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rhiannasmom
20th December 2008, 01:22 AM
Any ideas on how to handle a dog who is obsessive about 'hunting' shadows?
When Amber is outside, she's obsessive about chasing leaves. No big deal, I thought... lots of dogs do that. Now she's obsessive about chasing shadows indoors. I sometimes have to force her to sit in my lap and relax! I do notice that, when there's activity in the house, she engages in that instead of the shadow-chasing, so perhaps she is just bored? Not sure. I have talked to other cav owners and many have mentioned the obsessiveness but none seem too bothered by it.

Any suggestions?

Karlin
20th December 2008, 01:00 PM
It indicates she is playful, active and perhaps a bit bored.

Is there any reason she can't chase the shadows? :) She is clearly indicating she wants to be active, and it is much better to have an active playful, busy dog than one that lies around doing nothing. I wouldn't force her to sit still. Trying to discourage healthy activity means she may get destructive from boredom instead.

How about encouraging the playing with some interaction, some toys, training her to fetch and retrieve or hunt for a hidden toy, giving her a treat ball to roll around and play with or an empty plastic bottle (most dogs love chasing these around), buying some fun dog puzzles, giving her 15 minutes of fun obedience work when she gets really overactive for you -- tiring her brain and body out by doing something is rewarding for her and for you. :)

If you go to www.dogstardaily.com there is loads of training advice and ideas of things to do with dogs including games to play.

Cathy Moon
20th December 2008, 01:38 PM
I am posting this link on short notice until I find something better/more professional. This link explains my understanding of shadow and light chasing, which is called stereotypy:
http://doglinks.co.nz/problems/barry_place/obsessive_compulsive_behavior.htm

I would recommend talking to your vet and finding a veterinary behaviorist to help before this becomes too ingrained.

Karlin
20th December 2008, 07:17 PM
Better answer than mine! Best to make sure this is not something more serious. Thanks Cathy. :thmbsup:

rhiannasmom
20th December 2008, 07:56 PM
Thank you, both! I hope that Amber's case is more of boredom than CCD, but I'll keep an eye on it. I really don't mind that she chases shadows, I just want to make sure it's not something serious. I haven't been exercising her much, apart from a daily walk and playtime, because I've been worried about how much is appropriate. (Had another thread on that issue!) I think I'll try to add in some treat sticks and mentally stimulating activities and see if that makes a difference.

:)

Nicki
20th December 2008, 09:25 PM
That's a good link Cathy, thanks for that.

Cavaliers are very prone to obsessive compulsive disorders, which may or may not be linked to their other neurological problems.

It is ok for them to chase shadows, but not to the point of being obsessive about it so that you can't redirect them onto more appropriate behaviour.

Lots of short walks are best, especially for young dogs, also short play periods and training - even simple things like getting them to sit and wait for their dinner make them use their brain a bit.

There are so many stimulating toys available now, I'm sure you could find something for Amber for Christmas :D

Karlin
21st December 2008, 12:09 PM
As Nicki notes, obsessive disorders are one of the 'known' issues in this breed and it is important to be surte this isn't what you are daling with. :thmbsup:

Dogs need a fair amount of physical and mental activity or you will end up with growing problems and destructiveness. Young dogs especially need to be taken out daily, need exercise, and need their minds to be worked. :) Consider giving them that exercise and time your part of the bargain and commitment in owning a dog, for its lifetime -- a dog will bring much pleasure but they are vibrant, living animals and require a major and daily time commitment. Their quality of life declines steeply if they don't get that daily exercise and time and the usual follow on is a problem dog.

These are good articles to read:

http://www.wagntrain.com/JustTryIt.htm

Particularly this advice:


More Exercise

I cannot stress enough how important it is to get a young dog enough exercise. If she gets to chase a ball a bit at lunch, she is probably burning off a bit of the excess, but she is not really wearing herself out to the point where she will be good and tired when hanging out in the house with you. We say "A tired dog is a good dog" because a tired dog is more likely to be calm, lie on her bed, chew her toys, and greet you with gentle enthusiasm!

Do some activities to cause her to use the space she lives in (fetch, hide treats, play recall games, etc.). If she seems to be fine with other dogs off-leash, try to take her to dog parks or invite friendly dogs over for "play dates". Our local dog parks are listed here - but be sure to read the cautions.

Another option is a good doggy daycare (see the Resources page). I can *almost* guarantee you that a few days at a daycare will wear her out to the point where a lot of her problems seem to solve themselves! Please note that I said "almost" and "seem to" - you would need to step in and make sure that she finds her new way of behaving very rewarding and worth changing her old habits for, once the tiredness wears off! If your dog already attends daycare or visits dog parks or goes on walks, you could increase these temporarily as you implement training - a short-term investment for long-term payoff.

Give your dog more chew toys. For "legal" toys to chew on, I believe the best ones are those that reward the dog (with food as well as chewing pleasure) for chewing on them or interacting with them. This is the "kong" and a few other similar toys. You can see Kong "recipes" at http://www.kongcompany.com/ under "tips and advice". There are lots of similar toys on the market - for a sample, you can visit my favorite on-line store, SitStay – click on the “Toys” tab at the top. There are also toys that you can fill with her regular dry kibble but she has to work at them to get the food out. Some good ones include the Roll-a-treat, Buster Cube, Hi.Q., Tug-a-jug, TreakStik, and Tricky Treats Ball (see PetExpertise.com).

I truly believe that an early investment in extra chew toys will pay off, because you will save yourself from losing a number of other items (kids' toys, pool equipment, garden supplies, etc.). The investment is not just of money, of course; it's some time spent stuffing the Kongs (or other similar toys) with a few treats. I usually spend about 15 minutes once a week, mixing wet and dry dog food and spooning the mixture into 5-7 chew toys. I throw them all into the freezer, and each day over the next week if I need a chew toy I can pull one out. My dog is happy to take it even if it's still frozen (I think that adds to the challenge for him!). I might give it to him before I leave for the day if I will be gone a long time, or in place of breakfast or dinner, especially if I know my attention will be occupied and I kind of want him occupied, too.

More exercise will be a key to really making your dog a calmer, safer, more welcome family member!



And this too is so, SO critical:

http://www.wagntrain.com/SixSecrets.htm


Six Secrets to a Good Dog

not-really-so-secret tips to keeping your dog well-behaved

Exercise

Most family pets are under-exercised. Lack of adequate exercise leads to excess energy, making a dog destructive or “out of control”. Dogs under 3 years of age probably need 30-40 minutes of running and playing to stay in shape, and younger pups (4-12 months) need even more. A yard to run around in is not enough. Dogs are social animals and need motivation to run and play. Remember: A tired dog is a good dog! (Click here for a list of San Jose-area dog parks and hiking trails.)

Mental Stimulation

Dogs evolved from predators who had to use their brains to succeed, and then dogs were bred by humans to learn and excel at various tasks. Dogs who have little or no opportunity to use their brains bore easily and turn to hobbies like chewing, barking, and digging to entertain themselves. Let your dog work for his food through the use of “chew puzzles”, Kongs, Buster Cubes, and the like. Explore neighborhoods with your dog, and give the dog a “job” like fetching. Train new tricks and show them off! (Click here for a link to "puzzle" toys, here for dog training classes, and here for specialized training workshops.)

Social Stimulation

Dogs are pack animals who enjoy being around others, humans or dogs. Young dogs and pups must learn canine body language and social skills to avoid being a graceless canine “nerd”. Let your dog meet and interact with other dogs so that they can become fluent in dog body language. Let your dog meet new people so they are not afraid of strangers. (Don’t worry, he’ll still give the alarm if someone breaks into your property!)

Safe Environment

Don’t expect your dog to know how to treat your furniture and personal property. Limit his access to potential damage unless you are there to supervise. Don’t give your pup too much freedom too soon. Use fences, doors, leashes, baby gates and crates to keep your dog out of harm and trouble. (See the "Management" Training Tip for more information.)

Diet

An athlete’s diet with too much protein can give the average house pet too much energy, which can be expressed in destructive behavior. Consider your dog’s needs first, and buy food without added preservatives and colorings. (Click this link for a quick guide to what to look for in a pet food.)

Training

Use reward-based, modern training methods to tell your what you do want him to do. Let him show off his knowledge and obedience to gain all of his life’s pleasures. A well-trained dog will be a joy to include in your life’s activities. (Click here for a "get started" guide to clicker training.)

Cathy Moon
21st December 2008, 03:09 PM
I have found two helpful PDFs that can be downloaded/read; here are the links:
http://www.network.bestfriends.org/Library/Download.aspx?d=136


http://www.my4pawsvet.com/docs/behavior/Compulsive%20Stereotypic%20and%20Displacement%20Di sorders

Also, Google 'Canine Compulsive Disorder' - lots of information out there. :thmbsup:

vgaffney83
21st September 2009, 06:31 PM
I found this post while searching "OCD" behavior. I've just been told that Lucky exhibits these types of behaviors when it comes to hunting. When he gets in the zone, he doesn't listen, he doesn't know his name and he will not come or be caught. He is completly in a trance and not able to snap out of it. We have taken on the task of trying to modify this behavior with the use of more mental stimulation, outdoor activities that involve him and us (the humans) and I will be talking to the vet about this in two days when I go. Does anyone have any advise as to how to deal with this? It's becoming a safety issue at this point.

Thanks.

Karen and Ruby
21st September 2009, 08:22 PM
I found this post while searching "OCD" behavior. I've just been told that Lucky exhibits these types of behaviors when it comes to hunting. When he gets in the zone, he doesn't listen, he doesn't know his name and he will not come or be caught. He is completly in a trance and not able to snap out of it. We have taken on the task of trying to modify this behavior with the use of more mental stimulation, outdoor activities that involve him and us (the humans) and I will be talking to the vet about this in two days when I go. Does anyone have any advise as to how to deal with this? It's becoming a safety issue at this point.

Thanks.


Hi

I have a hunter/retreiver myself who enjoys nothing more that chasing stuff- birds/rabbits/squirells etc only living stuff though!!
I do let her chase as I see it as good exercise and quite a natural behaaviour for any dog not least a spaniel!!
What I have done though is take her to obedience classes where not only do we train on general and competitive obedience which helps our relationship but we train retrieve as en exercise which invloves her going out to retreive an article from an area and bringing it back- She adores searching for stuff- we do hide and seek around the house also!
This way her energy is redirected towards working with me.
When she was younger I used to point out stuff for her to chase and now when ever I say "LOOK", "GO FIND" she thinks I have something AMAZING for her to get hold of so she always looks to me for direction and fun and we have a great time searching and finding stuff together!
Maybe start with the hide and seek in the house and garden- we got a childs purse made out of fake fur which has a monkey face on it and I fill it with food and send her to "go find"- she spends a while sniffing round the house (at first I had to help her by pointing her in the right direction) and when she found it I would open it up and give her some food out of it.

Other than that I would advise using a long line ( I have purchased a new one today for our new addition) as he has a long way to go before being let off lead! That way they have freedom but are still attatched to you!
Good Luck

karen, Ruby and Charlie!

cy1266
21st September 2009, 09:12 PM
I found this post while searching "OCD" behavior. I've just been told that Lucky exhibits these types of behaviors when it comes to hunting. When he gets in the zone, he doesn't listen, he doesn't know his name and he will not come or be caught. He is completly in a trance and not able to snap out of it. We have taken on the task of trying to modify this behavior with the use of more mental stimulation, outdoor activities that involve him and us (the humans) and I will be talking to the vet about this in two days when I go. Does anyone have any advise as to how to deal with this? It's becoming a safety issue at this point.

Thanks.

Miles has OCD/CCD behaviors too. He chases shadows, lights, and the reflections from watches and wine glasses. This behavior started to intensify after he had a bad fall; he fell off of our loft onto the wood floor below about 1.5 years ago. As soon as he hit the ground he seizured pretty bad. He has not seizured since (that we're aware of), but the vet did say that he could have some damage down the road. Personally, I believe that his fall contributed to his OCD/CCD tendencies. I work with a homeopathic vet that gives him stramonium; this seems to help with these behaviors. He tends to zone out and frantically chase/stalk shadows and reflections. He needs another dose now because lately he sits and stares at the bathroom wall, waiting for the shadows to move :( He is so fixated that it is virtually impossible to snap him out of it. The stramonium really helps though, so maybe that's something to look into? Good luck :)

waldor
21st September 2009, 09:32 PM
rhiannasmom- Our puppy likes to chase dust motes in rays of light either from the sun or a lamp. She gets plenty of exercise & attention. We attribute it to her being a puppy and a hunter, and her excellent eyesight. :rolleyes:

Karlin
21st September 2009, 09:38 PM
When he gets in the zone, he doesn't listen, he doesn't know his name and he will not come or be caught. He is completly in a trance and not able to snap out of it.

In such a case I would treat him the same way you'd treat a blind or deaf dog or any dog with poor recall -- he must ALWAYS be on a lead when outside if the area is not safely fenced and secure. As mentioned, a long line or else a Flexi would give him room to run around when in fields etc ( but I'd probably add a wrist strap for safety to the Flexi if you use one).

No suggestions on the OCD -- this doesn't seem to be a very well understand phenomenon but cavaliers do seem to show these behaviours more than many other breeds. A lot seem to flycatch or be obsessed with shadows and so forth. I'd work to get some video examples of this behaviour for your vet and definitely talk to your vet.

I wonder a lot if all these different tendencies aren't related to the hindbrain pressure almost all cavaliers would have as so few have a roomy skull; also many have dilated ventricles as well which would create extra pressure on the interior of the brain.

This article gives an overview of research:

http://vip.vetsci.usyd.edu.au/contentUpload/content_2715/Synnott.pdf

Note they say that the general conclusion is if this isn't treated with behaviour modification and usually, medications, it almost always grows progressively worse. However this seems to not look at anything done after 2001. Nonetheless most of what I see on the web that is current says the same.