Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tail?

Have you ever wondered why your furry friend runs in circles, chasing his tail?

Tail-chasing can occur for many reasons. Oftentimes, there is nothing to worry about, as the tail can be seen as a source of entertainment and a sign of playfulness! Engaging in whirling may, however, indicate a more serious problem, such as a behavioral or medical issue requiring professional intervention.

Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tail

Jack Russell Terrier Chasing Own Tail

Most Common Causes of Tail-Chasing

Tail-chasing may be a conscious act for your dog, when he is bored, playful or seeking attention. However, it may be a sign of a more serious condition requiring a visit to the veterinarian. It is, therefore, vital that you learn to recognize the signs.

​Behavioral Problems

Dogs can develop compulsive disorders just like humans. Certain experiences and/or situations may cause behavioral disorders to develop.

Ask yourself a few questions: Has your tail-chasing pup has been cooped up too long? Is there a possibility that he has been abused in the past? Does he show signs of separation anxiety?

High Cholesterol

This may seem kind of strange, but tail-chasing has been linked to high cholesterol levels in dogs. The tail-chasers typically have HDL and LDL levels significantly higher than other dogs.

High amounts of cholesterol may block cell membranes and affect the flow of hormones to parts of the brain involved in mood and behavior.​

​Boredom

Sometimes, all your pup needs is a bit of entertainment! A tail is a curious thing, especially for a puppy. They don’t really understand why it’s there and why it follows them everywhere, so they playfully try to catch it.

Tail-chasing is cute and absolutely natural for a puppy, and may provide them a fun game when they are bored, which happens quite often!

Attention

Do you laugh and take pictures when your dog chases his tail? Of course! It’s cute, right? This can act as positive reinforcement for your dog when he wants your attention.

Dogs are very smart and they sometimes catch on quicker than we think. If you would like your dog to stop this behavior, however, just ignore the tail-chasing, and when he realizes it isn’t working anymore, he will stop.​

Genetics

Some breeds are simply predisposed to chase their tails more than other breeds, for some unknown reason. German Shepherds and certain terriers, for example, seem to chase their tails more than others, even when older.

Why? Is it because they have more energy to release? Science has not yet been able to answer to these questions.​

Illness

In worse case scenarios, tail-chasing can be a sign of illness. Dogs with seizure-inducing illnesses, such as epilepsy, as well as dogs with worms, have been known to chase their tails.

If other possible causes of tail-chasing have been ruled out, a trip to your dog’s veterinarian is needed to diagnose and properly treat the problem.​

Conclusion

Chasing their tails is a natural behavior for young puppies, and as cute and funny as it can be, tail-chasing may indicate serious behavioral or medical problems in an older dog.

It is important, as a dog-owner, to take this behavior seriously. Monitor the tail-chasing, look for possible causes and take your dog to his veterinarian if you have any doubts or worries.​

About the author

Melanie Fox

Hi there, I'm Melanie Fox, editor at Beloved Bark. We look to provide people with the knowledge and tools to make smarter, more educated choices for their dogs. We have made it our mission to inform our followers with expert advice and recommendations, that will make a difference in your dog's life.

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