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Little Lexi is a sweet 19-month-old Working Cocker Spaniel with a beautiful loving nature.

Very soon after they got her at 4 months of age, she was exhibiting OCD by fixating for hours on the sunlight dancing through the leaves onto the ground. They didn’t realise the implications back then.

Where did this come from?

They had never played with a laser torch which is a very common way these obsessive OCD fixations begin.

The first couple of months away from Lexi’s mother and letter mates were with a family of young children. They couldn’t cope with an active puppy so Lexi spent much of her time in a crate. One might guess that a combination of lack of stimulation and maybe play with a laser torch to stop her puppy-nipping could have started this off.

With some dogs it doesn’t take much to trigger OCD. With others, no amount of chasing lights would turn into a fixation. I guess it’s the same with people, some are more susceptible to OCD than others.

Glass doors

They have glass doors out into the garden and the front. On the way out, Lexi is so wired at the door that she spins frantically, crashing into it.

She will barge into the garden door to make it move – so the reflection moves. Each time she goes out there is this drama. They have tried various things to interrupt it.

However, when they are in bed or out, Lexi settles. No OCD chasing! It takes just the tiny bit of arousal of a human’s presence to start her searching for lights.

Out in the garden her obsession takes over, particularly on a sunny day. So it is on walks. She will chase the shadows of birds flying over. They used to play frisbee and she was only interested in the shadow it cast.

Like many people they had been playing a lot of repetitive ball play in order to ‘tire her out’. This undoubtedly will have been feeding into her fixation for chasing things and wiring her up further. They have now stopped.

OCD and strategies

The ball has a use. If at the very start of a light-chase they throw the ball in another direction, she may chase that instead if they are quick enough. They can now interrupt the repetitive behaviour by taking away the ball until next time. They have control over the ball where they haven’t with lights and shadows.

We have worked out other strategies for interruption or redirection, devised specifically for Lexi. (One size never fits all so if you have an OCD dog, get in touch).

The first, easiest and most obvious thing is to use some management. Put frosting on the lower part of those window doors – on both sides.

The second is to keep her general arousal, stress and excitement levels as low as possible with more calm brain work and enrichment.

The third is to talk to their vet who I hope will support them with some appropriate medication for Lexi. If she were a human child with OCD at this level, she would for sure have both psychiatric and medical help.

The very committed young couple adore Lexi. Her OCD, ‘Abnormal Repetitive Behaviour’ distresses them greatly and they will leave no stone unturned.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help