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Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails: The Neverending Game

We’ve all seen our dogs running around in circles, chasing their tails as if there’s little else that matters to them apart from catching it! Raise your hand if you’ve ever wondered to yourself, why do dogs chase their tails, and should I worry about it? 

The answer could be as simple as boredom, but obsessive tail chasing could be the sign of compulsive behavior or even a warning that your dog has an injury.  

Keep reading to understand your dog’s tail-chasing habits better.

Why do dogs chase their tails? 

You’ve got your new puppy checklist sorted, and you’re ready to start caring for your new furry friend. Like many owners, you probably aren’t too concerned about the idea of your puppy chasing their tail - after all, aren’t they just having fun?

We love our dogs because of their seemingly happy, fun, and carefree behavior.

As owners, we often associate our dogs chasing their tails with this sort of activity, and there is truth in this. 

Dogs do love to have fun, especially when they are puppies. But dogs don’t necessarily chase their tails to have fun, which is why owners need to be on the lookout for obsessive tail-chasing.

Sure, the odd tail-chasing moment is nothing to worry about, but if it’s happening again and again, you may need to get to the bottom of things. 

Seven reasons why your dog may be chasing its tail 

Fun aside, there are multiple reasons why your dog spinning around and chasing its tail is something to be wary of. 

Dogs are very emotional animals, but of course, they can’t communicate with their owners as well as we’d all like. Chasing their tail is one way they could be warning you that something’s not quite right. 

Let’s look at a few of the most typical reasons for tail-chasing in more detail to understand why. 

Your dog is super-duper excited  

While there might be a more negative reason for your dog pacing and chasing its tail, if your dog isn’t a regular tail-chaser, then they might just be excited!

  • Excitement is the best reason for them to be chasing their tail because it means there’s not much to worry about for the owners.
  • When dogs are excited, they have the urge to run around -they might also jump up and down, and they might start chasing their own tail.

This rambunctious behavior is a result of having lots of pent-up energy. It’s a good idea for owners to consistently exercise their dog to use up all that energy with positive physical activity in the long term.

Your dog is bored 

Just like humans, dogs can get bored! When they’re bored, they need to find something to do. One way for dogs to fill their time is by chasing their tails or chewing on their tails. 

If your dog has recently started this habit, then it’s a good sign they need to be more active:

  • Take your dog for more walks;
  • Organize a playdate with other dogs;
  • Make sure they have a chew toy to play with rather than their dog tail. 

Even if the reason for tail-chasing is simple, such as boredom or having too much energy, dogs can injure themselves by running around in circles. Owners should keep their dogs active to cut down on their impulse for chasing tails!

Your dog has an injury 

Dogs are prone to injuring their tails, whether through getting it trapped in the door, stepped on, or bitten by another animal.

If your dog has started chasing its tail to lick or chew on it, then it could be a sign that they are in pain. They may also yelp or whine when doing so. 

If you’re worried, then it’s good to take your dog to the vet, particularly if they are consistently (and uncharacteristically) chasing their tail and seem to be in pain.

In the long term, owners can help their dogs avoid tail and leg injuries by setting up a bed ramp for dogs to assist in getting up and down from higher places.

Your dog has a medical condition 

Tail-chasing can be a sign that your dog has a medical condition, and they are in discomfort or pain. 

Musculoskeletal conditions are prevalent in older dogs, and it can be a warning that your dog is experiencing pain in its rear joints and muscles. It can also be a sign of more severe conditions, such as arthritis.

If you believe your pup is in pain, don’t hesitate to schedule a visit with your local vet. 

Your dog has OCD

Dogs can be compulsive, just like humans, and one of the most common signs of dog OCD is obsessive tail-chasing. Maybe we should call it OTC...

If your dog chases its tail compulsively and doesn’t appear to be injured, then it can be a sign that your dog has formed OCD-like habits. These habits could be a result of a significant event in your pupster’s life. 

This can be a problem if your dog injures itself through chasing its tail, so if your dog is demonstrating compulsive behavior, you should consider taking them to the vet. 

Your dog has fleas 

Dogs pick up fleas easily, and excessive tail-chasing can be a sign that your pet is itching all over and looking for some relief. 

It’s essential to take care of fleas quickly and efficiently to stop them from spreading. Consult your vet for the best flea treatments. 

Your dog has anxiety 

Long term tail-chasing can be a sign that your dog has developed anxiety issues (yes, just like their owners, dogs can become anxious!)

There are multiple reasons for anxiety, including:

  • Separation anxiety from owners;
  • Fear;
  • Distress caused by traumatic events. 

This anxiety often manifests itself through compulsive behavior, most notably, tail-chasing. 

Our final word on your dog’s tail-chasing behavior

Dogs chase their tails for a wide variety of reasons, many of which owners have little to worry about.

Boredom or playfulness are often the main culprits, and owners can easily remedy this with chew toys or a few extra walks!

Your dog chasing its tail can, however, be a warning sign. It can be the result of anxiety, fleas, or injury. Obsessive tail-chasing should be taken seriously, and owners should always look to their vet for advice on potential problems or steps towards behavior modification. 

Why not bookmark our guide to chasing tails to help you care for your doggo as efficiently as possible!

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