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Thread: why the shadows? Seriously anybody have a dog obsessed with shadows?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Default why the shadows? Seriously anybody have a dog obsessed with shadows?

    My little Lucie has been going nuts over shadows. she is slowly becoming obsessed. Everytime I turn a light on in a room she runs up to the wall and waits for the shadows to start moving. Is this normal? anybody else have a dog who really really likes shadows and their own reflections?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Dublin, Ireland
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    It sounds like a typical obsessive-compulsive behaviour, and is generally a minor neurological issue. It isn't normal, but generally doesn't need to be treated really seriously unless it is affecting the normal daily life of the dog or increasing in intensity. However, it would probably be worth mentioning to your vet and depending on severity, maybe run some tests (see bottom article).

    Some basic info:

    Here's an article suggesting it's a good idea to try to resolve the behaviour:

    OCD is recognised as occuring in the breed as well. This is from the archives of a CKCS discussion list from a few years ago:



    This column is intended to be of practical information to Cavalier owners. It is not
    intended to be a comprehensive overview of the field of Animal Behavior, nor to simply
    represent a small portion of the complete research that has been done in Behavioral
    Medicine. The focus of this column is for information and educational purposes only
    and to share this information with other owners of this beloved breed.

    Ritualistic and stereotypic behaviors have long been recognized in veterinary medicine
    and in small animals, including the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders (OCD) and "Fly Catcher’s Syndrome" will be the topic of
    this article by request of many CKCS owners, who are involved with cavaliers with one
    or more of these puzzling behaviors.

    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders (OCD) may include tail chasing, flank sucking
    (particularly in Dobermans), wool chewing and fly "biting" or "catching". Most of
    these behaviors are annoying but relatively benign in terms of damage to owners and
    their dogs. In the past, treatment was usually geared towards physical restraint and
    control, such as applying an Elizabethan collar to the dog. Such a device can prevent
    the dog from accomplishing the actual behavior, but does nothing to diminish the
    desire to commit the behavior as is confirmed when the device is removed. Behavioral
    Veterinarians now believe that this is because the disorder is a behavioral one,
    rooted in a neurophysiological abnormality.

    OCD is characterized by repetitive, ritualistic behaviors, in "excess" of any required
    for normal function, the execution of which interferes with normal daily activities
    and functioning. It is a behavior that is exaggerated in form as well as in duration.
    The behavior can be perceived by a "human patient" as abnormal, and may be controlled
    to the extent that the behavior is performed only minimally, or not at all, in the
    presence of others. This could possibly be true for domestic animals, such as the
    Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Dogs that flank-suck or tail-chase may, after frequent
    reprimands and corrections, remove themselves from view of the owners and then commit
    the behavior elsewhere. When the owner approaches, the behavior ceases, to be begun
    again when no one is watching or when the dog removes himself from view. Not all dogs
    fit this pattern, instead exhibiting more or less continuous stereotypic and
    ritualistic behavior regardless of companionship. It is not necessary for the behavior
    to be continuously witnessed for the dog to have OCD, but it is requisite that the
    offending behaviors SUBSTANTIALLY INTERFERE with normal functioning in the absence of
    physical restraint.

    We as cavalier owners, breeders and exhibitors must view the above statement and make
    the determination ourselves. We must ask ourselves this question…"Is the desire to
    exhibit the behavior present, despite restraint, punishment, training, or physical
    incarceration?" If the answer is yes, and your dog persists in the behavior even
    though he has been called to dinner, needs a drink or to go out to the potty area or
    company arrives…then it is possible you are dealing with an OCD. In this case, true
    clinical OCD can indeed be a serious problem. Potentially relevant human conditions
    would be: Autism, Self-injurious behavior (SIB), Tourette’s syndrome, OCD,
    Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and Chronic motor tics.

    All cavaliers suspected of having severe OCD should have complete physical and
    neurological examinations that include a metabolic screen, a complete blood cell count
    (CBC), and serum biochemistry profile, electrocardiography (ECG) and may include tick
    titer, distemper and other viral titers. Medical conditions should be ruled out first
    before the diagnosis of OCD can be confirmed.

    Other behaviors that may have components of stereotypic behavior but are not OCD may
    include boredom, attention-seeking behavior and anxiety. Some bored cavaliers
    "exercise spin" or chase their tails simply because they are bored. Should the dog
    truly be bored, increased socialization time with humans, added toys, music, increase
    in exercise and rooms to "view" outdoor activities such as the lawn, trees, cars, or
    other activity should diminish or halt the behavior. If this does not occur, the dog
    was not "bored". Sometimes a diagnosis of boredom is simplistic and wrong. As an
    attention-seeking situation, some dogs quickly learn that if they are not getting the
    desired attention from positive, quiet behaviors, they can invariably get it from
    behaviors that their owners find much less savory…jumping, barking, howling, spinning,
    tail chasing, sucking, ear chewing, and "fly catching". Because the owners find these
    behaviors annoying, they yell or attempt to correct the dog. If the distraction is by
    good and loving attention such as grooming or play, the dog effects the change it
    wants and "conditions" the owner. Cavaliers have certainly been noted (especially at
    my house) to do exactly this. Many dog owners have difficulty understanding how a
    behavior could be attention-seeking, if physical or verbal punishment is involved. If
    the dog gets little attention, negative attention is better than no attention. We
    sometimes get in a "rut" with our multiple-dog households and forget to spend some
    one-on-one time with each animal in our care. I know I experience this from time to
    time, and we must then "regroup" and take a hard look at our situation and MUST take
    more time to spend with our animals. If simple modification of our lifestyle improves
    the behavior, then you are dealing with attention-seeking behavior rather than a more
    serious OCD.

    For true clinical OCD, a combination of behavioral modification (primarily
    counter-conditioning and habituation as listed in the previous article on
    fear-aggression) and short-term medication prescribed only by your veterinarian (I
    prefer to begin with Amitriptyline/Elavil or Clomipramine/Anafranil) can work wonders.
    Many times the stereotypic or ritualistic behaviors have an underlying anxiety and the
    medication will enhance the counter-conditioning and break the psychological trigger
    for the cycle. Regardless, all behavior modification designed to encourage relaxation
    and competitive inhibition should be used.
    Cavaliers: Tansy : Mindy Connie Roxy Neasa Gus
    In memory: My beautiful Jaspar Lucy Leo Lily Libby

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Yorktown, Virginia USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karlin View Post
    It sounds like a typical obsessive-compulsive behaviour, and is generally a minor neurological issue.
    That's a nice way to say our dogs are sometimes nutty! Fletcher used to bark at himself in the sliding glass doors at night (his own reflection) to the point we covered the windows!! Well, the kids were sleeping. After a month or two he stopped so we don't need to cover them anymore. I would try to distract her or do anything you can to eliminate the shadows, I'm guessing she'll forget about it. If she's a puppy I bet its just a play thing.
    "If you don't own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life."
    -Roger Caras

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    North of Atlanta, GA USA
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    Remy used to display OCD behavior when we would play with him with a laser pointer, which we originally got for out cat. He got to the point where he would sit and bark at the box where we kept it and would not play with other things. If he heard us opening the box, which we also kept the TV remote in, he would sit in attention thinking the laser would appear. We stopped all laser play after doing some research online. Some dogs are just prone to this type of behavior and I wanted to nip it before it got to be an issue. My other dog (a Golden mix) would play with the laser but once it is put away she forgets about it. Remy was way more obsessed and would stare and bark at the box after it was put away. I would try to find a way to avert her attention away from the shadows, if possible.
    Sir Remington II (Remy) Oct. 17, 2012 -

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Lady barks at reflections and at any image of an animal, especially the TV but even the cavalier calendar. She's also obsessed with chasing flies or floating pollen outside- she'd sit there for hours on guard for flying debris. Apparently her mom also likes to chase things so it's probably somewhat genetic.
    Lady (1.5 year old tricolour) & Gracie (4 year old blenheim)
    "Happiness is a warm puppy" - Charles M. Schulz


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