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Dog Behavioral Expert Talks on Current Research in OCD Dogs

New York, New York (PRWEB) June 24, 2013

Dog behaviorist and trainer Joseph Biggins responds to the research outlined in National Geographic regarding similar brain abnormalities among dogs and people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The ground-breaking finds suggest that dogs will one day help doctors better understand human anxiety, giving them valuable insight into how to treat the disorder.

The article begins by informing readers that the idea of dogs living with their own version of CCD – canine compulsive disorder – is old news. Scientists are already familiar with the concept of dogs developing their species’ version of OCD, noting that they respond to the same medications and “have a genetic basis to their disorders.”

Dog behavioral expert Joseph Biggins comments on the similarities found between dogs and humans. “As an animal behaviorist, I see the shared behaviors between people and dogs with OCD. Not only does this pave the way for immensely helpful research regarding human anxiety, it also gives pet owners an opportunity to understand their dogs better,” he said. “I work with dogs with severe behavioral issues like separation anxiety or aggressive behavior. Part of my job as a behavioral expert is to help owners find ways to modify those behaviors to make it easier to live with. As a dog trainer, this level of expertise is so important. In a lot of ways, my approach with dogs as a behaviorist is similar to what psychiatrists do for humans. We use behavior modification techniques and lifestyle change, using psychoactive medication when needed.”

The article emphasizes this strange bond by quoting Niwako Ogata, an assistant professor of animal behavior at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine in Indiana. “We have a lot of commonality with our best friend the dog,” he said. The article reveals that for the first time ever, “MRI brain scans of eight CCD-affected Doberman pinschers show that dogs and people also share certain brain characteristics.” An applied animal behaviorist in southern California, Jill Goldman, adds that “these findings support the similarities between humans and dogs.”

Research is beginning to show commonalities outside of OCD diagnoses. For instance, elderly dogs that display mirrored characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease are used as models in gaining insight of the degenerative disease in people. The article continues to identify attributes of the anxious brain, revealing that “people with OCD often perform the same rituals repeatedly, disrupting their daily routines – for example, by washing hands or unlocking and relocking doors over and over again. Dogs with CCD show the same kind of detrimental repetitions, such as chasing their tails or licking their paws.”

Goldman notes the importance of diagnosing and training dogs with CCD with a sense of patience. “Please remember that dogs were domesticated by humans,” she said. “We’re responsible for their behavior, and for preventing and treating the problem through better understanding.” Joseph Biggins earnestly concurs, adding that “punishing the compulsive behavior may only heighten the dog’s anxiety, making the issue worse.”


Joseph Biggins is the founder of Good Dog Training, a dog obedience school that specializes in positive reinforcement. He extends group and private sessions with a goal of restoring the owner-pet bond. The experts at Good Dog Training are certified and equipped to help you better understand your dog, providing you with the tools you need to continue training beyond the classroom. Joseph Biggins can help you produce positive behavior in your pet, whether he or she struggles with OCD, social and separation anxiety, aggression issues or any other behavioral problem.

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