Dogs

Study Concludes That Dog Behavioral Disorders Resemble Human Ones

(Picture Credit: Zuberka/Getty Images)

A new study, conducted by the University of Helsinki in Finland, found comprehensive evidence that dog behavioral disorders greatly resemble human ones, specifically Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

In humans, behavioral disorders like ADHD go hand-in-hand with OCD. They often manifest at once, or one as a result of the other.

For dogs, the study finds this to be the same. And interestingly, our study of these behavioral disorders in dogs can help us understand similar disorders in humans.

Dogs Help Humans Understand Humans

Multiple studies about dogs have greatly informed both human behavior and history.

In this case, our behaviors share similarities with those of dogs to a high degree. In fact, we can even learn more about them via our canine companions. A silver lining, we suppose?

“Dogs share many similarities with humans, including physiological traits and the same environment,” says Sini Sulkama, a doctoral researcher involved in the study.

For example, OCD manifests in dogs as incessant tail chasing, perpetual licking of surfaces or themselves, and/or long periods of staring at seemingly nothing.

“The findings suggest that the same brain regions and neurobiological pathways regulate activity, impulsivity, and concentration in both humans and dogs.

“This strengthens the promise that dogs show as a model species in the study of ADHD. In other words, the results can both make it easier to identify and treat canine impulsivity and inattention as well as promote ADHD research,” Sulkama concludes.

How Loneliness & Inactivity Spikes These Behaviors

Dog looking out the window.

(Picture Credit: spooh/Getty Images)

For their study, the team at Helsinki examined over 11,000 dogs.

The results concluded that attention, the amount of time spent alone, and exercise, all heavily factor into canine behavioral disorders. Furthermore, this was predominantly true in young pups and adult male dogs.

“Corresponding observations relating to age and gender in connection with ADHD have been made in humans too,” Dr. Jenni Puurunen stated in the report.

“As social animals, dogs can get frustrated and stressed when they are alone, which can be released as hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention,” Sulkama reported.

How Breed Factors into Dog Behavioral Disorders

According to the study, breeds do factor in, as well, not just how humans interact with their dogs. Traits of a specific breed, and the evolution of those traits over multiple generations, can evolve into behavioral traits.

“Hyperactivity and impulsivity on the one hand, and good concentration on the other, are common in breeds bred for work, such as the German Shepherd and Border Collie,” reported Professor Hannes Lohi.

“In contrast, a more calm disposition is considered a benefit in breeds that are popular as pets or show dogs, such as the Chihuahua, Long-Haired Collie, and Poodle, making them easier companions in everyday life.”

You can find a comprehensive breakdown of the University of Helsinki’s findings, in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Do you have any experience with dog behavioral disorders? Have you noticed any parallels between your own behavioral traits and those of your dog? Let us know in the comments below.

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