advertisement
Question
Posted by: Shnoodle | 2011-09-29

OCD?

Hi Scotty

So this is going to sound like a bit of a bizarre concern. I have a miniature shnauzzer cross maltese, he is a year old and the love of my life. He has such a gentle nature and loves everyone and all other dogs too. He really is just adorable.

He has always loved playing with his toys, be it soft toys or a tennis ball and is always chewing on it, playing with it, etc. When he was about 6 months old he just randomly brought us his ball, I threw it and he went to go and fetch it and bring it back, this without us saying a word or training him at all.

From that day he has become totally obsessed with his ball, he will bring it to you and literally put it into your hand, if you are lying down he will put it by your head and nudge it closer to you with his nose to make sure you have seen it.

It sounds cute, and it is, but when we have guests over he will harrass them the entire time that they are there to throw his ball. If we take it away and say " Leave"  then he leaves it, goes and fetches another ball and it all starts all over again.

Sometimes he will put the ball in in my hand and I ignore him, he literally falls asleep sitting and staring at it waiting for me to throw it! I have timed it to be 30 minutes once!

He now has a new thing, if you are in the bath, he will come and throw his ball into the bath water so you can throw it for him! Then he looks at you as if to say " hurry up and throw it!" , if I ignore him then he will sit and cry and stare at it totally mesmerized.

If he accidently looses his ball under the bed then it is such a catastrophe, he cries like a baby and then comes to call us so we can retrieve it.

What is wrong with him? He is totally obsessed with his ball!

Not what you were looking for? Try searching again, or ask your own question
Our expert says:
Expert ImageDog Behaviour Expert

Hi there Shnoodle, nice to hear from you again!

OK, there is a definate amount of obsessive behaviour happening here and i would suggest that first you bring in basic House Rules to raise yourselves in the combined human/canine pack. At this stage the dog has figured out exactly how to get the ball thrown and in this situation is the 'pack leader', so to speak. Try the following:-
1. Ignore dog when you arrive home (difficult but you are 'thinking dog'). Dont look him, talk to him or interact with him in any way. When he gives up (and he eventually will), give him about 30 seconds to digest the change, then call him, ask for a sit and give a small treat and quiet praise.
2. Put him on a 'work to earn' schedule. Take his daily allowance of food, and call him and ask for a behaviour (such as a sit) and then reward with one or two pieces of food. Keep on doing this throughout the day, giving him his daily allowance that way.
3. Get hold of some really nice chew toys and make them even more appealing by way of smearing a tiny wee bit of peanut butter in a hoof (for e.g.) and then some biltong jammed in the bottom and offer him this. There are some excellant ideas for toys on my friendsofthedog site under 'Toys' and '50 ways with kongs' you can try as well. This will give him an alternative to balls to keep him busy.
4. For the next few days while you are doing the above, the balls are hidden away.
5. At the same time, start to get him out for exercise, as much as you can, especially the times he used to be more fixated on the ball.Dogs that show obsessive tendancies are very often bored and/or frustrated.
6. When the above are in place then bring back the ball, but remember that as pack leader, the ball belongs to you, not the dog. Have a game of ball with him after the walk for about 15 minutes, then as pack leader, you put the ball away, saying 'finished' as you do so.
7. If he comes and demands attention at any time during the above, totally ignore him, even going to the extent that is he is bugging you and wont stop, walk out the door, closing it behind you and stay away for about 30 seconds. Then come back in the room and resume what you were doing again. If he keeps on bugging you, repeat the leaving the room for 30 seconds. this is a variation of a Time-out and is something that dogs recognize and respond too very quickly.

Personally, after the above is in place, I would keep the ball away from him and bring it out as a special game. If you do leave a ball lying around by mistake, then remember that he is totally ignored when demanding it be thrown. Good luck and do let me know how you go, thanks Scotty

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

1
Our users say:
Posted by: Dog Behaviour Expert | 2011-09-30

Hi there Shnoodle, nice to hear from you again!

OK, there is a definate amount of obsessive behaviour happening here and i would suggest that first you bring in basic House Rules to raise yourselves in the combined human/canine pack. At this stage the dog has figured out exactly how to get the ball thrown and in this situation is the 'pack leader', so to speak. Try the following:-
1. Ignore dog when you arrive home (difficult but you are 'thinking dog'). Dont look him, talk to him or interact with him in any way. When he gives up (and he eventually will), give him about 30 seconds to digest the change, then call him, ask for a sit and give a small treat and quiet praise.
2. Put him on a 'work to earn' schedule. Take his daily allowance of food, and call him and ask for a behaviour (such as a sit) and then reward with one or two pieces of food. Keep on doing this throughout the day, giving him his daily allowance that way.
3. Get hold of some really nice chew toys and make them even more appealing by way of smearing a tiny wee bit of peanut butter in a hoof (for e.g.) and then some biltong jammed in the bottom and offer him this. There are some excellant ideas for toys on my friendsofthedog site under 'Toys' and '50 ways with kongs' you can try as well. This will give him an alternative to balls to keep him busy.
4. For the next few days while you are doing the above, the balls are hidden away.
5. At the same time, start to get him out for exercise, as much as you can, especially the times he used to be more fixated on the ball.Dogs that show obsessive tendancies are very often bored and/or frustrated.
6. When the above are in place then bring back the ball, but remember that as pack leader, the ball belongs to you, not the dog. Have a game of ball with him after the walk for about 15 minutes, then as pack leader, you put the ball away, saying 'finished' as you do so.
7. If he comes and demands attention at any time during the above, totally ignore him, even going to the extent that is he is bugging you and wont stop, walk out the door, closing it behind you and stay away for about 30 seconds. Then come back in the room and resume what you were doing again. If he keeps on bugging you, repeat the leaving the room for 30 seconds. this is a variation of a Time-out and is something that dogs recognize and respond too very quickly.

Personally, after the above is in place, I would keep the ball away from him and bring it out as a special game. If you do leave a ball lying around by mistake, then remember that he is totally ignored when demanding it be thrown. Good luck and do let me know how you go, thanks Scotty

Reply to Dog Behaviour Expert

Have your say

Thanks for commenting! Your comment will appear on the site shortly.
Thanks for commenting! Your comment will appear on the site shortly.
advertisement