5 Reasons Why Dogs Chase Their Tails

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If you’ve ever watched your dog spinning in circles, trying to catch their elusive tail, you know it’s an entertaining and sometimes hilarious sight. Is it just an amusing pastime or is there more to this curious canine behavior? While it’s easy to dismiss tail chasing as just another silly dog behavior, it’s important to remember that our furry companions don’t always do things without reason. From a sign of boredom to a cry for help, tail chasing can be indicative of a range of things.

Is Tail Chasing Normal in Dogs? 

First things first, let’s address the question that’s likely at the forefront of your mind: Is tail chasing normal? The short answer is yes, to an extent. Puppies often chase their tails as a form of play or to satisfy their curiosity about that strange appendage following them around.

Even in adult dogs, occasional tail chasing can be perfectly normal. It can serve as a form of self-entertainment, exercise, or even a way to grab your attention. After all, who can resist a chuckle at a dog chasing his tail?

However, frequent or obsessive tail chasing can sometimes indicate underlying issues, which we’ll delve into in the next section.

Reasons Why Dogs Chase Their Tails

There are various reasons why dogs chase their tails, ranging from benign to more serious. As previously mentioned, puppies may do it out of curiosity or playfulness. However, if you notice your adult dog frequently chasing his tail, it could be due to one of the following reasons:

1. Boredom

Ever caught yourself mindlessly doodling during a boring meeting? Dogs, too, have their ways of dealing with boredom, and tail chasing is one of them. You see, dogs are naturally energetic creatures. They need regular physical and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.

Without enough activity, a dog can quickly become bored and restless. In such cases, chasing their tail is an easy way for them to burn off some energy and keep themselves entertained. It’s like their version of doodling, but far more aerobic!

So, if your dog is spinning in circles more frequently than usual, it might be time to break out the frisbee and spend some quality playtime together. Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog!

2. Attention Seeking Behavior

Dogs are social animals. They crave attention and interaction from their human family. If your pup has figured out that spinning in circles gets a laugh or any kind of reaction from you, they might just perform this amusing act to get your attention.

This behavior is particularly common in dogs that don’t get enough interaction during the day. It’s their way of saying, “Hey, look at me! Let’s play!” And let’s be honest, it’s pretty hard to ignore a dog that’s chasing its tail.

While it’s important to give our pets the attention they need, it’s equally important to discourage any behavior that could potentially harm them. If your dog is chasing their tail excessively, try to distract them with a toy or a game instead.

3. Playfulness

Just like children, dogs love to play. Chasing their tails is often just a playful behavior and nothing to be concerned about. Especially in puppies, this behavior is quite common as they are exploring their bodies and the world around them.

Tail chasing can be seen as a game for them, a form of self-entertainment. It’s like their version of ‘catch me if you can.’ They might not always catch that tail, but the chase certainly seems to be a lot of fun!

However, as they mature, most dogs grow out of this behavior. If your adult dog still frequently chases their tail, it might be worth discussing this with your vet or a dog behaviorist.

4. Pain

Not all tail chasing is fun and games. Sometimes, it can be a sign that your dog is in pain and needs medical attention. Dogs may chase their tails due to discomfort or irritation in the area. This could be due to parasites like fleas or ticks, allergies, anal gland issues, or even injuries.

Dogs, like humans, can have allergic reactions which can cause itchy skin. If the tail or the area around it is affected, it can lead to tail chasing. In such cases, you might also notice other signs like redness, swelling, or changes in your dog’s coat.

Fleas are another common culprit. These pesky parasites love to hang out near a dog’s tail base, causing an itch that your dog might try to relieve by chasing their tail.

Internal parasites, such as worms, can also cause discomfort in the anal area, leading to tail chasing. Regular deworming and flea treatments can help prevent these issues.

Keep in mind, dogs are excellent at hiding pain. As their caretakers, it’s up to us to notice any changes in their behavior and ensure they get the necessary help. If your dog is biting, chewing, or licking their tail area excessively, along with chasing it, it’s time to consult your vet. It’s crucial to identify and treat any potential health issues early.

5. Anxiety

Dogs, like people, can suffer from anxiety. Tail chasing can be a sign of stress or anxiety in dogs. Changes in the environment, loud noises, separation from their human family, or past trauma can all lead to anxiety in dogs.

If you notice your dog chasing their tail during thunderstorms, fireworks, or when left alone, it might be a sign of anxiety. In such cases, it’s important to provide a safe and comfortable space for your dog and consult with a professional to manage their anxiety effectively.

What If My Dog Is Biting His Tail? 

If your dog is chasing and then biting his tail, it could be a sign of discomfort or pain. The first course of action should be to thoroughly check the tail for signs of injury, irritation, or parasites. If you see anything unusual, a visit to the vet is in order.

If the tail appears healthy, but the behavior persists, it could be a behavioral issue. In this case, you may want to consult with a professional dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist. They can help you identify any triggers for this behavior and provide strategies to manage it.

Remember, punishing your dog for tail chasing and biting is not recommended. This can only lead to confusion and fear, and may even exacerbate the behavior.

When is it Cause for Concern?

While occasional tail chasing can be a normal part of dog behavior, there are times when it can be a cause for concern. If your dog is chasing his tail obsessively, causing injury to himself, or if the behavior is accompanied by other signs of distress or abnormal behavior, it’s time to seek professional help.

Additionally, certain breeds are more prone to obsessive-compulsive behaviors, including tail chasing. If you have a breed that’s predisposed to such behaviors, like a Bull Terrier or a German Shepherd, you should be particularly vigilant.

Remember, when in doubt, it’s always best to consult with a vet. They can help you determine if the behavior is normal or if it’s a symptom of a deeper issue.

Treating Compulsive Behavior

If your dog is showing signs of compulsive behavior, such as excessive tail chasing, the first step is to consult with a vet or a professional dog trainer. They can help you identify any underlying issues and provide appropriate treatment or management strategies.

Providing your dog with plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation can also help reduce compulsive behaviors. This can include regular walks, playtime, training sessions, and puzzle toys that challenge your dog mentally.

Finally, in some cases, medication may be necessary to manage compulsive behaviors in dogs. This is something that should be discussed with your vet, who can guide you through the options and help you make the best decision for your furry friend.


Watching a dog chase his tail can be a source of amusement, but as pet parents, we also need to be aware of when this behavior crosses over from playfulness into something more serious. Regular observation and understanding your dog’s normal behavior is key. Remember, you know your dog better than anyone else. If something feels off, it probably is, and it’s time to seek professional advice.

Being a dog parent comes with its joys and challenges, but understanding the ‘whys’ behind their behavior can bring us one step closer to ensuring our furry friends are happy and healthy. So, the next time your dog starts chasing his tail, remember, he’s not just being cute (though he is that, too!). He’s also communicating with you in one of the few ways he can.

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