Often, pet owners are not surprised when they see their dog spinning around like a mini tornado. It is a pretty common act for puppies and even certain breeds as they age. All in all, we treat dogs chasing their tail the same way we treat them ripping a toy to shreds. It is just something those silly dogs do. Who even knows the reasons why dogs chase their tails?
Why do dogs chase their tails?
- Genetics – Certain breeds such as German Shepherds and Terriers engage in tail-chasing much more than other breeds especially as they get older. While that reason is unknown, we do know that dogs’ predatory nature tends to create an urge to chase anything that moves. However, this urge does not mean that the dog will chase his tail for long periods at a time.
- Canine CD (Compulsive Disorder) or CCD – While rare, dogs can develop compulsive disorders. Some dogs who suffer from CCD will excessively chew or lick themselves raw as well as chase their tail for hours on end. This disorder can result from past injury, abuse, separation anxiety, and any scenario that was traumatic for the dog.
- Irritation – Presence of fleas, worms, or ticks will send a dog into a full twirling frenzy. Irritated anal glands and additional medical issues may be a concern as well. Irritation is an overlooked reason why dogs chase their tails as most pet owners are unaware of when the act is no longer normal.
- Attention – Pups get lonely, too. After spending hours on end without their owners, sometimes all a dog needs is a little lovin’ and will try to get that affection by any means necessary. Owners occasionally laugh or smile when they see their dogs acting in a silly manner which the dog will internalize as good behavior. Whenever he wants attention, he’ll resort to chasing his behind.
- General Boredom – Puppies looking for entertainment chase their tails out of as they are naturally playful. Energetic dogs behave in the same manner as they need more physical activity to tire themselves out. This is also common for canines kept inside for a majority of the day as they have plenty of pent up energy.
Is it a problem?
Tail-chasing becomes a problem if you notice your dog seems to be chasing their tail excessively. Dogs who chase their own tails normally will not latch on nor will they gnaw at themselves. Since these dogs are twirling out of boredom, high energy, or genetics, they tend to stop once they receive the attention they are looking for.
A dog who compulsively hunts his behind can cause serious damage by biting and chewing on his tail when he finally catches up to it. Pets suffering from Canine Compulsive Disorder may be suffering from additional causes that needs to be taken care of as well. Without addressing the underlying causes, the dog will only continue to act out in ways that can become harmful. Tail-chasing due to irritation may be a symptom of a medical issue that needs to be taken care of. In this case, a trip to the veterinarian is advised.
How to stop the chase
Luckily, for each reason, there is a solution.
When it comes to genetics, a pet owner’s best bet is to distract the pup with a toy and make sure the behavior does not become compulsive. A dog who is not excessively chasing his behind is no danger to himself. Canines compulsively acting on this behavior should be taken to a vet to figure out the root of the problem. In some cases, vets can prescribe medication that will help relax the dog’s mind and make the dog less likely to chase his tail.
Check your dog’s skin if you notice him chasing his tail more than normal. A veterinary visit will help diagnose any ailments your canine companion is suffering from and may provide a solution. For fleas and ticks, there are topical, oral, and inject-able treatments that will fight off the bugs along with providing itch relief.
Show affection towards a dog who is seeking attention when they are showing good behavior. Adding in additional bonding time between you two throughout the day may break your dog from this habit as well. Do not provide positive reinforcement such as smiling, laughing, or petting when they chase their tail.
Lastly, increase your dog’s activity if he is chasing his tail due to boredom. A simple fix to this problem could be a thirty minute walk twice a day or an hour at a dog park with your pup.
There are many reasons why dogs chase their tails. For the most part, it does not become an issue until it is an excessive act or if there is a underlying issue. It is best to monitor how often your dog partakes in this activity and to what extent does he chase after his tail. In most cases, it can take a simple fix such as an increase in activity or a trip to the vet.