Most dogs will display funny quirks of behaviour from time to time, whether it's insisting they eat their dry dog food from a certain bowl, turning several times before lying down or rolling in smelly dirt when out on their walks.

And for the most part, these strange manners are completely harmless and signal little more than the dog's basic animal instincts kicking in.

However, now research is suggesting that there are certain behaviours that may indicate that a pooch is suffering from obsessive disorders brought on from experiences in their earlier life.

Researchers from the University of Helsinki have found that dogs that exhibit behaviours such as tail-chasing, running after cars and biting at their flanks could be suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

OCD is better known as it occurs in humans, and is characterised by repetitive and ritualised behaviours such as constantly checking and rechecking locks, persistent hand washing and recurrent thoughts and fears.

But the new study, which took blood samples and surveyed the owners of nearly 400 canines, suggests that dogs can also become victim to compulsive behaviours.

In the past, this sort of disorder has been associated with the dog's living environment, but the Finnish research indicates that it is brought on by neglect suffered as a puppy or by early separation from the pup's mother.

In addition, the findings of the study showed that dogs that received nutritional supplements - particularly vitamins and minerals - chased their tails less than other dogs.

It is hoped that through research such as this dogs can be used to help investigate the causes of psychiatric diseases in humans.

"Different types of compulsive behaviour occur simultaneously in humans suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder or other diseases such as autism," explained Professor Hannes Lohi, a co-author of the study.

"[Dogs] share the same environment with humans, and as large animals are physiologically close to humans. Furthermore, their strict breed structure aids the identification of genes."

Written by: Hannah