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Is your dog grouchy? Could it be autism?

Frustrated with your misbehaving dog that seems to ignore you? Your furry friend could be autistic or suffering from OCD, new research suggests.

Genes associated with autism, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other psychological problems have now been linked to human-directed social behaviors in dogs, suggesting that far more dogs than previously realized could suffer from these mental disorders.

The new research, published in Scientific Reports, reveals how malleable the identified gene regions are in dogs, since certain variations of them appear to explain the difference between a withdrawn dog and one that eagerly seeks human companionship.

The good news is, as with humans “there are cures which at least will decrease the problems,” said senior author Per Jensen of the AVIAN Behavior Genomics and Physiology Group at Linköping University. “With respect to autism-like disorders, not much has been done, but OCD is a great problem in particular in some breeds of dogs. Dog psychologists usually have training programs that can alleviate some of these problems.”

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Burleson Animal Emergency Hospital