Unsettling feelings such as anxiety and frustration aren't exclusive to human beings. Our canine pals can experience them, too, and how. If your poor pooch has suddenly developed a persistent pacing habit, it's usually a sign that something's amiss in her life. Pay attention to it -- and then do something about it. Just be sure to never give your pet any medicine without the approval of a veterinarian.
Compulsive Patterns and Canines
If your dog is pacing a lot, it usually indicates a compulsive pattern -- an intense need to do something that she can't control. Compulsive actions generally seem to have no goal or point to observers. If your dog is anxiously pacing in your living room for hours on end, it's likely an indication that the behavior is compulsive and therefore problematic. Compulsion behaviors such as pacing frequently disturb a dog's lifestyle and overall well-being. Pacing is just one example of a compulsive behavior in the canine realm; other typical examples include running after shadows, barking nonstop, spinning around and licking incessantly.
Give Her Exactly What She Needs
If your dog is pacing out of sheer frustration, you might be able to help her simply by determining the problem and then changing it. Your pooch might feel lonely because she doesn't get enough attention or playtime from her human family. If this is the case, you can remedy it by making a point to spend quality time with her, 365 days of the year. She might feel stressed out because she doesn't get enough exercise. If this is the problem, you can fix it by talking to a veterinarian about your dog's specific fitness requirements, and then making sure she satisfies them, whether through daily jogging, backyard play sessions or extended walks. She might even be anxious because she doesn't have enough space to roam in your household. Perhaps there are too many "off-limits" rooms in your home. The first step in helping a dog suffering from a compulsive problem is pinpointing the need that isn't being fulfilled. Prompt, sensible action is the next step.
Give Her Veterinary Help
As an owner, you might not be able to personally fix all of the problems that could be potentially causing your pet's anxiety. Some pets turn to compulsive patterns because of traumatic pasts. Perhaps a dog's previous owner left her alone at home for days on end. Perhaps the dog experienced physical abuse as a puppy, and so on. The possible causes of your dog's problematic behavior are endless. If you're not sure what's troubling your dog, take her to the veterinarian for a checkup. A vet might be able to suggest a suitable medication for handling your pet's compulsions, alongside other management options. Never give your dog any type of medication without first talking to your vet.
Consider Health Issues
Not all compulsive behaviors like pacing are a result of emotional issues. Some of them arise from medical ailments including infections, trauma to the head, eyesight difficulties and epilepsy. If this applies to your dog, managing the medical problem could do wonders for eliminating the pacing and general anxiety. If your dog paces a lot, talk to a veterinarian before you do anything else.
- ASPCA: Compulsive Behavior in Dogs
- Humane Society of Missouri: Compulsive Disorders in Dogs
- Shelter Medicine for Veterinarians and Staff; Lila Miller and Stephen Zawistowski
- Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training; Steven R. Lindsay
- Decoding Your Dog; American College of Veterinary Behaviorists