mother for 12 weeks. During this time puppies learn many important lessons and if taken away earlier can lack social skills and are more prone to be nervous and fearful. 

Oreo trusts me the most since I spent years working with her at reactive training classes. She also trusts my husband, and parents. She has a tenuous trust with my brother in law and some trust with my sister. She has a select few she trusts and has a hard time bringing more people into her “circle of trust.” 

Building trust with reactive dogs can be long and hard but their trust is an amazing gift. In the next post I will talk about ways to work with a reactive dog to earn their trust. 

There’s Nothing to Worry About: Dad’s Back!

  
I got off my lazy day recliner to get a drink and I come back and see this! Oreo seems to say, “Don’t mind me, I’ve just made myself comfortable.” 

Her dad was gone all week for a conference down in Florida so she spent much of her time in the evening watching the door and looking out the window. Her father arrived home last night and now her life is complete: a pillow, blanket, and her dad. Lazy day. 

The Blizzard of 2016

We received 31 inches in one day! This was an all time record for our area and Oreo and I enjoyed the snow.   

 Before…

 After….

Covered in snow! It was really blowing! 

 

Romping around.

 

   The snow is almost taller than me!
 What is dad doing out there in the snow?
  The bird feeder was busy with doves.

  I came out here expecting fun…but  then the snow was too deep!

Do the Flip!

 
As I sit here watching tv, my dog daughter jumps up for a cuddle. This is my view while watching American Idol. Notice the ears-flipped! If you have a dog with long ears it’s vital to keep them clean and dry-so flip them when they are relaxing! This helps get air in there. 

Oreo has had lots of allergy problems and ear infections when she was young, but flipping the ears has really helped, along with weekly or biweekly cleaning with witch hazel on a cotton ball. You can tell a lot about the health of your dog through his or her ears. If they smell or have blisters get them to the vet! If they are dirty-clean them and get some air in there: Do the Flip!

Christmas is Over?!?

  
Christmas might be over, but I am very lucky to have this week off for vacation! 

Oreo has almost destroyed all of her toys-some in a matter of minutes! Luckily, since I know she is a big chewer, I buy toys that can be ripped, but still played with. For example, the snake’s squeakers (in the pic) have all been chewed out, but we can still play tug.

Uhh…I swear she lives to destroy toys…  

Fall Fun!

It’s been a long time and Oreo is doing well! She is still a little itchy but has been loving spending time outdoors and on walks.  

 
Things were green in this picture, but after the recent frost the plants are starting to wither and the leaves are starting to change. 

As Halloween approaches remember to keep your dog inside your home during trick or treating and keep them safe from strangers and also from chocolate ! 

There’s no place like home !  

 

Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredients 

It can be very difficult to find a food your dog can eat, enjoy and digest properly if you have a dog with many food allergies. Oreo is allergic to many ingredients that are in dog foods such as: chicken, fish, eggs, alfalfa ( very common in dog food- who knew?), potatoes, corn, soybean, and sweet potato. I tried many homemade recipes for dog food, but was worried she wasn’t getting the right balance, so I turned to Nature’s Variety.   

 Luckily, our vet provided us with a list of different dog food brands Oreo could have. After reading reviews and looking at the ingredients, this was the winner! If you have a dog that get itching, yeast and bacterial infections, refuses to eat, throws up or has diahrea you may want to invest in a limited ingredient diet. 

Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredients comes in 4 different single animal proteins: rabbit, duck, turkey and lamb. 

The food has an average of 27% protein, which is good. It does have an above average fat content and a below level carbohydrate level. The company recently reworked their lamb recipe, adding more peas which are a source of protein, but some dogs may have issues with it. This food has improved Oreo’s skin and her digestive system is a million times better. She is now 5 years old and had a whole blood panel work up, including urine and everything looked great.

Each dog is unique and you need to find a dog food that works for your dog. Next we will examine how to identify a good dog food and some scary ingredients you need to stay away from.