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Bodie has always kinda chewed on himself -- nothing major or concerning, as far as I can tell -- but sometimes can get a little excessive. I'm not sure why this is, but I'd be open to suggestions/insight if it's something more than typical puppy behavior.

ANYWAY, a couple days ago I noticed that he chewed some fur off his tail. We've taken rope toys away from him because he does this thing where he works the frayed edges off between his back teeth then, clearly, eats the rope. You can hear his teeth kind of grinding when he does it. My best guess is that is what he did to his tail. How can I get him to stop doing this? He took off the fur right up to the point where I think his tail ends. He doesn't seem to have pain from it, but I certainly don't want him to go any further and injure himself.

I've attached a couple photos of the tail. Maybe it's totally normal puppy stuff, but if it's not, I'd like to know how to combat it. Thanks!
 

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Kristy
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This is not something I would let go. I don't have an answer for you, but you're the mom and you know it's more than just "normal puppy silliness". This kind of compulsive behavior needs to be addressed. If you don't get a good answer here I would put out feelers for a good trainer with plenty of experience in dogs with behavior issues and I would also schedule with the vet to get his or her opinion. I would do it ASAP if this were my puppy. In the meantime, make sure he's getting plenty of exercise every day and training sessions and plenty of appropriate chew toys (rotate them in and out every few days to keep them interesting.)
 

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Henry had this habit for awhile. He does it occasionally still but not very often. We always redirected him as soon as he started doing it. We'd engage him in some sort of game or start playing hide and seek. We even sprayed his tail with bitter apple, which made him stop immediately and would get him to focus on us. Doing a quick training session would help break him out of the mindset. Redirecting him to other toys never worked. I liken it to trying to take chocolate away from someone and replacing it with a carrot.

He was also the same way with rope and stuffed toys. He'd get SO excited to have them and he'd just start tearing the fur/rope out of them like a maniac. That logically led to... "Hey I have this rope like toy right here (tail), let's start pulling all the hair out!" Yay! Obviously, we don't give him rope or stuffed toys anymore. We don't even give him tennis balls unless we are actively playing fetch.

Try to see if you can identify what triggers him to do it. For Henry, it was often when he was ready to go to bed for the night and couldn't get himself to settle down. So we would sort of force him to settle (mainly through cuddling or doing a long sit/down/stay) and he would fall asleep.
 

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nolefan: I am seeing his trainer tomorrow so I can ask her what she thinks. I also have an appointment with the vet next week so I can ask his opinion as well, though he seems to be very laid back, so I'm not entirely sure he will be overly alarmed by this...


Obviously, we don't give him rope or stuffed toys anymore. We don't even give him tennis balls unless we are actively playing fetch.
Bodie seems to be ok with the plush toys, except he isn't all that interested in toys in general unless we are playing with him. pb2b: If you've taken away rope toys, plush toys, and tennis balls, what do you give him to chew on/play with by himself?

Try to see if you can identify what triggers him to do it.
I'll keep an eye on him. I actually didn't see him do this, I only assume he chewed on his tail because of the way his fur is bluntly gone. He always had a tapered tail. He is starting to get some feathers, but I don't think growth in that way is natural.

I also wonder if he is starting to teethe and is looking for things to chew on to soothe him? I certainly don't mean to say that he is chewing on his tail every day or anything like that, and the other chewing he does is the little front teeth nips, I always assume its their way to itch themselves, and he's never working a spot for a really long time -- Definitely doesn't have any bald spots.

Thanks for your input!
 

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He has sterile bones, kongs and rubber toys like the Bumi. He doesn't like them as much as toys that he can tear apart but we can't give him those. He really isn't into toys that much overall. He much prefers peanut butter!
 

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I've read that dogs can turn to chewing on their tail, legs. paws etc. from boredom. So making sure he has adequate exercise and play are important. In the picture it almost looks like the clump has been cut. Any chance someone did cut it or that it got caught on something and he chewed it off to get free.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
He has sterile bones, kongs and rubber toys like the Bumi. He doesn't like them as much as toys that he can tear apart but we can't give him those. He really isn't into toys that much overall. He much prefers peanut butter!
Our guy doesn't seem to be all that into toys either, but he does like chewing if our walls, floors, clothes, etc. are any indication. He will play with toys but really only maintains an interest if we are playing with him or they are edible -- stuffed kongs and himalayan chews seem to be the things that keep him engaged right now. He definitely doesn't idly chew on toys for a extended period of time though, which can be challenging.

I've read that dogs can turn to chewing on their tail, legs. paws etc. from boredom. So making sure he has adequate exercise and play are important.
I am concerned that it may be boredom. He's young yet so I'm also concerned about over exercising him because of his joints. We go on a couple brisk walks a day, but they aren't very long and, quite frankly, he still isn't very good on the leash/walks so a lot of the time is spent with him sniffing everything and me trying to get him away from things he shouldn't eat. He plays free in our basement in the evening for a couple hours which he essentially thinks is his personal rec room the way he jumps on and off the couches (which I also don't like because of the joint thing, but I simply can't stop him). I do training intermittently throughout the day for 10 or so minutes each time. I work from home so I am able to do training during the work day, but I also have to work, so I can't spend hours on it/entertaining and playing with him. Mostly he sleeps a lot during the day, I think because he doesn't really entertain himself with toys. Not sure what to do about that.

In the picture it almost looks like the clump has been cut. Any chance someone did cut it or that it got caught on something and he chewed it off to get free.
Highly unlikely. He did have a little puppy bath on December 26, but if they cut something other than the hair between the pads of his feet I'm sure I would have noticed it before now. I guess he could have gotten it caught somewhere, but, as I said above, I work from home so he is rarely if ever left alone. I'd think if he got it caught in his crate or something he would have yelped and my husband or I would have heard it. Plus, the rope toys that he's chewed the ends off of also get that blunt cut look, so I assume he did this to himself.
 

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Our Henry likes chewing forbidden items too :) Ah... gotta love puppy-hood.

Hope your trainer had helpful insights.
 

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Thank you, pb2b! Our trainer did not think it was a major concern, unless it becomes compulsive. I definitely do not think it is now and am working to ensure it doesn't develop into a chronic behavior/issue. I only seen him with his tail in his mouth but once or twice since I posted the photos, and he's not chewing on it, just proud of catching it even though it always runs away from him! She suggested it might be boredom and, like you, said to redirect if I see him doing it. Because I do think it may be boredom, I got a couple additional treat dispensing toys and have been using those during the day. He gets breakfast and dinner in his bowl, but I keep a portion of his daily food out and he gets some in a kong froze with pb and pumpkin, and he has a ball that when he bats it around it randomly releases a piece of dry kibble. It's loud as can be, but it definitely keeps him engaged and tires him out! The last couple days have been the first in a while that he's fallen asleep during the day because, I think, he's truly tired and not just bored. I just ordered some antler chews, so hopefully that will also keep him engaged and help with the teething pain.
 
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