How to Stop a Dog From Biting His Tail

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Things You'll Need

  • Puzzle toy

  • Rawhide chews

  • Collar and leash

  • Small bell

  • Bandages (optional)

  • Elizabethan collar (optional)

  • Bittering agent (optional)


Do not scold or punish your pet for his biting behavior. This is more likely to make the situation worse because it causes him more anxiety. Also, do not pet him when he is biting his tail. It reinforces the behavior and makes it harder to treat.


If your pet has caused injuries to his tail by biting at it, your veterinarian may fit him with an Elizabethan collar or a bittering spray to prevent chewing. Some vets will bandage his tail to allow the area to heal properly.

A dog can start displaying the compulsive behavior of biting his tail for many reasons. It may start with a skin problem that heals but is followed by biting the area. Tail biting can become a serious condition leading to self-mutilation in the most severe cases. After taking your pet to the veterinarian to rule out other causes, you can remove triggers that cause the behavior and give him lots of toys, love, exercise and attention to redirect his attention from tail biting.

Step 1

Take your pooch to your veterinarian to rule out causes of tail biting that may need medications or treatment. Skin allergies, parasites and hot spots can cause excessive biting and licking on his tail. Epilepsy, infections, poor vision and head injuries can cause your pet to act differently and chew his tail.

Step 2

Observe your four-legged friend to see if certain situations stimulate him to start biting his tail. Dogs display compulsive behavior in times of stress, boredom or anxiety. Remove the triggers if possible or desensitize your pet accordingly. For example, if your dog starts biting his tail when the doorbell rings in anxiety over who is at the door, have a helper ring the doorbell repeatedly while you monitor him inside and tell him "No" if he tries to bite his tail before you open the door. Repeating this process for about 15 minutes at a time can desensitize him of the trigger.


Step 3

Give your dog a puzzle toy with peanut butter or small dog treats inside. He will enjoy the treat while it redirects his chewing habit to an item without hurting him. Rawhide chews are also good to redirect the biting habit to another item for long periods.


Step 4

Grab your dog's leash and go for a walk to help him relax and stay calm. Play fetch with balls or other toys and keep him active to tire him out so he doesn't bite his tail.

Step 5

Enroll your pet in dog sports, such as fly ball, agility or freestyle dance classes with you. These activities keep his mind busy and off of the biting issue while strengthening the bond between owner and pet.


Step 6

Place a small bell on your dog's collar. This enables you to hear him biting at his tail in the middle of the night, or when hiding around a corner from you. When you hear the bell, check on your dog and give him a toy or something else to play with. Eventually, he may decide to choose a toy over biting his tail on his own.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.