Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Dogs Like People Can Have Compulsive Disorders too

WARWICK, R.I. -- The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants 2011 Conference April 1-3 was attended by over 300 dog, cat, parrot and horse behavior consultants.

One headline from the event emerged from a speech by veterinary behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman, director of the Behavior Clinics at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, Mass. Dodman discussed animals with compulsive behaviors, and said that new research may demonstrate that dogs who chase their tails (mostly terriers and herding breeds) might actually not be demonstrating a compulsive behavior, but instead could be autistic.

"Like people can have compulsive behaviors, such as famously washing their hands until their skin is raw, animals can have similar behaviors," said Dodman, author of several popular books and editor of "Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy and Comfortable" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, NY, 2010; $26).

"We don't know how many pets have compulsive behaviors," says Dodman. "Generally, behaviorists say around five percent, which makes sense and is consistent with around three percent of the human population who are identified with compulsive disorders."

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