DOGS CHASE THEIR TALES FOR WHAT REASONS?

Updated on April 16, 2023

It doesn’t matter how much your dog annoys you, they’ll inevitably do something cute that makes you forget about how frustrating they can be. An example of this is a dog chasing its own tail. In addition to being a very endearing and typical canine behaviour, a dog chasing its tail is also one of those humorous antics that dogs get up to for our own amusement.

However, frequent tail chasing can be a sign of something more serious, so it’s important to understand your dog’s motivations.

EXPLORING AND PLAYING

Your puppy’s first thoughts as it discovers its environment may be, “What is this strange thing that follows me around all day?” Puppies, being naturally curious, may chase their tails to get a better look at the back of their bodies.

Research the topic further.

You’ve probably already learned the hard way that a puppy will use anything—including the couch, your hand, and even its own tail—as a chew toy.

Probably just some humorous, harmless play, the constant spinning around in circles as they try to catch their tail is entertaining to watch from a distance. Your dog will enjoy it, and so will you!

BUSTING THE BOREDOM

If your dog is home alone, they may become restless and destructive as they try to burn off their boredom. They find some amusement in chasing their own tail.

Dogs typically assume that their owners have nothing else to do than play with them constantly, so if you’re in their presence but not paying them full attention, they may try to find another method to obtain it.

Our dogs are very astute, and they have figured out how to get our attention. When you laugh or say “aww” in response to your dog chasing its tail, you’re giving them the paw-sitive reinforcement they were hoping for.

Inviting you to engage with them by chasing their tails. Giving in to the behaviour, even if you are urging them to stop because of it, is still giving them the attention they want.

MEDICAL CONCERNS

Since dogs can be clumsy, it’s possible that yours has injured or had their tail caught in a door. They could believe that if they can just capture it, the pain will go away for a little while.

Parasites like fleas and ticks may also be making your dog miserable. Your dog’s tail may be itchy and irritated due to the presence of these annoying parasites. Some canines will try to scratch the itch by biting their tail, which will do more harm than good.

A tail-chasing habit in an older, less-active dog will stand out immediately. If you have any reason to believe this, you should make an immediate appointment with your veterinarian because parasites can cause significant discomfort to your dog.

While it’s not very likely, a health problem could be the cause of your dog chasing its tail. Infections, skin problems, and even psychomotor seizures are just some of the medical issues that have been associated to this behaviour. In contrast to regular convulsions, your dog may bite at nothing or run about wildly chasing its tail during a psychomotor seizure.

Immediately consult your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms.

IT’S IN THEIR NATURE

Tail chasing may be an instinctual behaviour for some dog breeds. The tendency to act this way is encoded into their DNA. In particular, German Shepherds and Bull Terriers have a reputation for being aggressive and prone to chasing after tails.

Many people think that this behaviour is innate to certain breeds, but nobody knows exactly why.

PSYCHOLOGICAL

Your dog may have developed a sort of canine compulsive behaviour if he or she is constantly chasing its tail. It’s the kind of need that keeps coming back, even if it’s having a detrimental effect on your daily life.

Compulsions like these can arise for no apparent cause, but worry is a common trigger. After hurting their tail, your dog may start chasing it to help the pain go away and eventually come to associate this behaviour with feelings of comfort.

As a result, it may develop into an automatic habit people engage in whenever they experience unease.

It’s the equivalent of how we humans gnaw our nails in times of high anxiety. If you think your dog or cat is acting strangely and is chasing its tail, it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian.

STOPPING THIS BEHAVIOUR

It takes patience and effort to prevent this kind of behaviour from spreading. Try to anticipate when your dog is going to start chasing its tail instead than reacting to the behaviour as it occurs.

To prevent your dog from chasing its tail, try distracting it with a ball, a vocal instruction, or a chew toy before it even starts.

If you believe this behaviour is having a detrimental effect on your dog, you should talk to your veterinarian about starting a behavioural modification programme.

Also, if you perceive that your dog is just trying to get your attention, you can teach them that chasing their tail is fruitless if you ignore the behaviour entirely. However, it’s possible that Fido just needs more activity in his day.

If you feel this is the case, adding some new mental or physical challenges might help. You can do this by challenging them intellectually with a puzzle toy, enhancing their skills with a new trick, or hiding a treat for them to find.

RECAP

All things considered, you shouldn’t be too concerned about tail chasing. This is just one example of the ridiculously cute things our dogs do. Sometimes the pattern of behaviour is indicative of a deeper problem. Make an appointment with your vet if you’re concerned about this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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