why do dogs chase their tail

Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails

For many owners, tail-chasing is a common behavior that their furry friend exhibits from time to time. The behavior can be an indication of several issues, and it’s essential to rule out any underlying health problems. Understanding why do dogs chase their tails is essential for pet owners to ensure that their dogs are healthy and happy. We will also provide guidance on how to manage and treat tail-chasing if it becomes a problem for pets.

Reasons Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails

Causes of the behavior in dogs can be divided into two main categories: physical and behavioral. It’s essential to rule out any physical causes of tail-chasing before assuming that it is purely behavioral.

Physical Causes

  1. Fleas and other parasites: Parasites such as fleas or ticks can cause dogs to chase their tails, as can allergies or other sources of physical discomfort. These external parasites can cause severe itching and discomfort, which can lead to your pet trying to alleviate the itching by biting, licking, or chasing its tail. You can check them for parasites by parting your dog’s fur and checking for any signs of these external parasites;
  2. Pain or discomfort: Another physical cause is discomfort. They may chase their tails if they are experiencing pain in the area. For example, dogs with anal gland problems may exhibit tail-chasing behavior as they try to relieve the discomfort.

If your pet is exhibiting excessive behavior, it’s important to rule out any underlying physical causes and seek veterinary care if necessary. By addressing any physical issues, you can help your animal to feel more comfortable and reduce its likelihood of engaging in chasing.

dog obsessively chasing tail

Behavioral Causes

In addition to physical causes, there are also several behavioral causes of tail-chasing behavior in dogs.

  1. Boredom or lack of stimulation: Dogs that are left alone for long periods without any toys or activities to occupy them may resort to tail-chasing behavior as a way to entertain themselves. To prevent behavior caused by boredom in dogs, it’s essential to provide your dog with plenty of toys, exercise, and mental stimulation. Puzzle toys, interactive toys, and outdoor playtime can all help to keep your dog engaged and prevent the behavior;
  2. Attention-seeking behavior in dogs: Some dogs may chase their tails as a way to get attention from their owners. They may have learned that tail-chasing gets a reaction from their owners, whether positive or negative and continue to engage in the behavior to get attention. To prevent canine behavior, it’s essential to give your dog plenty of attention and positive reinforcement when they exhibit desirable behavior. You can also redirect their attention to more appropriate activities, such as playing with toys or going for a walk;
  3. Anxiety in dogs: Pets that are anxious or stressed may exhibit repetitive behaviors such as tail-chasing as a way to cope. Possible reasons are separation anxiety, fear of loud noises, or other stimuli. To prevent the behavior caused by stress in dogs, it’s important to identify and address the underlying cause. By addressing these underlying causes and providing appropriate stimulation and care, you can help to prevent it in your furry friend.

Breeds Prone to Tail-Chasing

Some breeds are more prone to tail-chasing behavior than others:

  • High-Energy Dog Breeds: Jack Russell Terriers or Border Collies, may be more likely to chase their tails. These dogs have been bred for herding or hunting, and their natural instincts may lead them to chase their tails when they are not sufficiently exercised or stimulated;
  • Breeds with a High Prey Drive-In Dogs: Greyhounds, Whippets, and other sighthounds may also be prone to tail-chasing behavior. These breeds have been bred for chasing small prey, and this instinct may carry over to chasing their own tails;
  • Breeds Prone to Anxiety or Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior: Breeds like German Shepherds, Bulldogs, and Bull Terriers are known to be prone to anxiety and stress, which can lead to behavior. Additionally, breeds like Doberman Pinschers and Boxers may be prone to obsessive-compulsive behavior, which can also manifest as tail-chasing.
dog chasing tail

When It Becomes a Problem

While tail-chasing behavior is generally harmless and even amusing, it can become a problem for some dogs.

Self-injury in Dogs due to Excessive Tail-Chasing

It is can occur when a dog chasing tail to the point of exhaustion, causing them to become disoriented and potentially injure itself on nearby objects. 

Indication of Underlying Health Issues

Tail-chasing can also be an indication of an underlying health issue. For example, neurological disorders or infections can cause repetitive behaviors. Additionally, some dogs may develop obsessive-compulsive behaviors, which can cause them to fixate on certain behaviors or objects. In these cases, tail-chasing may be a sign of an underlying behavioral disorder that requires professional intervention

Moreover, dogs with fleas or other parasites may chase their tails in an attempt to alleviate itching or discomfort. Similarly, dogs with joint pain or hip dysplasia may chase their tails as a way to distract themselves from the pain.

Treatment for Tail-Chasing Behavior

If it becomes problematic, there are several treatment and management options available to owners. It’s essential to identify and address any underlying canine health issues that may be contributing to the behavior. This may involve treating fleas or other parasites, managing pain or discomfort, or addressing any underlying anxiety or stress.

Additionally, providing appropriate exercise and mental stimulation can help prevent tail-chasing behavior. This may include increasing daily walks, providing interactive toys or puzzles, or enrolling in training classes. If necessary, medication or behavior modification techniques may be recommended by a veterinarian to address problematic tail-chasing behavior and canine psychology in total.


In conclusion, the behavior is a common and generally harmless behavior in dogs. But it’s crucial to remember that it can become problematic, leading to self-injury or indicating underlying health issues. If tail-chasing behavior becomes excessive or concerning, it’s essential to have a consultation with a veterinarian to rule out any potential medical issues and develop an appropriate treatment plan. With proper care and attention, dogs can live happy and healthy lives, tail-chasing and all.

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