Why does my dog chase its tail?

February 19th, 2018

tail

Our canine companions can keep us entertained for hours with all the shenanigans they get up to! One of the most amusing things you pup does is chase their tail, often perplexed why they can never catch it. This behaviour, while amusing for the most part, can become repetitive and interrupt your pets daily functioning. Petplan will take a look into why dogs chase their tail and what you can do if it becomes a habit.

There can be a number of reasons why your pup will chase their tail. Some of these reasons may be linked to underlying issues, however, it can also relate to their instincts and overall playfulness. Some of the main reasons your canine companion will chase their tail include:

Attention

As dogs are social animals, they rely on attention and affection from their owners. They will often do things that may garner more attention from you, which will put in their mind that this behaviour will come with a positive response. With this positive reinforcement, your pup may start chasing their tail whenever they want attention from you.

Boredom

Boredom or lack of exercise resulting in a build-up of energy can lead to your pup chasing its tail. You may find your pup chasing their tail in order to exert extra energy that they have. Exercising your pup regularly will help reduce this behaviour as they are less likely to do it once they have spent all their energy on something else.

Age and breed

Certain breeds have a pre-disposition to compulsive behaviours like chasing their tail. For example, German Shepherds and Terriers are more likely to chase their tails. The age of your dog may also play a major role in this sudden behaviour. Puppies are more likely to chase their tail as they may not see their tail as a part of their body and therefore think of it as another toy that they want to play with. As they get older, this behaviour is most likely to stop.

Medical reasons

If this becomes a common occurrence, there may be underlying medical issues. Your dog may have injured its tail by getting it caught in a door, or they may have an irritating skin condition or bites.

How to stop this behaviour

The best way to stop this kind of behaviour is by acting upon it early. This means if they do it from a young age try to get them to stop and do not encourage it.

  • Don’t give the behaviour any attention – just ignore it
  • Increase their activity levels
  • Introduce interactive toys so they have something to distract them

If it continues, a vet check-up may be on the cards to check for any medical reason behind this behaviour. If they can’t find a problem, seeking a behavioural therapist may be your best option in order to stop this obsessive behaviour.

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