Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?

Dogs make us laugh with the silly and playful things that they do. For example, perhaps one of the most memorable habits is when you see them running in a confined circle, chasing their tail. It’s laughable to see your dog twirl around this way, but the reason behind his tail chasing could possibly be a serious one, indeed. Let’s take a look at several of the different reasons why this may have become his new favorite pastime.


You might wonder, “Is my pup just having fun?” The answer might be yes. This is particularly true if your dog gets left home alone for long periods of time. If he has very little mental stimulation, paired with an inadequate amount of exercise, tail-chasing might be the most fun he has had all day.

If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, he may stop chasing his tail if you spend some time with him playing fetch or spending time walking every day. Another option is to leave a food puzzle with your dog so that he has something challenging to work on while you are not with him.

It’s Age-Related

If you have a puppy, it is naturally curious about this little wagging appendage that is following it around. It is normal for pups to chase their tail to find out what it is all about.

Tail chasing can also be a problem with older dogs. They have a tendency to chew their tails primarily because of a mental disorder. Some dogs require medications to modify this behavior.

They Are Seeking Attention

When your dog begins to chase its tail and sees you reacting with a laugh, it only makes him want to keep doing it more. This type of positive reinforcement lets him know he is doing what he needs to do to make you happy. What he really wants is for you to spend time with him.  

Regrettably, even if you scold him for chasing his tail, he is still going to remember that if he chases his tail, he gets your attention. To remedy this situation, you should ignore him when he chases his tail if you really want him to stop it.

There Could Be a Medical Reason

Let’s say your dog has never been a tail chaser before and now all of a sudden he is. You should take him to the veterinarian. The reason is that dogs will naturally chew or bite at an area that is hurting them. Another reason is that dogs may chase their tail when they have tapeworms that are coming out of their rear end. If they are itchy in that area due to food allergies, this could be another reason.

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It Could Be Anxiety

According to VCA Hospitals, some dogs suffer from OCD, just as people do. Tail chasing can become one way this disorder can manifest in dogs. If a dog is suffering from separation anxiety, he may chase his tail nervously.

Other canines might have this problem when they become too excited by company stopping by, or by seeing creatures outdoors. Another anxious dog might bite his tail after it was injured in order to soothe the pain and keep chewing it even after it has healed.

Regardless of why the dog is chasing and chewing its tail if this sounds like your dog, breaking the cycle requires some effort. Sometimes, behavior modification techniques in combination with medication are required.

Final Thought

You may be wondering if your dog’s tail-chasing is something for you to really worry about. The answer is if he is doing it frequently and he is injuring his tail by biting it, it is time for a visit to the veterinarian.

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