There may be answers for obsessive dog behaviour that hits close to home. Dr. Nicholas Dodman has spent a lot of his career dealing with and treating animals with obsessive behaviours, and has come to the conclusion that these are closely linked to OCD in humans. Initially an anesthesiologist, he was first faced with horses who exhibited "cribbing," wherein these horses would engage in repetitve and destructive behaviours. They were calmed through injetcing them with opioid receptor blockers, this completely stopped the obsessive behaviours that was seemingly triggered through an initial morphine injection. These initial cases led Dodman to open Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic and he began noticing species-specific behaviours. 

Through a lot of research, Dodman isolated glutamate (brain chemical that excitse whatever synapse it touches) as a culprit for obsessive behaviour. The original cribbing horses were administered a drug that blocked glutamate receptors, and these positive results were seen in problematic dogs as well. These findings caught the attention of Dr. Michael Jenike, the director of the OCD Institute at McLean Hospital, who proceeded to try the same type of drug on some of his OCD patients and it also worked! While the origins may not be the same, this research suggests that there is a chemical link between dogs with obsessive behaviours and people with OCD.  Dodman further found more connections "y peering into the brains of compulsive Dobermans in collaboration with Marc Kaufman, a psychiatrist at McLean Hospital, he discovered structural brain abnormalities that mirrored those previously found in humans with OCD. The brains of compulsive Dobermans and humans, the researchers found, had more gray matter in areas associated with performing well-rehearsed tasks, as well as in one region that’s critical for communication between the brain’s two hemispheres. The gray matter was also denser in these areas."

This research has gone a long way to not only help people with problematic dogs, but also to bring humans and their best canine friends closer together. It is also good to know that there is hope for our best friends, and we can understand them a little more when they are in distress.

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