Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails


Dogs chasing their tails is something that pet owners look at as weird behavior. Since it’s also kind of funny, most dog owners don’t really bother finding out the root of the behavior. Why do dogs chase their tail?

Dogs chase and bite their tails for a couple of reasons. Mostly, dogs will chase their tails out of boredom. Chasing the tail brings entertainment. They will also do this to seek out attention. It can also be a medical issue.

More often than not, repetitive behaviors like compulsive tail chasing are not something you want to encourage. You should find the root of this because it’s not normal dog behavior.

That’s what this guide is for. Here, we will cover the reasons for tail chasing in dogs. Once you know why your dog is doing this, you can work on stopping the tail chasing.

Is It Normal For A Dog To Chase Its Tail

Is It Normal For A Dog To Chase Its Tail

I want to clear this up from the start, tail chasing is not normal behavior in dogs. This is not something you should praise, rather, you want to stop it.

There is no good reason for a dog to be chasing its tail. Most of the reasons for tail chasing signify a deeper issue that you need to treat. That’s why you need to figure out why your dog is doing that.

However, almost all puppies chase their tails at least once. This is because they are in their curious state. The tail is still not that familiar and it resembles a toy. If tail chasing occurs only once or twice, it’s nothing to worry about, even in adult dogs.

Why Is My Dog Chasing Its Tail And Biting It

Why Is My Dog Chasing Its Tail And Biting It

 

Now, at some point, most pet parents have seen their dog chasing its tail. In the majority of those situations, the tail-chasing happened once or twice and it stopped. The problem occurs when the dog develops a habit out of it.

  • One of the most common reasons is boredom. Dogs need a lot of entertainment, especially smart breeds. The same surroundings and lack of exercise will make the dog look for fun elsewhere. 

Some dogs, especially puppies see the tail as a toy. While we can understand how a puppy can mistake its tail for a toy, we can’t say the same for adult dogs. If an adult dog starts playing with its tail and starts chewing it like a chew toy, the dog may be bored. [Source]

This happens a lot with dogs that don’t leave their homes or backyards at all. Dogs need a walk outside even if they have a huge backyard to play in. Dogs get bored of the same surroundings pretty quickly, this can happen while they are on a walk or a playdate as well.

  • Another reason why dogs start tail chasing is to seek attention from their owners.

We can’t deny that a dog chasing its tail is not funny. The dog just running in a loop trying to catch its own tail as if brings a smile to everyone that’s nearby. Unfortunately, the dog can understand that laughter as positive reinforcement.

So, if the dog gets praise for chasing its tail, it will remember that. The next time it wants attention and you aren’t providing it, it will start chasing its tail.

Even if you scolded your dog when it was chasing its tail, the dog will still do it to seek attention. The thing is dogs that want attention will start doing this that they know will get a response out of you. Whether it’s a positive or a negative response, the dog has your attention.

  • Dogs can develop a compulsive disorder which shows up in many types of compulsive behaviors, a common one is tail chasing. 

Humans are not the only ones that can develop a compulsive disorder. Mental health in dogs is something every pet owner should worry about. Dogs in a distressed emotional state or dogs that suffer from anxiety are most prone to developing a compulsive disorder. [Source]

This usually happens to dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, dogs in confinement, dogs that had abusive pet owners, etc... Compulsive disorder results in repetitive behavior.

More often than not, that repetitive behavior is chasing the tail and chewing it. What’s worse here is that dogs with compulsive disorder bite and chew the tail more than they chase it. That’s why a visit to the vet is something you need to do as soon as possible.

  • Tail chasing can occur because of medical issues. Dogs tend to lick and bite areas that are itchy or painful. 

Probably the worst of these scenarios. Sometimes, dogs chase their tails because they feel itchy or in pain. If your dog had injured its tail, it’s probably in pain and it will try to eliminate the pain. Licking and biting the tail is a way for the dog to help ease the pain. So, if your dog’s tail suffered an injury, take it to the vet.

Parasites in the intestines can cause the dog to bite and chew its tail. A common behavior of dogs that have a tapeworm is tail biting. The tapeworm makes the dog really itchy, especially at the base of the tail. Skin infections and fleas can also make the tail itchy. If you don’t think your dog lacks exercise and it’s not exhibiting compulsive behavior, you may want to take it to the vet.

How Do You Stop A Dog From Chasing Its Tail

Since we’ve talked about how bad tail chasing is, you will want to figure out how to stop it. Well, finding the root of the problem is the solution.

For instance, if your dog is chasing its tail because it’s bored, you need to play with it more.  Take it on a walk, start training your dog, arrange a playdate, start a game of fetch. Entertain and exercise your dog so it wouldn’t play with its tail. It’s the same if it’s seeking attention.

If your dog is suffering from a compulsive disorder or some medical issue, you need to consult with an expert. Veterinarians will know how to solve this issue. In the meantime, stop your dog from chewing its tail so it won’t injure it.

[Related Article: Why Dogs Eat Grass – Should You Stop Them?]

Related Questions And Other FAQs

Are Dogs That Chase Their Tails Dumb

Although a dog chasing its tail looks dumb, the issue is more serious. Dogs chase their tails because they lack exercise, they need attention, they have mental health issues, or some other medical issues. So, dogs that chase their tails are not dumb.

Should I Stop My Dog Chasing Its Tail

If it only happens once, you don’t have to stop the dog chasing its tail. You shouldn’t laugh at it or praise it either so it won’t make it a habit. Tail chasing is not normal behavior and it should be stopped.

Tim Adams

Tim has experience of 15 years with a wide variety of pets. Anything animal-related is his passion, so he is here to share some good practices to know about owning pets.

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