An adult dog that tries to grab its tail (and sometimes succeeds in catching it) to bite it may have a behavioral or medical problem. Why does the dog do this and how to stop it when it becomes excessive?
Dog biting its tail: a behavior called “tail chasing”
Before catching their tail and biting it, some dogs start to chase their tail by starting to turn on themselves. This behavior is called tail-chasing.
In adult dogs, even if they sometimes smile, this behavior can be indicative of a behavioral or medical problem.
A dog can chase its tail for a variety of reasons
The origins of tail chasing behavior are varied. This behavior can be:
A puppy game
Turning around to try to catch its tail is a game particularly appreciated by puppies from 2 to 3 months old. Sometimes the young animal even catches it and rolls on the ground with its tail between its teeth. This behavior is completely normal in very young animals.
On the other hand, it is not normal that this behavior persists in an adult dog in which, it can be the sign of a behavioral or medical problem …
A communication ritual between the dog and its owner
An adult dog can turn after its tail to seek the attention of its owner. In fact, when a dog starts to compulsively turn to catch its tail, it is common for its owner to call his dog and come to touch him to stop his behavior. By making his master react, the dog then achieved his goal: that of challenging his master, of making contact with him. The master then involuntarily reinforced the behavior of the dog which he nevertheless sought to avoid.
To put an end to this behavior, it suffices to ignore the dog when it “drives” its tail or even to move away from it.
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Stress, too much excitement, poorly managed frustration, boredom or even anxiety are all reasons that can explain why your dog starts to want to grab his tail to the point of biting. This behavior is sometimes even due to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in dogs, a sign of significant psychological suffering in the animal. Thus, dizzy spells due to OCD are behaviors that the dog can repeat for long minutes or even several hours a day and that nothing seems to be able to stop.
If your dog suffers from an OCD that causes him to bite his tail, it is imperative to identify the cause using a behavioral dog trainer or the help of a veterinarian in order to set up therapy. adapted to the origin of his disorder.
A genetic defect
In some cases, this obsessive-compulsive disorder that causes the dog to bite its tail appears to be genetic. We know that the Bull Terrier and the long-haired German Shepherd are breeds of dogs more frequently affected by this disorder. It is suspected that there is a neurological dysfunction of the brain in these dogs, including the secretion of dopamine, a neurotransmitter related to the pleasure and reward systems of the brain.
This tail chasing could also be part of the disorders associated with partial seizures in the event of essential epilepsy in dogs for which it is suspected that there are genetic supports common with certain OCDs.
This behavioral disorder generally appears at the time of puberty of the dog and then increases as the dog ages. The dog can go so far as to bite its tail to the point of self-harm.
The only thing to do is to consult a behaviorist veterinarian if you suspect this disorder in your dog. Anxiolytic treatments can help alleviate the dog’s troubles.
The result of local discomfort or pain
A dog that seeks to bite its tail can finally have this behavior if it suffers from a painful or embarrassing lesion, itching or localized irritation at the tail or at the level of its hindquarters. In all cases, it is recommended to consult your veterinarian to find the origin of these pains and / or this discomfort and to remedy them.