Your dog can become obsessed with another dog for a variety of reasons, ranging from curiosity to fear to jealousy. Obsessive behaviors can arise from boredom, separation anxiety or sexual attraction, too. Understanding the root of your dog’s obsession is your first step toward neutralizing and eliminating the unwanted behavior when it manifests.
Spay or Neuter
Strong obsessions can occur between unaltered dogs of mating age who live in close proximity. Unaltered dogs are strongly attracted to others in season. In addition to the potential for unintended breeding, obsessive fighting between males vying for the same mate can occur. For best results, spay or neuter your own dogs, particularly if you have no plans to responsibly breed them. If an unaltered dog lives in your vicinity, keep your dog physically separated from the other animal to keep obsessive behaviors from occurring. Keep your dog indoors unless supervised, or walk the dog in a location far removed from any sexually available dogs.
Reduce Fearful Interactions
If your dog feels his territory is being encroached upon or if he’s afraid of another dog, he may develop an aggressive obsession toward the other animal. In this case, take preventative steps to ensure the dogs don't fight or drag their owners into physically dangerous altercations. Put your dog through behavioral training if you’ve not already done so, so he's more likely to follow commands and instructions from you while in the vicinity of the animal or animals he’s obsessed with. Don't take an aggressively obsessed dog into public forums like dog parks or community neighborhoods where he’s prone to exhibit his temper. If possible, arrange one-on-one, highly monitored interactions with the owner of the other dog to make a gradual and gentle introduction.
Curb Jealous Behaviors
In a multi-dog household, jealousy between dogs can manifest in obsessive behaviors. One dog may try to usurp the other dog for the owner's attention. He may also steal another dog’s toys, food or bedding in an attempt to be top dog, and may exhibit anger if the owner plays with another animal. Curb such obsessive behavior by spending individual time with each dog in the home and by not encouraging competition but, rather, rewarding good behaviors and positive co-play and co-living behaviors.
Explore Behavioral Issues
Some dogs who exhibit obsessive or compulsive behaviors may have underlying anxiety disorders. Take your pup to a vet for a full physical work-up to rule out any physical problems. Your vet may prescribe behavioral training or medication to help your dog curb this unwanted behavior. Exercise your dog to wear him out and provide him with interactive play toys to hold his attention when you're not around.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.