"How can I stop my dog
biting her tail?"

Question - We have a three-year-old dog Cocker Spaniel is constantly chasing and guarding her tail – she will chase it, hold it in her mouth and will not leave it alone for any length of time.

We have tried to dissuade her by playing games and using her favorite toys, but as soon as we stop playing, she just goes back to focusing on her tail. 

Do you have any suggestions for stopping it because it drives us a little crazy?

Answer - It sounds like focusing on her tail is her way of coping with stress. 

The problem is that it can develop into repetitive and compulsive behavior, which is what looks like has happened here and that is difficult to stop.

Things such as being taken from her mother too early or some other extremely stressful as a puppy may have caused her to develop the tail obsession as a way of calming herself.

Even a short stay in a poorly managed kennel with other dogs who she was frightened of can be enough to push a sensitive, susceptible dog into this sort of behavior.

It sounds as though this bad habit has developed into an obsessive, compulsive disorder for your dog and she is likely to need extensive therapy to relieve the symptoms, while you teach her to use a more acceptable form of stress-coping behavior.

Since this problem is not well understood and can be quite difficult to treat successfully, you may need the help of a Pet Behavior Counselor in your area.


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