View Full Version : dog help

05-22-2015, 10:35 AM
Hii everyone.
I recently adopted a dog. Within his first months with us he started biting at his tail, drawing blood and wounding it after which he'd run to us to console him. The vet said it's compulsive behavior and that all we could do was to keep him distracted so he doesnt get bored and take it out on the tail. That didnt work and recently we decided to take another vet aqcuaintance of ours advice and put him on meds. Unfortunately that didnt work either. All the medication did was to make him depressed and keep on his vendetta with the tail which has gotten worse the last few months since the outbursts happen more often and are even more vicious with him barking and growling at it. He has also started waking up in his sleep and doing it. Some times talking to him calmly helps for him to stop but other times he growls and snaps at us too, after which he guiltily starts going round and round the room barely looking at anyone.
I honestly do not know what to do anymore. I am from a small town and theres really no one else left to consult me on this. The last vet i spoke to even suggested we hit him when he does that. I almost hit the vet instead. The dog is currently in one of those cones so he doesnt do damage to his tail anymore but the outbursts persist and im not sure he's just going to stop once it heals. If anyone has any insight or previous experience with this i'd greatly appreciate it. He is 15 months old now and im not sure of his breed but he looks like a slightly shorter border collie.

05-22-2015, 04:41 PM
This sounds like anxiety compulsive disorder (also called obsessive compulsive disorder) to me. You say that you adopted the dog. Was he in a shelter previously? I ask because being locked up for long periods of time (as in some shelters which don't or can't exercise dogs regularly) can be a cause of this disorder, resulting from extreme boredom. Another cause could be that he was ill-treated previously and therefore very nervous or anxious.

Here are some sites which should help explain the situation. See:
http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/behavioral/c_dg_compulsive_disorders (An excellent explanation; make sure you read page 2 as well as page 1);
http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dogs-and-compulsive-scratching-licking-and-chewing (Once again, make sure to read page 2 as well).

The first vet wasn't far wrong, IMHO. But he didn't offer many suggestions about how to distract him. Talking to him isn't good enough. What does he like best of all? Playing ball? Going walkies in the park? A favourite tasty treat? Whatever it is, offer something which he loves, not just attention.

If that doesn't work, then rather than using a cone (which restricts his movement and could be making him even more frustrated), try putting a thick protection (bite proof) over the part of the tail which he bites, and then put citrus spray on the protection - or any other smell which dogs dislike (see http://pets.thenest.com/smells-repel-dogs-6274.html). That should do the trick.

One other possibility: do not totally exclude the possibility of a physical cause. Mites are so small that they are barely visible to the human eye. Your vet could easily have missed them, unless he used a strong magnifier. Did he use one? If not and you have a strong magnifying glass, you can check this yourself. Chiggers are also microscopic, but their red colour usually gives them away.

I hope that the above ideas will help you. Citrus spray on a tail cover is your best hope, after you have discounted mite infestation.

Every best wish to you!

05-22-2015, 08:08 PM
I see this a lot in dogs, especially high energy and excitable ones. Assuming it's not a physical issue, the only help I can really offer is tricks to keep him occupied and, in turn, perhaps not eat himself while bored.

Does he get enough physical and mental stimulation? If you have to leave for a long amount of time, try and talk him on a long walk or run him a bit in hopes that he'll just sleep through your absence. Play lots of games with him, like fetch and tug. Teach him games like search and retrieve to keep him focused on something other than his delicious tail. Kongs filled with toys a peanut butter also offer a good challenge to keep him busy if you're not around, and they can be frozen to add an extra bit of challenge. I've seen some obsessive dogs really change for the better when another dog was added into the house, however adding another dog may not help the situation and could even make it worse, especially if your dog currently has open lacerations. The idea with a second dog, though, is to find the perfect 'play' partner for your dog so he has an outlet that isn't himself.

It's a tricky problem to deal with, hopefully it is resolved soon.

05-22-2015, 11:55 PM
We found the dog when he was around a month old in a box behind my aunt's house. I am not sure how he was treated before that, but he has always been fidgety around both people and dogs. He doesnt really let strangers pet him -he doesnt get agressive just very cautious, and the same applies with dogs from whom he usually keeps a safe distance from, in the park. Unfortunately getting a second dog is not possible for me since I dont live alone and a particular member of the household would be a problem. A while ago we did house another dog for a while though and he did seem better after he got used to him.
What worries me is that the outbursts happen more often now. I tried giving him his favourite treats when it happens but he ignores them and just starts walking round and round the room. The vet did check him out for mites and we made sure to take precautionary measures against them anyway since I also have cats with which he likes spending time with. We will be taking him to yet another vet in a couple of days and until then I will try to keep him more occupied. Thank you both so much for replying.

05-25-2015, 05:19 PM
Brilliant answers from LPC and March.

Border Collies are very prone to obsessive behaviour. Even a cross-breed BC can have dominant BC tendencies. They are great dogs. I love them, but energetically they are one of the highest maintenance dogs and they often do have this in their temperament. I used to know one very well. In my opinion the best remedy is to swap one obsession for another, if you can find a way to do that.

These dogs may also have the highest exercise requirements of any breed. They are also highly intelligent and need satisfying mental stimulus on a regular basis. They make excellent working dogs and do well when their boundless energy, inclination for obsessions, intelligence, and exercise are all met under a disciplined framework. Their loyalty to their handler or human is quite profound.
They don't do so well as working peoples' 'pets' and they do not do well when left to their own devices. Some of the worst sheep-killers have been Border Collies 'gone wrong'.

Some ideas....make sure he has an all-natural diet. NO additives, colourings, corn, and all the other low-grade items that go into normal commercial dog food. Even some "Working dog" mixes contan this gunk. Research for a holistic all-natural meat or fish-based wet and dry dog food. You may find one online who will deliver. Or learn about the raw food diet? That's another option. If you can't find a good one, consider home cooked food plus a daily supplement good for dogs.

Make sure he has as much exercise as he needs (He may surprise you!) Some dogs are capable of dog-trotting 25 miles in a day! Few get this but many get 3 good walks a day with plenty of running and chasing (frisbee....ball....) as well, off-lead. You will have to be sure about his instant recall if you let him off-lead. Train him in this first before doing that. Otherwise get him obsessed with some sort of chasing (ball?) up and down your garden instead.

Swap tail for another (safe) object. Such as frisbee etc. As soon as you see him turn to his tail, givethat ball some real strong attention, get him to get up and focus on it. Your excited (or intrigued) voice will help here.

Give him attention during this phase. Don't just do it twice and then leave him to his own world. Keep it up until you start to see some changes.

Don't reward him for either getting into his tail or pacing guiltily afterwards. Reward means loving attention, squeals of "No", pushing him with your hands, interacting with him physically, or food offerings.

Enrol him in agility classes. Or similar such as eventing of some kind. If you can't do that, just focus on giving him optimum exercise (even when/if you are really tired!)

A tired dog is often a good dog....

Making his tail smell really bad (for a dog!) might be a good start. Something which is safe for dogs but a smell they can't stand. If you're not sure research that or ask the vet.