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Why do dogs chase their tails?


Dogs chasing their tails can provide endless entertainment for the whole family for hours on end. But why do dogs do it we hear you cry, where does this habit come from, what does it mean and what if your dog does it more than you would thing a normal dog would?


Repetitive tail chasing can be excessive sometimes, it can interrupt the day to day functioning of your dog and at worse can cause injury – either physical or behavioral.


There are a number of reasons why your dog might be chasing their tail more than normal, or perhaps more than the other dogs that they play alongside in the local park. It could simply be that they are a young puppy and are excited as everything is new to them. It could also be that your dog has a playful temperament – which is often seen in younger dogs and certain breeds. But if the tail chasing is worrying you, then it is worth heading down to make an appointment with your vet in order to have a check up to make sure that everything is ok. And if you do find that something is wrong, it is best to know about this and therefore treat it as early as possible to prevent any long term damage to your pup.



Certain breeds of dog are more prone to chase their tails. This is caused by a genetic feature that tend to involve more compulsive behaviors, i.e. more likely to chase their tail for hours on end. An example of of this is the humble Bull Terrier, who we often see has a tendency to whirl around in circles for long periods of time. And if this is the case then it is nothing to worry about, it is simply your dog doing what it likes best. But if your dog experiences a sudden change of temperament such as tail chasing more frequently and for longer periods of time then it can be a signal of a medical condition or a psychological problem with your dog, so if this is the case then make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible.


Energy and attention

Boredom is huge with dogs, especially those breeds that are naturally more active than others, these tend to be terriors and more playful breeds. Many dogs will chase their tails when they are bored, but this tends to be because the dog itself is not getting enough exercise.


So first things first, make sure you are giving your dog the amount of exercise that it needs to have every day. If your dog is chasing its tail, it may be that it simply wants to move more and to chasing their tail gives them a way to get rid of any excess energy it has without actually going anywhere.


Then it might be that they are not getting enough attention from their owners. Dogs are very social animals and require a lot of love and attention from their keepers. So they may find that when they chase their tail they tend to get more attention from you, and so continue to do it when they want more. This is the same thing that they will notice that they get a treat when they do certain things like fetch a ball and so this will encourage them to want to play in order get a treat – it’s the same concept.

If you find that this is the case and the tail chasing is not something you want to continue, do not acknowledge is as even negative attention can cause a dog to do something more and more – especially if it is attention they were seeking in the first place.


Anxious dogs

Excessive tail chasing can be a ‘tick’ if you will. And your dog may be using this to hide their anxiety. This is often found in dogs who live in a single dog household, and with those who spend a lot of time on their own, for example if your family members spend all day at work and the dog is on its own all day at home. This can also be true – and sometimes worse- for certain breeds of dog, as some are naturally more anxious than others, and some breeds tend to require more social attention and some breeds are happy to be left on their own for hours at a time with no bother. So before you really need to research the breed of dog that you are planning to get before they arrive on your doorstep, to ensure that your lifestyle and time can fit around the needs of the dog, or you might both find yourselves in a tricky situation.


Finally, it might be that your dog is injured, but chances are you would have noticed this happen and the change in behavior would have been pretty instant. But nevertheless if you have not noticed anything except the sudden change, get to the vet to get them checked out to make sure there is not anything physically wrong with your dog.


This would be an injury to the tail itself, if you have stood on it or it has got trapped somewhere, or it could be something that is irritating them, such as a skin infection or fleas – get these checked out before they have the chance to get any worse.


Finally, if you find that nothing is actually wrong with your dog then try to ignore this behavior as they will tend to stop if they do not get a reaction. Or try and distract them with toys or treats when they start doing it so that they form a habit that you are not as distracted by.


Keep an eye on the points listed above to make sure you catch any problems early, and let your vet know any sudden changes with your dog to keep on top of their health, both physical and mental.