Why Does Your Dog Chase His Tail?
25 August, 2015
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Puppies love to run around and explore everything in their new world around them.  Everything they encounter is new and exciting for them, even their own tails.  Puppies love to run around in circles after their own tails as it seems like a new toy to them and it is fun to spin around.  While puppies generally grow out of this behavior, some puppies continue to do this as they get older.

For the most part, a dog chasing his tail is a perfectly normal behavior for playful dogs.  They are simply trying to expend excess energy and express their desire for exercise and play.   Mot dogs love the sensation of free-wheeling, happy playfulness in a fun prey-like mode.  Some cats even like to chase their tail.    And, we dog owners, love to watch them and sometimes, for better and for worse, encourage them by laughing at them.

If your dog chases his or her tail excessively, than there could be a medical or behavioral issue at hand.

Medical causes

If you think the reason that your dog is chasing his tail could be a medical issue, make sure to go to your veterinarian for a physical.  Some of the medical issues that could cause your dog to chase his or her tail are dermatological, neurological, injury or something with his or her eyes.  Further, this behavior could also be caused by an anal gland infection, trauma to the tail or intestinal parasites.   High cholesterol may be another factor in behavioral problems.

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If your veterinarian has ruled out medical issues, there are some different behavioral issues and/or reasons could be causing your dog to chase his tail.

Your dog chases his tail to get attention

One simple reason which is pretty common in our dogs is that they get a lot of attention when they chase their tails.  A lot of dog owners give their pups attention or even clap or laugh when their dog is chasing its tail because we think it’s funny or cute.  Try not to give your dog any attention if they chase their tails often and simply ignore him or her and just walk away.

Your dog chases his tail because he is releasing pent up energy

Boredom is often expressed as a reason for tail chasing; however it’s usually not boredom but rather an inadequate level of physical activity that’s the cause. If your dog has a great need for aerobic exercise, he or she might engage in tail chasing to exert energy. If this is the case, the behavior should stop once the activity levels increases.

Your dog is chasing his tail because he is anxious

Tail chasing can also be the symptom of an underlying anxiety or psychological issue.  The behavior commonly begins with the dog chasing or scratching at the tail after an injury or irritation. As the behavior is comforting for the dog, it can quickly become a habitual response to all other threats, even after the tail has healed or the irritation has gone. In these instances, the dog is said to have become ‘conditioned’. While difficult to treat, this form of anxiety can be somewhat prevented if recognized and treated early in his life with a behaviorist.

Your dog might be suffering from a compulsive disorder and chasing his tail

As with most compulsive behaviors, it is really difficult to stop the behavior and can sometimes cause your dog to be aggressive to a dog owner. These types of dogs require a full behavioral treatment plan, and in some cases, medication.  Your veterinarian should be able to determine if the frequency in which your dog chases his or her tail is a compulsive disorder.

Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise to help with chasing his tail

As mentioned above, if you think your dog tail chasing is simply to keep himself occupied, make sure to take him for daily walks to expend his energy.  And when your dog does try to chase his tail, give your dog other things to expend his energy.  When he starts to chase his tail, bring him a toy to play with instead to divert his or her attention and hopefully forget about his tail.   Make sure to do this only if ignoring him and additional exercise does not work.  And, of course, praise your pup when he chooses the toy and not his tail.


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