Tail biting in dogs – the causes and concerns
If your dog is biting, chewing or chasing his tail repeatedly, it could be a sign of discomfort. Some of the causes of tail biting in dogs come from behavioural issues, while others have medical causes. No matter the reason though, it’s important to get to the bottom of the problem and resolve it before it manifests into something much larger.
Establish if there is an underlying cause:
First things first, you need to establish if there is an underlying medical problem that is leading to your dog biting his tail. Check your dog’s tail area for pus, blood, matted hair or bald patches. If you spot any of these signs it’s important to take your dog to be checked by a vet in order to immediately rule out any health issues.
Common causes for tail biting in dogs:
If you’ve eliminated any medical issues, then there are a few other reasons that could be causing your dog to bite his tail. The most common causes are:
Have you recently moved to a new house? Rearranged your furniture? Got a new pet? Had a new housemate move in? Just like us, dogs can suffer from stress and anxiety. Unlike us, they can’t talk about it, so they often respond with repetitive behaviours, such as biting their tails.
If your dog isn’t getting enough walks or enough attention, he can become bored. When dogs are bored, they often develop unusual behaviours. This is often referred to as ‘kennel syndrome’ and a lack of stimulus can lead to some dogs biting their tails repetitively as a form of relief.
Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks are irritating, so if your dog is suffering from an infestation then chances are he is going to do anything he can to relieve his discomfort – including biting his tail.
Treating tail biting in dogs:
Once you have taken your dog to the vet to rule out medical issues, you can begin to tackle the behavioural issue.
Train your dog
As with any learned behaviour, you have to train your dog to stop biting his tail by teaching him that it is not acceptable. When you spot your dog biting or chewing his tail, use the command “no” or “stop”. If he responds by stopping after you have spoken your command, reward him with a treat, some praise or a toy.
Maintain a regular health routine
Regularly treating your dogs for fleas, ticks and worms can help to reduce the amount of discomfort your dog feels which will, in turn, reduce his need to scratch or bite himself.
As with any behavioural issue, it’s important to act fast in order to determine the cause of your dogs tail biting. Once you’ve established the reason, you can respond accordingly to ensure that your dog does not cause himself any harm by his biting or chewing habit.
Written by shannon C