4 min read


Why Dogs Chase Tails



4 min read


Why Dogs Chase Tails




Watching your new puppy twist and turn as it races round and round chasing its tail is very entertaining. Puppies are energetic little bundles of fun and tail chasing is just one of their antics. It is a way to discover their bodies and what they can do. The puppy’s tail is part of its play routine and tail chasing is a good way to learn about tails and their function. Older dogs may also engage in tail chasing but if you see your dog running ragged round its tail then it could be cause for concern. What are the reasons for tail chasing? Releasing energy, frustration, an obsessive behavior, or a medical problem could be one of the reasons for tail chasing. If you have a better understanding of the underlying reasons it will help you understand your dog with the issue of tail chasing.

The Root of the Behavior

Animals learn through play activities. Your puppy is learning about a part of his body that follows him wherever he goes when he chases his tail. As the puppy matures, other activities become more interesting and there are better things to chase. You start to spend time with your pup, going on walks, sharing play toys and learning how to enjoy one another. Puppies are cute and get a lot of attention. What happens when that attention starts to fade? Perhaps your days are busy now and there is not enough time for the new member of the family. Seeking your attention by chasing its tail could be just the best way for your dog to get noticed. You used to laugh at the funny actions brought on by tail chasing. This could be the perfect way to get some time with you. If attention seeking is the root of the behavior, then the easy way out is giving attention to the right behaviors and making sure your dog is able to burn up some energy. However, the problem of tail chasing could be rooted in other causes. What else could be upsetting your dog leading to unacceptable tail-chasing behavior? Medical reasons can be the cause and a visit to the vet would help solve any medical problems. Your vet can check out irritants like parasites or fleas and advise about something more complicated like blocked anal ducts or even the onset of seizures. A previous injury could lead to continual tail chasing as your dog remembers feeling uncomfortable at one time and chases its tail as a form of release from anxiety. Other anxieties can contribute to tail chasing such as separation anxiety or being confined for a long time. Some breeds are more predisposed to tail chasing. German Shepherds, Australian Cattle dogs, and Bull Terriers are notorious tail chasers. Older dogs could also be suffering from dementia. Behavioral signs like spinning, barking at the wall, and disorientation would be other indicators of dementia. The vet will help diagnose this problem and give comforting advice. Tail chasing can become a problem and detract from your quality time with your dog. Tails are important to dogs but should not become an obsessive part of their lives. It is said that: According to June Carter Cash, “Every dog has his day unless he loses his tail, then he has a weak end!” Dogs and their tails are important.

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Encouraging the Behavior

Understanding the underlying problems that lead to tail chasing will help with the solutions. A simple problem like boredom is an easy one to fix. Man and dog will need to spend some more time together! It is important to be able to see when the tail chasing is about to start. Distraction should begin before the unwanted behavior starts so that your canine friend will focus on something else. Tail chasing beyond puppyhood is not something to be encouraged. The consistent tail-chasing behavior soon becomes obsessive and is exhausting for both the dog in your life and for you. If your own attempts at home are not solving the problem, seek the advice of an animal behaviorist. There are a number of breeds that require more exercise than others and knowing your breed and their natural activity instincts will help in this area too. If you have an active dog, then be prepared to make his day with a similar lifestyle. Tail chasing should be regarded as anti-social and not encouraged. The root of the problem could be more serious than boredom and so it is important to have it checked and rule out anything needing medical attention. There have been some studies carried out on the influence of high cholesterol on a dog’s production of feel-good hormones and so diet could perhaps play a part in the controlling of the tail chasing behavior.

Other Solutions and Considerations

Tail chasing is not cute and funny after the puppy stage of your dog’s development. Although it may appear comical at the time, tail chasing should be avoided and investigated if the pattern cannot be broken. Training to encourage wanted behavior is definitely the best option. It is positive reinforcement that is going to recondition your dog. It will take time and effort but both you and your dog will appreciate giving your best to change this behavior if it is out of control. Cesar Millan says: “The dog is a reflection of your energy, of your behavior. You have to ask ‘What am I doing?’ That is the right question to ask.” Understanding dog behavior goes a long way toward being able to recognize and deal with unwanted behavior. Dogs should be our happy canine companions using their tails to display happiness with a tail wag for a greeting.


Have you ever felt you were chasing your tail? If you are at work or at home, the frustration of tail chasing is enormous. Your dog must feel the same as he runs round and round trying to catch his tail. Tail chasing does not convey the happy go lucky tailpiece of dogs’ speak and so it is important to keep tails wagging at the tail end of a dog’s day. 

By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze

Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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