Fixation and obsession in dogs

While some people think that a dog may just be having a hell of a time when playing with a toy, a dog who is fixated or obsessed with something – like a toy or ball – is not stable or happy for that matter. This behaviour is not natural for dogs and is the result of frustration from excess energy. It is comparable to a human who is addicted to a drug and it can quickly become destructive.

Why is this? Owners have a habit of making toys a source of excitement and their sole source of exercise. We rev our dogs up around these things and so the dog only learns to be that way around the toy. We rarely practice being calm when in their presence. It’s typically the same when it comes to giving them treats and feeding time. Toys equal excitement. Food equals excitement. A dog has become conditioned to respond this way and suddenly we don’t like it. The issue worsens when we try to fix this by becoming frustrated and taking it away. Again the dog has not achieved balance around the token of obsession and now is even more frustrated because it has been taken away.

As the pack leader you want is to be the one to start and stop the excitement level, and never let it reach to a point of obsession.

It can actually be a fun and mentally stimulating game for your pet to present a toy or treat to them but practice keep the dog away instead. Do not let the dog have the item until it is in a calm state. Not just practicing a sit in front of it, but waiting all the way until the dog submits and is relaxed in it’s presence. This may take 20 or 30 minutes for some but will gradually become less and less over time. Don’t think that this is teasing the dog, what you are doing is teaching them patience and what it means to be balanced. This is also known as discipline. As the pack leader you want is to be the one to start and stop the excitement level, and never let it reach to a point of obsession. A dog who is obsessed or fixated is not in control of his energy so it is your role as guardian and pack leader to help him through it.

If you have an obsessive dog, contact me for help to achieve a calm dog around toys and food.

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