Let’s be honest here: A dog chasing its tail can be cute and a little funny to see sometimes. Watching them have fun from such a simple activity puts a smile on our faces. With each subsequent circle, our smiles become wider. But while watching your dog doing it have you ever wondered: Why do dogs chase their tails?
While some of us think that a puppy chasing its tail might be due to an underlying issue, the answer may be simpler than that. Read on to find out the possible reasons behind your dog chasing its tail.
Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?
Experts have put forward many possible reasons for a dog chasing or biting its tail. And contrary to the popular belief of underlying health issues, a lot of these reasons are not harmful or concerning. Some can be worrisome, but it is why you should keep a gentle eye on it. One reason that your dog might be chasing its tail is to get rid of boredom.
Dogs who chase their tails are often just bored and in serious need of some physical exercise. Pups who don’t get enough physical stimulation have a habit of chasing their tails to get rid of boredom. This way they get relief from boredom and get their physical exercise done. If your dog chasing its tail bothers you, then you could check out some of our favorite boredom busters for dogs.
Another reason why your doggo might be chasing its tail is to get your attention. We all know how much dogs love attention. A belly rub to them is worth a million dollars. So, what’re a few minutes of chasing their tails? At worst they will be tired and on the ground. While at the best they will be in your lap, getting belly rubs and treats like its Halloween. It is a win-win situation for them. And finally, there can be a psychological issue behind tail-chasing. Older dogs who chase their tails can have a compulsive disorder. The chances of OCD are increased if you find your dog growling while tail-chasing. In that case, it is best to get your dog to the vet.
Is It Normal for Dogs to Chase Their Tails?
Often, it is perfectly normal for dogs to chase their tails. It is a pure, physical joy that they relish. So, in most cases, you have nothing to fear.
But there are instances where your fears aren’t misplaced. Particularly, when there are issues like physical traumas and intestinal worms involved. Therefore, if you find your dog chasing after its tails chances are that its rectum is itching or he has intestinal worms.
Finally, when it comes to dogs biting their tails, check for signs of injuries and traumas. Just when we get restless and scratch at our wounds, dogs bite their tails in case of physical injury. Stopping this excessive biting should be your first priority as biting keeps the wounds from healing. In the end, don’t forget to consult your vet whenever you spot excessive tail biting and chasing.
How Can You Stop Your Dog From Chasing Its Tail?
There are plenty of ways that you can use to put a stop to this rampant, high-speed tail chasing. Some of them are detailed below.
Whenever you find your dog chasing its tail with little regard for its surroundings, throw a distraction at him. Maybe throw a ball at him and invite him to play fetch. Maybe distract him with a treat. Or maybe bring out your favorite carpet for him to pee on. The point is to distract him however you can.
You want a habit to go away, you train yourself to let it go. The same principle works with dogs as well. Train your dog using positive reinforcement techniques to stop paying attention to its tail. Use treats to encourage him to sit down when he begins chasing.
On a similar note, teach your dog to play some games like fetch or treibball with you. When your dog has options that are healthier and more fun, he won’t think twice about breaking up with its tail.
If you imagine Time as a toddler, then boredom is its pacifier. Where there is a toddler, there is a pacifier. Where there is excess time, there is boredom. And where there is boredom, there is tail-chasing.
Mind-bending analogies aside, make a busy schedule for your dog. With a packed schedule, your dog will have so much to do that he will have no time for chasing its tail. For instance, try to pack a lot of physical activities into your dog’s schedule. Fetch, treibball, walking, frisbee, and tug of war are some of the activities you can do with your dog.
And when you do all of that every day, your pup will have no time for its tail.
Visit a Vet
If you have tried all of the above suggestions and your dog still doesn’t let its tail go, it may be a medical issue. And in that case, you must consult a vet.
Excessive chasing or biting of the tail is one of the signs of physical trauma. To alleviate the irritation caused by such wounds, dogs bite their tales. In other words, it is a coping mechanism similar to us pressing our arms or head in case of pain. So, have your vet examine your dog to rule out medical issues.
Dogs Chasing Their Tails – FAQs
The debate about ‘why dogs chase their tails?’ is never-ending. The questions are plenty, and the answers, not so much. The following is an effort towards changing that.
Dogs don’t get dizzy from chasing their tails. The reason why they don’t is a little complicated. When dogs chase their tails, they aren’t spinning. Think of them as going forward with a slight change in direction.
On the contrary, humans spin rather than going forward. This spinning causes us to lose our balance and we feel dizzy. That said, dogs do get dizzy when their vestibular system is affected. The vestibular system helps a dog to keep its balance and when the system is affected by, let’s say, an infection, your dog can feel dizzy.
Dogs bite their tails often as a coping mechanism. There are times when your dog’s rear is traumatized. There might be a wound, or an anal gland infection. Whatever the case may be, dogs tend to bite their tails to reduce the resulting irritation. As you can already tell, the irritation gets even worse.
Furthermore, intestinal worms like tapeworms leave the body through the backside which can irritate your dog. And to ease this irritation, your dog can start biting. So, biting is never a welcome sign. Always be on the lookout for wounds and whenever you see excessive biting, pay a visit to your vet.
Tail-chasing in dogs can point to several things:
– Tail chasing is often due to the lack of any physical activity aka boredom
– Dogs also chase tails when they are overexcited
– Chasing tails can also be simple attention-seeking
– Dogs who chase tails excessively may also have an underlying medical issue
The above-mentioned list of reasons is not exhaustive. There can be other reasons, but these are the key ones. Now, when a dog growls while chasing its tail, it can be a sign of OCD. Compulsive disorders are treatable. So, be sure to consult with your vet if he specializes in animal behavior.
Like with any area of a dog’s body, if they have not been trained to have it touched, held, or examined, they will not like it. The tail is also an area your dog can be sensitive about as it is joined to their spine, and is a fragile tool for movement. Therefore they often don’t love it being handled.
A dog’s tail is one of the most important tools they possess for communication. From their emotional response, to displaying if they are in pain, it can tell you a lot about how your dog is. It is why some are so opposed to tail docking. That said, there are times when you need to touch your dog’s tail to see for a possible injury or cleaning. Therefore, it is always a good idea to train your dog that tail-touching is alright. You can try to train your dog yourself, or get help from a dog trainer.
Dogs chasing their tails can be both normal and worrying. It all depends on the frequency and accompanying signs.