Tweed’s Tail of Woe

I came home the other day to find big chunks of red hair laying around the floor, and a very conspicuous portion of Tweed’s tail missing.  Not his actual fleshy tail, but rather some of the important bit – the floofy part.

Not a very good or exciting photograph, I know … but you can see where he chewed off and pulled out a band of hair all around his tail, about a third of the way down from his butt-end.  The tail itself was all raw and bloody.

After some research, I learned that dogs have a sebaceous gland in this area of the tail that can become blocked, which causes discomfort for the dog.  I scrubbed the area with Hibitane and he’s left it alone ever since.  But his tail looks ridiculous.

Almost as ridiculous as TWooie looks:

But he can look as ridiculous as he wants to, if it’s a result of PLAYING, which is what he decided to do with the other dogs today.

Although it’s no wonder that they hate him, since his play style is undoubtedly incredibly annoying.  I, for example, do not enjoy being bitten in the pants.  I can only assume the other dogs don’t like it either.

He was really feeling his oats today!

He even played with Riddle … I think.

Being playful is definitely preferable to being so stressed out by the Regime Change at home that he shit liquid poop all over the favourite dog bed and the curtains, which is what he did the other day.  I read all of your comments, stories and advice quite carefully and I thank you all for it.  It made me realize a couple of important things:

  1. yelling “knock it off you f*cktards” with my back to the dogs was not actually *dealing* with the problem ;-)
  2. it’s not that bad here at Casa de Food Lady.  After reading some of your stories about dogs trying to kill each other and crate and rotate schedules for years on end, I recognize that some air snapping, the occasional hair pulling and some Mad Teeth™ aren’t really all that serious.

Dexter and TWooie don’t fight – Tweed and Dexter fight more than Twoo and Dex do!  TWooie is, however, a buttface.  He does not resource guard me so much as he resource guards his personal space – if he chooses a dog bed, woe to the dog who comes within 5 feet of it.  If he buries a dead bird or bunny in the field, nobody else can so much as look in that direction.  TWooie has an inflated ‘personal bubble’ which constantly expands and contracts, and I am sure this is part of the problem, as Dex is too busy being INSANE to recognize where TWooie’s outlying boundaries are.  I am also fairly confident that some of the same things that bother ME about Dexter irritate the snot out of TWooie … stuff like “You rubbed your eye whilst typing!  That must mean you are preparing to take us on a 117 mile 3 day hike!  I, Dexter, better leap to my feet and scramble frantically on the laminate toward the front door in preparation!”

And of course, I think there remains the simple fact that TWooie and Dex just don’t like each other very much as – if you will – people.  There are certainly people in this world that I don’t like and would not live with in harmony.  I expect this is true for dogs as well.  I do not understand how sending the WooTWoo golfing every day will resolve anything though :)

I like to watch and understand the shifting dynamics of the resident dog pack though.  For example – everydog fears Piper.  Piper is not a particularly confident dog, nor she is always fair, but if dogs could speak English they would constantly be sputtering “My apologies if I have offended you, Your Grace,” to her at every change they got.  She rarely has to follow through on anything more subtle than a lift lip.  Only Wootie takes liberties with Piper.

That being said, if Tweed has the ball or frisbee, nodog dares to f*ck with him, which includes Piper.  Piper will remove a toy from anyone’s possession if she wants it, but she backs off of Tweed as soon as she sees he’s got it.

Dexter provokes Tweed until Tweed gets angry with him, whereupon they will both fight.  It generally ends with Tweed standing on Dexter’s face and snarling the ugliest face you ever saw.  It does not concern me much, as they also play quite often too.

Dexter and TWooie do not fly at each other every chance they get.  They don’t spend all their time trying to get past me to fight with one another.  They can be outside together without issue, unless Dexter runs too fast, which Makes TWooie Angry.  So in the grand scheme of things, I guess we’re not doing too badly.  But after some thought, and all your helpful observations, I did recognize that it was time to step in and start enforcing some rules around here.

The first rule is that if you start making angry noises or faces, you get removed to a crate.  There was some trial and error involved here, as I learned that putting TWoo in Tweed’s large crate with the super comfy bed was kind of like you punching me in the face and your mum sending you to Club Med for the weekend as “punishment.”  But putting TWooie in Spring’s smaller crate has been very effective at curtailing a good percentage of his rotten behaviour.

The other rule is that The Food Lady will set you up with a primo bed position placed strategically at the doorway between living room and bedroom – and it’s a SUPER AWESOME REALLY COMFY BED.  You can lay there for as long as you want, but as soon as you snark at someone trying to move from room to room, you go back in Spring’s crate.  I realize that some of you might consider this setting TWoo up for failure, but knowing TWoo as I do, it actually sets him up to make a decision to curtail his own behaviour.  Because it’s a clear rule for him – strategic bed is yours if you are good.  Bed is not yours if you are a shithead.  I found it necessary to give him something I could take away in order for him to learn, as the other areas in the house he guards have too much habit and randomness built into them so it was confusing for him to be removed from them suddenly.  We’ll build up to those.

The first time I removed him to a crate for snarking, he screamed and barked and moaned and thrashed and carried on in there like nothing I have ever heard before.  Seems that over time, The Dog Who Didn’t Give A Shit has started giving a shit when socially isolated.

Today he also demonstrated to me that he understands what I’m trying to teach him.  He would go initiate play with Spring  and then he would come check in with me for butt rubs, hugs and praise and cookies before going back for more play.  Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing ?  But I don’t feel like I am – it felt to me like he “got” that being sociable earns him rewards and favour, just as being antisocial earns him isolation.  Or maybe he was just looking for some assurance that his newfound social stylin’s were acceptable.  Either way, I’ll take it!

ZOMG!  I have prattled on for far too long.  You’re probably sick to death of ‘hearing’ me type.  You want some action (photos), like this:

Too bad for you, I don’t really have many.  It’s a beautiful sunny day today, but I’m not psyched about picking up the camera.  I’ll be doing Santa Photos with Jen again this weekend, and I am pretty sure that’ll spill over my photo quota for the week.  Last year we were INSANELY busy and I imagine it won’t be all that different this time either.

You should totally come out and get your dogs/cats/rabbits photos with Santa!


  1. Important thing #1 = hilarious!

    “You rubbed your eye whilst typing! That must mean you are preparing to take us on a 117 mile 3 day hike! I, Dexter, better leap to my feet and scramble frantically on the laminate toward the front door in preparation!” = also hilarious! I can’t let my dogs sleep with me at night because Frankie does this same thing, except for him it’s “she moved her hand a fraction of an inch while sleeping! HURRAY! She is going to feed us!” followed by much jumping and rejoicing and waking of other dogs and husbands.

  2. I think what you’ve set up is a fair and well-thought-out system based on observation and personal understanding of your pack’s dynamic.

    I have a similar issue with my b.c., Jake. Because he’s “the socially awkward kid who grew too fast and didn’t have other kids to play with” when he was a pup, he can get a bit snarky sometimes when he’s out and about and interacting with members other than Emily and Cosmo, his immediate pack-mates. Again, it’s an insecurity thing.

    Like you, I try to reward him with praise and attentions (butt scratches galore! He also enjoys his one acceptable jump-up behaviour: he “hugs” by standing up and wrapping his front paws around your waist), and so far that seems to be encouraging the simple maxim you’re also working on with TWoo: play and positive social interaction gets you praised and fed, while snarking and ugly faces get you confined and isolated from your friends.

    Keep us posted on how this is going! I’d love to get more insight in how I can deal with this issue in my own hound by reading about what you’re trying. I hope Mr. Tweed-Pants’ tail heals quickly, too!

  3. I have been reading your blog for several months, and isn’t it funny: I don’t know you personally, but I’ve been worried about your post regarding TWooie and Dexter. What a relief that you’ve found a system to solve the problem! (I confess I have a weakness for Tweed and TWooie)

  4. Totally happy to listen to you type.

    Cheers. And it sounds like you have a good start with the Twoo.

  5. It’s great that you have figured out a system that works for you and your pack! I’ve found through doing canine play groups at the shelter that dog don’t like social isolation so a little time-out does wonders at letting them know they effed up.

  6. I like the plan. I’ve noticed with fostering that dogs really do sometimes just not like each other. In our house it is ‘be polite or you’ll land in a crate” but the dogs make it pretty obvious when they don’t want to be bestie-friends. I’m glad it’s working for Twoo- keep setting him up for it. You also reminded me of Skye when I first started training with Skye in daycamp since she was a disaster in a group of dogs. She hit a point one day when she’d run over to a dog, play bow, then run over to me like “is this what you wanted this whole time?”

    Keep being a hard*ss at home, but don’t forget you owe Dex like 2089 hikes. Get on that.

  7. Had to laugh at the rub your eye comment. My Annie was like that until she was three. Got so bad I had to feign sleep just to get some peace. When my eyeballs were closed she’d leave me alone. Have you ever pretended to be asleep?

  8. You are working with smart, smart, smart dogs. They will teach you all you need to know in life. And you seem willing to listen. :o)

  9. Love “hearing” from you!

    Sounds like a plan to me. :-) Makes sense that he would care about being ostracized now, you’ve given him the sense of security and belonging. Now he has something to lose.

    I think Dexter might drive me nuts too. I can *totally* see the standing-on-the-face end result. Made me snort.

  10. the strategic bed is an excellent move Food lady as it obviously has value for him. I also think it is a great sign that he is coming back to you for butt rubs etc , to check that you approve of his new social skills.

    You have his number !

  11. LOVELOVELOVE Maria’s comment! So totally sums it all up! For additional dog behavior reference, might I suggest Dr. Patricia McConnell;, or or another great resource up in your neck of the woods is Susan Garrett at Say Yes Dog Training; or Both are extraordinary trainers and educators and have great understanding of the Border Collie breed. I’ve mentioned your blog to Dr.McConnell while chatting with her at a conference – she checked it out and loved it! You’re doing a stupendous job with your furbabies – breathe…! :)

  12. Sounds like a good plan to me! It’s really helped Normie, although sometimes I think he might be plotting to kill me in my sleep…

  13. Poor Tweed! But I’m glad you posted this as I think my girl has the same exact problem. Last week Dahlia was chewing on her tail in that same spot and while she didn’t yank much hair out, she did cut herself up pretty good and there’s a little bumping thing there that I suspect is a blocked sebaceous gland (she’s prone to sebaceous cysts).

  14. Glad things are improving, FL! Just curious, why does Wootie get to take liberties with Piper? I’m kinda wondering if you know why she lets him get away with it?

  15. Patty in NM says:

    Your house sounds like my house! I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone. The dogs outnumber me and many days I think they outsmart me too.

  16. That is great to hear! They are (usually) not stupid… he’s figured it out and knows what he needs to do.

    Poor Tweed. :( Something similar happened to Zoe last week, had a nice big hot spot she’d gnawed raw. Ugh!

  17. I’ve got a few dogs who don’t much like each other; I expect it’s not really unusual when there’s a group.

    My oldest male Sheltie, Sunny, is Grumpy McGrumpypants with everyone when there’s food around, so when the petsitter gives them all cookies, Sunny has to be put into the bathroom with his cookie and with the door closed until all food is gone. The other day she forgot to let him out again and I heard a forlorn bark from the toilet when I came home.

    My BC does not care for my senior Lapphund and if he gets too annoyed by the Lappy’s behavior, Rowley the Border Cowley will dart at Mike and grip his muzzle as if Mike were some recalcitrant ewe. He did this to Mike today when Mike tried to greet a BC/Aussie puppy who apparently is a friend of Rowley’s.

    For me, the saving grace is that all the grumblers in my group are male. I wouldn’t feel so confident if there were bitch wars, but the boys — meh, they’re like middle managers in a corporate office: lots of gesturing and blustering and calling meetings, no real action taken.

    TWooie probably takes a bit more monitoring than he would if he’d been raised in a better environment (I’m assuming he had a Troubled Youth), but I’ve no doubt that he’s worth the trouble. I’m glad you can work it out with him and Dex.

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