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Thread: Dog anxiety...chewing tail raw!!!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    Default Dog anxiety...chewing tail raw!!!

    Hi everyone,

    not posted here since Molly was a puppy. She is now 2 and a half and we also have another ridgeback x named Gypsy who is 1 and a half

    I don't know what to do with Molly, she will not stop biting her tail. She usually licks her bum when she needs to have her anal glands emptied and there is always a fishy smell so it is not that. Her diet has not changed, the only thing I can think of is that she is reacting to us bringing our new baby home. Our bub is 7 weeks old and although Molly is great with her I have noticed a change in her behaviour. They are both getting walked everyday just as usual and have toys, are being played with. Molly has always been a bit sensitive and is very much a people person. Her poor tail is red raw because she is always chewing it :/ It has got worse this week and I thought I would ask on here before I take her to a vet. I honestly believe it is behavioural - she doesn't have fleas, has been bathed in medicated anti itch shampoo etc. She still has an appetite and is happy enough - I just keep catching her having a good munch on her tail, which now has bald spots :/ Any advice will be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Adelaide
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    hi Mrs B

    You might have to get Molly a "cone of shame" to sort it out and maybe put something healing but horrid tasting like Aloe Vera on the tail.

    Stress can result in self calming behaviours. Some dogs just chase and chase their tail. It really helps to interrupt the behaviour as much as possible - ie no scolding - cos that's attention and dogs always want more attention, just get hold of her collar and hold her head away so she can't reach to chew until she stops trying and then tell her she's a good dog and give her a pat. Don't give her food for stopping because that can result in "back chaining" ie "to get a treat from mum, all I have to do is chew my tail in front of her"...

    If the collar grab doesn't work then I guess it's cone of shame (Elizabethan collar for dog) so she can't reach. There are variations on the theme eg soft versions like cloud collar from Kong. However your other dog might eat that off her.

    The only other thing I can think might help is crate training and giving your dog a safe stress free place to be where good things happen, like treats, dinner, toys, attention. And maybe some trick training - just pick some random trick and train it with "shaping". Ie dog has to guess what to do to get the "yes-treat". This works a dog's mind in a good way and they're usually pretty keen on sleeping after a training session.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2011
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    Thank you for the reply and advice

    Molly is super smart and knows so many tricks as my husband and I spend lots of time with her. I do distract her everytime I catch her but must admit I have told her off for doing it. Whenever she stops I do tell her "good girl". I have got up this morning and got a god awful fishy smell so need to get her anal glands emptied and see if that helps. Whenever she needs them emptied she never chews her tail like that! I will try the aloe vera and if all else fails the Elizabeth collar

  4. #4
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    Producing a known trick is not as tiring as learning a new one. Here's a list if you run out of ideas and I think somewhere in the blog is a second list just as long...
    Idea List for Shaping | Susan Garrett's Dog Training Blog

    I don't think the tail chewing has anything to do with the anal glands either.

    If you go to the vet to get the glands sorted you might want to discuss your dog, tail chewing and stress. But I would avoid any recommendations to use drugs to treat it unless it's completely unmanageable by other means. And then it needs to be an anti anxiety med not a sedative (which can freak an anxious dog out because they have even less control of their life).

    Lots of changes and new things can stress a dog out, ideally you introduce new things one at a time and only introduce the next thing when the dog has calmed down. I think there is a book called "click to calm" which might help ie you're training your dog to act calm in certain situations which can have the effect of making your dog feel more calm, just as making a huge smile - even if it's completely forced - can alter your mood. Control Unleashed is another book that has calming games for dogs.

    But I think for your dog, she needs a safe secure place where she can be away from the new dog and the baby... ie crate training and crate games (have a bit of a look on youtube). A nice soft sided crate with sides that can be covered over... you think a kennel would do it but dogs do like to be near their people.

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