These Signs Might Mean Your Dog Has Canine Compulsive Disorder

It's a real thing 💕

Do you think your dog might have compulsive behaviors?

While your dog can’t have OCD as we know it, she can still display compulsive behaviors — like licking her paws incessantly.

To understand more about these odd behaviors, The Dodo reached out to Dr. Walter Burghardt, Jr., a veterinarian at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, to learn more.

What is canine compulsive disorder?

Dogs can’t have OCD as far as we know, and that’s because OCD also includes having obsessive thoughts — and knowing our dogs’ thoughts isn’t something we can actually do.

We can, however, know when a dog is clearly doing the exact same behavior over and over again that’s hard to break — and that’s when a dog can be said to have canine compulsive disorder.

“There are certainly certain behaviors in dogs that suggest that some animals are experiencing an inordinate drive to engage in a particular behavior,” Dr. Burghardt told The Dodo.

Canine compulsive disorder symptoms

Compulsive behavior in dogs is usually seen as repeating behaviors for a longer-than-expected period of time, or displaying behaviors without an apparent trigger.

These are some of the most common compulsive behaviors:

Tail chasing

If you notice your dog is chasing her tail over and over again, this might be a sign that she has canine compulsive disorder.


Is she pawing at her water bowl over and over and over again? Or maybe she’s even pawing at you for no obvious reason. This might be a sign that she has canine OCD.


If she’s pacing back and forth, and there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for it, this could be another sign of compulsive behavior.


If your dog is licking you, a random spot on the carpet or herself obsessively, it could be a sign of compulsive behavior.


If she’s spinning in circles for what seems like forever, this could be another sign of compulsive behavior.

How to treat compulsive behavior in dogs

Compulsive behaviors are normally treated with either medications that help reduce the motivation or by regularly helping to distract and redirect her compulsions to appropriate outlets, like chewing on a dog toy or engaging in other fun activities.

Providing environmental enrichment and encouraging exploration and play are great ways to expend a dog's energy and sharpen her problem-solving skills.

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“This may be particularly important in those dogs with high energy levels and those that are really inquisitive,” Dr. Burghardt said.If you notice your dog seems to have compulsive behaviors, reach out to your vet to see if treatment is needed.

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