Every dog owner has probably seen it at least once: their furry friend suddenly fixating on its tail, going round and round in playful pursuit. But why do dogs chase their tail? While it’s often a delightful display of canine quirkiness, there’s more to this behavior than meets the eye. This article delves into the various reasons behind this fascinating doggy habit and offers insights to ensure that it remains a harmless pastime rather than a sign of a deeper issue.
Whether you’re curious about the evolutionary roots of tail chasing or just want to understand your own pup’s antics better, read on to unravel the mystery of this classic canine conundrum.
6 Reasons Dogs Chase Their Tail
1. Your Dog Is Bored
Why do dogs chase their tail? Well, they are bored. Yes, dogs do this when they are bored. It is usually present in smaller and younger dogs. A dog will chase his tail for a few minutes and he will stop. But, he can do this every single day. Pets have a lot of energy they must use. If he spends days in a house and he doesn’t get outside, this may happen.
The solution is simple. Help your pet get the physical activity he needs. Walking and playing with him are the best options. Anyway, you do have options and your pet needs them. Different dog breeds need a different amount of physical activity. Some must not play or run when the temperature is high.
2. He Wants Your Attention
Dogs are smart. They will do a lot of different things in order to get what they want. One of those things is chasing the tail. For a dog, any action that gives him attention is worthy. You will need to test this option. Start playing with your pet when he chases his tail. If he stops, you have found the solution.
The problem here is actually more complicated. You don’t give a lot of time to your dog hence he must do something to attract your attention. It simply means that you will have to play with him more. Believe it or not, dogs do need more time with their owners than you may believe.
Anxiety is a huge problem for dogs today. It affects more dogs than you may believe and it is more problematic than some owners believe. First of all, dogs can suffer from anxiety. There are a lot of reasons why it happens. For instance, another dog may bully him. He may live in a space too small for him. There is no access to other dogs.
Emotional or even physical abuse. In general, if a dog is not happy and satisfied for a long period of time, anxiety will occur. He will start acting differently and you will have a scared, angry and upset dog.
As you can assume, there is something you must do. The first thing is to find the cause of the problem. If he wants to spend more time outside with other dogs, you must provide him. Make sure you do not abuse your dog. Some dogs are even scared when you yell at home! Once you correct the cause, the anxiety will go away.
This means that chasing the tail issue will lend as well. Dogs usually chase their tail when they are extremely anxious and they don’t know what to do. Try to remember that this reason may look similar to when he is bored but it is far more complicated.
4. Ticks or Fleas
If a dog has ticks and fleas he may chase his tail. This happens because the tail is itchy and your pet must scratch it. He cannot reach it so he will try. Always check your pet and look for bald areas or dark specs in the coat (these are feces of fleas). If you find some, you will need to start treatment immediately. There are great options out there. Using ampules that you can apply to the coat are the most effective. If he stops doing this, you have found the problem.
5. High Cholesterol Level
There was a study conducted that proved an interesting thing. Dogs who are obsessive about chasing their tail may have a high level of cholesterol. Scientists also believe that genetics has a huge role in this. A lot of additional research is mandatory. Anyway, this is another reason why you have to take your pet to a vet and check his overall health. If high cholesterol is the cause, treatment is mandatory.
6. Health Issue
This is not a harmless reason. If this is the case your pet will need medical help. Cancer, Infection, pain, seizures, and all other kinds of things can cause your dog to chase his tail. He is in pain and he must react somehow. Chasing the tail may be the fictive solution to his problem. In this case, you must take him to the vet and he must give the dog.
To determine if this is the cause, you need to look at how frequently your pet is doing this. Usually, dogs will chase the tail all the time and they will be upset. This is also known as obsessive behavior and usually, it suggests that there is some medical issue present. If you diagnose the issue as soon as possible and you start the treatment, there is a lot of room for success. It is important to start as soon as you notice something is wrong.
Additional things to know
There are a few more things we must add here. The first one is that some dog breeds are more prone to chasing the tail. The best examples are German Shepherds and also Bull Terriers. If you have a dog of this breed, make sure you are aware of the fact.
In general, you should discourage this behavior and you will have to try and help your dog stop doing this. It is not something your dog should enjoy. In most cases, this will work well.
When Does Tail Chasing Become a Problem?
While the sight of a dog merrily chasing its tail can be amusing and endearing, there are times when this behavior might indicate an underlying issue. So, how can you tell when tail chasing is just a playful antic and when it’s a sign of something more serious? Here’s what to look out for:
Frequency and Duration:
An occasional spin in pursuit of the tail is generally harmless. However, if your dog engages in tail chasing excessively or for extended periods, it might be cause for concern.
If your dog seems fixated on its tail, ignoring commands, toys, or even food, it may be exhibiting obsessive-compulsive behavior. Dogs that get stuck in repetitive cycles might need interventions to break the pattern.
Dogs that bite, chew, or injure their tails while chasing them are displaying signs of distress. This can lead to open wounds, infections, and other complications.
Other Behavioral Changes:
If tail chasing is accompanied by other unusual behaviors, like increased aggression, withdrawal, or changes in eating and sleeping patterns, it might be indicative of a larger issue.
Puppies are more likely to chase their tails out of curiosity and playfulness. However, if an older dog suddenly starts tail chasing, especially if it never showed interest before, it could be due to medical issues or anxiety.
Changes in a dog’s environment, such as moving to a new home, the arrival of a new pet, or even a change in the household routine, can induce stress and lead to increased tail chasing.
If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian or canine behaviorist. They can help determine if the tail chasing is a symptom of a health issue, like allergies or neurological disorders, or if it’s behavioral, stemming from anxiety or obsessive-compulsive tendencies. With the right guidance, you can ensure that your dog stays happy, healthy, and tail-chasing remains a playful quirk, not a problematic habit.
Tips to Reduce or Manage Tail Chasing
Managing or reducing tail chasing in dogs requires a mix of understanding, patience, and proactive interventions. If your canine companion has taken to chasing its tail more than usual, here are some effective tips to help redirect this behavior:
Provide Adequate Exercise:
Many dogs chase their tails out of boredom. Ensuring your dog gets enough physical activity can help in reducing the behavior. Regular walks, play sessions, and activities like fetch can keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
Mental exercises can be just as tiring as physical ones. Provide puzzle toys, training sessions, or interactive games to challenge your dog’s mind.
When your dog starts chasing its tail, redirect its attention with a toy or command. Once it stops and focuses on you, reward it with a treat or praise. This will teach your dog that stopping the behavior earns positive outcomes.
Check for Medical Issues:
It’s crucial to rule out any medical reasons for tail chasing. Dogs might chase their tails due to allergies, skin infections, or other underlying health issues. A vet check-up can provide clarity.
Avoid Negative Reinforcement:
Yelling or punishing your dog for tail chasing can increase anxiety and potentially make the behavior worse. Instead, opt for calm interventions.
Create a Distraction-Free Zone:
If certain stimuli or environmental factors trigger your dog’s tail chasing, try to remove those triggers or create a safe space where your dog can relax.
Seek Professional Help: If tail chasing becomes compulsive and frequent, consider consulting a canine behaviorist. They can offer tailored strategies and solutions to address the root cause of the behavior.
Consistency is key in any training or behavior modification technique. Ensure that all family members or those living with the dog know the strategies and are on the same page.
Limit Exposure to Stressors:
If changes in the environment or routine are causing stress-induced tail chasing, try to minimize those changes or introduce them gradually.
Consider Calming Supplements or Medications:
For dogs with high anxiety levels, discuss with your vet the possibility of using calming supplements or medications to alleviate stress.
Remember, while occasional tail chasing can be a natural and playful activity for dogs, excessive or obsessive behavior needs attention. With understanding, patience, and the right strategies, you can help your dog lead a balanced and happy life.
The Final Word
Dogs exhibit a variety of behaviors that can sometimes leave us puzzled, and one of the most intriguing is the act of tail chasing. Many dog owners have witnessed this amusing quirk. While tail chasing can often be a playful gesture or a momentary whim, it’s essential to recognize when it becomes more than just a fleeting antic. Understanding the reasons behind why dogs chase their tails, be it a playful instinct, a medical issue, or a deeper behavioral concern, is vital.
By offering an optimal mix of physical activity, mental stimulation, and regular training, owners can help curb excessive tail chasing. Always remember that every dog has its unique needs, and approach any behavioral changes with patience and understanding. The key is to stay informed and responsive to ensure your canine’s well-being.