Odd place to opt for a nibble. I can’t blame them – I’d probably be obsessed with a strange, dangly part of myself too. But is there a particular reason why they love to bite their tails? Many dog owners wonder if it’s something they should be concerned about, but it’s actually a pretty common thing we dog trainers and behaviourists see in dogs.
A puppy biting tails can be for a number of reasons. In this article, we’ll tail (!!) you all about it by covering:
- Why do puppies bite their tails?
- What can you do if your puppy is biting their tail?
- How to stop your puppy from biting their tail with prevention tips and tricks
Why is my puppy biting tails?
It’s likely that there’s a reason behind your puppy biting or chewing at their tail. It’s usually not because of nothing. Most of the time, it’s simply a part of growing up, but other times it might give you a little concern:
1. Puppies bite their tail because of fleas, ticks or worms
We’ve talked to you before about worms in puppies. And yes, this means there might be a possibility that your puppy may be chewing their tail due to a parasitic infection. Fleas love to live around a puppy’s bottom and ticks too, as they can hide in their fur. Sick little things. It’s also nice and close to the ground for them to jump on your puppy. We know, it’s gross. But if your puppy is chewing the fur around their bottom or their tail, it’s a good time to check whether they’re up to date on all flea, worm and tick medications and give them a thorough going over.
2. Puppies bite their tails because it’s fun
Tails are basically like an extra limb, right? Well, these extra limbs don’t just show when your puppy is happy or excited, they also tend to mysteriously wag things off the shelves! So, beware of your puppy’s tail wagging!
3. Puppies bite their tail because it’s actually their bum that’s troubling them
It’s going to get weird here. Dogs have a set of glands on either side of their bumhole. These glands contain a scent that sends all kinds of information about your puppy and is why dogs smell each other’s bottoms. Usually, the sacs are emptied when your dog goes to the toilet, but they can sometimes become blocked, which can get quite painful. Another clue is your puppy scooting along the floor – they’re just trying to empty their glands. When this happens, instead of taking a video, it’s worth seeing a vet if you think it might be this, as if left unchecked, they can get very sore and even burst. Grim and sore!
4. A puppy biting tails could be because they know it gets your attention
If you give them a round of applause and praise every time they chew on their tail, your puppy will learn that doing so makes you happy – which is what they want most in the world. Once they connect the dots like this, they’ll chew on it more!
5. Puppies chew at their tails when they’re stressed or bored
If your puppy starts chewing their tail when you leave them, crate them, or when they’re bored, it might be an indication that they need more company or mental stimulation.
It’s a bit raw to hear, but this kind of self-mutilation ticks a few boxes in a dog’s mind. It’s not something you want to become a habit at all, so if it happens mostly when they’re left alone, it can be a sign that all is not well, and perhaps your puppy isn’t so keen on their crate after all.
6. Your puppy might be chewing their tail due to allergies or intolerances
Allergies and intolerances can be due to environmental or food-based causes and can make your puppy’s skin irritated, making them want to itch and bite at their skin, including their tail or bottom. Did you change your washing powder? Might it otherwise be the protein in your puppy’s food? Take note of what it might be – it’s always a possibility that your puppy might be reacting to it.
7. Your puppy has created a hot or sore spot from tail chewing
Some puppies will lick or chew at their tails so much that they create a sore patch. Then it becomes an endless vicious circle of them licking it more because it’s sore, and because it’s sore, they lick it more. They can then end up with hot spots forming and attracting nasty bacteria into it, which can cause a secondary infection. It’s actually quite a common occurrence, but you’ll want to see your vet about this to help them out.
As you can see, there are a few reasons why your puppy might be biting their tail, but there can be other reasons too. Maybe their tail tastes like ham to them…
Oh, and if your puppy starts biting beyond their tail biting, you might find our article on how to stop puppy biting you quite helpful.
What can I do about my puppy biting their tail?
Hopefully, you’ve figured out the reasons why your puppy might be biting their tail. From there, you can move on to seeing whether it’s necessary to consult your vet to rule out any medical problems or whether you can look at environmental changes to avoid itchy episodes. You can also try raising your puppy’s mental stimulation to keep boredom out of the radar during the day, as well as helping to lower stress. Hey, you could even do that for yourself too – it’ll keep you from biting your own nails.
If you’re debating on calling your vet or not, take note that any sudden change in your puppy’s behaviour is worth it. It might be linked to a medical problem that can be addressed and therefore avoided – big time. Problems with anal glands, hot spots and parasites are all things your vet can help with and – and we’re sure you don’t want to escalate. We’re sure your vet will do everything for your puppy to stay happy and healthy.
Bored puppies will seek out their own fun, and that can include chewing on their tail. Our article on puppy training games has an incredibly long list of games and activities to play with your puppy to stretch their brains, like using puzzle toys and stuffed Kongs to deliver their food and keep them out of trouble. There’s no need for long walks! These can often make young pups overtired and feel a bit weary, which makes the tail chewing come back.
Oh, but make sure not to replace walks completely with games though – fun outings are the golden key for socialisation and helping them become confident in the big world they’re about to face.
Get your puppy to chew something other than their tails
Puppies need to chew a lot. Plain and simple, that’s just part of their job description. As young ones, they’re teething for what feels like an eternity and sometimes, the closest thing to them is their tail. To divert them from making a chew toy out of their tail, redirect them onto an actual toy.
You’ve made it to the tail end of the article. We hope we’ve answered all your questions about your puppy biting tails, but if you have more questions, feel free to reach out to our team of puppy coaches inside the Zigzag app. They’ve definitely got all the answers and an extra tip here and there.