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Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?

Have you ever watched your dog chase their tail and wondered what’s going on in their mind?

For many of us, it’s a source of amusement and entertainment, but for some dog owners, it can be a source of concern.

Maybe you’ve even felt frustrated watching your dog engage in this behavior, thinking they’re just being silly or bored.

But did you know that there’s actually a scientific explanation behind why dogs chase their tails?

And once you learn the emotional and physical reasons behind it, you may never see this behavior the same way again.

In this article, we share the answer to the question, “why do dogs chase their tails?”.

So, let’s start with getting to know more about dog chasing their tails.

They Do It Out Of Boredom

Dogs are highly active animals and require a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy.

If they’re not given enough exercise or attention, they may resort to tail chasing as a way to relieve their boredom.

However, there can also be more complex reasons behind tail chasing.

Dogs Do It To Get Rid Of Parasites Like Fleas And Ticks

These annoying bugs can be very annoying to dogs, and chasing their tails may be a way for them to get rid of them from places they can’t reach.

This idea is backed up by the fact that dogs with longer, bushier tails are more likely to chase their tails because they are more likely to get fleas and ticks.

In addition, tail chasing behavior often occurs in conjunction with excessive grooming, which is another way that dogs try to remove parasites from their fur.

Tail Chasing Is A Form Of Self-Stimulation

Dogs have a natural instinct to chase and catch prey, and tail chasing may be a way for them to satisfy this urge.

It’s similar to how cats will sometimes chase their own tails or paws when they’re feeling playful.

Interestingly, tail chasing may also be linked to anxiety or compulsive behavior in some dogs.

Tail Chasing May Be A Way For Them To Release Some Of That Pent-Up Energy Or Anxiety

It’s similar to how some humans might fidget or pace when they’re feeling stressed or anxious.

In some cases, dogs may engage in tail chasing as a form of self-soothing or self-regulation

For example, if a dog is feeling anxious or overwhelmed, it may start to chase their tail as a way to calm themselves down and feel more in control of the situation.

It’s important to note that while tail chasing can be a natural behavior for some dogs, excessive or obsessive tail chasing can be a sign of anxiety or other underlying medical issues.

In some cases, dogs may develop a compulsive disorder known as “canine compulsive disorder,” which can manifest in behaviors such as tail chasing, excessive licking, and other redogitive actions.

If you notice that your dog is tail chasing excessively, it’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Related: 12 Common Signs Of Dog Anxiety

To Release Energy Or Relieve Anxiety

Dogs are known to have a lot of energy, especially when they are younger or when they haven’t received adequate exercise.

Tail chasing could be a way for dogs to release some of this energy and keep themselves occupied when they don’t have anything else to do.

It’s A Genetic Trait Passed Down From Wolves

Wolves, like dogs, are known to engage in playful behaviors such as chasing each other’s tails.

Some experts believe that this behavior has been passed down through generations of domesticated dogs.

And that tail chasing is simply an instinctual behavior that dogs have inherited from their wolf ancestors.

While this theory is still largely speculative, it does raise some interesting questions about the genetic basis of canine behavior.

It’s also worth noting that not all dogs engage in tail chasing, which suggests that there may be a genetic component to the behavior that varies between individual dogs and breeds.

For example, some breeds like Corgis are known for their propensity to chase their tails, while other breeds may rarely engage in this behavior.

Attention-Seeking Behavior

Some dogs are naturally more attention-seeking than others.

They may engage in behaviors like tail chasing as a way to get their owners’ attention.

If a dog has learned that tail chasing gets them the attention they crave, they may continue to engage in this behavior.

This even if they don’t have any underlying physical or psychological issues.

Natural Prey Drive

Dogs are descended from wolves, and many breeds were originally bred for hunting small prey.

Tail chasing may be a way for dogs to satisfy their natural prey drive by engaging in a playful pursuit of a moving object.

Some dogs may also engage in other forms of play behavior that mimic hunting, such as pouncing on toys or chasing after balls.

Lack Of Socialization

Dogs that have not been properly socialized may become anxious or nervous in new situations.

This can lead to the development of redogitive behaviors like tail chasing.

For example, if a dog has not been exposed to other dogs or people when they were young, they may become fearful and engage in redogitive behaviors as a way to cope with their anxiety.

It’s important to remember that tail chasing behavior can be complex and may have multiple underlying causes.

A Way To Alleviate Physical Discomfort Or Pain

For example, if a dog has an itchy or irritated area near their tail, they may chase their tail in an attempt to scratch or soothe the area.

This behavior is more commonly seen in dogs that have allergies, skin irritation, or parasites like fleas or ticks.

Dogs with anal gland issues or other conditions that cause discomfort in the rear end may also engage in tail chasing as a way to try to alleviate the discomfort.

Anal gland issues are a common cause of discomfort in dogs, and tail chasing is often seen as a symptom of this condition.

Dogs have anal glands located on either side of their rectum, which can become impacted or infected, leading to discomfort or even pain.

When a dog experiences discomfort in their anal glands, they may begin to engage in tail chasing as a way to try to alleviate the discomfort.

In some cases, the dog may even bite or chew at their tail in an attempt to get relief.

It’s important for dog owners to be vigilant when it comes to their dog’s tail chasing behavior.

It’s also important to seek veterinary care if they notice any signs of discomfort or pain.

A veterinarian can examine your dog and determine if there are any underlying medical issues that are contributing to the behavior.

Related: How To Get Rid Of Dog Gland Smell

Hormonal Imbalances

Dogs with hypothyroidism or other thyroid issues may engage in tail chasing as a symptom of the condition.

Similarly, some dogs may experience tail chasing as a result of high levels of hormones such as testosterone or estrogen.

If you suspect that your dog’s tail chasing behavior is related to hormonal imbalances, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the cause of the issue and develop a treatment plan.

In conclusion, the science behind why dogs chase their tails is complex and multifaceted. 

Dogs often and naturally chase their tails, but chasing their tails too much or obsessively can be a sign of a problem that needs medical help.

Even though it might be funny or entertaining to some people, it’s important to remember that dogs have a natural urge to play and do things that keep their minds and bodies active.

By paying attention to how your dog acts and taking him to the vet when he needs it, you can help keep him happy and healthy for many years to come.

Before You Go…

You now know the answer to your question, “Why do dogs chase their tails?”.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Sarah Wilson

Sarah is trained in Veterinary Medicine and a dog lover. She works as a content creator at Woofysh and writes useful and exciting articles for you - so that you make the right decision for your loved ones.