By Karen A. Soukiasian
At one time or another, most puppies or dogs chase or bite their tails. It’s something to do, and it’s fun. Many dog owners find it amusing. However, if tail biting is not corrected early enough, it can become an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Tail chasing or tail biting is a behavior most often found in dogs that are:
· high in chase or prey drive
· not exercised enough
· lack mental stimulation
· over stimulation
· endlessly crated or kenneled
The behavior usual surfaces in when a dog is still a puppy. When corrected then, it is easier to resolve.
If tail biting or tail chasing is ignored, it can and often does become a serious behavior disorder. Dogs so obsessed will literally chew themselves into a bloody mess and infections. Some secondary infections have been so serious 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 simply mean they have an itch, or feel something crawling around. What you need to be alert to is, if it is becoming something they do habitually.
Things you can do if your dog show signs of obsessive tail biting:
· Have your veterinarian check for allergies.
· Check and treat your dog for fleas.
· Exercise your dog more often. Get them too tired to chase anything!
· Stimulate your dog mentally…it keeps their mind off their tail!
· Do not crate or kennel them unnecessarily.
· Never tether them…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 – it keeps your puppy or dog both physically and mentally stimulated and socialized.
It has also been recently discovered dogs with higher cholesterol tend to chase and bite their tails more than dogs with normal or lower cholesterol. If all else fails, have your dog tested. A change of diet or medication could solve the problem.
Bottom line: The sooner you address tail biting, the happier you and your dog will be! Don’t put it off. Don’t wait until they become OCD.
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