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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-05-2020, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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OCD in Dobermans

Meadowcar brought this up in another tread - So not to get off topic on that tread - I thought I would start a new one , this is a copy and paste from Pet Med - I thought it was interesting , so I will post it . There are some interesting points that I will address later , this is part one , I just hope I can go back and find part 2 !

Treating Compulsive Dog Behaviors

By Lisa Radosta, DVM, DACVB

Can dogs have OCD? Not really, but they do get compulsive behaviors. What is the difference? Obsessive compulsive behaviors include obsessive thoughts, which don't apply to dogs since we can’t know what they are thinking. Instead, in dogs, these disorders are called compulsive disorders. Here are some other important insights into this curious dog behavior we call compulsive disorders…

What are Compulsive Disorders?

Compulsive disorders (obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD) occur in dogs, although not with great frequency. These behaviors are exaggerations of normal dog behaviors. They are exhibited for longer than expected periods of time, are repeated out of context, and in situations in which they would be considered abnormal.

Common dog behaviors which can be classified as compulsive include spinning, tail chasing, fly biting, light chasing, barking, chewing, staring into space, sucking on a toy, or sucking on a part of the body.

What Causes Compulsive Disorders in Dogs?

Compulsive disorders are caused by conflict, stress and/or frustration. With each stressful event that your dog encounters, there is a release of neurotransmitters involved with the stress response. When a dog is frustrated or stressed, he may start to perform a normal behavior such as holding a toy in his mouth in order to relieve that stress. If holding the toy in his mouth actually reduces the neurotransmitters involved with the stressful event, the dog is likely to perform that behavior again when he is stressed. For some dogs, this behavior becomes ritualized and repetitive because of the intense reward that is associated —reduction of the physiologic feeling of stress or frustration.

Over time, compulsive behaviors progress and get worse. Dogs often start to perform the compulsive behavior with any stressful event, not just the original inciting situation. The behavior can take over the dog’s life replacing normal sleep and feeding habits. It can cause injury to the dog as the impulse to perform the particular behavior becomes stronger and stronger. Dogs that chase their tails often end up mutilating the tail requiring amputation, while dogs that suck on themselves frequently cause skin infections.
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-05-2020, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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Part 2

Sometimes, what appears to be a compulsive behavior is actually an attention seeking behavior. Even behaviors which start as a frustration related behaviors can be rewarded inadvertently when owners pay attention to the dog when he performs the behavior. For example, if an owner yells No!, that is still regarded by the dog as attention and can perpetuate the behavior.

If you think that your dog exhibits a behavior for your attention, try the following tests. First, videotape your dog when you are not home to see if and when the behavior occurs in your absence. Next, try walking out of the room the next time that your dog performs the behavior. If he does not perform the behavior in your absence, your attention or presence is most probably a part of the problem.

Some dog breeds are predisposed hereditarily to certain compulsive behaviors. For example, Bull Terriers and German Shepherds are commonly seen for tail chasing. Labrador Retrievers exhibit oral compulsive behaviors such as pica, whereby the dog is driven to pick up any object and eat it. Doberman Pinschers are well known for flank sucking, whereby the dog holds and sucks on the skin of the flank for long periods. The best way to know if your dog is predisposed to a certain type of behavior is to speak to your veterinarian about your breed’s genetic predisposition. Then, if possible, speak to the owner of your dog’s parents to learn of their behavior.

How Do You Treat Compulsive Disorders in Dogs?

The first thing to do if you think that your dog has a compulsive disorder is to go to your veterinarian for help. Because medical conditions can cause signs similar to compulsive behaviors in dogs, it is extremely important to rule out medical diseases such as neurologic, endocrine, gastrointestinal, and orthopedic disorders. Your dog should receive a thorough physical examination as well as screening labwork before considering treatment for a compulsive disorder.

If your dog is completely healthy and is free of pain, he may have a compulsive disorder. Compulsive disorders are treated with medications to lower arousal and conflict as well as behavior modification to give the dog an alternate coping strategy outside of the compulsive behavior. Treatment is often prolonged and continues for the life of the dog. If your dog is diagnosed with compulsive disorder you can expect some ups and downs in treatment and in your dog’s behavior. Often chronic cases are referred to a board certified veterinary behaviorist for treatment.

The best thing that you can do for your dog if you suspect a compulsive disorder or if your dog repeatedly displays any behavior, even if it seems harmless now, is to seek help from your veterinarian. When compulsive behaviors are treated early and quickly the prognosis is much better than if they have progressed to a chronic state.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-05-2020, 04:06 PM
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It's an interesting topic to be sure. Kip was especially prone to lick granulomas, so at one time, dealing with OCD type stuff was an every day thing for us. Just a couple of comments/clarifications? from me...

Dobes, of course, are well known to have flank sucking or blanket suckling in their repertoire of tricks--included or maybe related to that but not specifically mentioned here, is excessive licking (which is not exactly flank sucking, per se.) A dog will lick obsessively at his legs--top of the wrist in front, ankle joint in back, typically--enough so that he creates a sore...a lick granuloma. My personal impression is that the dog may have a thorn or a skin irritation or perhaps a sore joint, a touch or arthritis--whatever--so he starts licking. The licking action feels good (releases endorphins, I've heard), but it makes the sore place worse, so they lick more. Soon, it is a cycle.

Underlying anxiety plays a role in it too.

They are very difficult to treat, because the licking has become an obsessive behavior; even if the original irritation is gone, the obsession stays there. With my one granuloma creator, at least, it became a "closet" behavior. If I was sitting around somewhere and he wasn't in the same room (because, of course, dobes typically WILL be in the same room with you if you are just hanging around--they like to hang with you), or if I saw him sorta sneak off, I could be sure he was somewhere licking away. And all it takes is a lick or two to an area where you have managed to start some healing going to open it all up again.

We have a thread somewhere...lots of threads, actually...Dobes are so OCD prone.
Anyway, here are a couple about lick granulomas, in particular:

"Need some help/resources for lick sores"
https://www.dobermantalk.com/doberma...ick-sores.html


"Lick Granuloma (and OCD??!!) Breaking the Bank"
https://www.dobermantalk.com/doberma...king-bank.html


Another point to add--a lot of OCD-like behavior is rooted in anxiety. And a good starting place at relieving anxiety in a dog is making sure he is getting plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

Here's another article about dog OCD--it is actually so similar to the one you posted, Ken, except with a lot more detail, that I wonder if they are from the same source, or if yours is a summary of this one?? Anyway:

https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/be...-for-ocd-dogs/ from Whole Dog Journal by Pat Miller
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 07:36 AM
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As I said in the other thread, I think this is a real problem in our breed, one that isn't given nearly enough attention. People think blanket sucking is "cute." I, for one, have seen friend after friend take dogs in for suspected obstructions, or actual obstructions. I don't think it's cute, I think it's a way bigger problem than we're acknowledging. I am astonished by the number of dogs of our breed that have obstructions (and not puppies that eat things that they shouldn't). Or dogs that have to be muzzled to not eat things outside. Or dogs that compulsively eat grass or other things.

I had a dog with lick granuloma, too (one of my former dogs). I really don't know if I buy the idea that more exercise/mental stimulation will reduce the behavior, given my experience with it (and knowing how my dog's life was), but...?


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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 08:35 AM Thread Starter
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Well - I'm NOT happy ! I just lost my reply post on this that I worked on for a hour - Personally - It may have been my best work I have posted on here and it's gone with the wind
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 08:44 AM Thread Starter
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Yesterday - I had a little chat with Meadowcat ( I spelled her name right this time : ) ) on OCD - Dogs eating grass - blankets - sucking on blankets that may lead to bockages and then end up on the operating table . But why do they do this ? Is it genetic's ? Is it stress ? Envro ? All of them ? Beats me - But I do have a opionon : ) I personally have to think is may be due to stress than anything . The bold type is a quote from the above article .

Compulsive disorders are caused by conflict, stress and/or frustration. With each stressful event that your dog encounters, there is a release of
neurotransmitters involved with the stress response.


Then there is this .

Sometimes, what appears to be a compulsive behavior is actually an attention seeking behavior. Even behaviors which start as a frustration related behaviors can be rewarded inadvertently when owners pay attention to the dog when he performs the behavior. For example, if an owner yells No!, that is still regarded by the dog as attention and can perpetuate the behavior.


Now what I have seen here on the " Not " right farm .

Will start with Kasia girl , she came here in 2000 , beyond great ! The best girl anybody could have asked for ! But thinking back on things , she liked her blanky - the problem , she would chew holes in , of course - we took it away from her , in hindsight , I think it had to do more with stress than anything ! We took her camping - went to FLA for a month , it was new surroundings - she could not run around like she did at home , new people and worse - she did have her special pooping area - I not kidding about that . Then when Ali girl came here - it jumped up , she would go in and destroy her bed in a second ! From out of anywhere - bam ! Stuffing flying everywhere - Again - I'm leaning to the Stress of her not getting all the attention ! Who is his new pup stealing all my glory ! Now they have her sitting on there laps rubbing her ! = Stress ? Or attention ? Or --- Both

This is part of what I tried to post - so will put this up so I don't lose this at least
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 08:51 AM
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I had also mentioned in the other thread that Newtie is a blanket sucker and has a special blanket that I give him at times (we call it his suckie). I think it's self soothing for him.
One thing I've noticed lately, since we moved, is he has been licking his paws more. I've looked them over and don't see anything to indicate that there is "something" that's actually bothering him. Thanks to this thread, the light kind of dawned on me that maybe he's turning paw licking into a substitute for his suckie. Going to have to keep a close eye on that.....

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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 09:11 AM Thread Starter
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Then there was Ali girl - Great gal - She like one of MC's Dobers had a lick granuloma - On her - It to me was not related with OCD - What started it was a Medical condition - then it got to be more of , maybe a habit - She did quit it but why ? Yes we tried the mental exercise , keeping her busy but what really took her mind off of it was when Mr. B came here , She was to busy messing with him and she forgot all about it and also - she got worse when Kasia left us = under stress to me .

Ali never , never destroyed anything or sucked on a blanket . She did love to chew on her ball though - This may sound stupid , but to me it was a stress reliever .

Kadin ( AKA ) Mr. Business is a whole different story ! He is all work , all the time - HE is a grass eater , not near as bad as when he got here - Attention ? Or stress ? or --- Both - I believe both . first the stress - It went off the scale when Ali passed - He don't understand why his best friend did not come back in to play with him -DAD - Where is she ? He when off the scale sucking on his blanky - never chews it up - jut sucks - even till he goes to sleep with it in his mouth . Then there are the times he is looking for attention - and he knows how to get it - run out and eat some grass and he will get it .

How many posts are there on here asking about the whining pup in a crate ? Barking pup's or dogs ? They are taking to us in the only way they know how , they may be unsure of there surroundings = crate ? You all know they love nothing more than being by our sides - or laying next to us , it's there job and if there not it stresses the heck out of them .

Now we are luck and work out of home - even this creates stress - it's when we do leave the house , anxiety - to me - its also stress .

I do have to ask MC - you and your Husband both work out of the house - Could Sypha be Stressed because your not home ? Or mad ? Where is HER mommy at ??? I know - I will chew a blanket and destress - Or she will pay attention to me ! These dogs are very ,very smart and can figure out things pretty quick .

79 - This is just me thinking - But Newtie may be just stressed out with the new place . They are creatures of habit

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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 09:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ECIN View Post
Yesterday - I had a little chat with Meadowcat ( I spelled her name right this time : ) ) on OCD - Dogs eating grass - blankets - sucking on blankets that may lead to bockages and then end up on the operating table . But why do they do this ? Is it genetic's ? Is it stress ? Envro ? All of them ? Beats me - But I do have a opionon : ) I personally have to think is may be due to stress than anything . The bold type is a quote from the above article .

Compulsive disorders are caused by conflict, stress and/or frustration. With each stressful event that your dog encounters, there is a release of
neurotransmitters involved with the stress response.


Then there is this .

Sometimes, what appears to be a compulsive behavior is actually an attention seeking behavior. Even behaviors which start as a frustration related behaviors can be rewarded inadvertently when owners pay attention to the dog when he performs the behavior. For example, if an owner yells No!, that is still regarded by the dog as attention and can perpetuate the behavior.


Now what I have seen here on the " Not " right farm .

Will start with Kasia girl , she came here in 2000 , beyond great ! The best girl anybody could have asked for ! But thinking back on things , she liked her blanky - the problem , she would chew holes in , of course - we took it away from her , in hindsight , I think it had to do more with stress than anything ! We took her camping - went to FLA for a month , it was new surroundings - she could not run around like she did at home , new people and worse - she did have her special pooping area - I not kidding about that . Then when Ali girl came here - it jumped up , she would go in and destroy her bed in a second ! From out of anywhere - bam ! Stuffing flying everywhere - Again - I'm leaning to the Stress of her not getting all the attention ! Who is his new pup stealing all my glory ! Now they have her sitting on there laps rubbing her ! = Stress ? Or attention ? Or --- Both

This is part of what I tried to post - so will put this up so I don't lose this at least
I don't agree 100%. Sure, sometimes they are self-soothing with sucking. But I don't think it's always stress. I know a lot of dogs that are suckers. I have a blanket sucker. I'm also really, really in tune to stress in dogs (I have a long history with stress and anxiety in dogs that I won't get into too much in this thread, but the whole history is here on DT - my first dogs was incredibly anxious). I'm very good at reading body language and have a pretty firm grasp of stress in dogs). I really don't see Sypha's sucking as stress - she just...does it. She always has, since puppyhood. It's...behavior, habit, and much more of an obsessive thing. Her "level" of sucking is towards the mild side. And her relatives do it. They have "sucky" toys. Because it's mild, it hasn't been much of an issue, and yet, for me, it's the bigger picture that I'm looking at - the whole breed. Make sense?

I think some dogs may increase their sucking behavior in times of stress simply because it's soothing, or, because in times of stress, OCD behaviors tend to increase. It may be the same was what you see in people. It's almost like what we talk about when we talk about "trigger stacking" in reactive dogs. You see more "behaviors" when stressors increase.

Additionally, I'm very well versed in OCD in humans. My sister was OCD - diagnosed. Hers was reasonably manageable, in that she could live her life without TOO much interruption. But it certainly impacted her. And yes, anxiety is a co-morbidity with OCD. It doesn't mean that anxiety CAUSES OCD. It's the same way that things like depression or digestion issues are often co-morbidities with migraine. They aren't causes, just more likely to also be diseases diagnosed at the same time.

I find this an interesting discussion.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeadowCat View Post
I had a dog with lick granuloma, too (one of my former dogs). I really don't know if I buy the idea that more exercise/mental stimulation will reduce the behavior, given my experience with it (and knowing how my dog's life was), but...?
I am right with you! I have had a blanket sucker and a dog with a lick granuloma. They had ample exercise and other stimulation. At the end of the day, they were both bags of nerves... very unsure of things. These OCD behaviors are something I do my best to curtail in any visitor/foster/etc.


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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 09:29 AM Thread Starter
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I really don't know if I buy the idea that more exercise/mental stimulation will reduce the behavior, given my experience with it

MC - What I have seen here is the more I keep Mr. B busy - the less he sucks on his blanket or eats grass - I believe in his case he just gets bored and IF I don't keep him busy then he takes charge and more or less demands it = eating grass

Blanket chewers are seeking attention - they know how and what strings to pull on us to get it
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 09:35 AM Thread Starter
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I find this an interesting discussion.

Thanks to you for planting the idea yesterday ! This really is your tread - I just started it for yeah -
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 09:40 AM
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My two cents on exercise, Newtie will take his sucky blanket always! It doesn't matter if we've had a long day of nose work, took a walk and played ball. If he gets it that night, he'll take it and will fall asleep with it in his mouth. Now, I've only had one dog that does it so I have very limited experience. Brandy was too dignified for sucking on blankets! It does make me wonder if certain kennels find that they produce dogs that suck more? Why would Brandy not do it (and she had some environmental issues, which led to anxiety) and Newtie does?
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by KristenC View Post
I am right with you! I have had a blanket sucker and a dog with a lick granuloma. They had ample exercise and other stimulation. At the end of the day, they were both bags of nerves... very unsure of things. These OCD behaviors are something I do my best to curtail in any visitor/foster/etc.
That's interesting. My lick granuloma dog wasn't nervous at all, but he was a rescue that was rehomed at age 8, so I never knew if that may have played a part. However, he settled in immediately and he never showed any other signs that he had a tough transition, so...?

And Sypha is one of the most confident dogs I know. So I don't think her blanket sucking has anything to do with confidence at all. She is fine if she doesn't have her blanket to suck (as in, I COULD take it away for a day or two), but it's likely that she'd probably suck on something else after a couple of days, so it's easier to let her have "her" blanket and not risk something getting damaged. She doesn't suck all day or anything so I don't really worry about it.

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I really don't know if I buy the idea that more exercise/mental stimulation will reduce the behavior, given my experience with it

MC - What I have seen here is the more I keep Mr. B busy - the less he sucks on his blanket or eats grass - I believe in his case he just gets bored and IF I don't keep him busy then he takes charge and more or less demands it = eating grass

Blanket chewers are seeking attention - they know how and what strings to pull on us to get it
It may be true with Mr. B (seeking attention, and behavior decrease), but I don't think you can generalize it to all dogs. It hasn't been my experience at all.

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My two cents on exercise, Newtie will take his sucky blanket always! It doesn't matter if we've had a long day of nose work, took a walk and played ball. If he gets it that night, he'll take it and will fall asleep with it in his mouth. Now, I've only had one dog that does it so I have very limited experience. Brandy was too dignified for sucking on blankets! It does make me wonder if certain kennels find that they produce dogs that suck more? Why would Brandy not do it (and she had some environmental issues, which led to anxiety) and Newtie does?
Same here, Mel. Sypha also seems to do it a bit more at night, or maybe at mid-day if she's taking a nap. She could be utterly exhausted mentally and physically and it doesn't matter one bit. I definitely think it runs in "lines" just from conversations, but I don't think it's quite so simple as being clearly passed down from one dog to the next, as you can have a mother that sucks and offspring that don't.

I know there was some interesting research about the identification of a gene for OCD in Dobermans, but if I am remembering correctly, researchers thought it was more than one, and more complex?


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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 11:19 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by KristenC View Post
I am right with you! I have had a blanket sucker and a dog with a lick granuloma. They had ample exercise and other stimulation. At the end of the day, they were both bags of nerves... very unsure of things. These OCD behaviors are something I do my best to curtail in any visitor/foster/etc.
Hi Kristen - glad you joined in here ! Like they say on the Weather Channel --- Together , we know more

A major cause of lick granuloma appears to be psychological, related to stress, anxiety, separation anxiety, boredom, or compulsiveness. Lick granulomas are especially seen in active dogs left alone for long periods of time. One theory is that excessive licking causes endorphin release, which reduces pain and makes the animal feel euphoric temporarily; that effect then causes an addiction to licking

A question here - how many on here had dogs that had lick granuloma with dogs that were left alone for long periods of time ?

Will be right back

any of a group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system and having a number of physiological functions. They are peptides which activate the body's opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect.

With the above statement - then could there be a unlaying health issue ? As with our seniors - and sore muscles or some aortitis in hips or joins ? Just asking !

characterized by or feeling intense excitement and happiness.
"a euphoric sense of freedom"


Like Sypha and Newtie - Kadin is like having a hour long cigar before going to bed - he is dead to the world - will go to sleep with it in his mouth - it is his personal de-stressor , he is totally relaxed , Just say 'n' - he had a hard day at work watching robins , planes fly over , the sandhills - , like people that come home from work and kick back and read a book - get on DT - cook - or just watch TV with a cold beer - to unwind .

This may sound like I have been smoking one of them left handed cigarettes' - but are they much different than us ? Nobody handles stress in the same way - some go out and have a smoke , have a drink or 6 maybe both , some cry , some cuss - I think that's why we see in one dog and not the other one , there is a trigger someplace and they deal with in there way that is best for them - lick , chew , eat grass , or just suck on there blanky . But that just me talking out loud here

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post #16 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 11:51 AM
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That's interesting. My lick granuloma dog wasn't nervous at all, but he was a rescue that was rehomed at age 8, so I never knew if that may have played a part. However, he settled in immediately and he never showed any other signs that he had a tough transition, so...?

And Sypha is one of the most confident dogs I know. So I don't think her blanket sucking has anything to do with confidence at all. She is fine if she doesn't have her blanket to suck (as in, I COULD take it away for a day or two), but it's likely that she'd probably suck on something else after a couple of days, so it's easier to let her have "her" blanket and not risk something getting damaged. She doesn't suck all day or anything so I don't really worry about it.


I know there was some interesting research about the identification of a gene for OCD in Dobermans, but if I am remembering correctly, researchers thought it was more than one, and more complex?
I definitely don't think my experience is the same for all... just saying my two with OCD definitely had a lot of issues overall.

I heard the same about this being thought to be more than one gene and quite complex. Which is so often the case with this Dobermans we love so much ;-)
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post #17 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 12:28 PM
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Kip was not left at home alone very often, and he had free run of the house when he was, so wasn't crated for long periods of time.

But he did tend toward anxiousness--not separation anxiety, just caution, bordering on "I'm not going near that and you can't make me!" And a phobia about metallic clanging noises.

Edited to add: He also had severe allergies, so who knows if he was just itching a lot of the time.

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post #18 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 12:38 PM
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Hi Kristen - glad you joined in here ! Like they say on the Weather Channel --- Together , we know more

A major cause of lick granuloma appears to be psychological, related to stress, anxiety, separation anxiety, boredom, or compulsiveness. Lick granulomas are especially seen in active dogs left alone for long periods of time. One theory is that excessive licking causes endorphin release, which reduces pain and makes the animal feel euphoric temporarily; that effect then causes an addiction to licking

A question here - how many on here had dogs that had lick granuloma with dogs that were left alone for long periods of time ?
My lick granuloma dog wasn't home alone much.


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post #19 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 01:36 PM
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This is all very interesting. I've had one flank sucker--that behavior for that dog didn't seem to be related to long absences by me--since after he was old enough to manage to remain house trained I wasn't going home for an hour at lunch time to let him out and play with him it wasn't being left alone that caused him to flank suck. And I always thought it was primarily anxiety that triggered the behavior in him.

He was much, much more likely to flank suck when we were at dog shows and he was crated before classes started and even when he was crated not for conformation--he did the same thing while waiting for his obedience class to start.

In general he was a mellow dog, not at all apparently anxious and seemed to like going to shows and definitely like training for and doing Obedience.

Later in his life when he stopped the flank sucking and took up licking his feet and causing terrible lick granulomas it as pretty obvious that that licking was in some way related to the kidney disease that we were never able to treat satisfactorialy. I could usually clear up the lick granulomas if I treated them and kept full bandages on them until they weren't not just healed but all the missing hair had grown back.

He had at least one and I suspect two litter sisters who were avid blanket and pillow suckers.

And his dam was an avid lick granuloma creator.

So do I think there is a complex often common hereditary link for many of these Dobes that get described as OCD dogs. Yeah, I do. I've kind of seen it in action. Not just with my own dogs but with dogs of related lines (not necessarily to my flank sucker but to dogs in lines related to each other who all have some sort of licking, sucking related behavior.

And I had two dogs in the initial study about OCD behavior and the possible search for a gene or gene complex that might indicated a genetic link.

Both of my dogs were enrolled as NON-OCD dogs. They were loosely related. Bred by the same breeder so if you went far enough back her foundation bitch was behind all of her dogs. The sire of the older dog was the grandsire of the younger dog. I don't know if the study continues--I used to get requests for occasional updates (I presume, to see if either dog had deveoped OCD behaviors as they aged (they didn't).

As far as grass eating goes--with just a couple of notable exceptions all of my dogs were sufficiently determined to eat as much grass as possible as quickly as possible and because I'd seen the results of excessive grass eating on the surgery table in the clinic where I work (and still work to a limited extent even though I'm semi retired) and heard the horrid stories from owners of grass eating dogs. After I got tired at yelling at my dogs for grass eating I settled for a more positive method of stopping it. At the first signs of grass eating even in puppies they get muzzeled and trained to accept the muzzle when they are in the yard. Even if they will only be alone in the yard for very short periods of time when I go to put away a tool or get a different one--I know that I'll be back before they can find something to scrape the muzzle off on.

So do I know anything absolutely? No. I don't. But I've only had the one flank sucker and muizzling stops the grass eating (by the way neither my Afghan Hound nor my Australian Shepherd were blanket suckers or pillow suckers nor grass eaters. So I'm pretty sure it's at least somewhat breed related. But beyond that I know nothing provable.

But I see and hear more about it in Dobermans that I remember seeing in my very first dogs--sooo--I really don't know what to make of it.

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post #20 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 04:13 PM
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Interesting. I call Lily "Moo Moo" because of her grazing habit. She loves to eat grass and leaves, and is the first dog I've had that seriously does it. She is somewhat anxious about some things, and there is always a certain amount of stress, just from living in our household.

After a friend mentioned how much better their anxious dog has been after being on the Purina Calming Care probiotic, I've decided to give it a try with her. It's been less than a week, so I can't give any feedback yet (it can take up to 6 weeks to see improvement), but I figured it was worth a shot.


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post #21 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-06-2020, 08:12 PM
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I don't agree 100%. Sure, sometimes they are self-soothing with sucking. But I don't think it's always stress. I know a lot of dogs that are suckers. I have a blanket sucker. I'm also really, really in tune to stress in dogs (I have a long history with stress and anxiety in dogs that I won't get into too much in this thread, but the whole history is here on DT - my first dogs was incredibly anxious). I'm very good at reading body language and have a pretty firm grasp of stress in dogs). I really don't see Sypha's sucking as stress - she just...does it. She always has, since puppyhood. It's...behavior, habit, and much more of an obsessive thing. Her "level" of sucking is towards the mild side. And her relatives do it. They have "sucky" toys. Because it's mild, it hasn't been much of an issue, and yet, for me, it's the bigger picture that I'm looking at - the whole breed. Make sense?

I think some dogs may increase their sucking behavior in times of stress simply because it's soothing, or, because in times of stress, OCD behaviors tend to increase. It may be the same was what you see in people. It's almost like what we talk about when we talk about "trigger stacking" in reactive dogs. You see more "behaviors" when stressors increase.

Additionally, I'm very well versed in OCD in humans. My sister was OCD - diagnosed. Hers was reasonably manageable, in that she could live her life without TOO much interruption. But it certainly impacted her. And yes, anxiety is a co-morbidity with OCD. It doesn't mean that anxiety CAUSES OCD. It's the same way that things like depression or digestion issues are often co-morbidities with migraine. They aren't causes, just more likely to also be diseases diagnosed at the same time.

I find this an interesting discussion.
Our girl, Zuri, was a blanket sucker too.. We called her Linus lol, with her blanket. She had a posh lifestyle with plenty of activity and exercise. I don't think she was stressed. This seems to be a dobe 'thing'. And I'm ok with that. We just had to be careful where we sat LOL!!!!
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post #22 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-07-2020, 03:39 PM
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I've had a couple of blanket suckers - it really seems to be a soothing/relaxing thing for them. Mabel has done it since she was a young puppy - it does not seem to be stress at all. I do believe that there is a hereditary component to it. As long as they don't start eating the blanket, I just let them be. Mabel does not eat the blanket and neither does Jezebel. My Louise used to eat holes in blankets eventually. Harvard has never been a sucker - but does do some licking now in his old age - not too bad. I figure that is more due to some joint pain since he is 12.

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post #23 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-17-2020, 12:50 PM
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What tests do you run to rule out medical issues? I was told whip worms could trigger my dog, Marvin's, flank sucking. But in reading this thread should I have other tests and what should I be looking for? I was told it could be (1) parasites, (2) allergies, (3) stress or boredom or (4) genetic. My Vet is also wondering if he gets car sick and starts sucking to keep calm during the car ride. My employer allows dogs at work and we were making a 45 minute trip to work daily. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. We are concerned as Marvin is just 3 1/2 months old, generally flank sucking starts when they are older? Thank you all again for any help.
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