If your German Shepherd has been biting its tail then you’re probably wondering why and what you should do about it.
This post will show you why your German Shepherd bites its tail and what can be done to stop it.
So, why does my German Shepherd bite its tail? Possible causes are it was just playing, fleas, allergies, boredom, compulsive behavior, injury, impacted anal glands or separation anxiety.
There are actually a number of reasons that your German Shepherd might do it and there are a number of things that you can do about it depending on the cause.
Why your German Shepherd bites its tail
Each of the different reasons that your German Shepherd bites its tail will likely come with a number of clues in the way that it does it.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons that your German Shepherd might bite its tail and the signs to look for.
The reason that your German Shepherd has been biting its tail could be that it has fleas.
This would be more likely if it has been itching itself in other areas as well and if you have found flees on it.
If fleas are causing your German Shepherd to bite its tail, it would help to talk to your vet about what you should do to get rid of the flees. There are oral treatments that they can recommend that can be very effective in getting rid of fleas. There are also sprays and combs that you can buy.
It would also help to eradicate fleas from your home by:
- Washing the bedding with hot soapy water
- Vacuuming the carpets and throwing the bad
- Applying an environmental flee control
- Applying a spray, pellet or non-toxic treatment for the yard
- Treating your German Shepherd with a monthly preventative
Allergies or a rash could also be causing your German Shepherd to bite its tail. Allergies can be caused by things such as shampoo, other dogs, pollen or household chemicals (source).
It would help to consider what else happened at around the same time that your German Shepherd started to bite its tail. For example, if it started doing it when you used a new shampoo then it would likely have something to do with it.
German Shepherds are a breed that are supposed to get a lot of exercise. Generally, it is recommended that a German Shepherd get an hour of exercise per day. When they do not get enough exercise it can cause them to develop behavioral issues including tail biting.
If your German Shepherd is not currently getting much exercise then making sure that it does will likely help a lot.
It could be the case that your German Shepherd is biting its tail compulsively. This is where your German Shepherd has an irresistible urge to repeat the behavior. This would be more likely if your German Shepherd has been biting its tail excessively, it has damaged its tail and if it bleeds.
It would also be more likely if it started biting its tail excessively when something happened that would cause it to do so.
Possible things that could have happened could include:
- Someone mistreated it
- Another dog was aggressive towards it
- It was separated from another dog
Look here for more information about compulsive behavior in dogs.
The cause of its tail biting could be that an injury is causing it to be painful. This would be more likely if there are obvious signs of it being injured such as it not moving its tail normally. It would also be more likely if it started doing it when something happened that could have caused its tail to be injured.
Impacted anal glands
Dogs have two sacs where their anus is that produce an excretion that has a scent that allows other dogs to know its age, sex and health. Sometimes, the anal glands will become impacted which is where the excretion is not able to escape. This could be the cause of your German Shepherd’s tail biting. This would be more likely if it also started to do other things such as to rub its but along the ground or to have blood in its poop.
If it does seem like impacted anal glands could be the cause then it would help to take it to a vet.
Separation anxiety is where your German Shepherd does not like being left alone and being left alone causes it to become anxious. Separation anxiety could be the cause of your German Shepherd biting its tail.
This would be more likely to be the case if it does it more when you are not around and if it becomes anxious when you are about to leave.
Related post: Why is my German Shepherd so anxious?
It was just playing
If it only did it once and not excessively then it could be the case that it was just playing. This would be more likely if it is just a puppy still.
How to stop your German Shepherd from biting its tail
There are a number of things that you can do about your German Shepherd biting its tail. Before trying to do so it would help to be sure of what is causing it since you will then be able to identify the appropriate action steps.
Take it to a vet
Often, tail biting will be something that a vet will be able to treat since tail biting often has an underlying medical cause such as a rash.
If you are unsure of why your German Shepherd has been biting its tail or you think that it might have a medical cause then the best option for you would be to take it to a vet.
Give it exercise
As mentioned above, a lack of exercise can cause German Shepherds to develop many behavioral issues. If your German Shepherd is not currently getting much exercise then making sure that it does would likely go a long way in improving its behavior.
Some ways to give it exercise would be to walk it for an hour, to teach it to play fetch or to have a dog walker do it for you.
Avoid reinforcing the behavior
If you tend to give it things it wants, when it bites its tail, in order to get it to stop, it could be the case that you have inadvertently encouraged the behavior.
Instead, you could try rewarding your German Shepherd when it does not bite its tail. When it does bite its tail you could try avoiding giving it what it wants if it seems to be doing it to get something from you.
Things to consider
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to understand why your German Shepherd might be biting its tail.
Below, I will mention a number of particularly helpful things to consider.
How often it does it
How often your German Shepherd bites its tail will have an impact on the most probable causes of the tail biting.
If it rarely does it or if it’s a puppy and it just did it once then less likely to be a problem and it was probably playing.
If it does it a lot then it would make it more likely to be due to things such as a rash, fleas, compulsive behavior or an injury.
When it started doing it
If your German Shepherd started biting its tail suddenly then it would make it more likely that it has been doing it due to things such as a rash, injury or impacted anal glands.
Whereas, if it has been doing it over a longer period then it would be more likely to be due to compulsive behavior, separation anxiety or boredom.
When and where it does it
It would also likely help to consider the timing of when your German Shepherd bites its tail.
For example, if it only seems to bite its tail when you are leaving or while you are not around then it would make it a lot more likely to be due to separation anxiety.
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