More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Dogs Show The Way On OCD

Dogs With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Help Find Ways To Treat People With It

BOSTON, Oct. 14, 2007 (CBS) -- To look at Arlo Katie Block's year-and-a-half-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, it's hard to believe that not so long ago he was a deeply disturbed puppy. He chased his tail and bit his ears incessantly.

"It was like somebody being in pain and not being able to control themselves," she told CBS News correspondent Richard Schlesinger "It was painful."

The Block family tried everything from training classes to distractions, but nothing worked, until their vet suggested taking Arlo to Dr. Nicholas Dodman, an animal behaviorist.

Dogs like Arlo can get OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, just like humans, according to Dr. Dodman of Tufts University Veterinary School outside of Boston. He has seen all varieties of it. "I mean, you wonder, why is your life consumed with this pointless mindless repetition?" he said.

Dodman has treated a lot of dogs for a lot of problems. Often, if a bit of training doesn't help he opens the medicine cabinet. Dodman frequently relies on medications like Prozac, developed for humans, that also help dogs. And now dogs might be ready to return the favor.

Dodman and medical researchers at the University of Massachusetts and MIT are looking for specific genes found in dogs and humans to discover the cause of OCD.

"And we're looking at these candidate genes here," he said. "And we're all working it together, sort of trying find this needle in a haystack."

Dr. Edward Ginns is a neurologist at the University of Massachusetts and has been studying the DNA of some of Dr. Dodman's patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

"There's a new way to approach, not only the diagnosis, but also treatment of these illnesses, both for the humans and for the dogs," Ginns said.

Researchers believe they'll find the gene soon.

"And we should have the results, the first results, by the end of 2007," Dodman said. "We're also going to look after that."

Patients with four legs, like Arlo, could benefit first. But treatments for humans might not be very far behind. The beauty is, everybody wins.

"Well, we're all mammals in this together," Dodman said. "We've got to stick together."

Daniel E.

Screenshot_2021-02-04 Proximate and ultimate causes of ritual behavior.png

According to our model, even though human collective rituals appear inextricably embedded in symbolic significances, they remain irreducible and highly conserved motor displays (proximal causes), with an inherited compulsory character [5,24,28,29], whose adaptive function, “triggered” by the same selective pressures, is to cope with ecological and social conditions of unpredictability (ultimate causes). The rise of symbolic activity in Homo Sapiens emphasized the drive to ritualization in human cultures to face the “emergent” problem of ordering a novel symbolic-mediated world. Even since then, ritual bodily actions became symbolic activities deeply imbued with myths, spiritual beliefs and religious experiences. Nevertheless, such ritual behaviour remains, as far as repetition of actions, a motor phenomenon, rooted in the biological constraints (genetics and epigenetics) of the evolutionary history of our species.

In conclusion, from the analysis of the available literature ranging from ethology and neurobiology to psychopathology and anthropology, we suggest that the “compulsion” to action patterns repetition, typical of all rituals, has a genetically inborn motor foundation, thus preconscious and pre-symbolic, i.e., citing Frits Staal, “pure activity, without meaning” [142]. Built on such phylogenetically conserved motor structure (proximate causes), the evolution of cognitive and symbolic capacities have generated the complexity of human rituals through a “nature via nurture” process [180], which however maintained the original adaptive function (ultimate causes) to cope with unpredictable environments.


  • 1-s2.0-S016643282030471X-main.pdf
    706.9 KB · Views: 1
Last edited:

Daniel E.
"Well, we're all mammals in this together," Dodman said. "We've got to stick together."
Similarly for ADHD:

Certain environmental and social conditions affect the appearance of ADHD symptoms. Dogs that have lots of social contacts with other dogs and many interactions with people seem to show fewer symptoms of ADHD. The more that you physically connect with and play with the dog, the fewer the problems. Dogs that are left alone for extended periods of time are also more likely to show hyperactive symptoms on your return. Another interesting association the researchers found is that dogs who sleep alone (isolated from their owner or other dogs) have more problems. Finally, male dogs who have been neutered are more likely to show symptoms of ADHD...

All of this research tends to support the existing belief that human and canine diseases and mental conditions are similar, which suggests that dogs can serve as excellent models for a variety of human problems, or conversely humans can serve as an excellent model for understanding canine mental conditions and illnesses.
Last edited:

Daniel E.

The researchers also said they found a link between the ADHD-like behaviors and obsessive-compulsive behavior, aggressiveness and fearfulness. In dogs, obsessive-compulsive behavior includes "tail chasing, continuous licking of surfaces or themselves, or staring at 'nothing,'" the study said. Humans with ADHD are more likely to also have obsessive-compulsive disorder, the press release said.


If you have a hyperactive dog, perhaps the number one important thing for you to do is to give them plenty of physical exercise. Wearing them out physically gives them a channel to focus all of their pent-up anxiety and energy. It also makes dog training sessions easier, sleeping more regular, and their digestive system healthier. Consistent, physical activity is an absolute must. And the lack thereof can be what’s causing the symptoms of hyperactivity.
Replying is not possible. This forum is only available as an archive.