Most puppies or dogs chase or bite their tails at one time. It’s something to do, and it’s fun.
Many dog owners find it amusing.
But if tail biting is not corrected early enough, it can develop into canine obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Symptoms of OCD in dogs
Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder in dogs focus on tail chasing, tail biting, or other obsessive behavior.
Dogs that exhibit obsessive behavior most often:
- have a high chase or prey drive,
- don’t get enough exercise,
- lack of mental stimulation,
- or experience overstimulation,
- spend too much time being crated, kenneled, or tethered.
Symptoms usually surface when a dog is still a puppy. Behavior problems are easier to correct when a dog is young.
Studies show several dog breeds are at a higher risk for exhibiting symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but no specific breed, gender, or age is more susceptible than others.
Breeds more prone to OCD include German Shepherds, Chinese Crested Dogs, Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Spitzes, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Mixed Breeds, Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, Great Danes, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Saint Bernards and other terrier and shepherd breeds.
German Shepherds and Bull Terriers are prone to spinning and tail chasing.
Your dog can develop a severe behavior disorder if you ignore anxiety symptoms like tail-biting or tail-chasing,
Dogs with compulsive behaviors can chew their tails into a bloody mess, which causes infections. Some secondary infections have been so severe that the dog’s tail had to be amputated.
This doesn’t mean you have to freak out if your dog happens to spin around and nibble on its tail. It could mean the dog has an itch or feels something crawling.
But if you observe obsessive tail biting or obsessive tail chasing, you need to be concerned and begin preventing tail biting.
Treat a dog with OCD
- Have your veterinarian check for allergies.
- Check and treat your dog for fleas.
- Exercise your dog more often. Make your dog too tired to chase anything.
- Stimulate your dog mentally. That will keep your dog’s mind off his tail.
- Do not unnecessarily crate or kennel your dog.
- Never tether your dog. Dogs have strangled themselves chasing their tails.
- If overstimulated, calm them down with obedience commands — it’s hard to chase your tail if you are sitting on it!
- Enroll in Puppy Kindergarten or obedience class to keep your puppy or dog physically and mentally stimulated and socialized.
- Treat your dog with stress-relief supplements or CBD-infused dog treats.
The bottom line on tail-biting
Check with your vet if your dog doesn’t respond to training or other efforts to stop tail biting.
Dogs with higher cholesterol chase and bite their tails more often than dogs with average or lower cholesterol.
A change in diet or medication could solve the problem.
The sooner you address tail biting, the happier you and your dog will be!
Don’t put it off. Don’t wait until your puppy becomes OCD.
Karen A. Soukiasian owns Good Dog! — Dog Training in St. Augustine, Florida. You can follow Karen on Facebook.