Repetitive Behaviors - Tail Chasing, Licking, Over-grooming, Chasing Shadows or Lights
Behaviorists call these behaviors stereotypies;
veterinarians prefer the term compulsive disorders. These
are behaviors that an animal does over and over again,
in an identical pattern. A familiar example is animals
confined in a zoo who pace back and forth in their pens.
Often, these enclosures are too small and the animals don’t
have enough to do.
Stereotypies in pets can develop for a variety of reasons.
This is one problem for which you should absolutely have
your dog or cat thoroughly evaluated by your veterinarian,
and perhaps by a veterinary neurologist, dermatologist,
ophthalmologist or specialist in internal medicine. Your
pet may have a skin infection, a vision problem, or something
wrong with his nervous system.
Stereotypies can also develop for behavioral reasons.
A common cause is stress or conflict. Perhaps your pet
is being harassed or bullied by another pet. Maybe your
pet has just joined your family and is stressed from trying
to adapt to his new living situation. Moving to a new house
can also be a stressor that can trigger a stereotypy as
can an unpredictable lifestyle or even consistent and unpredictable
noises that your pet is afraid of.
Or, like confined animals in a zoo, these behaviors can
also develop if your pet’s environment and lifestyle
isn’t meeting his behavioral needs. Perhaps your
dog or cat is left alone a lot, or doesn’t have enough
to do to occupy his time.
Behavioral researchers have found a strong genetic component
to some of these behaviors, such as tail chasing in bull
terriers. Sometimes these behaviors can persist even after
the event that started them goes away. For example, perhaps
your cat begins pulling her hair out because she is stressed
after a new kitten is added to the family. Or your dog
begins licking her paw excessively because she is afraid
of the frequent summer thunderstorms.
Even if the kitten is rehomed and thunderstorm season
ends, if the hair pulling and licking have become the pets’ preferred
way of coping with stress, the behaviors can persist.
These problems can be quite complex and often require
both behavior modification as well as medication prescribed
by a veterinarian to resolve.
PRODUCTS FROM HELPING FIDO THAT
WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND, PREVENT AND RESOLVE CONFLICTS
AMONG FAMILY DOGS
If you believe your Fido might be displaying these repetitive
behaviors because he is confined or left alone for long
hours with nothing to do, you should take steps to improve
the quality of his environment. One helpful addition would
be interactive toys such as a Tug
a Jug or Bouncy
Watch our video showing these toys in action. Our Fidos
LOVE these toys and we are sure yours will too. Your dog’s world and routines may need to be enriched
in other ways as well, but the toys are a good start.