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Old 10-08-2010, 03:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help.. anxiety and tail chasing..

Titan is my 9 mo old GSD. I have written on here about this problem before but was hoping for more assistance. Titan chases his tail. Non stop. I thought that it was just a pent up energy thing because he's in my house all day while I am at work. Sometimes as long as 12 hours a day.. So, I started running him before work and after and I always play with him. Especially after I noticed this problem I try to drive all his energy out. I started realizing it's most common when there are new people around or he is with me outside our home, the vet's, a friend's house, the dog park, etc. When it's just me at home he is more calm and doesn't do it quite as much. I am starting to wonder if it's an anxiety/nervous thing. I understand that this is actually kind of common in GSDs. My vet suggests giving him medication to calm him down as she suspects it's anxiety.. I just don't know what to do anymore. I have tried giving him a command to stop but he gets so focused on it that he doesn't listen to anything I say. I literally have to grab him to stop him. I have tried distracting him with a toy but again.. sometimes he just doesn't notice it. any advice would be awesome.. thanks..
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Old 10-08-2010, 03:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It's a compulsive thing. There was a thread on here recently from a woman at Tuft's U doing a behavior study on compulsive behaviors in gsds, especially tail chasing. Her name is Nicole Cottman, maybe you can look up past threads and find it. You should talk to your vet about it, it's definitely a behavioral issue. Can you distract him away from the behavior? Some dogs require medication to control it.
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Old 10-08-2010, 11:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for that. I will definitely look for her threads. The one thing I did notice is that he doesn't do it while me and him are outside. If it's just me that is.. but once I introduce another person into the mix. the whole thing changes.
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Old 10-09-2010, 08:32 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Here is your other thread. Advice: Tail Chasing Obsession
In it I posted a link and that had links to more links including the Tufts information for their behavior program that you can use via the web. You could use that to get information from them.

The study is another thing altogether. You can email nicole.cottam@tufts.edu and she will send you all the information.

My interpretation of his behavior from what you describe is that he is using this to calm himself. So...there are a lot of other things that you can start to teach him to calm himself without that.

First I would do NILIF all the time with him. That will help to calm him.
Second, I would get into positive perhaps clicker based training classes so you have a method of communication.
Third, I would look for other things that seem to calm him - and start using those when he is in a trigger zone for spinning. In order for them to be effective you have to do it before he starts the behavior.

The other thing - the running - I will let someone else comment once we understand what you mean by that - do you take him running? He's 9 mo so there is a concern for repetitive stress on young joints.

Instead of running, I would be looking at taking him places to exercise his mind - where he can climb on things like downed trees, step on different surfaces, and then would also look into tracking for him depending on what vets and trainers say. For all of this, you want to see what Tufts and a positive based trainer would say! Don't just listen to me!
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Old 10-09-2010, 05:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the awesome advice. And yes I said running but what I really meant to say was walking at a very fast pace and sometimes we jog a little but not much. I talked to the vet about it because I know about the hips and joints in a GSD and wanted to make sure I didn't damage him. She said that light jogging and fast walking was ok.

I have actually looked into a search and rescue training group that starts out with behavioral training then you go into a specialty, Titan would most likely be a cadaver dog. I want to get him certified and if not at the very least he will learn different ways to get his energy out and focused on something productive. The only problem with this is that I'm in the military.. right now in Germany.. currently on a short deployment so I will be back in a couple weeks and plan on working with him since I won't be leaving again for a long time. It's been pretty easy training him all the basics, he's a really smart dog, as I know all GSDs are but right now he needs a lot of focus which is what I want to give him, I just couldn't do until I returned. I think to when i get back to the states it will be a lot easier and more convenient to find things for him to do and good trainers.

Any additional advice would be awesome, things like other ways to get his energy out, different exercising routines that I can get some work in as well.. that would be great.

Thanks again for the awesome information so far.
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