Some dog owners are constantly mystified at how much entertainment or glee their pet may seem to take in chasing its own tail. But according to a new study of Doberman pinschers, the strange hobby may have more to do with obsessive compulsive disorder than mere diversion - and the implications could have a bearing on the relationship between pets and owners.
Dr Nicholas Dodman, director of the animal behavior clinic at Tufts University's School of Veterinary Medicine, told HealthDay News, "These [behaviors] are not just funny things."
He added, "It's a physically injurious and life-threatening disease and can seriously impair the relationship between owner and dog, which can lead to euthanasia."
According to researchers, whereas humans may excessively wash their hands and obsess over lights and locks, a gene in Dobermans may cause them to compulsively engage in activities like fence-running, frequent pacing and snapping at imaginary flies, according to the New York Times.
Though the condition is treatable, veterinary behaviorists are concerned that compulsive behavior may cause some dog owners to euthanize or surrender their pets to animal shelters.