As a dog owner, you have the opportunity to observe strange and interesting canine behavior from time to time. One type of canine behavior that can make the whole family laugh is when your dog suddenly decides to chase his tail.
This behavior can suddenly start and a whirlwind of fur appears to come out of nowhere. Your fur baby ends up spinning round and round in circles. Children especially love this spinning as the dog can get very excited especially when there is an available audience. An interesting study on tail chasing or “spinning” by Charlotte Burn from the Royal Veterinary College found that 43% of the recorded cases of dog spinning were encouraged by dog owners and laughter was recorded in 55% of the tail spinning cases. So it’s no wonder dog owners have a tendency to find tail-chasing amusing. However, is it a laughing matter or is there something more serious underlying this behavior?
The good news is that occasional tail chasing is normal canine behavior and so long as your dog doesn’t hurt or cause any injury you can enjoy this whirlwind spectacle. It’s when the tail-chasing becomes obsessive and frequent that you will have to sit up and take notice. So in answer to the question as to Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails? we have listed the most common reasons below.
1. Playful Puppy Behavior
If you have a new puppy and have never owned a dog before you may have noticed your little puppy chasing his tail spinning round in circles. Puppies are playful and also very inquisitive. They like to explore and grab things with their mouth and taste new objects.
When puppies spot a moving object from the corner of their eye, it will grab their attention. It’s natural puppy nature to run and grab hold of these new things. Ok, it’s only a tail but for a puppy, it could be a new toy. However, if they ever do catch their tail they will soon realize that it can hurt when you bite it. Puppies will learn quickly that tail biting hurts. As your puppy grows and develops tail chasing should decline in frequency. As as we mentioned at the start even adult dogs can still chase their tail occasionally too so this behavior could be related to former puppy play too. Some dogs even in old age can remain playful.
Unfortunately, as a dog owner, you may have to deal with nasty little parasites such as worms and fleas. If your dog has ever had worms or fleas then you are only too aware of the discomfort your dog feels. Fleas will cause all types of issues and if a flea bites your dog’s tail it can cause irritation and may cause your dog to chase his tail to soothe the irritation, however, if he catches his tail a bite can do even worse damage.
Now let’s talk about worms. Unfortunately, if your dog has a worm infestation they can gather around the dog’s backside and anus region. No doubt this would freak anybody out but can you imagine how your dog feels. This causes a lot of irritation and from your dog’s perspective, it’s no wonder a tail chase is required to sort out this problem.
3. Look At Me – Craving Attention
Dogs just like humans have personalities and naturally, some crave attention and praise more than others. When your dog engages in tail chasing it can inevitably lead to attention. It might not be the type of attention that your dog was looking for but it’s still attention. Dogs are naturally sociable and do enjoy human interaction. Consequently, it’s important to ensure that your dog is never ignored and adequate attention is provided.
Dogs can get bored just like humans. If your dog is inside all day and there is no mental stimulation or activities taking place then naturally your dog will get bored. They don’t do binge-watching on Netflix or Disney and will not be able to call their dog friends for a chat and a laugh. When boredom sets in it can cause all types of behavioral issues from excessive licking to tail chasing.
It’s important to make sure your dog has enough mental and physical stimulation. Engage with your dog and play games. Throw the ball and play fetch. Give your dog a toy that he needs to use his brain to enjoy. Many dogs chase their tails as a way to relieve the boredom of everyday life and sometimes to release any pent-up energy.
5. Medical Issue
When your dog starts chasing his tail obsessively and frequently this could be a medical issue that needs to be addressed. Take note of your dog’s behavior and see if there is any pattern to tail chasing.
- Does it happen spontaneously or does some particular thing set it off?
- How frequently does it happen?
- How long does the tail spinning last?
- Is there a change in your dog’s mood either before or after the tail spinning?
It’s important to provide as much information as possible to your veterinarian so they can make the right diagnosis as there could be neurological issues at play.
6. Stress & Anxiety
When humans are anxious or stressed they can resort to all types of behavior they would not normally engage in. Some people chew their nails, others when stressed crack their knuckles or bite the top lip. It’s the same for our canines. When dogs are under stress or anxious they can resort to this behavior such as tail chasing. This can provide relief and act as a comfort for your dog.
Stress and anxiety affect dogs too. They can be stressed over a range of issues from separation anxiety, loud bangs, and noises to other dogs and cramped living conditions.
7. In The Genes
Certain breeds of dog are more prone to tail chasing than others. Even in the study by the Royal Veterinary College, it was noticeable that certain dog breeds such as German Shepherds, Bull Terriers, and Anatolian sheepdogs are more prone to chasing their tails. Further research into this issue may shed some light on the reason behind this.