Dealing with obsessive dog behaviors

Obsessive dog behaviors and dog fixations can become as seriously harmful as addictions are for humans. When we laugh at a dog that is fanatically mad over a toy, a bone, a shaft of light, a game of fetch, or the neighbor's cat, it's like laughing at someone who is a falling-down drunk.

Why is my dog staring at me?

You’re sitting watching TV — but your dog only has eyes for you. You’re cooking dinner, and the pooch is laser-focused on your face. You head to the bathroom and… you get the idea. If there’s one thing almost all dogs do well, it’s stare at their owners. And stare. And stare.

But why do they do it? There are four main reasons: attention, confusion, desire, and direction.

Why do dogs chase their tails?

Man’s best friend can provide all kinds of fun and laughter just by being a dog, but perhaps nothing is more amusing than when your pup suddenly starts to obsess over her own tail and begins spinning around in circles, trying vainly to catch it.

This is a sight that can incite laughter in even the most serious of people, but why exactly does it happen? Can it develop into something more serious? Why do dogs chase their tails so suddenly and obsessively?

Why dogs hoard…

Is your dog a hoarder? Does she hide food around the house? Has she collected up toys and stood guard over them? Like a lot of issues with dogs, hoarding is a behavior that has roots in a dog’s oldest instincts, which clash with a modern lifestyle around humans.

Student Question

Obsessive dog hoards my things

My bright, affectionate six-month-old Golden Retriever named Kipper was crate-trained very early and still spends lots of time in his crate. Kipper is gentle with his mouth and wonderful with my young grandchildren. The only problem is, he’s a sneak and obsessive dog. Although he has plenty of toys, what he enjoys most is taking anything that isn’t his—dish towels, shoes, hats, newspapers, you name it—and dragging it back to his crate.

Student Question

Obsessive dog chasing shadows

I have a Border Collie and Australian Shepherd mix and she loves to play fetch. But lately my dog has become obsessive with chasing shadows. She will stand in the back yard and stare at shadows all day and chase the shadows. Even when we bring her inside she will find a shadow on the wall and bark at it and chase it forever and not stop.

Student Question

Chasing cars

I have a nine-month-old female Yorkshire terrier with several issues, most importantly one that may get her killed. She is only five pounds and wants to chase cars. A very dangerous combination. Correcting her, having her sit and look at me, walking in the opposite direction and even distracting her with toys is not working. What should I do? I try to walk her for an hour every day and play games with her and other dogs in my apartment complex.

Student Question

Prey drive problem

My dog is obsessed with cats, squirrels, birds, lizards, anything alive that moves. Does that mean she’s unbalanced? Is this normal, natural instinct? This summer, she’s been spending more and more time in our backyard stocking her prey, and less and less time in the house with the human pack. What am I doing wrong?

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