I think my dog has autism! Autism is something that affects many children, but just how does this development syndrome affect our beloved dogs and how can we spot the signs?
Often thought to be a disorder that makes communication and social interactions difficult for someone to develop in a similar way to someone who doesn't suffer from it.
This is displayed in the way they deal with tasks and how they cope with different activities, often displaying repetitive behaviours.
Before we begin, we should comment that there are plenty of repetitive behaviours in which a dog partakes in many times a day. Spinning and pacing for example are often just your normal dog behaviours and should not be treated as anything to be concerned about.
Also it is important to state that there is still more research to be done to determine if there is such a thing as autism in dogs, but going by the studies that do recognise it, we have accumulated the following.
Is It Weird That I Think My Dog Has Autism - 5 Potential Signs to Help
1) Chasing Their Tail
Often thought to be linked with dogs that find it difficult to interact with other dogs as well as humans, tail chasing is a sign of repetitive behaviour that is not a regular canine trait.
One study from Moon-Fanelli et al, 2011 have recognised this as one of the major potential signs of canine autism and found it to be associated with trancelike behaviour as well as episodic aggression.
2) Difficulty Training
This is a potential sign but before you link it directly to canine autism you should consider if your dog is also found to display some of the other signs as well.
Since all dogs are different, and like humans they learn things at different speeds this shouldn't be a concern if your dog has not long started to be trained, or if you have tried different methods.
But if the dog is unenthusiastic about training and easily distracted even when a treat is presented, this could be a sign of autism in your dog.
3) Repetitive Behaviours
One of the major links with child autism and one that can easily be spotted. Easy to observe and think of it as nothing, it is a difficult factor to be conclusive over this. Sometimes it can be one of the quirks of your dog's personality and nothing to be concerned about.
But if they constantly make actions and seem as though they are in a trance of have a lower than usual level of self control whilst acting out the behaviour then this would be similar to something an autistic child might experience.
4) Impaired Social Interaction
This is where a dog doesn't have the social etiquette that others do. This can be confused with a lack of training and fewer manners than other dogs, so again it is important to reiterate, diagnosing autism in canines is difficult.
Some dogs show signs of this by shying behind their owners and not wanting to interact altogether. If it is calm and happy whilst doing so then this is fine, it could just be your dog being at the back of the pack and allowing you to be at the front, however if they are nervous it is a potential sign of what some believe to be canine autism.
5) No Interest In Playing or Exercise
This doesn't apply to an elderly dog, or a puppy who hasn't yet learnt to fetch. This is more about the level of unwillingness to partake in regular canine activities.
Most dogs can’t hide their excitement at the prospect of a walk but if your dog would rather not and shows no interest in toys or chews then this could be a sign since it is linked to a diagnosis of a child's autism.
However, it is possible that your dog is unwell if this is irregular behaviour for them and if you suspect this is the case, we would advise you to consult your vet.
It is not weird that you think your dog has autism, it is perfectly normal to compare similar behaviours and traits from your dog and diagnose it within the context of human condition.
It is important to consider all the factors, since alone they could just part of your dogs perfectly normal personality.
It is always good when an owner is concerned enough about their dog to research the possibilities. There is no real right or wrong answer as the research is still ongoing.
Until further research is completed, it is difficult to say for sure whether or not a dog can have autism. If you are concerned about the behaviour, wellbeing or health of your dog, consult your vet for further information and advice.