A dog chasing its tail – that’s perfectly normal, isn’t it? At least that is the cliché of the somewhat stupid dog who thinks his own tail is prey. Your animal world will tell you why tail hunting is anything but normal.
Would you have thought that your dog is likely to be stressed or frustrated chasing its own tail? Or that he might even be in pain? Presumably, this or another reason to be taken seriously is behind this characteristic.
Because what many dismiss as “That’s what dogs do” is often an expression of one of many physical or mental health problems – and not “typical behavior” without a specific function.
Possible reasons for tail hunting in dogs
This explains veterinarians and behavioral expert Dr. Vanessa Spano opposite the online magazine “The Dodo”. It has been associated with tail chasing in dogs for one of the following reasons:
- Fear or panic
- Skin irritation
- Neurological problems
The veterinarian knows from experience that dogs chase their own tails most often out of frustration or stress. Therefore, she advises to first observe carefully which situation could trigger the stress. If possible, owners should eliminate the cause of stress.
Does your dog chase its tail? You can do that
If that’s not possible – or you just can’t identify the source of the stress – you try to distract your darling. As soon as you notice that he wants to chase his tail, you can give him a command such as “Sit!” If he follows this, you should reward him.
This is how you break the behavior pattern: Instead of chasing its own tail, your dog performs a different movement.
If your dog continues to chase its tail despite your best efforts, you should also talk to a veterinarian about the behavior. He can then investigate whether there might be a physical problem behind it.