German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I did a quick search and couldn't find anything, althought I'm sure it's been posted before.

Has anyone had a problem with their GSD chasing their tail...CONSTANTLY?! I thought it was a boredom thing but no matter how much I do with her she is constantly chasing and barking at her tail. If I'm out walking her and stop to talk to someone she sits there and chases her tail...slamming into my legs/knees and stepping on my feet. Any time, any place, she chases her tail...OBSESSIVELY and it's too the point where it's really annoying/abnormal/and getting on my nerves!

She comes up and puts her backside against anyone who's standing around so she can get a better view of her tail before she starts chasing it. I have started spraying her with the water bottle to keep her from chasing the cat constantly and that has worked wonders (giving her treats when she doesn't go after the cat for the positive reinforcement). I'm afraid if I use the water bottle for the tail chasing too it will become inneffective.

Has anyone had a problem with their GSD chasing their tail? (not the occassional chase, but acting like their tail is possessed by the devil and must be chased away..constantly) And any ideas how I can stop it??
 

·
Moderator who has gone to the dogs
Joined
·
14,619 Posts
To me it sounds like it may have started with boredom and has become "habit". It will take a lot of work but I think teaching her to redirect her tail chasing into something more acceptable would work. Maybe engage her into a rousing game of tug with YOU would work. It would give her an outlet and help form a tighter bond with you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,829 Posts
No advice, just sympathy. My DDR pup is a bit older but he has OCD too, especially over the sun reflection spot that moves across the driveway when the sidedoor opens. He's fixated on that thing, he doesn't listen and it's just plain annoying when I need to go out and he's running around in circles trying to catch that spot... I can't even distract him with a ball, he LIVES for the ball but not when that spot is moving. He also has OCD about flashlight beams.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,483 Posts
Yes - it's not common, but it's not uncommon and GSDs seem to be particularly afflicted. Ruling out a tail injury or some kind of spinal issue, it seems to be basically like an obsessive-compulsive behavior.

The most effective strategies I've found are to interrupt the cycle with another activity. Anxiety can cause the behavior, so I don't want to punish or yell at the dog. The second I see the dog get that "look" in their eye, I redirect their attention onto a toy or some other distraction - whatever works for your dog, food, tug toy, tennis ball, etc. Obedience training can help here too because it gives you something else to do that's incompatible with the behavior. When the dog gets that fixed look at their hind end, launch into an obedience routine or doing tricks for treats. Take the dog for a walk, do what you need to do to distract them (and this really needs to be before they get into it because once they do, it's hard to stop them). Basically you have to interrupt the behavioral sequence enough that you start to erode the pattern. It can take a while and a lot of vigilance but is definitely worth doing. Left unchecked or even encouraged by owners who thought it was funny, I've seen dogs with major tail injuries, including a few who had to have their tail amputated to stop the behavior.

Definitely get a full physical done on your dog to rule out any physical cause - even something un tail related that might be causing the dog pain or a twinge somewhere else. Try the behavioral stuff above. Lots of exercise and mentail stimulation also tend to reduce the problem.

If none of that helps, there are psychoactive drugs available for use in dogs just like in people (Prozac is one). I would look at drugs as an absolute last resort. We have always been able to solve the problem with behavioral intervention. THe important thing is to nip it in the bud as quickly as you can.

Good luck!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,705 Posts
we had an undocked cocker which did this. it started off as a cute puppy thing and no one in the family knew better... there were periods of his life in which he stopped (months at a time). eventually it returned and progressed... for him it was any signs of stress or aggression that triggered it so it wasn't a matter of redirecting, it was a matter of keeping him calm and stress free which was difficult because we had other dogs and many parts of the house that were off limits. door bells, other dogs barking, verbal corrections, etc and he'd start. eventually he began to catch his tail and always had scabs on it from biting.

finally the day came - we pulled into the garage where he had been staying and he was cowering on the steps. i got out the car and called his name... he didnt come but gave me one of the most painful glares. as i got closer i realized that he was sitting in a puddle of his own blood. he had chewed his tail completely off.

we rushed him to the vet where they completed the amputation and sutured him (thank God there was no lasting neurological damage) but he was put on prozac for the remainder of his life. medication is never my first choice, but in his situation, it was the only solution.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
^ Wow I'm really sorry to hear that. I would be horrified if I saw that!

She catches her tail just about every time she chases it, but she doesn't really chew on it or bite it hard. Just catches it, sits down, lets it go..and starts the process over again.

Thanks for all the suggestions though. I try to distract her every time I see her eyeing it up...but the only problem is its ALL the time! I started to distract her every time I saw her start to eye it up but I was having to distract her allll the time and once the distraction was over, its back to the tail! I'll keep on being vigilent with it and see where it goes. It's definitely an anxiety/OCD thing. Any time she gets in trouble, really excited, or any elevated emotion her first response is to chase the tail.

Thanks for the suggestions!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,705 Posts
any chance her breeder can shed some light on the situation?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I've talked to him about it and the parents don't do it. Appears I have a very "special" pup. lol
 

·
Moderator who has gone to the dogs
Joined
·
14,619 Posts
How much mental and physical exercise does she get every day? A tired dog sleeps and doesn't chase their tail.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,417 Posts
I had a foster several years ago that did this. The only thing that helped once he started to chase his tail was substituting another behavior. For my foster it was a game of tug.
The original owner had thought it was cute and encouraged the dog to do it, even though the dog was 8 months old by the time he came to my house. Well, it wasn't cute. It was a fairly dysfunctional reaction to anxiety.
I would also increase the amount of exercise your dog is getting. My foster was less likely to chase his tail when he was tired.
Sheilah
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,438 Posts
My Sammy, who was about 9 months old when we adopted him, also does this. It's much better than it was. I'm convinced it stemmed from his prior life. He was very obsessive compulsive when we first got him. Not only the tail chasing, but staring at lights and chasing light beams on the floor. I'm also convinced that exercise and mental stimulation can fix it. At least that's what has worked for us.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,397 Posts
I haven't read all of the posts, but Dodman has written about this being a form of obsessive compulsive disorders that he sees in GSDs.

http://www.btneuro.org/tailchasing.htm
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/tail-chasing-in-dogs/page1.aspx

I would carefully evaluate the diet (at minimum, no corn, no wheat, no sorghum, no by-products), and I would consider pet obedience with positive methods as part of the treatment, along with exercise that is structured.

You might even consider a chiropractor to make sure the nervous system is functioning optimally.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
She gets at least 2 hours of walking/ball chasing a day with training mixed in throughout the day (I practice the NILIF method). The odd thing is sometimes it seems the more tired she is..the more she chases her tail. I just graduated from college and can now finally get her enrolled in some classes so I'm hoping that will help. Hopefully that will stimulate her mentally much more than I am now.

As for her diet she only eats Nutro as her main meals and I don't give her treats with any type of by-product in it. What's the reason to aviod wheat?

Thanks for those links!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
646 Posts
i have an obsessive tail chaser too; he's from a shelter and was kenneled w/hopes of being a stud dog before he went to the shelter; he's chased his tail since i got him and despite my best efforts continues to chase his tail

he's fed raw, has lots of distractions and things to do, gets plenty of exercise and has other dogs to play w/; it's an obsession and he'll likely die doing it
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,475 Posts
You might want to investigate homeopathy and acupuncture. I had a dog with OCD (not tail chasing, he had lick granulomas from obsessive licking of his paws and legs), and the best results we ever had with him was when we used an holistic approach. If you have a good practitioner in your area I would suggest that you give it a try. Good luck - OCD is a very distressing and frustrating condition, at least I thought so.

_______________________________________
Susan

Anja GSD
Conor GSD - adopted from this Board
Blue GSD - at the Bridge
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17,397 Posts
Originally Posted By: MatrixsDadShe gets at least 2 hours of walking/ball chasing a day with training mixed in throughout the day (I practice the NILIF method). The odd thing is sometimes it seems the more tired she is..the more she chases her tail. I just graduated from college and can now finally get her enrolled in some classes so I'm hoping that will help. Hopefully that will stimulate her mentally much more than I am now.
Some types of activity can create more anxiety than others. For example, obsessive ball chasing might trigger it in some dogs. However, since she does it more when she is tired, I'm inclined to think chiropractic or acupuncture might help more -- this actually could be a nerve thing.

Getting into a good, positive class, will do more for that anxiety -- it will give her structure too.


Quote:As for her diet she only eats Nutro as her main meals and I don't give her treats with any type of by-product in it. What's the reason to aviod wheat?
I think that a lot of dogs have issues with wheat, often low level, but still there. So in a dog that might have some issues, I would start with something that has none of the potential big offenders.

Nutro has been around for years, but there have been misc reports of dogs not doing well on it. So if you see any signs of "not doin' right", you might consider a switch.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top