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DSM Puppy

I took a class in Abnormal Psychology this past semester, and we learned about the Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM is similar to a field guide to birds, without the map to tell you where to find each colorful creature.

DSM-5_3D

There was a lot of excitement, from the teacher, about the new DSM 5 arriving in May, and I began to think, what would a DSM for dogs include?

My incomplete list of disorders:

Hyperbarkia – a disorder in the quantity of the barking and/or the level of hysteria. An occasional woof-woof to mark the passing of a neighbor, or a more persistent bark to note a stranger at the door, can both be within the normal range. Whereas an unending barking spree, lasting twenty minutes or more, or rising to operatic levels, can be a sign that the need-to-bark meter has jammed.

Bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you-disorder is self explanatory.

Cricket, a case in point

Cricket, a case in point

Foreign object eating disorder – eating rocks and sticks and plastic toys, because those trips to the vet are just so much fun!

Vacuum phobia – when dogs believe that the vacuum cleaner is a giant roaring monster, ready to devour every toy, treat, and dog in its way.

Mailman paranoia is the belief that the mail delivery person is coming to massacre the family, and the only thing standing in his or her way is a tiny barking dog. (I worry that this puts undue stress on Cricket’s heart.)

"Mailman! Mailman! Mailman! Mailman!"

“Mailman! Mailman! Mailman! Mailman!”

Scratching Addiction is when a dog can get hours of scratchies at a time and never feel like it’s enough. Having an endless void inside of you, that no amount of scratchies can fill, may lead to other addictions, like chicken. Not to be confused with a genuine allergic skin condition.

Butterfly, a borderline case of scratching addiction

Butterfly, a borderline case of scratching addiction

Bone hiding disorder – this can be a normal reaction to a sibling who steals bones, or it can be a miscalculation on the dog’s part, imagining that the humans would steal that dirty, spit covered nylabone, if only they could find it.

PGSD or Post-Grooming Stress Disorder results in flashbacks and tremors at the sign of clippers and the sound of bath water. This can be incredibly disabling and creates the false impression that dogs prefer to be dirty. They do not. They just believe that the process of becoming clean will kill them.

Cricket hates being wet

Cricket hates being wet

Overly Selfless Dog Disorder is common in Golden Retrievers and other therapy dogs. This disorder can result when a dog is so focused on pleasing her humans, or other dog siblings, that she doesn’t stand up for herself. These dogs can be so good natured and non-confrontational that others take advantage of them or ignore their needs. (Butterfly started out this way, refusing to fight with Cricket over food or leashes or toys. If Cricket wanted something, Butterfly would stand back and leave it to her sister. But she’s getting better at elbowing her way to the food and speaking up when she wants to go outside or eat Grandma’s chicken wings.)

Butterfly: "Who me?"

Butterfly: “Who me?”

Jumping Bean Disorder – Some dogs have this need to bounce that can’t be repressed. Jack Russells are known for springing so high into the air that they greet human visitors at eye level. (Butterfly has not managed this feat, but she is trying.)

a serious case (not my picture)

a serious case (not my picture)

Fear of Thunderstorms is very common. I imagine thunder sounds like a huge, unnaturally ferocious, dog standing outside of the house and barking to get in. (Butterfly gets very anxious. Usually she sleeps on her side of the bed, with maybe a paw stretched out to touch me. But during thunderstorms, she climbs on my chest and shakes. Cricket has no fear of the sound of thunder, but she doesn’t like to be out in the rain and get plinked on the head by rain drops.)

Flibbertigibbet Disorder is an unrelentingly positive attitude towards going outside for walks that causes the body to hop and twirl and race around in aimless circles, preventing the attachment of the leash.

Small Dog Syndrome is when dogs under fifteen pounds believe they can intimidate full sized humans, by growling. This is also assumed to work on Fed Ex drivers.

This is my incomplete list of disorders. Clearly further revisions and additions will be needed. This shouldn’t take more than twenty years.

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

109 responses »

  1. Very clever.. Great post.

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  2. This made me laugh because it’s all so true! My two little ones exhibit some form of every one of these! HA!

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    • I found the same to be true with the Human DSM. Most people show a few signs of each things at some point. Though I don’t think Cricket will ever be mistakenly diagnosed with Overly Selfless Dog Disorder.

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  3. Wonderful post! I would just add the disorder “Sneakapiecearemia” where the dog manages to look completely innocent before, during and just after sneaking a piece of whatever it is that the human has been eating. This includes popcorn, pizza and graham crackers.

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    • Excellent addition! Cricket is terrible at looking innocent, so I haven’t had too many examples of this pathology near by. Clearly, I need a wider patient group to work from.

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  4. Fun and funny post, Rachel.

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  5. The DSM has delusions of importance disorder. Throw it away and replace it with two words, “You’re crazy.”

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  6. Very clever! I have just self-diagnosed with Overly Selfless Dog Disorder and I wonder if you could come up with one that is kind of the opposite of Small Dog Disorder. I suffer from something that makes me–the 60-pound golden retriever–always think that I am the smallest dog in any group!

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    • I’m pretty sure your Overly Selfless Dog Disorder has led to co-morbidity with Incredible-shrinking-self-image disorder. This is a sad, though common, diagnosis. I would recommend spending time with small, docile dogs, and gradually building up to slightly larger, though still docile dogs, until you have an appropriate mirror for your selfless, wonderful Goldenitude.

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  7. “Operatic levels!” :O) Our Missy definitely had Bone Hiding Disorder. When we lived in South Dakota there were real bones available that I got for the dogs sometimes, but whereas Pluto would studiously chew on his till it was literally gone, Missy would eagerly, promptly bury hers and never go back to get it again. The local CSA where we get vegetables is “guarded” by a smiley Golden with the worst case of OSDD I’ve ever seen. When I went up to greet her, she rolled over to solicit a belly rub, and after that simply relaxed to a “stretched out for a nap” position. As for Pluto, his fear of thunderstorms and fireworks was so intense that it was a blessing when he went deaf for the last quarter of his life.

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    • There was a golden in Cricket’s training class, and when she wasn’t doing everything her humans asked of her, she was rolling on her back for belly rubs. Cricket couldn’t even look at her. The whole idea! You do what your humans tell you to do?!!!!

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  8. This was hysterical – your best post ever!! While one or all of my dogs exhibit one or all of these disorders on any given day, the Mailman Disorder is one that they ALL exhibit EVERY day. Now I understand why. The Mailman is a Mass Murderer Of course, I should’ve known. Thanks for the laughs this morning!! 🙂

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    • Our new mail person is a nice, young, Indian woman who no one (except Cricket) could ever see as a threat. Luckily, she leaves the mail downstairs and Cricket doesn’t realize she’s in the building until the last second. Now, it’s possible that she, too, is part of the mailman conspiracy of evil and is just much better at disguise. Cricket certainly thinks so.

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  9. Love this list…Clearly Gizmo suffers from a few of these, mostly the bath-related ones

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    • Bath related disorders are completely understandable. Cricket believes that humans who try to bathe their dogs are agents of the devil. Clearly she has only survived up to this point by great luck.

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  10. Loved the post! It was so funny!

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  11. I have two cats that suffer from several of the disorders.

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  12. Very Funny, had a good laugh! Now I can easily explain some typical behavior of Charley….

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  13. I love it! Great post cracks me up!

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  14. Poppy suffers from the bone hiding disorder. She’s convinced she needs to protect her “raw, meaty bone” from human interference. The thing is, when she buries the uneaten bone in the garden, I do have to find it and take it away. Disgusting!!!

    Very funny post. The things we humans put up with!!!

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  15. Ruby has delusions of thinking-she-is-tiny. When approaching a new dog she crouches down extremely low and tries to make herself look as small as possible which is fine apart from the fact she is a big lolloping labrador!

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    • I think I used to do that when I was a kid, and taller than all of the other girls in my class. If I could have crouched down on the ground and crawled under a couch, I would have done that too. Maybe I was a black lab in my previous life.

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  16. This is so interesting Rachel.

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  17. The Flibbertigibbrt Disorder I understand – My man has this – he also has the “Licking Disorder” the compulsion to lick everything, from ceramic tiles on the floor, carpet, me, and the corners of his bed – and anything else that he takes a fancy to. We asked the Vet and he has no idea why but it seems a lot of Maltese do this.

    Great post – as always…

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    • Butterfly had licking disorder when she first came home from the shelter. She’s a Lhasa Apso and it seemed to be like the way human babies have to put everything in their mouths to figure out what things are, though she was eight years old. She has confined her licking to my hands and elbows now, as a way to wake me up, or encourage me to give her pets. But chewing…that’s her favorite thing now, especially paper.

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      • My Man is also a rescue dog and at 13+ I think he’s too mature to change now so I’ve just gotten used to it.

      • Our Missy, a rescue dog, is a licker too. She chases my daughter around after a bath because apparently body lotion is delicious. I can’t figure out why Missy licks the carpet so much. I’ve decided she isn’t fat. She’s full of carpet fiber!

      • She’s making herself extra fluffy!

  18. Hilarious and reading your current blog installment is always a great way to begin my day. I hate to admit it but my pups have several of the symptoms as described in your DSM edition. Now that I have the proper name for each disorder I can make it my life’s work in helping my pups deal with their illness. Thank you Rachel for putting a name on these often overlooked disorders. You’ve made the dog kingdom a happier place. 😉

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    • I’m just waiting for someone to go to the vet and say, “My dog has developed Flibbertigibbet disorder, can you help me?” I’ll have to send out copies of the handbook to all the doggy doctors.

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  19. Rachel,

    Great and funny post. My German Shepherd has people running from the house when he barks. The other day a UPS driver put a package on the back porch and then ran away like a scalded cat. I have to admit to LMAO.

    My Welsh Corgi, who passed away in January thought he was a mighty big dog and actually did scare a man from crossing the street to the side I was on. So even a medium size dog can scare others. I was grateful since the man looked kind of sinister.

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  20. Hahahaha,very funny (and cute).

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  21. Doesn’t look like she’s letting that toothbrush get anywhere near her! 🙂

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  22. As the owner of two relatively small dogs, I could relate to a number of these maladies! Nicely done, Rachel.

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  23. This is great! You could be on the cutting edge of a new psychology discipline…

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  24. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    CUTE…INVENTIVE….BE A CAT AND BE ACCEPTED FOR WHO YOU ARE!!!!!!!!!

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  25. Both my dogs have Tasmanian Devil Disorder (aka Whirling Dervish Disorder) characterized by frenzied attempts to detach from the lead. This can happen when a dog is overwhelmed by the urge to chase something (in the case of Millie and cats) or escape from something (in the case of Pearl and noisy kids!)

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    • Cricket just acted on this particular disorder when she was out with her grandma, and managed to pull away and chase a neighbor to his door. She got to an inch away from his leg and opened her mouth, to keep barking. When Butterfly is annoyed by the leash she just sits down and refuses to move.

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  26. That is too funny, and so true!!! Anyone who has a dog can identify with all those “disorders”.

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  27. What a cute post! Celeste 🙂

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  28. Hilarious!….I believe I recognize a couple of the above traits in my “pack”.

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  29. Loved this post. Very creative, and spot on! All my dogs (three of them) have at least one of these disorders! 🙂

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  30. Very interesting article & site. Thanks for dropping by my site as well!

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  31. This was so easy to relate to and so much fun to read. Thanks!

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  32. hello cricket its dennis the vizsla dog hay i hav a buntch of diagnosiseses too!!! hang on let me koppy payste them!!!

    Clinical Diagnosis:

    Separation Anxiety
    Selective noise phobia & generalizing anxiety
    Neophobia
    Post-traumatic stress/panic attacks (suspect developmental sensory deprivation components)
    Fear of unfamiliar dogs
    Suspect significant genetic and inadequate early socialization components

    hmph!!! hoo ar they kalling inadekwatlee soshalized??? and i no peepul wot pay gud munny to sleep in sensory deprivayshun tanks peepul like the faymus aktor william hurt for instanse!!! so we ar in gud kompanee!!! ok bye

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  33. My dogs, who are giant Newfs, have “fall asleep in front of whatever door your human wants to go through disorder”. The older one, Ellie Mae adds to the fun by snoring loudly.

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  34. An entertaining but, as you mentioned, non-inclusive list. Just off the top of my head, I might add:

    Small Dog Piddling Syndrome – The tendency of a dog to piddle in excitement when someone it likes comes in the front door and pets it on the head. Especially prevalent in Cocker Spaniels.

    Extreme Salivary Incontinence – The tendency of dogs to sit by a chair and drool uncontrollably while watching their owner eat a cheeseburger.

    Perpendicular Sleeping Disorder – A dog’s need to sleep in their owner’s bed at a right angle to said owner. Thereby taking up 3/4 of the available sleeping room and forcing the male owner to sleep curled up on the floor beside the bed and hugging a dog toy for warmth.

    Sequential Elimination Disorder – The phenomenon that occurs when two or more dogs live in the same house and refuse to go to the bathroom at the same time. Thereby forcing the male owner to take them out sequentially and miss twenty minutes of the Dancing With the Stars results show. Said twenty minutes always containing the solo dance by Cheryl Burke.

    There are many more of course, but twenty years is probably enough time to finish the documentation.

    Great Post!

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  35. Thanks for liking “learning to ride” and for that hilarious DSM guide. Had a Yorkie who’d bark on the property line so hard that all four of his feet came off the ground – barking courageously at a passing dog so big he could take the Yorkie in one gulp.

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  36. thanks for the visits to my blog! love your fabulous adventures over here! as the wife of a social worker, I cant tell you how funny and clever this piece is. I need a dsm for the beauty industry lol! looking forward to following you and your fur babies! !

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  37. transformational1

    I love this article. I’d like to repost it on my blog. May I add Dog Delusion Disorder, the belief that one’s testicles will be fully restored in doggy heaven?

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  38. Very funny post, Rachel. I deal with some of these conditions on a daily basis. Maybe I ought to get certified, make a little money on the side.

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  39. BOL I have “bone hiding disorder” though not with bones, I hide logs from the log pile. I love them and it causes me a lot of stress when I see the humans walking past where I have hidden one.
    I don’t seem to have any of the other disorders, at least not to a major extent, so I guess I’m pretty normal then!
    Thanks for visiting my blog, I’ve enjoyed visiting yours 🙂

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    • Cricket is very jealous. First of all that you even have a log pile. Second that you can lift a log and move it to a good hiding place. Cricket has to settle for stealing her sister’s chewy sticks and hiding them under the couch.

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  40. Thank you for liking photo of Bailey on http://fordsthoughts.wordpress.com. I couldn’t read your page on Dina – too sad and too many memories for me, but loved this one.

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  41. great post Rachel-it appears we have several of these symptoms in this house too . . . with a small, medium and large dog each, I think I have the gamut covered-

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  42. I had two Jack Russell’s, sadly both passed now, 17 years and 18 years, so good long lives. The boy loved bouncing, right up until his last days he’d jump for joy, the girls wasn’t keen. Two years on I now have a (rescued) black cross bred terrier (typical of small dogs here in Italy) she was a quiet thing, with no bounce until we took in an abandoned puppy that towers above her, our little dog is now full of beans and bounces at everything that makes her happy.

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    • My rescue dog started out pretty grounded and zen, but the more time she spends with Cricket (the Cockapoo) the more she jumps, even on her short legs. Cricket has always seemed to me like a very fluffy Jack Russell.

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  43. I think you should definitely email the editors and see if this can be included in the next edition!

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  44. Haha, what a clever concept!
    I definitely think you’re in to something here!!!

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  45. My jack Russell definitely has jumping bean disorder! The fact that he’s a cross, and so had very long legs only serves to help him jump even further! Great post

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  46. Thanks for visiting my blog. I love this. I’m following you now.

    Reply
  47. Reblogged this on onepawfectday and commented:
    Just love this post. Reminds me of another little furry friend.

    Reply

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