Why does my dog Chase his Tail?

One of the most interesting observable behaviors that many dogs show is the idea of chasing their tails. Although we may laugh or even film are dogs as they go crazy chasing at their tails, there are some reasons why your favourite four-legged pet is choosing to chase their tail.


Why do dogs chase their tails?

Chasing a tail can come down to a few different reasons. Dogs can often start to partake in this type of behaviour when they feel a few ways.

Here are some of the main reasons that dogs start chasing their tails:

1. Boredom

Your dog may start to chase their tail if they are starting to feel bored. When dogs spend too much time staring at the same four walls or even laying on the couch, they start to get bored. Dogs will start to find new ways to amuse themselves and get rid of some of their pent-up energy. Regular tail chasing could be a sign that your dog isn’t getting enough engagement or enough exercise.

2. Age

Older dogs will actually start to chew their tails due to decreased awareness. It can be a comforting feeling and as an older dog starts to chew their tail, this can show that they are seeking comfort or attempting to take their mind off of something else.

Young puppies will often start to chase their tails as a means of awareness. Many copies find it difficult to remember that their tail is following up and catching a glimpse of their tail behind them can be all it takes for them to consider pulling back and giving it a good bite.

3. Seeking attention

When you start to reinforce tail chasing is a positive behaviour, it’s not too surprising when your dog will start to perform this behaviour as a means to get a treat. If you take notice of your dog every time that they start to chase their tail, there is a good chance that they will keep chasing their tail in order to capture your attention so that you play with them more often.

Dogs can respond to negative and positive attention so if you choose to school at your dog when they are chasing their tail too much, this could leave to a different type of reinforcement or for them to start seeking negative behaviors to take up the space of tail chasing.

4. Medical reasons

If your dog starts to chase their tail or bite at their tail, this could also be a sign of other discomfort. Dogs will often continue to chew at an irritated or painful area, if your dog has their tail caught in a door or another problem with their tail, they could continue to chew and chase their tail in order to suit their injury.

Dogs will also chase their tails when they are infested with parasites like intestinal parasites. Tail chasing is a behaviour that can help to move tapeworms and make them migrate out of the rectum.

Fleas or food allergens can also lead to tail chasing as this is an indication that your dog is itchy or irritated. Treating the area with cream or seeing a vet if you think that tail chasing is related to a medical issue can be important.

5. Compulsive behaviors

Compulsive behaviors also present a chance that your dog will perform tail chasing. Some dogs can suffer from an obsessive-compulsive disorder just like humans. This behaviour can manifest those items like tail chasing if your dog suffers from something like separation anxiety or another form of disorder.

Regardless of the factor that initiates the chase, dogs that continue to chase their tails compulsively may be doing so as a result of some type of trauma.

Do dogs get dizzy from chasing their tails?

Dog’s don’t tend to get as dizzy as humans but they can experience the same symptoms. Dogs have a much better sense of balance but signs like walking in circles, vomiting or eyes flickering from side to side can suggest that your dog has gotten dizzy.

Most dogs are able to control their balance and react far better than humans when they spin around. It’s also important to notice the signs of changes in the vestibular system that could cause a dog to resort to spinning behaviour more often.

When dogs have their inner ear affected, this can lead to more tail chasing behaviour because the dog will be regularly affected by their dizziness. Dogs can get sick or even vomit as a result of their constant spinning.

Yeast and bacteria can regularly grow in a dog’s ears and this often leads to damage to the vestibular system. If you are worried that your dog could have a problem with circling, it’s important to speak to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Circling can continue to cause a series of behavioural problems as your dog ages. Managing problems with the inner ear and making sure to keep your dogs here clean will help to prevent this dizziness.

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How do you stop a dog from chasing its tail?

If you would like to discourage behaviors that cause your dog to chase their tail, there are a number of ways that you can proceed:

1. Go to the vet

If you suspect that the tail chasing could have something to do with a medical problem, it’s important to rule out this underlying reason before you proceed with changing the behaviour. Behavioral training will not be effective if the tail chasing behaviour is due to an untreated medical condition. Bringing your dog into a veterinarian’s office to diagnose a medical issue associated with tail chasing behaviour can be important.

2. Distraction

As soon as your dog starts to chase their tail, offer up some type of distraction. Keeping a toy close by, giving them food or even giving them attention to make them stop can be an important way that you can stop tail chasing. When you can establish a command to stop tail chasing or distract your dog, this can make sure that your pet is able to do something other than chase their tail whenever they start the behaviour. Your dog will eventually get the idea that this behaviour is something negative.

3. Keep your dog engaged

When your dog is bored they are much more likely to partake in this type of behaviour. Dogs were able to get more physical and mental exercise will often become too tired to engage in this type of behaviour. Some of the best activities that you should consider to keep your dog engaged include daily walks, playing with them and their toys, regular visits to the dog park, partaking in agility and more.

4. Focused training

If you once rewarded your pet for chasing their tail with attention every time that they did it, they could be time for you to retrain your dog with some new behaviors. Each time that your pet is doing something other than chasing their tail, give them a reward. Don’t react each time that they chase their tail and they will soon realize that this is no longer a behaviour that’s worthy of rewards. Not reacting to this behaviour or rewarding it will make sure that you can shape new behaviors within your pet.

Photo by Wyatt Ryan on Unsplash

Why does my dog try to bite its tail?

When your dog is biting its tail there is a much better sign that they are facing some type of medical issue or irritation with their tail. As mentioned before, dogs can often bite their tail as a means of discovery when they are younger or as a means of comfort when they are older.

If areas of your dog’s tail start to look irritated or they are bare from fur, you may want to consider the idea of visiting the vet in order to identify what could be affecting your dog’s tail. A host of items including fleas, tapeworms and more could all be affecting your dog’s tail and causing irritation. If you notice your dog biting or chewing on its tail as an ongoing problem, it could be wise for you to consider treating your dog with a topical ointment as recommended by your vet.

Tail biting behaviour can often be detrimental to your pets health. If they regularly engage in tail biting this could be the sign of a greater issue and it can lead to greater irritation and problems with their overall health.

Although tail biting is not something that we fully understand as humans, we can take efforts to reduce this behavior especially when it turns from innocent discovery into a medical issue or ongoing sign for help.

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