Content continues after advertisement

Canine Compulsions

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)

Behavior

|May 2015

Sign in to Print/View PDF

Canine compulsive disorder (CCD) is characterized by behaviors such as licking, flank-sucking, tail-chasing, and light-chasing that occur repetitively and without clear purpose. Environmental factors may play a role. For example, owners may unintentionally reinforce tail-chasing by laughing at or scolding the dog. Compulsive licking or circling might be brought on by boredom or confinement. An understanding of these contributing and exacerbating environmental factors may assist in the development of improved therapies.

The diagnosis of compulsive disorder is made when a behavior is performed out of context and interferes with the patient’s ability to live a normal life.

The diagnosis of compulsive disorder is made when a behavior is performed out of context and interferes with the patient’s ability to live a normal life.This 3-part study used functional analysis to evaluate the role of antecedents and reinforcers in CCD. Study 1 was an exploratory phase in which owners (n = 99) completed an online survey about their dogs’ stereotypic behaviors, including triggers and consequences. Statistical analysis did not reveal consistent trends. Study 2 was a prospective case study of 5 dogs from Study 1. These dogs exhibited light-chasing, circling, or licking. Analysis showed that light-chasing in 2 dogs was independent of social consequences whereas circling and licking in 3 dogs was reinforced by owner attention. Study 3 showed that manipulating reinforcers in 3 dogs reduced these unwanted behaviors. The authors concluded that functional analysis methodology is useful in individual CCD cases and that unwanted compulsive behaviors can be decreased by manipulation of environmental/owner variables. The ability to identify specific reinforcers in individual owner-dog pairs allows for tailored therapy.

Commentary

As this article suggests, many factors can contribute to the development and maintenance of repetitive behaviors. The authors remind us that it is important to identify controllable reinforcers and that behavioral and environmental modification are critical to treatment. Stereotypic behavior can have many causes and may reflect inadequate enrichment, inadvertent owner reinforcement, or attention-seeking. The diagnosis of compulsive disorder is made when the behavior is performed out of context and interferes with the animal’s ability to live a normal life. In moderately severe clinical cases, the behavior cannot be interrupted. Therefore, initially, it may not be possible to manipulate reinforcers. Underlying medical and behavioral conditions, whether comorbid or causative, need to be addressed for long-term control and patient welfare.—Ellen M. Lindell, VMD, DACVB

References

For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

All Clinician's Brief content is reviewed for accuracy at the time of publication. Previously published content may not reflect recent developments in research and practice.

Material from Clinician's Brief may not be reproduced, distributed, or used in whole or in part without prior permission of Educational Concepts, LLC. For questions or inquiries please contact us.

Podcasts

Clinician's Brief:
The Podcast
Listen as host Alyssa Watson, DVM, talks with the authors of your favorite Clinician’s Brief articles. Dig deeper and explore the conversations behind the content here.
Clinician's Brief provides relevant diagnostic and treatment information for small animal practitioners. It has been ranked the #1 most essential publication by small animal veterinarians for 9 years.*

*2007-2017 PERQ and Essential Media Studies

© 2022 Educational Concepts, L.L.C. dba Brief Media ™ All Rights Reserved. Terms & Conditions | DMCA Copyright | Privacy Policy | Acceptable Use Policy