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Why do dogs chase their tails?

Ever wondered why do dogs chase their tails ?

Dogs are a constant source of amusement. There are few things goofier and more adorable than when our dogs spin around in pursuit of their own tail.

But why do they do it? Although tail chasing is often in good fun, there are many possible reasons why your dog might chase their tail, and it’s not always a laughing matter.

Here are a few reasons why dogs chase their tails.

puppy dog chasing its own tail
Border Collie puppy dog chasing its own tail

Why do dogs chase their tails? 

Play and curiosity 

In some cases there’s a relatively harmless explanation for tail chasing. Dogs can become bored lying on the sofa, staring at the same four walls every day. But without anything to keep themselves amused, our pups may chase their tails to occupy their time and let off steam.

Puppies in particular will chase their tails out of curiosity and boredom. The puppy may notice there’s something following them around, but haven’t quite realised it’s attached to their own body! Trying to catch their own tail can become a fun game, but it’s perfectly normal puppy behaviour.

To avoid tail chasing out of boredom, ensure your dog gets enough physical and mental stimulation throughout the day. Keep boredom at bay with toys, brain games, playdates, training sessions and regular walks.

Attention seeking 

If you laugh and shower your dog in affection whenever they chase their tail, your dog may learn it’s a great way to get your attention. And since our love and attention is all our dogs really want, they’ll remember and repeat the behaviour in the future to get the same response.

If you want to stop your dog from attention seeking, ignore the behaviour entirely. Don’t pet, talk or even look at your dog while they’re spinning in circles. Your dog will soon realise tail chasing doesn’t get them what they want.

Medical reasons 

Unfortunately tail chasing can be a more sinister problem. Any sudden behaviour changes in your dog should be seen by a vet as this can indicate a health issue.

Dogs may chase their tails when they feel pain or irritation around their rear end. This could be caused by skin problems due to fleas or food allergies. It could mean your dog is uncomfortable due to impacted anal glands, or your dog could be infested with intestinal parasites like tapeworms.

So if your dog is chasing their tail more frequently, always book a vet visit to rule out any medical causes.

Compulsive problems 

Tail chasing can also be the symptom of a psychological issue. Just like us humans, dogs can develop obsessive compulsive disorders where they repeat certain behaviours excessively. This can be in the form of air biting, licking, chewing or barking, and in this case, tail chasing.

But it’s important to treat the underlying cause as the reason for the behaviour is often stress or anxiety related. If your dog’s tail chasing is obsessive, seek help from a vet. But if it’s an occasional case of over-excitement and play, there’s usually nothing to worry about. Enjoy those derpy dog moments!

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