why do dogs chase their tail

Why do dogs chase their tail?

A common funny scene

Why do dogs chase their tail – One of the most amusing things that one can notice about dogs is an episode in which a dog is seen circling round and trying to catch his tail with his mouth. This habit is more pronounced in pups who are more likely to chase it thinking it to be a toy or some other objects that may have seemed fancied to their eyes. However, it seems an entertaining sight from ordinary viewpoint, but a dog owner needs to understand the deeper message conveyed by such a sight. In puppies, this futile tail chasing spins are understandable as they may even not have a genuine idea that the tail is attached to their own body and it is an exercise of no avail but when grown up dogs are found engaged in such an exercise, it is definitely a concerning affair.

Why do dogs chase their tail?

Dogs display a wide array of activities that range from a simple and common activity such as sniffing at things or wagging the tail to something as weird or seemingly absurd as chasing their own tail. Different strokes for different folks as the saying goes, so does it apply in case of dogs. No single opinion may be formed for all dogs engaged in tail chasing feat. It needs to be analyzed on the basis of individual cases. Following are some probable reasons behind this act among various others.

  1. Young dogs usually chase their tails because they supposedly consider it to be a toy or an object of interest. They even do not understand in most of the cases that it is attached to their own body.
  2. A dog might seemingly chase his tail but in reality, he might be trying to gain access to a point at the hind part of his body where he might have an itching sensation. They might even be bothered by some parasites such as worms etc.
  3. Another reason for this spinning movement could be to burn the extra energy. Mostly the dogs who aren’t taken out for regular walk and exercise may develop this habit to compensate for such idleness.
  4. A bored dog might find tail chasing a method to shake off his boredom.
  5. Some dogs might start tail chasing accidentally but they continue with it because they like the thrill and enjoyment derived from it. It eventually becomes their favorite pastime that they love to pursue in their idle time as a mere pleasure game.
  6. Some behavioral analysts believe this tail chasing act of dogs as a self-soothing act similar to that of shaking of legs or fingering the hair by humans. It is believed to reduce stress and anxiety level.
  7. Sometimes a dog does this thing on purpose, possibly to attract the attention of his owner. If a dog feels that he is being neglected by his owner, he might resort to this deliberate weird exercise because it is a sort of a concealed invitation by the dog to his master to come and play with him.
  8. Prolonged confinement may also trigger such acts in dogs.
  9. Some breeds of dogs such as German Shepherds have this habit genetically coded in their DNA as a trait.
  10. Some dogs that have undergone physical or mental injury such as physical abuse etc. In the past may begin to engage in tail chasing as a distracting or relieving act just to shake off the unpleasant memoirs but gradually it may develop into a compulsive disorder very hard to get rid of.

Harms of tail chasing

If tail chasing act of a dog becomes excessive, it needs to be watched more critically and carefully. In certain cases, it may cause following problems: –

  1. If repeated for long, it may become a habit.
  2. A dog might develop giddiness or other related issues developed from spinning for long.
  3. A dog might hurt himself by some object lying around.
  4. Most of the dog’s energy would be dissipated in a non-constructive activity.
  5. The tail if caught frequently by his mouth would be bitten and might cause wounds permanently.

Treatment and prevention

If the owner feels that his dog is engaged in tail chasing to an unusual extent, he needs to come forward to his dog’s rescue. The owner may extend help in the following ways: –

  1. If a dog is merely trying to entertain his owner; he should stop paying attention or rewarding such acts.
  2. If the dog seems secluded, start giving him more company and reschedule his daily routine by including some exciting errands and games etc.
  3. If the dog seems to be doing it due to an obsession or compulsive disorder, try to engage him in some other distracting activity such as a game or regular job.
  4. For initial restraint, the dog might be tied to a short leash or kept in a limited spaced kennel so as to confine the space needed for tail chasing.
  5. If improvements are not seen, the owner might switch over to medication and expert consultation. There are various training programs and certain behavior modification drugs to bring such habits under control.

Related Articles