OCD behavior in dogs

Obsessive compulsive disorder is considered an anxiety disorder in people which can be triggered by traumatic events. There can be a genetic component to OCD. This video was taken while I was volunteering at Camp Katrina in 2005 after the hurricanes. This dog had been rescued from the New Orleans area and sent to the Every Dog Needs A Home Sanctuary in Gamaliel AR, via Camp K. At the time it was believed that Tammy and William Hanson, operators of the Gamaliel property, were running a legit sheltering operation. When HSUS was finally allowed onto the property they found 477 dogs, my fearful dog Sunny was among them. Approximately 200 of the dogs on the site arrived at EDNAH after the storms.

When ‘real’ rescue groups, including Camp Katrina, realized that the Hansons were hoarders they took their dogs back. Sunny was likely born at the site but a volunteer managed to get Tammy Hanson to agree to relinquish him along with the hurricane rescues that had been transported to her property. The dog in this video spent 5 weeks confined outdoors in a travel crate or cage. He had not displayed any compulsive behaviors prior to being transported to EDNAH. The behavior he is displaying in this video went on all day, the dog only stopping when exhausted. Months later when I asked about this dog I was told that he was put on medications to help stop the OCD. I don’t know where he is today.

Stress, anxiety and fear affect dogs. It should be our goal as caretakers of these compromised dogs to provide them with an environment in which they feel safe and physically comfortable. We should do what we can to lower their stress and anxiety levels. The use of behavioral medications to achieve this goal should be among the first, not the last, options we consider. Many of the dogs coming out of puppy mills and hoarding situations are experiencing levels of fear we have never experienced ourselves, luckily for us. Don’t wait until a dog scares someone, bites them, or develops damaging and difficult to change inappropriate behaviors. Help them. Now.

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