Dog Training World Forums Behavior Problems Dog Anxiety high drive GSD fixates on tail Reply To: high drive GSD fixates on tail

  • Michael D'Abruzzo

    March 10, 2023 at 4:05 pm

    Tail chasing, if you rule out a health issue, I’d say, for sure has a genetic component. You will see it in bull terriers and German Shepherds in particular. Dobermans are also notorious for flank-sucking.

    I did a quick google search and found this study, that you might find interesting:

    I have dealt with a few tail chasers, and the first thing I always asked myself was: Is it overall causing a problem? Injury? etc..

    Or is it causing a problem only in certain situations?

    It is much easier to address the behavior if it is a problem in certain predictable situations vs if trying to “fix” an overall genetic tendency, since it will be near impossible to be consistent with addressing it unless there was a serious management and training plan that micromanaged every moment. Even then, I still don’t know for how long it could be “permanently suppressed”. Sort of like a dog that spins or barks when generally excited.

    I would make a “habitation chart” and keep track of exactly the times of the day and the activity that triggers it. Also, add any play activities on the chart to see if it is more or less likely to occur after a lot of play activity vs no activity vs just enough where she may want more after it ends. This can give insight to any potential drive balance issues.

    German Shepherds have obsessive personalities for sure, it may help to try to create another competing obsession, such as a particular toy or perhaps a high-value treat that the dog may get or expect after doing alternative behaviors in those situations instead.

    So, you are standing online at the store. Have the dog “sit” “heel” or “down”. Dog can get the normal correction for breaking, but also add something high value in that particular situation for complying, so it becomes more about the alternative behavior and creating the new habit, instead of just what not to do, which doesn’t work as well.

    Or, after the dog poops, immediately call the dog to you and give a treat or even a lot of affection.

    As Allie, stated.. “leave it” command will be much better to stop the behavior if the process has already started, but try to find those alternative behaviors that will work best before it happens in the first place.

    Steven Lindsay would refer to this as the “dead dog rule”. Things that we can teach a dead dog to do (which is to do nothing), do not work as well as teaching the dog what to do instead.