Tackling the Tail: Strategies for A Sensitive Spot

The tail can be a tough spot to groom since it is a sensitive part of the body for most animals. Read on to learn how to care for the tail.

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If you have problems grooming or cleaning around your pet’s tail, you are not alone!  The tail is a sensitive extension of the spinal cord.  It also tends to grow longer hair that tangles more easily on many pets. What can you do when you need to wash, brush, or comb your pet’s tail?  Read on…

Take It Slow

If your pet is nervous about you messing around with its back end, try a relaxed approach.  Don’t try to get everything done on the first session.  Rather, work on just petting or handling the tail at first. 

Take A Break

Don’t feel that you have to get this done in one session.  If you and your pet have only limited amounts of tolerance for grooming, don’t push past your or their stress points.

Take A Walk

After your session, go do something fun with your pet.  This both reinforces the positive bond between you and associates grooming time with a fun activity.

Divide and Conquer

Divide the tail up into sections and make those sections your goal for the session.  This means your pet spends less time being stressed and you have a small, achievable goal.

Mark The Spot

If you’re familiar with clicker/marker training, you can utilize it to shape your pet’s behavior.  Mark the behaviors of sitting still or letting you pet the tail.  If you feel your pet is ready for it, try some light brushing and combing.  If your pet gets nervous or upset, back off until they accept your approach.

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Chow Time Is Tail Time

You can make meals into a reward for tail-handling by combining dinner-time with tail-time.  Let your pet eat while you handle their tail.

No Hair-pulling

When you start combing or brushing, start at the very ends of the fur and carefully work your way towards the skin.  Don’t hurry.

No More Tangles

Use a detangling spray to lubricate your pet’s fur so that the comb slides through more easily.

Cut It Out

If worse comes to worse, Scaredy Cut provides a vibration-free, low-impact approach to cutting out mats.  Fur will grow back.  Mats can cause skin conditions and hide injuries and illness.

What Lies Beneath

Keep a sharp eye out for hot spots, injuries, or mats that might be reasons why your pet doesn’t want its tail touched.  If a comb scrapes over a hot spot or an injury, it could make it worse and really hurt your pet.

Hold On

If you have to tackle a really stubborn mat or tangle, hold on to the fur between the tangle and the skin so that your tugging doesn’t hurt.

Julie MacTire is a writer and educator devoted to the world of dogs. She also writes a blog (shibainus.ca) about her adventures with her Shiba Inu, Tierce, and is a supporter of many pet welfare organizations.

References & Resources

Grooming, Stress-Free

Scaredy Cut is the gentle clipper designed for grooming sensitive pets.
Learn More

Want More StressFree Tips?