Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?

Although its cute and funny, dogs chasing their tails is not always a good thing – especially if it is incessant and causes injury. Reasons behind tail-chasing are varied ranging from boredom to genetic predisposition. Some tail-chasing can signal a sign of illness and other tail-chasing can develop into an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Let’s explore the reasons and possible solutions.

Your Dog Is Bored and Seeking Attention

When a dog is confined to a small room and doesn’t have enough room to run around and play, he has a high probability of developing a tail-chasing habit. If he sees that his antics make you laugh or pay more attention to him, he will continue with this behavior. Fortunately, this is an easy fix especially if he has just started to exhibit this behavior.

Naturally, he needs to go on long walks and have a good run outside in an enclosed park or backyard. Don’t pay attention to his tail-chasing. Laughing or reprimanding will encourage him to continue the behavior.

Your Dog Has Parasites

Parasites, especially of the worm variety, will often migrate to the anus. This causes itching and discomfort for your dog. He will try to bite at his rear end to alleviate the itching. Sometimes it can be difficult to diagnose a parasitic infection. You can visually inspect the poop for worms or you can take your dog to the vet so they can perform a test.

Your Dog Is a Senior

As your dog gets older he becomes less aware of his surroundings and his own body. Because of his diminished mental status he can engage in repetitive behaviors such as tail-chasing or tail-chewing. He might not realize that he is injuring himself. This is a more difficult problem to fix, but it is best solved with a vet’s help. There are medications available that ease the transition into old-age.

Your Dog Has a Genetic Predisposition

Here is a problem with breeding – repetitive and compulsive behaviors such as tail-chasing are often a by-product. As over breeding of dogs becomes unchecked and out of control, so have recessive traits that have destroyed Dalmatians, German Shepherds, and several terriers.

One trait that has been seen in overbreeding is the tendency to tail-chase. While many dogs will chase their tails as a momentary diversion, the dog with a genetic predisposition will obsessively engage in this behavior. This is also a time when a vet should be consulted. Dispensing medications to modify the behavior may be one of the only solutions to tail-chasing driven by heredity.

When Should I Worry?

Occasional tail-chasing can develop into a habit. Don’t stress over a bout of tail-chasing, but don’t allow your dog to think that you are paying attention to it either. When the tail-chasing becomes a frequent, daily occurrence lasting for long periods of time, it’s time to take the dog to the vet. This means that your dog is either unhappy or ill. Any signs of injury on the tail should also be cause for worry. Luckily, increasing activity levels and spending more quality time with your dog will go a long way in relieving incessant tail-chasing in most cases.

By Gabrielle Allemeier


Cesar’s Way: Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?
VCA Hospitals: Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?
Morris Animal Inn: Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails? Here Are 5 Explanations

About the Author
Gabrielle Allemeier volunteers her free time as an animal rescuer and foster pet parent. As an animal lover, she enjoys sharing the knowledge she has gained from her experience with a variety of animals. Along with being an animal lover, Gabrielle is a globetrotter. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her terrier, Thisbe.