Autism spectrum disorder has been defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a, “developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges.” The symptoms are varied in character and severity—this is why it is called a spectrum.
In 2014, another study found certain hormones were higher in both children with autism and Bull Terriers who exhibited tail-chasing behavior.
The cause of canine dysfunctional behavior is not known or is idiopathic, meaning unknown. However, experts believe that affected dogs are likely born with it.
You should not try to diagnose canine dysfunctional behavior in your dog by yourself. You will need to consult a vet that has experience in diagnosing and treating behavioral and neurological conditions in dogs.
Dogs are pack animals and social interaction should be important to them. A normal dog will naturally want to interact on some level with other dogs, other animals, and humans. If you have a dog that takes no notice of other animals and pays no attention to you, even during mealtimes, this could indicate a problem.
Our dogs may not be able to talk but they are very good at communicating with other dogs and us. They use body language signals such as tail wagging, licking, pinning their ears back, and rolling onto their backs. As owners, we soon learn to interpret what our dogs are saying to us.
Autistic dogs react differently to various stimuli, such as being touched. Whilst most dogs love a tickle under the chin, autistic dogs may be hypersensitive and may react as if you have hurt them. They may even become aggressive.
Research in this area has focussed on obsessive tail chasing but autistic dogs can become obsessive about other things too. They may repeatedly circle the circumference of a room or constantly grind their teeth.
All of this can make them appear lazy. If they are a high energy breed, such as a Border Collie, the difference between them and the rest of their breed can be quite startling. Lethargy in a dog, especially a high-energy breed, should always be checked out by your vet.
Your vet will be able to decide if your dog has autism. This can be complicated because there are several other canine conditions that also have similar symptoms. The main ones are: