Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails: 7 Surprising Facts

Why do dogs chase their tails? Is it a common behavior among dogs or something we must be worried about?
We have all seen dogs chase their tails in home videos, in the park, or in real life. But we have never questioned whether it is normal for a dog to go crazy chasing its tail or whether we need to be concerned.
To some extent, we find the act amusing and fun to watch, but studies suggest that sometimes this behavior may be a cry for help.
Is the dog being playful and funny, or is it losing its mind? This question, ‘why do dogs chase their tails‘ is quite common among dog owners, especially those who pay close attention to their pet’s behavior.

1) Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails? Is It Common Among Dogs?

Tail Chasing in dogs is quite common, especially among puppies. Some may say it is a playful invitation from your dog, while others condemn this behavior as a means for attention. In this article titled ‘why do dogs chase their tails, we will talk about what tail chasing means and why dogs do it.

2) What is Tail Chasing?

Tail chasing is an act executed by dogs wherein their try to grab their tail with their snout. It is common among young dogs and certain breeds. You must have seen a dog chase their tail and run in circles just to get a hold of it. It is like watching a child chase a roll of toilet paper stuck to their pant.

3) Is Tail Chasing Considered Normal Dog Behavior?

Yes, tail chasing is a normal behavior exhibited by dogs, but to gain better clarity on the issue, we have listed 7 reasons why dogs chase their tails:

1. They just want to have fun! It is an indication of them being playful

Why do dogs chase their tails
Photo by Jonathan Daniels on Unsplash Copyright 2017
Why do dogs chase their tails? Well, it is fun for them. When dogs are in the mood to have some fun or be playful, they tend to chase their tails. It is a mere sign of playfulness, especially if they are still young or have lots of energy.
This is a common behavior in young dogs or puppies as they get to know themselves and their body parts. If your dog continues to exhibit this behavior as it ages, you might want to see a vet to ensure it does not lead to compulsive behavior.

2. Your Dog Wants or Needs Attention

Dogs want attention
Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash Copyright 2020
Just like people, dogs also develop personalities over time. Sometimes when you are not paying enough attention to your dog, they will chase their tails to get you to notice them.
In some cases, dogs do not mind positive or negative attention as long as you pay attention to them. This may be a sign of deep emotional attachment from the dog’s end. And you should be looked into with the help of proper training and bonding sessions or therapy.

3. Your Puppy is Simply Bored

Bored dog
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash Copyright 2020
If you leave your pup alone most of the time then your dog will entertain itself by chasing its own tail. Tails chasing, especially in young pups, is a sign of boredom.
In other cases, it may be a way for them to release their excess energy. Some dogs need to release all the built-up energy or the excess energy they have, and tail chasing can be tiresome. It is a fun activity that helps them wear out.
Don’t worry; it is not unusual behavior; the only time you need to worry is when your dog keeps enacting the same behavior over a period of time.

4. Flea/ tick alert – Yikes, It is Time You Go To The Vet!

Photo by Erik Karits on Unsplash Copyright 2021
When your dog keeps chasing and digging into its tail, then there is more chance that it is trying to bite the fleas and ticks. They are causing your dog to experience irritation in that area.
Beware! Taking care of your dog’s hygiene is important. So, ensure you use a tick/ flea powder or shampoo to ward off those tiny bloodsuckers. If your pet needs professional help, you can head to your veterinarian for help.

5. Your Dog May Be Anxious

Anxious Puppy
Photo by Razvan Sassu on Unsplash Copyright 2021
Unfortunately, in some cases, tail chasing is a sign of anxiety. This is exhibited by pets who suffer from psychological problems. It is common for a dog to chase and bite its tail, especially if there is an injury or irritates the dog in any way.
Sometimes, when a dog is dealing with anxiety or psychological issues, it tends to chaise its tail for comfort. In some cases, the dogs tend to cause harm to themselves in the process due to excessive biting.
Once you start noticing this pattern in the dog. Schedule an appointment with your vet to ensure the symptoms do not persist and to control the situation before things get out of hand.

6. It May be a Reflection of Underlying Medical Conditions

Sick Dog
Photo by Ryan Stone on Unsplash Copyright 2018

When dogs experience epilepsy or seizures they tend to go after their tail. Tail biting in such situations is quite common, especially in older dogs.

If your pet suffers from any medical conditions such as epilepsy, arthritis, or even seizures, you should consult your vet for medication and make sure someone is around to care for your pet.

7. It is an Exploration Journey for Young Puppies

Puppy sitting
Photo by Justin Veenema on Unsplash Copyright 2016

Believe it or not but young pups generally like exploring themselves and their environment. Their curiosity causes them to chase their tail and is a mere act of learning and understanding their body better.

Hopefully, the points mentioned above shine a light on why dogs chase their tails. Read on to learn compulsive tail chasing and how to spot it.

4) What is Compulsive Tail Chasing?

Although we have established that tail chasing is common and normal among dogs. There are some instances when the behavior is obsessive or compulsive.
So when or why do dogs chase their tails compulsively?
Dogs with signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD may exhibit this behavior. This is common in dogs that are anxious or overly excited.
A dog with OCD chases and bites its own tail. It causes trauma to the tail by either creating a wound or not letting a pre-existing wound heal.
In such cases, it is always best to observe your dog and find out what triggers this behavior. Getting in touch with your veterinarian for assistance and to reduce this odd behavior is also advisable.

4.1) Tail Chasing Among Certain Dog Breeds

Certain breeds are known to indulge in chasing their tails such as Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, Jack Terriers, and White Terriers. It is believed environmental factors and genetics play a vital role in their behavior. But the exact reason for this behavior is still unknown.
If you as a dog owner find tail chasing a dreaded behavior, there are a few ways of discouraging this act.
Another reason for why do dogs chase their tails – it lies in their genes! There is not much we can do about it.

4.2) How to Discourage Tail Chasing

Bonding with your dog
Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash Copyright 2018

To discourage this behavior, there are a few steps you can follow;

  1. By redirecting their attention to something else, such as a toy, a bone, or taking them out for a walk. You can also play with your dog or try a fun activity other than dog walks to improve the bond you two have. You may also consider adopting or buying dogs in pairs1 to reduce loneliness among pets.
  2. Command your pup to sit, roll or shake hands when you see them fidgeting with their tail. This is a great way to distract and treat them after they successfully complete their command.
  3. Spend more time with your pup if you feel that your dog is acting out because of a lack of attention or time spent with you.
  4. Go to the vet to rule out fleas and ticks in the tail area and any underlying medical issues such as depression, OCD, or seizures.

4.3) Is Tail Chasing Dangerous for Dogs?

Although most dogs chase their tail daily, it is important to note when they do so. In most cases, it is a harmless act carried out by your pet, but in some cases, it can lead to serious outcomes.
In many instances, dogs who chase their tails often cause a tear in their tailbone. In more serious cases, lead to a wound in the tail without effective healing.
If the behavior is obsessive, the wounds will not heal effectively, which is a major cause of concern.
In many cases, professional training of your dog helps to avoid chasing its own tail. For this, collective effort is also required from the owner’s side.
It is important for you to spend time with your pet and discourage it from biting or chasing its own tail. You can implement several tricks and distraction methods to keep your pet focused.
It is also encouraged that you train your pet from a young age to avoid obsessive tail chasing.
We hope our article on ‘Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails: 7 Interesting Facts’ answers most of your questions. In case you would like to read an article about effective treatment against tick removal, you can read the article here.

Here are a few articles we think you might also like:

  1. Can Dogs Have Autism? 7 Signs You Should Look Out For
  2. 5 Best Home-Made Dog Food Recipes
  1. Wells, Deborah, and P. G. Hepper. “The behaviour of dogs in a rescue shelter.” Animal Welfare 1.3 (1992): 171-186. ↩︎

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